Tag Archives: Chris Smith

Berkeley dismisses official who made ‘insensitive’ racial comment during cannabis collective appeal

Berkeley officials contend that Forty Acres operatied an illegal cannabis operation on the top floor of this building at 1820-1828 San Pablo Avenue. Photo: Google Street View
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The city of Berkeley on Thursday dismissed the official who was overseeing the nuisance abatement appeal by the Forty Acres medical cannabis collective after he made “insensitive” remarks concerning race during the hearing.

It is the fifth hearing officer to be assigned, and then withdrawn, from the case. Berkeley officials are now uncertain how to proceed. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley City Council: Let’s add 4th cannabis dispensary

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The Berkeley City Council took a huge step Tuesday night towards the approval of a fourth medical cannabis dispensary, but deferred passing an ordinance until July 1.

The Council voted unanimously to adopt regulations put forth by the Medical Cannabis Commission, with some amendments, to set up a process to select a fourth dispensary and the guidelines for selection. The council also indicated they wanted to adopt new rules to better regulate both dispensaries and the smaller, less formal, cannabis collectives. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley still battling Forty Acres cannabis collective

Berkeley officials contend that Forty Acres operatied an illegal cannabis operation on the top floor of this building at 1820-1828 San Pablo Avenue. Photo: Google Street View
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The lawyers for Chris Smith, the owner of Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Grower’s Collective, will ask an Alameda County judge Friday to force the city of Berkeley to hold a public hearing on Smith’s appeal of the declaration that his collective is a public nuisance.

Berkeley officials have scheduled a closed-door hearing, with no press or public allowed, for June 17 on the appeal and have hired an outside administrator to rule on the case — at a cost of as much as $12,000.

Smith wants his appeal to be heard, instead, by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB), where he and others can talk openly about operations of the collective, said Lee Hepner, Smith’s attorney. When the city declared medical cannabis collective Perfect Plants Patients Group, or 3PG, to be a public nuisance, both the zoning board and the Berkeley City Council heard the matter, said Hepner. Forty Acres wants that opportunity as well, and suspects Berkeley has political reasons for choosing a closed-door hearing.

“We believe it is because they don’t want a public airing of the city attorney’s and city manager’s costly persecution of Mr. Smith (spanning over three years) brought before the City Council and ZAB, who have a level of expertise on zoning and use issues and can grant Mr. Smith various additional relief to which he is entitled,” said Hepner. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley orders Forty Acres to stop cannabis operations

Berkeley officials contend that 40 Acres is operating an illegal cannabis operation on the top floor of this building at 1820-1828 San Pablo Avenue. Photo: Google Street View
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The city of Berkeley has declared the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective a public nuisance and ordered it to cease and desist all its cannabis operations by Monday Oct. 28.

Gregory Daniel, Berkeley’s code enforcement supervisor, sent Forty Acres and its co-founder, Chris Smith, a letter on Oct 21 detailing the results of the city’s surprise Oct. 8 inspection of 1820 San Pablo Avenue. Daniel said that Smith’s four apartments are clearly being used for cannabis operations and there is no sign of residential use. That is a violation of Berkeley law since collectives are only allowed in residential areas and must be “incidental” to the use of the building, according to the letter. Not only does Smith not live at 1820 San Pablo Ave., but Forty Acres is operating in a commercial zone, which is illegal, according to city officials. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley forcibly enters Forty Acres cannabis collective

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In the latest battle between Berkeley officials and the medical cannabis collective Forty Acres, police and city inspectors forcibly entered four apartments at 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave. on Tuesday to look for code violations.

A contingent of Berkeley police accompanied members of Berkeley’s code enforcement division in the surprise Oct. 8, 8 a.m. visit to the second floor of the building, which is near the intersection with University Avenue. An attorney for Chris Smith, a founder of Forty Acres and a resident of the apartments, said police broke down the door to his client’s home and may have pulled their guns. City officials said a door was removed from its hinges and there was no-one at the apartments at the time.

The inspection came two weeks after Smith filed a lawsuit against the city of Berkeley, the Medical Cannabis Commission, Greg Daniel, a code enforcement officer, Elizabeth Greene, a city planner and staff member of the cannabis commission, Nathan Dahl, a planner, and a variety of city departments. … Continue reading »

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Court orders eviction of Forty Acres cannabis collective

A cannabis grow room in the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers Collective in September 2011. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The landlord of the San Pablo Avenue building that houses Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective won a court judgement last week to evict the cannabis business.

An Alameda County jury voted 12-0 on Nov. 2 that the collective was a nuisance and an unlawful use of the property, according to Michael McLaughlin, attorney for Clarence Soe, who owns the building with his two sisters. The sheriff’s department is scheduled to evict Chris Smith, the collective’s top executive, the collective, and other tenants the week of Nov. 26, he said.

But the eviction might be stayed if Smith’s attorney convinces a court that Soe rented the premises to Smith under false pretenses, said Clifford Fried, Smith’s attorney. He has filed for an injunction against the eviction as well as a separate lawsuit charging Soe with fraud and asking for $50,000 in damages. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley orders 2 cannabis collectives to shut down

The Perfect Plants Patients Group on Sacramento St. has been ordered to move out
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The city of Berkeley has issued “cease and desist” orders to two medical cannabis collectives, leading one to shut its doors.

The Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers Collective at 1820 San Pablo Avenue stopped operations in late January after Berkeley Code Enforcement sent it a letter informing the group it was operating in violation of the city’s municipal code.

The Perfect Plants Patients Group, or 3PGs, at 2840B Sacramento St., is still in business.

“It has come to the City of Berkeley’s attention that you are operating a medical marijuana establishment that is dispensing medical marijuana in a non-residential zoning district,” Gregory Daniel, the code enforcement supervisor, wrote to the two collectives on Dec. 8. “The establishment is in violation of the Berkeley Municipal Code … and must therefore cease and desist.”

Daniel also told 3PGs that it is operating less than 600 feet from Longfellow Middle School, which is the minimum distance any cannabis entity can be from a school. … Continue reading »

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Councilman: Look at unauthorized collectives

A sign warning against drug dealing near the location of a new medical cannabis collective.
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City Councilman Jesse Arreguín will ask the city manager tonight to investigate whether two medical cannabis collectives are operating in violation of Berkeley’s zoning laws.

Arreguín’s announced his intent after a contentious meeting of the Medical Cannabis Commission on Thursday, Dec. 1. The MCC spent a large part of its meeting debating whether to send a letter to city officials drawing attention to the proliferation of collectives in commercial districts, but could not agree on the wording. The MCC will take up the matter again in January.

“I don’t think this should be swept under the rug,” said Arreguín. “It is an important issue. Some action needs to be taken. The city is trying to be sensitive to these particular collectives, which provide medicine to patients. At the same time, they are clearly violating the city’s zoning laws and medical marijuana ordinances.” … Continue reading »

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Rapid growth of cannabis collective raises concern

Kareem Cokes at the 40 Acres lounge, where he helps patients select medical cannabis. Photos: Frances Dinkelspiel
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In the 21 months since it opened, the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers Collective has seen its membership jump to more than 7,000 people, making it one of the fastest growing and largest cannabis businesses in Berkeley.

From a set of rooms located above the Albatross pub on San Pablo Avenue, Forty Acres has become more than just a place where people can obtain and consume medical cannabis. Started by African-Americans, run by African-Americans, Forty Acres aims to bring diversity to the medical cannabis movement and use the rapidly growing industry as a way to open up opportunities for the poor and disenfranchised.

The leaders of the collective actively reach out to marginalized young adults and encourage them to enter the group’s training program, where they can learn the nuts and bolts of bud tending, cultivation, patient intake methods, and how to assess product.

“There is a population of kids, high school dropouts, who are coming to us to learn,” said Toya Groves, a director and one of the four co-founders of the group. “This is a way the unemployable become employable.” … Continue reading »

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