Tag Archives: Toya Groves

Zoning Board says cannabis collective a public nuisance

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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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted unanimously Nov. 6 to declare the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective a public nuisance – the latest step in Berkeley’s three-year odyssey to shut the place down.

ZAB officials listened to two and a half hours of testimony at the hearing, including impassioned pleas from neighbors who said the area near 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave., right above The Albatross pub, had become a no-go zone.

The smell of marijuana in the area is so strong that numerous families don’t let their children play outside, according to testimony of several neighbors. Cars routinely block driveways – and the drivers become aggressive when asked to move. Groups of people openly smoke cannabis on the sidewalks. Sometimes the partying goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Those that can’t make it home sometimes sleep in door-wells or on the sidewalk, according to neighbors. … Continue reading »

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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It is the fifth hearing officer to be assigned, and then withdrawn, from the case.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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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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ZAB tells Berkeley cannabis collective to shut down

Code enforcement officer Greg Daniel and Deputy City Attorney Laura McKinney prepare to present report to Zoning Adjustments Board. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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After listening to residents complain how a medical cannabis facility on Sacramento Street had drawn unsavory loiterers, trash, and trouble – as well as testimony that it was a good neighbor – the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday voted 7-0, with one abstention, to declare it a public nuisance.

The vote that determined Perfect Plants Patients Group at 2840-B Sacramento Street had violated numerous zoning laws will send the issue to the City Council, which will make the final determination whether the business should shut down.

The decision disappointed Eric Thomas, who founded the medical cannabis collective. He said he has been trying to find a new location for the business, but has not found a landlord willing to rent to him. … 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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Commission ponders growth of unlicensed pot groups

The Medical Cannabis Commission at its September meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Berkeley’s Medical Cannabis Commission agreed on Thursday to send a letter to the city manager expressing concern about the proliferation of cannabis collectives in areas that are not zoned for them.

The commission noted that two collectives — Forty Acres and Perfect Patient’s Plant Group — were operating much like dispensaries without having to comply with the numerous laws that regulate them, including getting licensed and paying taxes

“It is really important that we watch out for the interests of those people who are abiding by what is asked of them by the City of Berkeley,” said Commissioner Stewart Jones, referring to the three dispensaries currently permitted by the city. “I am concerned about an influx of (groups) coming into Berkeley. There are two now. Next week there could be two more.” … 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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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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