Tag Archives: Berkeley medical marijuana

Berkeley council picks Amoeba, Apothecarium as new cannabis dispensaries

Supporters of The Cannabis Center line up for public comment at last night's city council meeting. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley City Council last night approved the city’s fifth and sixth cannabis dispensaries, four months after approving the fourth. A long night of public comment and testimony was followed by a relatively brief discussion by councilmembers before selecting Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective (BC3), 2465 Telegraph Ave. (led by the owners of Amoeba Music), and The Apothecarium, 2578 Shattuck Ave. (from an established San Francisco dispensary).

Proposals from Berkeley Innovative Health, 1229 San Pablo Ave., and The Cannabis Center, 1436 University Ave., failed in their bids, although each attracted some support from members of the council.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

The council heard nearly three hours of testimony and public comment from the four applicants for the two dispensaries. All of the applicants promoted their professionalism and operational excellence, all had long lines of community members speaking in support. A relatively small number of community members raised concerns about location of any of the dispensaries. What differences could be gleaned from the public comment were largely of tone and nuance.

That was on top of a years-long process the applicants went through to select the city’s fourth dispensary, which concluded in May when the council approved the iCann Health Center on Sacramento Street. Because of the “compelling” quality of the applicants, according to Councilman Kriss Worthington, in July the council agreed to allow a fifth and sixth dispensary. The Medical Cannabis Commission had this year exhaustively evaluated the applicants as part of the lengthy decision on a fourth dispensary.

Adding two new dispensaries could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual tax revenues for the city.   … Continue reading »

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Neighbors express frustration with cannabis club

The Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley sits on the edge of a residential neighborhood and neighbors complain that is some clients are not respectful. Photo: Google Street Maps
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Outside the Cannabis Buyers Club of Berkeley at Shattuck Avenue and Essex Street, the scene is busy.

A black-clad security guard mindfully scans the street, making notes, while a colleague collects trash with a mechanical scoop from the sidewalks. After a few minutes, a black Hyundai Sonata rolls up, booming a track from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The noise prompts the manager of Café La Renaissance across the street to close the door in apparent frustration.

CBCB,  at 3033 Shattuck Ave., is a popular medical cannabis dispensary, at least judging from the amount of foot traffic on a weekday afternoon. Its supporters and customers praise it, and dispensary employees make an earnest attempt to monitor the immediate vicinity of the operation — at least when reporters are lurking. But the occasionally loud and frenetic activity outside its doors has riled some in the neighborhood.

Read more about Berkeley’s medical cannabis clubs.

More than a dozen neighbors, many of whom would speak only on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, expressed displeasure with a host of issues they say those hanging around outside the dispensary bring to the neighborhood. High on that list are double parking, driveway blocking and smoking pot in vehicles prior to driving off — all of which the residents Berkeleyside spoke with pointed out are illegal.

“It’s not a drug issue, it’s the people,” one neighbor told Berkeleyside outside his home. He added that he didn’t think the dispensary’s security guards spend enough time making sure CBCB’s customers leave the neighborhood after they acquire cannabis. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley may soon have 6 cannabis dispensaries

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Two months later, the council is on the verge of approving another two new dispensaries, which means Berkeley may soon have six places to buy medical cannabis.

The rapid turnaround came in part because city council members were so impressed by the presentations made by the six finalists vying for the fourth spot, said City Councilman Kriss Worthington. He said the presentations were “compelling,” and the applications were very different from one another.

 “The council was reluctant until they saw the depth and breadth of the applications,” said Worthington.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

Adding another two dispensaries will also add to the city’s coffers. In 2014, the existing three dispensaries contributed $638,938 in taxes, according to a staff report. Another three dispensaries would almost certainly generate several hundred thousand dollars in taxes annually. … Continue reading »

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Bike lane opens in Berkeley by near-fatal crash site; charges filed against driver, who police say was high

The new bike lane on Fulton Street in Berkeley. Photo: Kent Chen
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Update, 11:50 a.m. The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Berwick Haynes on May 2 with driving under the influence of drugs and causing great bodily injury. If convicted, he could be sent to prison. A warrant has been issued for Haynes’ arrest. Berkeleyside has asked BPD if there is any further information to release.

Update, 10:30 a.m. According to the spokeswoman from the Alameda County district attorney’s office, DUI charges have been filed against the driver. Berkeleyside has requested documentation of the charges and will update this post if that is provided. Currently, the case does not appear in county records online.

Original story: A new “protected” bike lane — set off from vehicular traffic — has been completed this week in Berkeley on Fulton Street with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday just in time for Bike to Work Day.

Advocacy group Bike East Bay, which has been pushing hard for the lane since last year, renewed calls for its creation in February after Berkeley scientist and new mother Megan Schwarzman was nearly killed while cycling nearby.

Schwarzman’s husband, Mike Wilson, addressed the Berkeley City Council in March and asked for speedy action. (He and his wife are avid cyclists and were members of Bike East Bay at the time of the crash.)

“You can imagine the strain on our family as Meg struggled to live through the first 12 hours, with a bleeding liver, 20 fractured ribs, a smashed pelvis, two partially collapsed lungs, and complex facial fractures,” he told council. “Let’s learn from what happened here and implement the long-overdue improvements in bicycle and pedestrian safety that are already embodied in Berkeley’s bicycle plan and Downtown plan. Meg and I will thank you, as will the thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who rely on your decisions to keep them and their families safe.”

Scroll down for a video of what it’s like to ride in the new lane.

Wilson also noted that the driver who ran over his wife was impaired, which “contributed to the severity of the collision.” But he said that better traffic planning would be critical in making a difference in the long run as far as safety for cyclists and drivers.

On May 2, 47-year-old Berwick Haynes was charged with driving under the influence of drugs and causing great bodily injury, according to the Alameda County district attorney’s office. According to the police report, acquired by Berkeleyside through a Public Records Act request, Haynes had bought medical marijuana from the Berkeley Patients Group dispensary shortly before the crash, which took place Feb. 2 at about 5 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley names iCANN as next cannabis dispensary

There was a full house at the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night for the selection of the city's fourth medical cannabis dispensary. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council unanimously named the iCANN Health Center on Sacramento Street as the city’s fourth medical cannabis dispensary.

In what was to many a surprise move, council also voted to have city staff and the Berkeley Planning Commission look at changing the law to increase the number of dispensaries in Berkeley from four to six. Officials said there were so many qualified applicants, which evidenced such a strong need, that an increase would make sense.

iCANN, which is focused on providing medical cannabis to seniors, was among six dispensaries to present applications to the city Tuesday. Their supporters also had a chance to lobby council during public comment.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of medical cannabis.

Several council members expressed strong support — if the law is changed to allow for more dispensaries — for an application from Amoeba Music’s owners to open the Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective on Telegraph Avenue next to the iconic record store.

The voters of Berkeley approved the idea of a fourth dispensary with Measure T in 2010.

(In the video below, iCANN supporters, including proprietor Sue Taylor on the right, react to the unanimous vote. Taylor, a Berkeley resident, sits on the board of the Alameda County Advisory Commission on Aging.)  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley commission shortlists 3 for cannabis dispensary

More than 50 people crowded into a room at City Hall on Feb. 4 to listen as the Medical Cannabis Commission selected three finalists for the fourth dispensary. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Berkeley’s Medical Cannabis Commission selected three finalists for the city’s coveted fourth dispensary opportunity Thursday. This despite the fact that a number of the commission’s members wanted to recommend all six dispensary finalists to the City Council as a way to suggest that Berkeley needs more medical cannabis in the community.

The top vote getter was Berkeley iCANN Health Center at 3243 Sacramento St. near Alcatraz Avenue. Its proprietor, Frances Sue Taylor, is a Berkeley resident who is on the board of the Alameda County Advisory Commission on Aging. iCANN would focus on reaching out to the senior community, she said. Six commissioners put iCANN at the top of their list.

Read more about medical cannabis issues in Berkeley.

The next highest vote getter was Berkeley Innovative Health, which would be located at 1229 San Pablo Ave., between Gilman and Harrison streets. Its proprietors are Shareef El-Sissi and Soufyan Abou-Ahmed and the dispensary would be modeled after their Garden of Eden dispensary in Hayward. Five commissioners put BIH near the top of their lists.

The third recommended dispensary is Berkeley Compassionate Care Center, which would be run out of the Ameoba Records building at 2465 Telegraph Ave. The owners of that dispensary would be Marc Weinstein and David Prinz. Its manager would be Debby Goldsberry, a founding member of the Berkeley Patients Group, and a board member of NORML, a nonprofit that has worked to legalize marijuana since its founding in 1970. BCC got four votes. … Continue reading »

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Finalists pitch for Berkeley’s fourth cannabis dispensary

Dave Prinz, co-owner of Amoeba Music on Telegraph Avenue, hopes to open a marijuana dispensary in the same block as the store. Photo by Lisa Tsering
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One offered expanded services to senior citizens living with chronic illness. Another pledged to provide strict round-the-clock security. Still another promised free yoga and group therapy.

The competition is down to the wire for six medical marijuana dispensary owners vying for a chance to become Berkeley’s latest medical cannabis destination. The city, which is now home to three medical cannabis dispensaries, opened up bids for its fourth and final location following the passage of Measure T in 2010, and has winnowed it down to six final applicants in six different locations around the city.

Representatives from the six businesses presented 10-minute pitches before the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission Jan. 28 at the North Berkeley Senior Center. (Read their applications in detail.)

Below are the final six applicants, in the order presented Jan. 28: … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley marijuana dispensary robbed at gunpoint

The Berkeley Patients' Group has distributed free medical cannabis for years to low-income patients. A new law passed by the  Berkeley City Council codifies this and requires dispensaries to give away 2% of its cannabis to the poor.
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Police are looking for three masked robbers with a gun who tied up a security guard and took several trays of marijuana plants from a Berkeley medical cannabis dispensary over the weekend while the business was closed.

The robbery took place Sunday just before 1:20 a.m., said Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, when three people went into the parking lot of the Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) dispensary at 2366 San Pablo Ave., near Channing Way.

A security guard was posted in the parking lot. No other employees were on site.

“The suspects approached the guard, one armed with a gun,” said Coats. “The guard was tied up. The suspects entered the business and forced the security guard to lay on the ground.” … Continue reading »

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6 groups vying for dispensary permit hold meetings

Amoeba Music. Photo: Tom Dalzell
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When David Prinz goes before a gathering of Telegraph Avenue neighbors Thursday to talk about the cannabis dispensary he would like to open at Amoeba Music, he will emphasize how his experience selling records will help him create a welcoming spot for cannabis patients. Plus, it will help revitalize the street, he will argue.

Salwa Ibrahim, in contrast, part of a group of female cannabis entrepreneurs, will tell attendees at a community meeting Nov. 20 about the boutique dispensary she and her partners want to open at 2067 University Ave. Berkeley already has three dispensaries, and the Blum Boutique would focus on products that may not be available in those spots, such as “ACDC” or “Sour Tsunami” – strains that are high in CBD and lower in THC, she will say.

The month of November in Berkeley might be dubbed “cannabis month,” as the six groups who are finalists in the competition to open a fourth dispensary are all holding public hearings. One meeting of iCann, already took place; the other five meetings will happen over the next 11 days, including one tonight, Nov. 10. The meetings are a required part of the application process. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley cannabis dispensary selection proceeds, despite mayor’s suggestion to stop process

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A plea by the chair of the Medical Cannabis Commission to reinstate his application for Berkeley’s fourth medical cannabis dispensary was ignored by the City Council Tuesday night, but council members did vote to slightly jigger the selection process.

The City Council voted 6-1-1, with Mayor Tom Bates voting no and City Councilwoman Lori Droste abstaining, to expand the fourth round of the selection process to include six dispensary applicants rather than five. (Councilman Max Anderson was absent.) The applicants will now hold public hearings to communicate with the various neighbors who might be affected by their plans.

The vote came after an unexpected motion by Mayor Bates to stop the selection process altogether, and to wait until 2017, after the 2016 election, when many believe there will be a ballot measure to legalize marijuana throughout the state.

“I don’t see why we need a fourth dispensary,” Bates told the council. “It’s likely it will be on the ballot in 2016. My strong advice would be to postpone this decision until after the November 2016 election and see where we are. If it fails we can revive it. If it passes, the issue is moot.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley medical cannabis commissioner faces fraud and extortion charges

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The former chair of Berkeley’s Medical Cannabis Commission (MCC) is scheduled to appear in federal court today, Sept. 23, to face extortion, fraud and money laundering charges connected to his dealings with cannabis dispensaries in Berkeley, Oakland and Las Vegas.

Daniel Rush, who used to serve as the executive director of the cannabis division of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 until he was fired in August, and who still sits on the MCC, faces more than 70 years in prison and a $1.27 million fine if convicted of the 15 counts with which he is charged.

In one of those counts, Rush, 55, is alleged to have offered special treatment to one of the applicants for Berkeley’s fourth dispensary spot. In exchange, Rush “demanded a well-paid job” from the applicant, according to the indictment filed Sept. 17 in federal court. The applicant is only identified in court papers as “Company A.”

Rush’s indictment has intensified criticism of Berkeley’s dispensary selection process by some applicants who had already been disqualified. But Zach Cowan, Berkeley’s city attorney, said the process was not tainted by Rush because he had nothing to do with the early stages of the selection process.

While Rush sits on the MCC, he has not played an active role in winnowing down the applicants to a smaller list, said Cowan. Rush has also promised to recuse himself in the future from any discussion or decision about the fourth dispensary, he said. … Continue reading »

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Crime

3 men held to answer after fatal Berkeley shooting

Kamahl Middleton
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An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that three young men charged in the fatal shooting of a Pinole man in Berkeley in December must now stand trial.

Judge Thomas Reardon said Monday afternoon, after a lengthy preliminary hearing that began in May, that the prosecution had presented enough evidence to demonstrate a “strong suspicion” that Gregory Foote, Carl Young and Khalil Phanor were responsible for the shooting that killed 36-year-old Kamahl Middleton, who grew up in Berkeley, and wounded his fiancée, Rebekah Cleberg, during a robbery Dec. 29, 2014.

According to evidence presented during the hearing, the couple had arranged, after posting an ad on Craigslist, to trade 1½ pounds of a strain of medical marijuana called “Girl Scout Cookies,” for a donation of $3,200, to a man who had provided a verified medical cannabis card and state ID card.

The man pictured in that ID card was identified as Carl Young, 20, of San Leandro. According to Alameda County deputy district attorney Rebecca Warren, 19-year-old Foote of Oakland had acted as the driver on the night of the shooting, Young had been assigned to interact with the couple prior to the robbery, and 18-year-old Phanor of San Leandro had been the gunman.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man tried to shield fiancée during fatal Berkeley shooting

Kamahl Middleton
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Moments before being struck by a fatal shotgun blast, a Pinole man killed in Berkeley in December used his body to try to shield his fiancée from the gunman, she testified in court Wednesday.

Rebekah Cleberg of Pinole described the Dec. 29, 2014, shooting in West Berkeley as a medical marijuana exchange that quickly became an armed robbery in the parking lot by the 99 Cents store on San Pablo and University avenues.

Cleberg, 29, said she and her fiancé, 36-year-old Kamahl Middleton, drove to Berkeley from Pinole after arranging to trade about 1½ pounds of a strain of medical marijuana called “Girl Scout Cookies,” for a donation of $3,200, to a man who had provided a verified medical cannabis card and state ID card.

“We told him we were going to give him all the nicest ones,” she said. … Continue reading »

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