by David Downs
Medical marijuana industry leader Berkeley Patients Group of Berkeley will close its doors at the end of its business day today — and not re-open them. A receptionist there just confirmed the contents of an email sent to collective members this morning, stating: "Today is our last day."
Last fall, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag threatened to seize the dispensary's San Pablo Ave. property, and BPG's landlords served the massive club with an eviction notice, effective May 1. BPG has not announced plans to relocate.
The total closure of the Berkeley institution would be the among the biggest, most significant blows to the California medical marijuana industry since the crackdown started last October. BPG is widely considered a model dispensary in a town that led the charge to regulate such businesses.
It also marks the federal evisceration of another thriving East Bay business that directly employed dozens of people, served tens of thousands of patients, and generated major tax revenue for local, and state coffers. Activists are going to be livid and the average person confused as to how this happened, given that medical marijuana is legal in California and BPG has a business license to operate in Berkeley.
Simply put, cannabis is still federally illegal, and the feds are targeting the best, brightest and most responsible actors in California to send a message to all that no one is immune from the drug war. Our sympathies go out to all the BPG employees now looking for work.