Berkeley Patients Group says it is moving, not closing

Berkeley Patients Group on San Pablo Avenue: says it is moving, not closing. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel

Berkeley Patients Group, which had declined for weeks to confirm or deny that the federal government had told its landlord it had to move, sent out an email Thursday night saying it was not going out of business.

“Recent media reports have erroneously stated that Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest and well-respected medical cannabis dispensaries in California, is closing its doors,” Chief Operating Officer Sean Luse said in a press release. “The following statement provides accurate information on BPG’s status: Berkeley Patients Group remains dedicated to providing safe and affordable access to its patient-members, while working to preserve the jobs of its 70+ employees. BPG is not closing. We have been looking to relocate for several years and look forward to announcing our new site, soon. We are grateful for the level of support we have received from the Berkeley community over the years.”

BPG’s landlord, David Mayeri, received a letter from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag warning him that the dispensary at 2747 San Pablo Avenue was within 1,000 feet of a school, according to knowledgeable sources who asked not to be names. The letter threatened Mayeri with financial penalties or criminal sanctions if sales of cannabis were not stopped.

BPG and Mayeri signed a legal agreement Feb. 28 in which the dispensary agreed to cease all cannabis sales by May 1, according to California Watch.

BPG has been looking for a new location for years. In this current political climate, where Haig has aggressively targeted landlords who rent to cannabis operations, a new space may be difficult to find.

Berkeley’s largest cannabis dispensary to close May 1 [03.15.12]
Federal letter may make Berkeley Patients Group relocate [03.14.12] 

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  • bgal4

    3pg needs to move off Sacramento. There landlord Wong claims he is not renting to a mm collective.

    Good luck to BPG finding a new home.

    Avoid this in the future, align the zoning code with the federal standard. Is that really so hard to figure out?

  • Completeley Serious

    Over in Oakland, if a drug dealer wants to move, he just shoots the guy on the corner he wants. 

  • D.

    Hope they move nearer to me.

  • Passerby

    I didn’t know this place was a marijuana dispensary!  Walking by, I thought it was a church or community center…..

  • Chris

    Don’t forget about the new collective on Dwight Way @ Sacramento:

  • Wonderbot

    its not as easy to simply “follow federal standards” when they change their standards whenever they feel like it. If you map the city of Berkeley there are very few locations that meet the feds new regulations. They are doing this mainly to pick on one of the oldest collectives around to possibly scare renters and new clubs from opening. I for one am hoping to hear they have found a new local and will be supporting the move!

  • The Sharkey

    Are “collectives” allowed to operate out of residential spaces? I’m fairly confident that that address is zoned residential, not commercial or mixed-use.

  • EBGuy

    In the City of Berkeley, collectives, unless they are one of the three authorized dispensaries (four allowed by law), MUST operate in a residential zone.  And the collectives operations must be incidental to residential use.  YMMV…

  • Chris

    The Greenleaf space is definitely NOT being used in an incidental manner to residential use.   Front room is reception/check-in.   Next room is where they have all the goods, er, greens. Two other rooms are used as smoking lounges.

  • Ripple947

    It’s Melinda Haag, not Haig

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

    Thanks for catching that. I have corrected the spelling.

  • bgal4

     And delivery services, which is also a legal problem.

  • Heather_W_62

    Isn’t smoking within 20′ of a business illegal? So how do they have a “smoking lounge”? I am curious, perhaps the smoking law is situational.

  • BerkeleyCommonSense

    Federal regulations on Marijuana have not changed since the Controlled Substances Act came out.  It’s illegal.  Because certain sworn Govt’ employees flex the law to fit the political environment does not mean the law itself has changed.

  • D.

    When the feds wanted to criminalize alcohol they knew they needed an Amendment to trump states. What Constitutionally changed that prohibition is now a federal right?

  • Kacille415

    First of all they have one lounge/living room. They have many people living in two bedrooms and its 100% a COLLECTIVE NOT A DISPENSARY.. why do people talk out there a@# and mess it all up for the rest of us doing it right…

  • The Sharkey

    I believe they’re also located within 20′ of a corner store…

  • Heather_W_62

    I simply do not understand the pot dispensaries offering lounges for on-site usage. Usually I go home to take my pain meds (or whatever). this makes it sound like a variation of a bar (social gathering to get high). Additionally, it is illegal to drive, ride a bike or even walk the public streets while impaired. So how has this been okay? That is, of course, a rhetorical question. 

  • Ninja

     More like “Hag”  amirite?

  • Concerned

    This is terrible news for patients as well as the City of Berkeley. This is a well organized well run honest dispensary which has over the years provided safe access for medical cannabis. With BPG closing it will promote illegal sales, criminals can sell it on the street for a HUGE profit. The city will receive no revenue the patients will no longer have safe access. Our prayers are with BPG to find a new safe location FAST.

  • Bruce Love


    In the City of Berkeley, collectives, unless they are one of the three
    authorized dispensaries (four allowed by law), MUST operate in a residential zone. And the collectives operations must be incidental to residential use.

    Actually, Berkeley ordinances say that collectives MAY (not “must”) cultivate and maintain inventory incidental to residential use.  

    The difference between “may” and “must” is significant here.

    Home occupations are regulated in Berkeley.  You might recall a Berkeleyside story a ways back about a woman who wanted to have a working “micro-farm” in her back yard.   The simple idea was that an expert urban homesteader was hired to run the farm, and maybe they’d sell some boxes of produce.  Something like that.  Per the letter of the ordinances, that would require all kinds of crazy effort to get suitable permits.

    The ordinances pertaining to MMJ collectives grant a by-right, no-permit-needed exception to the generally applicable rules about home occupations.

    Here is the important part:  those rules do not prohibit Berkeley cooperatives from carrying on some kinds of operations in other circumstances.   Those rules do not confine collectives to residential zones.   There is no “MUST operate in a residential zone.”

    That is presumably why, in the case of 40 Acres for example, some politicos were trying to characterize as — or as not — a dispensary.  The commercial activity of a dispensary is restricted by Berkeley ordinance.   Nevertheless, it does not follow from that that collectives are prohibited from non-dispensary activities in commercial districts.

    By the way, as a result of the rules, it is in fact legally easier to grow and sell pot in your house than it is to grow and sell lettuce in your yard.