Tag Archives: Berkeley Patients Group

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Kids 'N' Clay, proposed new location
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TRIPLE ROCK Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley is planning to expand. Triple Rock and its engineering firm neighbors are teaming up to put a “new full service restaurant” in the empty space next to the existing beer joint, at 1920 Shattuck. The engineers will have the top floor and Triple Rock will have the 3,080-square-foot bottom, at 1912 Shattuck. Plans and layouts are subject to change, but there’s talk of a brewery and kitchen expansion and some upgrades, we hear from East Bay Beer. Plans include seating for about 95 guests and capacity for 118. Upon completion of the new space, the owner will “likely replace the kitchen of the existing Triple Rock … with increased bar space, increased brewing capacity or a combination of both” according to the application before the city. Proposed hours of operation are from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Expect completion in 2014. Triple Rock, 1920 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2749. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley moves to shut down cannabis operation

The exterior of Perfect Plants Patients Group shortly after it opened in September 2011. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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More than a year after it opened its doors in an apparent violation of Berkeley’s zoning laws, city officials are taking steps to shutter the Perfect Plants Patients Group (3PGs) at 2840-B Sacramento Street.

City staff will ask the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday to find that 3PGs is a public nuisance and is in violation of Berkeley’s municipal code. If the ZAB board agrees, the matter will be referred to the City Council for action.

The city believes that 3PGs is violating numerous zoning and municipal code laws: it is operating a retail outlet without a permit; it is operating as a medical cannabis dispensary without a permit; if it tries to claim it is a cannabis collective rather than a dispensary it is still operating illegally because collectives cannot be in commercial districts. 3PGs is also located just 546 feet from Longfellow Middle School. The law requires a 600-foot buffer.

“As a result of the above facts and investigation, it is apparent that Perfect Plants Patients Group cannabis operation at 2840-B Sacramento Street has repeatedly and consistently operated in violation of BMC Chapter 12.26 and the Zoning Ordinance,” states the staff report’s conclusion. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Patients Group finds new home on San Pablo Ave.

A bulldozer rips up the parking lot at the new San Pablo Avenue home of Berkeley Patients Group. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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[Article is updated at the bottom.]

Three months after the federal government forced it from its long-term home on San Pablo Avenue, the Berkeley Patients Group has found a new location just a few blocks away.

Construction crews have been working to transform a small, dilapidated one-story building at 2366 San Pablo Avenue near Channing Way into BPG’s new dispensary. On Wednesday, a bulldozer was breaking up an asphalt parking lot and workers were hauling away debris.

Berkeley Patients Group declined to answer questions about its new location, but it looks like it will be many weeks or months before it can open. In a permit application submitted to the city by Sean Luse, one of BPG’s managers, the dispensary applied for permission to replace its parking lot and renovate the 1,200 square foot building, including cutting new doors to make it accessible for those in wheelchairs. The structure was built in 1964 as an A&W drive-in restaurant. … Continue reading »

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Report: Berkeley Patients Group earned $15m in 2009

As Berkeley Patients Group prepared to shut its doors on May 1, it advertised its delivery services on a sign behind the reception desk. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Berkeley Patients Group took in $15 million and paid its top executives $911,000 in 2009, while only donating $18,083 to charities, according to a story released Wednesday by California Watch.

Etienne Fontan earned $357,529, Tim Schick earned $290,765, and Debby Goldsberry earned $263,299 in 2009, part of $3.3 million spent on labor costs, according to story. The medical cannabis dispensary, which operated at 2747 San Pablo Avenue until May, when the federal government forced it to close, spent $151,789 on security in 2009 and distributed $253,433 to marijuana advocacy organizations, according to California Watch. It made about a 40% profit on its products.

BPG officials had told the Oakland Tribune in 2009 that it donated about $300,000 a year to charities. … Continue reading »

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Sadness surrounds closing of Berkeley Patients Group

Security guards check the credentials of a patient on the last day of operations of Berkeley Patients Group. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The mood was somber Monday at Berkeley Patients Group as the 12-and-a-half-year old cannabis dispensary got ready to shut its doors.

Like every day, patients streamed in at a steady rate, handing over a doctor’s prescription and driver’s license to get inside. But many of them were also greeted with a hug and expression of gratitude.

“I want to thank you ladies for coming on our last day,” Joshua, a supervisor in the safety department who was working the security detail at the front door said to two patients. He asked that his last name not be used. “You will always be in our hearts and minds.”

Berkeley Patients Group is closing because the federal government informed its landlord, David Mayeri, in November that it might seize his assets if cannabis operations were not stopped. The letter from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag was part of a broad-based crackdown on cannabis operations around California, a push that has resulted in the closure of dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries. Berkeley Patients Group, which has 13,000 members, is the largest and oldest dispensary to be affected, however. … Continue reading »

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Concern over future location of cannabis collective

Front entrance to Berkeley Patients Group
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Last Tuesday afternoon, around 1:30pm, Rebecca, who describes herself as a “50ish” recent transplant from Los Angeles, headed over to the Berkeley Patients Group at 2747 San Pablo Avenue. For the past six months, ever since she moved north, Rebecca has gone to the medical cannabis dispensary once a month to get marijuana to help her with her insomnia brought on by menopause.

“It’s my favorite place,” said the Rockridge resident, who did not give her last name. “It just feels like a community place. The folks are very knowledgeable. I really rely on what they say.”

Rebecca does not know what she will do when BPG closes its doors on May 1, a casualty of the recent federal crackdown on dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of a school or park. She has visited other collectives, but none has made her feel as welcome as Berkeley Patients Group. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Patients Group says it is moving, not closing

Front entrance to Berkeley Patients Group
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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.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s largest cannabis dispensary to close May 1

Cannabis plants for sale at Berkeley Patients Group. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Medical cannabis patients in Berkeley will have a more difficult time getting marijuana after Berkeley Patient’s Group shuts down on May 1.

California Watch is reporting today that BPG has signed a legal agreement with its landlord, David Mayeri, to vacate the premises. The agreement came after Mayeri received a letter from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag warning him there might be financial or legal repercussions if distribution of cannabis did not cease at that location.

“Berkeley Patients Group agrees to cease all cannabis-related activities and remove all cannabis-related property from the premises by May 1, 2012,” a legal document filed Feb. 28 in Alameda County Court states, according to California Watch.

Berkeleyside reported yesterday that Mayeri had put his property at 2747 San Pablo Avenue up for sale for $2.55 million. … Continue reading »

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News

Federal letter may make Berkeley Patients Group relocate

Berkeley Patients Group on San Pablo Avenue
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The owner of the building that houses the Berkeley Patients Group has put it up for sale, further fueling whispers that the federal government sent a letter ordering the cannabis dispensary to shut down.

Gordon Commerical Real Estate is listing the property at 2747 San Pablo Avenue, which is owned by David Mayeri, as a development site for $2.55 million. The 17,500 square foot structure, built in 1953, is an old car dealership, and has a distinctive rounded front room with curved windows that once displayed automobiles. The property has permits in place for a five-story mixed-use building.

The East Bay Express reported in February that the head of NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, said that BPG had gotten a letter from the federal government telling it to shut down. Officials from Berkeley Patients Group have declined to confirm or deny the reports that Mayeri received a letter from U.S. Attorney Melissa Haag. But well-informed sources who asked not to be named tell Berkeleyside that Mayeri got a notice in late November. … Continue reading »

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Cannabis dispensaries display a stylish flair

The renovated lounge area at BPG. The frosted covering on the windows was removed to make the place feel airier and more open. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel
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After the Berkeley Patients’ Group’s plans to move into the old Sharffen Berger chocolate factory on Heinz and Seventh Street fell through in 2010, the medical cannabis dispensary turned its attention back onto its San Pablo Avenue home. If the organization, which serves hundreds of people a day, wasn’t going to be moving into larger digs, what could it do to make the experience better for patients?

In a word, remodel.

Over the last year, Berkeley’s largest cannabis dispensary … Continue reading »

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Does new cannabis body provide more accountability?

Marijuana plants for sale at the old location of Berkeley Patients Group
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After months of delay, Berkeley’s new Medical Cannabis Commission will meet for the first time on Thursday, ushering in, city officials hope, a new era of oversight and accountability.

For the past 15 years the medical marijuana business has operated in a gray zone, legal in the city and the state but at risk from crackdowns by the federal government, which does not recognize cannabis as medicine. Despite this uncertainty, the medical cannabis industry has flourished in Berkeley, spawning three … Continue reading »

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Berkeley cannabis lawsuit reveals bitter infighting

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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.

As a result, the Berkeley Patients Group lost the inroads it had made into exporting its expertise and expanding into a new region of the country. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Patients Group owes $6.4 million in back taxes

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Berkeley Patients Group (BPG), the city’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, owes more than $6.4 million in back taxes and interest, according to the state’s Board of Equalization (BOE). The BOE confirmed their original assessment of taxes at its meeting in Sacramento this week. Berkeleyside revealed the tax dispute earlier this month.

Elisabeth Jewel, the lawyer lobbyist representing BPG in the case, told Berkeleyside that the group will apply to the BOE’s “offer in compromise” program. “There’s no way that Berkeley Patients Group can pay $6 million in taxes,” she said. “The purpose of the offer in compromise program is to come up with a plan that keeps a taxpayer in business.”

Jewel said that the BOE made clear in its hearing this week that it wanted to find a way to keep BPG solvent. The BPG application will be made soon, according to Jewel. … Continue reading »

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