A local medical cannabis business will be moving its operations out of Berkeley after the City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to declare it a public nuisance.
As part of the declaration, the city ordered Perfect Plants Patient’s Group — also known as 3PG — to shut down due to complaints from community members and multiple violations of the Berkeley Municipal Code, including operating in a commercial zone and being located within 600 feet of Longfellow Middle School.
“I’m really disappointed that it took so long for the issue to be resolved,” said Councilmember Darryl Moore. “It was an illegal operation from the very beginning, but it took 14 months, and that is just way too long.”
3PG has been running its business for the past 14 months from its location at 2840-B Sacramento St. Members of the Sacramento Street Improvement Association, a group of concerned citizens, began organizing support to remove the cannabis business from the neighborhood in November 2011.
The association’s campaign in opposition to 3PG was inspired by neighbors who were concerned with street drug sales and crime that was associated with the business, said Ryan Kerian, chief officer of the association.
“Basically, we feel that any illegal activity is a magnet that attracts more crime,” Kerian said. “We want to do everything we can do to protect the neighborhood. It is a good neighborhood with good people, and we feel that 3PG operating illegally has the potential to attract additional illegal activities.”
Managing member of 3PG Eric Thomas repeatedly denied the accusation that crimes committed in the area were directly associated with the business and said his main qualms were regarding the city’s convoluted zoning definitions related to medical cannabis.
“What it boils down to is a wording of definitions that needs to be cleared up,” Thomas said. “Some of the definitions don’t clearly cover all of the needs for the cannabis collectives … So it makes it hard for somebody to try to be professional.”
3PG has spent around $10,000 in paying off fines to the city and in legal fees for lawyers, according to Thomas. If he were to ever consider opening another collective in Berkeley, Thomas said current city laws would need to be rewritten first.
Thomas owns another collective in Vallejo to which he is currently referring customers after closing his Berkeley location.
“We don’t know how to move forward,” Thomas said. “The definitions in place are very cloudy.”
Kerian said he will be skeptical of the enforcement of the city’s proclamation until 3PG’s property is entirely moved out of the building, as the city has not been strict in enforcing 3PG’s closure in the past.
“The sign is still up, the office is still occupied,” Kerian said. “We won’t believe they’re gone until they’re gone.”