Cannabis collective 3PG closes its Berkeley operation

Eric Thomas, who runs Perfect Plants Patient’s Group, at the collective in 2011

The sign for Perfect Plants Patients Group is still in the window of 2840-B Sacramento Street, but the cannabis collective has closed up shop, according to its owner, Eric Thomas.

The collective shut its doors on Nov. 14, the day after the Berkeley City Council held a public hearing that determined the collective was a nuisance and was in violation of zoning laws, according to Thomas. While he moved out his product, many files, and some furniture that day, the landlord changed the locks on Nov. 15 when Thomas did not pay the next month’s rent. He has been unable to get inside to retrieve the last of his possessions and take out the sign, he said.

Thomas has no firm plans to reopen the collective, which has been operating since September 2011. He runs another 3PG in Vallejo and he is offering Berkeley clients a 25% discount on medicine purchased there, he said. 3PG is also doing Berkeley deliveries from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We love the city of Berkeley but unfortunately the zoning doesn’t allow us to be there,” said Thomas. “We tried our hardest to convince the city council, but they ordered us to close it down. We closed it down immediately.”

The council voted Nov. 27 on a resolution to shut 3PG after determining it was a collective operating in a commercial area. Only the city’s three permitted dispensaries are allowed to operate in a commercial zone; collectives must be in residential areas and be “incidental” to the building’s use. The council also determined that 3PG was less than 600 feet from Longfellow Middle School, the minimum required under Berkeley’s zoning laws.

The city has fined Thomas and the owner of the building, Lian Rui Tan, $12,500 each for violating the law. Thomas said he has paid $2,000 of his fine but is appealing the rest. He contends that 3PG is more than 600 feet from Longfellow Middle School. He hired Morain Engineering to do a survey and it showed the distance was 619 feet, said Thomas.

Despite having to close his operation, Thomas said he was not bitter about the experience. He said he wanted to thank the residents of Berkeley for their patronage, as well as those who opposed his operation, including the Sacramento Street  Improvement Association.

Ryan Kerian, one of the neighbors leading the fight to close 3PG, said he is not entirely convinced the collective has moved.

“I’ve seen the lights off,” he said. “I haven’t seen anyone coming in or out for awhile, which I feel happy about but I don’t trust the word of Eric Thomas, or the landlord for that matter.”

Kerian said that 3PG closed for a few days after the Zoning Adjustments Board ruled that it was a nuisance, but later reopened. He is wary that once the city’s attention is diverted, that might happen again.

Still, the neighborhood seems calmer. “I have noticed a lot less loitering. I have noticed a lot less pot smoking and all the problems we have been complaining about,” said Kerian.

Related:
Berkeley moves to shut down cannabis collective [09.26.12]
Berkeley orders two cannabis collectives to shut down [02.22.12]
Councilmember: Look at unauthorized cannabis collectives [12.06.11]
Rapid growth of cannabis collective raises concerns [9.20.11]
Concerns raised about new medical cannabis collective [10.27.11]
Commission ponders growth of unlicensed pot clubs [11.4.11]
Southside residents contend with a spate of shootings [03.30.12]
Sacramento Street shooting victim dies, arrest made [03.30.12]
Shooting on Sacramento and Oregon, victim wounded [03.29.12]
No known injuries in Monday shooting on Russell [03.18.12]
Dec. 23 shooting involved five men with guns [03.07.12]

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  • EBGuy

    I have noticed a lot less pot smoking…
    According to state law, it is illegal to smoke medical pot within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school, recreation center, or youth center, unless the medical use occurs within a residence.
    See Section 11362.79

    I’d also like to note, that with two recently closed dispensaries (3PG and Berkeley Patients Group) there is an opportunity to do a mini-Rand type study to examine if the pot clubs led to an increase or decrease in neighborhood crime. I suppose it might be interesting, as well, to note whether there is a difference between city sanctioned and non-city sanctioned operators.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    AWESOME NEWS!!!!!!!

  • Neighbor

    Bye, bye tax dollars! Have fun in Vallejo.

  • Completely_Serious

    Glad to hear it. Kind of pissed it took a year to do it.

    Remember in 2014, that Kriss Worthington told them to go ahead and open up.

  • Completely_Serious

    “offering discount on medicine” and delivery, TOO! It’s like WebVan for potheads!

    Geez, when I was in college, I said to my roommate, if I could use my credit card at Safeway and to buy sins, I’d never have to work. It’s like I was telling the future in 1979!

  • http://berkeley.accountableschools.com/ Berkeley Accountable Schools

    and little did you know that you’d end up in the most nostalgic place on earth, where the future is the past!

  • guest

    What tax dollars?

  • Tizzielish

    I hope Mr. Thomas has the resources to pursue the landlord’s wrongful lockout. To lock out a tenant, a landlord has to go to court, file a petition, give the tenant notice of the hearing and an opportunity to be heard, then get a court eviction order. Landlords can’t just go around locking out tenants cause the rent is a few days late. A few days late on the rent isn’t even enough to justify an eviction petition.

    Some might think negatively of Mr. Thomas cause he is in the medical marijuana collective business but he has the same rights as any tenant and his landlord had no right to just lock the guy out and deny him entry. Mr. Thomas could have broken in, or hired a locksmith, shown his lease and obtained entry.

    I hope Mr. Thomas seeks legal redress against his landlord. Just cause he sells marijuana and the city doesn’t like it does not supersede our landlord-tenant laws. The landlord is behaving like a criminal and a bully as he self righteously, apparently, judges his tenant. No one, not even a mighty landlord or elite 1% or whoever the landlord might be, is above the law.

  • Tizzielish

    Being a few days late on rent still requires a legal eviction process, not just a landlord’s bullying.

  • bgal4

    Wrong, neither the landlord nor the business operator are paying taxes or business license fees.

  • bgal4

    Wrong, not if there is an illegal, non permitted use.

  • Completely_Serious

    Not sure about that. I think you’re describing the requirements for a residential eviction. This is a commercial lease and different rules might apply.

  • Xochi

    Reading the vitriolic language below, especially–’webvan for potheads’ is disheartening. You ever see a 40 year old man who walks with a cane, take 10 minutes to get out of his car and limp to the door of a dispensary to get his medicine? And what about the 80 year old granny in SF who is so weak from chemotherapy, too weak to even feed herself… Yes, there is cannabis delivery for everyone and maybe not all are as infirmed but enough of them are to make it necessary. Making fun of something you are ignorant about is just plain stupid. And you make fun of cannabis users….?
    Ignorance is bliss, so laugh on fool.

  • Che Joubert

    Why are drugs still illegal in this country? I remember when even right wingers such as William F. Buckley, editor of the National Review, supported the legalization of drugs. It’s been shown time and time again that virtually all the social problems stemming from ‘drug use’ actually stem from the criminalization of drug use. This has shown to be true all over the world. And remember this – there are four liquor stores on Sacramento between Dwight and Alcatraz. They ruin and contaminate all the neighborhoods around, cause crime, and create mini-ghettos where cute little corner stores should thrive. They always have and always will. Please, please, protest the existence of these liquor stores. Liquor is still the number one most destructive drug in the world, causing more deaths than all other drugs combined other than nicotine. And while you’re at it- please please protest cigarette sales anywhere in your town – that is, if you mean one negative word you’re uttering in print on this blog regarding marijuana – fat chance.

  • EBGuy

    Perhaps something positive may come out of the long process to shut down this illegal operation. Direct the City Manager to propose methods of enforcing the zoning and
    municipal codes that would result in more timely compliance of
    problematic uses, including those in undisputable violation of our laws,
    and/or propose ways in which to streamline the nuisance abatement
    procedure

    http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2012/12Dec/Documents/2012-12-11_Item_21_Streamlining_Enforcement.aspx

  • bgal4

    Don’t hold your breath. Unless the city adopts a fee based monitoring and enforcment program for the 4 permitted dispensary, little will change.

    I met with the CA and the Chief about this matter prior in mid Dec.