City orders two Berkeley medical cannabis collectives to close

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One of Berkeley’s medical cannabis collectives has closed and another is at risk of being shut down following concerns that the businesses were illegally operating as dispensaries rather than collectives.

On Dec. 8, the city’s code enforcement supervisor Gregory Daniel sent letters to the Perfect Plants Patient’s Group and 40 Acres Medical Marijuana Growers Collective — two of the city’s several collectives — notifying them that they were in violation of the Berkeley municipal code because they were operating in a non-residential zoning district.

Both letters conclude with the statement “you are required to immediately cease your operation.”

As of late January, 40 Acres had closed and moved out of its location at 1820 San Pablo Ave.

According to Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, the distinction between collectives and dispensaries is a gray area, with different definitions in state and city policies. While a dispensary is allowed to “dispense medical cannabis at a non-residential location,” collectives are not allowed to operate in commercial or manufacturing districts and are only allowed to operate out of a residence.

Members of the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission and residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the collectives raised concerns to the Berkeley City Council about the ways in which the two collectives were operating.

At a Dec. 6 City Council meeting, Councilmembers Arreguin and Darryl Moore requested that city staff look into the two collectives.

“Local and state officials are not doing much to help these issues,” said Charles Pappas, a member of the Medical Cannabis Commission. “The medical cannabis community is also not unified.”

Perfect Plants Patient’s Group was notified in their letter that they are also in violation of the city law that restricts dispensaries from operating within 600 feet of a public or private elementary, middle or high school for their proximity to Longfellow Middle School.

“It’s unfair to the collectives who are competing for that spot as the fourth dispensary for these two to be operating out of compliance with the regulations,” Arreguin said.

Arreguin said he did not know whether or not 40 Acres planned to reopen elsewhere in Berkeley, but hopes that they will do so in a way that conforms to the city’s laws.

“I think 40 Acres provides a service to the community,” said Arreguin. “The issue is that they were violating the law and setting a bad precedent for collectives to operate as dispensaries.”

Adelyn Baxter is the lead city government reporter.