Tag Archives: Berkeley Northeast Patients Group
Name: Isabelle Gaston
Job: Medical writer (oncology)
What office are you are running for? Berkeley City Council, District 6
What is the main reason you are running? The main reason I am running is because I am profoundly disheartened by the state of our City’s infrastructure, fiscal mismanagement, and seemingly unbridled development — and I want to do something about it.
I am also very concerned about District 6’s safety: our district lacks an earthquake shelter; has not undergrounded most of its utility wires (after waiting decades); and has inadequate police patrolling (only one officer for District 5 and 6 per evening shift).
Why are you qualified for the position? For over four years, I have served as President of the Northeast Berkeley Association (NEBA), one of the largest, oldest, and most respected neighborhood associations in Berkeley. Since being President, I have become very active in City politics; spoken at numerous City Council sessions; and written many articles regarding the City’s budget challenges, structural deficit, unfunded liabilities, and need to rebuild our City’s physical and financial infrastructure. … Continue reading »
Rebecca DeKeuster’s first job at the Berkeley Patients Group in 2004 was selling medical marijuana to patients for $14 an hour.
Within six years, DeKeuster was one of Berkeley Patients Group’s most powerful executives and visible representatives. She served on the city’s medical cannabis commission, appeared regularly at conferences around the country, and spearheaded the 2008 campaign to pass Measure JJ, an initiative to improve city regulations surrounding cannabis. By 2011, DeKeuster’s salary had shot up to $125,000 a year.
But in an unexpected turnaround, the Berkeley Patients Group has filed a lawsuit against DeKeuster – as well as a new organization she heads, the Northeast Patients Group — claiming DeKeuster breached a contract when the BPG sent her to Maine to set up a new string of medical cannabis facilities. DeKeuster stole the organization’s trade secrets, formed a secret alliance with a new financial backer, and failed to repay $632,195 in loans, according to the lawsuit.
In a sign of the growing professionalization of the medical cannabis industry, Mark Rhoades and Ali Kashani, the owners of the Berkeley development company Citycentric Investments, have teamed up with Debby Goldsberry, a founder of the Berkeley Patients Group, to open a number of medical marijuana facilities around the East Bay.
Rhoades, Kashani, and Goldsberry have applied to open a cannabis dispensary in Albany and are planning to apply to open another in Oakland.
On Saturday, at the California NORML conference in Berkeley, the trio advertised their plans for a new Oakland collective they hope will combine an aesthetically appealing space with a large range of social services. They hung up a big banner on the second floor of the David Brower Center announcing the ARCH Collective, which stands for the Angel’s Retreat for Cannabis Health, to solicit prospective members.
There are only two large dispensaries in the East Bay, Harborside Health Center and BPG, and they are both over capacity, said Goldsberry. Since the rest of the dispensaries in the East Bay are small, there is an urgent need for a new large facility that can accommodate the growing number of medical cannabis patients, she said.
“There’s a war on drugs out there,” said Goldsberry, who along with Rhoades was a speaker at the conference, which looked at next steps for marijuana laws in California. “We want to make a gathering place that people feel comfortable hanging out in. We want to create a place to retreat, a place to come and get healthy, get recharged and then go out back in the world.” … Continue reading »