Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Medical Pot Dispensary Shuttered by Feds Reopens in Berkeley

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group
This article first published on Dec. 20, 2012
BERKELEY -- One of the East Bay's largest medical marijuana dispensaries reopened here Wednesday down the street from its former location that was closed in May under pressure from the federal government. 

Berkeley Patients Group, which at one time boasted 10,000 members but now declines to give numbers, reopened at 2366 San Pablo Avenue. It's former location at 2747 San Pablo Avenue was closed after the federal government threatened to seize the property from the owner if it did not close because it was too close to two nearby schools. 

Since May, the dispensary has run a delivery service but has not had a storefront. One of three dispensaries licensed by Berkeley to do business in commercial zones, the group this year is celebrating 12 years. 

"We are happy to be getting back to work, serving our patients and providing good jobs for our employees," Brad Senesac, spokesman for the dispensary, said in statement. 

In August, Nahla Droubi of Moraga, the owner of the new lot where Berkeley Patients Group relocated to, said she is confident her property will not be seized by the federal government. 

"Our property is not close to any school," Droubi said at the time. "The previous landlord had a very good experience with this group. He said they were very organized and most important thing is they had no violations and great security." 

The founder of Berkeley Patients Group, Debby Goldsberry, who no longer works with the organization but continues to work as a medical marijuana advocate, said the fact that Washington and Colorado now have legalized marijuana for recreational use was not a game changer for medical marijuana in California. 

"People are not thinking that Colorado and Washington are going to take the pressure off medical marijuana in California," Goldsberry said. "The federal government is still issuing statements that are relatively meaningless, and it is not yet encouraging." 

On Dec. 14, President Barack Obama told ABC News' Barbara Walters, "We got bigger fish to fry," when asked about the federal government going after recreational users in Washington and Colorado. 

"Ahh, the famous fish fry," Goldsberry said. "It's the same thing he said with medical cannabis in California, 'we are not going after individual users, we're going after dealers,' which is just not true. The federal approach hasn't changed at all." 

Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.

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