Gasparas Defies City, Opens Plaza Pot Shop – September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

I STREET – The Sai Center saga saw an eventful week as proprietor Steven Gasparas was evicted from his longtime lair, moved his cannabis business to a storefront on a Plaza block without a permit, was served a written warning by the City and just kept on buying and selling pot.

But even as the local enforcement drama deepened, the federal Department of Justice may have monkeywrenched Arcata’s entire cannabis regulation scheme.

The Planning Commission has been reviewing the Sai Center’s application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), required under the City’s Land Use Code. It was to continue hearings on Gasparas’s application Sept. 27, but that has been postponed due to possible legal complications.

As he fought the Sai Center’s eviction from its 11th and K streets location, Gasparas urgently pleaded for approval of his CUP, but the Planco has continued to take oral and written testimony – mostly negative – on whether or not to allow a cannabis center on a Plaza block.

The night before his Tuesday, Sept. 13 eviction, and though lacking a permit or any immediate prospect of getting one, Gasparas moved to 889 Ninth St. and re-opened the next day.

“That is absolutely a violation and we intend to work with police and the city attorney to make sure he doesn’t operate without a permit,” said Community Development Director Larry Oetker. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s medical marijuana, a U-Haul [rental outlet] or what.”

Friday afternoon, three days after it opened and following discussions among City staff as to how best to proceed, Arcata Police officers served a Notice of Violation on the new Sai Center. Gasparas wasn’t present, but the notice was accepted by an employee and the store remained open.

A history of conflict

Gasparas’ business record in Arcata has been marked by clashes with authority, squabbles with individuals and multiple court appearances.

The Sai Center’s flouting of City law by remaining open is reminiscent of Gasparas’ refusal to close his Sai Om Shree Indian restaurant despite multiple Health Code violations and visits by the county Health Dept., Sheriff’s Office and Arcata Police.

Gasparas maintained that the eatery was not a restaurant, but an amenity to biofeedback customers at what he then called the iCenter, located a few doors away at 11th and K Street. He insisted on a jury trial for the violations, got one, was convicted of three misdemeanors and fined, with three years probation.

Other court skirmishes have involved former employees and the iCenter’s landlord.

Helmut’s living hell

Helmut Remiorz came to the U.S. in 1974 from Frankfurt, Germany following a stint in the Peace Corps. Trained as a chemical engineer and journeyman mechanic, he first went to Berkeley, then accepted a job offer in Arcata. In 1975 he founded German Motors and later sold it in 2004.

He now has time – between clashes with his troublesome tenant – to pursue his passion, restoring old Porsches and Alfa-Romeos. Now 62, the gentle German’s interests include reading classic literature, skiing, bicycling and photography.

But most of his hobbies have been neglected as he fought repeated battles with the intransigent tenant he took on in 2007.

“It’s been four years from hell, I tell you,” Remiorz said, offering a  regretful recap of the period.

The then-iCenter opened in July, 2007, he said, and within hours, Remiorz and Gasparas were at odds. “I made a mistake and I learned it the first week,” Remiorz said.

He said Gasparas had represented the iCenter as a biofeedback business which would “sell a little [cannabis] on the side.”

Gasparas immediately set up a grow inside his rental spot, fumes of which pervaded the building. “In the first day it started – the marijuana smell,” Remiorz recalled. “My tenants were in an uproar.”

Gasparas countered the complaints with some of his own, faulting employees of neighboring businesses for smoking too near doorways. Remiorz said Gasparas retaliated by smoking and cleaning cannabis outside of the neighboring NuGames computer gaming center, frequented by young customers.

Gasparas installed an ineffectual air filtration system, built rooms inside his space, violating his lease, and mildew began to spread from the grow.

Efforts to amicably resolve matters failed. “He wanted to go to court and have a jury trial,” Remiorz said, which could have cost him as much as $20,000. In Nov., 2007, a settlement was worked out between their respective attorneys giving Gasparas three years’ tenancy.

But as that term ran short, Gasparas added a note in the memo line of a rent check to the effect that acceptance of the check constituted a lease extension. But with the previous agreement in hand, Remiorz went ahead and deposited the annotated check.

Come November, 2010, Remiorz said Gasparas refused to budge, claiming that he had been granted a lease extension by the rent check cashing. The two went to court again, hammering out a settlement under which Gasparas would pay more rent and vacate the premises by Aug. 31, 2011, at which point, he assured Remiorz, he would have his CUP.

But he didn’t, and didn’t budge. Remiorz served Gasparas with an eviction notice on Wednesday, Aug. 31. The next day, Gasparas filed for a stay, and he notified Remiorz’s lawyer Friday, Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. – the last business day before the three-day Labor Day weekend – of a court hearing set for early the following Tuesday morning. Remiorz saw the timing as a tactic to place him at a disadvantage. “It’s not proper to serve at 2:30 p.m. before a holiday for an 8:30 a.m. court date,” recalled a weary Remiorz. “There was no time to prepare.”

In court, Remiorz said, Judge Tim Cissna gave Gasparas 10 minutes to make his case. “He rattled on, and the more he talked, the more he dug himself into the mud,” Remiorz said. “He told the judge that the contract he [the judge] had signed was invalid.” That didn’t go over well.

Remiorz countered by referring to the previous settlement and relating Gasparas’ multiple lawsuit threats. He said Gasparas had threatened to take him to court over alleged Americans With Disabilities Act and other code violations, a faulty water heater, even an employee’s bladder infection.

Cissna declined the stay, setting Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. as the time when a Sheriff’s deputy would serve a Writ of Possession and a locksmith would change the locks.

Gasparas then offered Remiorz $1,500 more in rent per month and to fix the bullet hole in the Sai Center’s front window if he could remain at the location until Sept. 31.

Remiorz declined. “If I give him another 30 days and he doesn’t get the permit, he’s going to do the same thing,” he said.

On calling a locksmith, he found Gasparas’s infamy unexpectedly helpful in easing the arrangements. “Oh, that guy?” said the locksmith. “Yeah, I’ll be there.”

Monday night move

Last Monday night, Sept. 12, just hours before the eviction, two SUVs – one with a trailer – turned up at the K Street Sai Center. There, with the aid of his parents and some younger helpers, Gasparas and his moving crew shuttled the shop’s furniture and equipment a few blocks east to the new location at Ninth and I streets.

A man who appeared to be standing guard out back as the trucks were unloaded said the “iCenter” – not the Sai Center – was moving in. Asked if it didn’t need a permit to open there, he said, “They got one.”

Happy Helmut

Tuesday morning, Remiorz gleefully swept trash from the gutter outside the vacated K Street Sai Center and accepted congratulations from passersby.

His happiness was tempered when the locksmith opened the place up and took stock of the renovations he’ll have to make. Inside, loose wires dangled from the ceiling, which had been punched through with ventilation holes. The filthy carpet and rickety internal walls will have to be removed.

The fires of irony

The move and lack of a use permit only briefly interrupted business as usual for Gasparas, who was open at the new location the next day. A request for an interview was met with abrupt refusal. “Get off my property,” he told a reporter. “I’m going to add you to the lawsuit.”

The property isn’t Gasparas’s. According to property records, 889 Ninth St. is owned by Kenneth Cook and Dennis and Patricia McDonald (she’s Cook’s sister).

In Sept., 2007, a massive grow house fire at an Alice Avenue rental home caused about $60,000 in damage. It might have been much worse – even tragic for firefighters – had the flames reached cases of loaded butane tanks stacked up in the living room. The flammable gas is used to extract concentrated THC – “hash oil” – from cannabis.

Dennis McDonald, a former Arcata Fire Protection District boardmember, then told the Eye that several other grow houses remained on the block and urged that they be investigated.

Within weeks, he and his partners had rented the ground floor of their building to the Let It Grow hydroponics shop which, among other things, sold supplies used in setting up and maintaining residential cannabis grows. That business later departed, and the space remained unoccupied until last week. Gasparas began renting it two years ago – at the  rate of $4,200 per month – in anticipation of moving the Sai Center there.

During the 2008 Land Use Code hearings, restrictions on cannabis center purchases from grow houses was strenuously opposed by Gasparas, who still openly advertises his willingness to buy and sell the drug from walk-in customers. The City is requiring the Sai Center to provide evidence that these vendors are qualified caregivers allowed to grow under the LUC.

With even meticulously planned grow houses continuing to burst into flames around town, and with two sons now serving as frontline firefighters for Arcata Fire, McDonald was asked about the seeming irony of facilitating a business which could be associated with residential grows.

He pleaded ignorance, saying that he had been out of town. “I want to dig into this a little bit,” he said.

McDonald was puzzled as to why the City would oppose the Sai Center’s new location. “The City wanted him to move closer to the Plaza,” McDonald said. “That’s what we heard.”

From who? “From him,” McDonald replied, referring to Gasparas.

Commission complications

The Sai Center’s fortunes with the Planning Commission have been marked by questions and criticism.

Several Plaza-area businesses have offered written comments urging non-approval on grounds that it is too close to the Plaza, a public park, and other cannabis centers, per LUC proximity stipulations.

Gasparas has countered by inferring preferential treatment for Humboldt Medical Supply (HMS), which gained its CUP after turning in the required operations manual and a satisfactory application within months of the new cannabis regs taking effect.

“You can actually view the whole entire business from sitting in the Plaza,” Gasparas said of HMS at the Aug. 23 Planco meeting. That’s incorrect. Only the portion of the building which houses a martial arts business and a chunk of Rita’s Mexican restaurant is observable from the Plaza. Gasparas also said he had been in business on K Street for five years without complaints from residential neighbors.

Harshing Mello 

Gasparas told the Planco that he was working to have his Redding cannabis cultivation warehouse supply “99 percent” of the Arcata shop’s medicine, but that he needed to retain a couple of “local vendors” to ensure a steady source.

Gasparas said the Redding grow was slow in getting up to capacity, but that he had verbal assurance from Redding Police Chief Peter T. Hansen that it is legal.

Joe Mello, who had a short-lived arrangement to grow for Gasparas at the Redding warehouse, condemned his business practices. He claimed to have lost money on the business dealing with him a year-and-a-half ago.

Mello said Gasparas told him that for a $9,000 investment, Mello could be a gardener in his Redding grow warehouse. “I thought I was renting a spot and would sell him all my product,” Mello said. He said Gasparas promised him $75,000 annual income once production ramped up.

But right away, the arrangement went off the rails. Mello said Gasparas refused to give him either a contract for his services or a key to the warehouse and treated him like some sort of captive laborer. He said he had to wait for someone named “Brandon” to show up to let him in and even to depart the premises. “I had to ask permission to leave,” he said.

Breaking that rule, he said, was his undoing. He said that one day he was unable to reach Gasparas at quitting time. Rather than wait to be let out, he left, locking the warehouse door and gate behind him.

The next day, he said Gasparas walked in and told him, “Get the fuck out of here,” and refused to refund the $9,000 for the abortive venture. Mello said he sued Gasparas, but lacking paperwork, he was awarded just $4,500.

Gasparas told the Planco that Mello was lying, had been “disruptive within the collective,” and that the judge had praised him for his employee policies while awarding Mello the judgment. Mello called Gasparas a liar.

Gasparas attributed employee problems on failure by some to meet his stringent business standards. “You’re not at some store packing boxes,” he said. “You’re dealing with a medical product.”

Fair’s fair

Gasparas offered a mixed message to the Planco. While repeatedly suggesting that HMS had been given advantages in the approval process, he nonetheless lauded the City’s requirements as fair and appropriate.

“We were given extra hurdles,” he said, noting later that, “One hundred percent of the things I’ve had to do are reasonable,” he said. “I consider them all fair.”

He did fault the City for allowing him to change the address on his business license at City Hall’s Finance Dept. window, which he said caused him to place a nearly $10,000 deposit and sign a lease for the new location. He said that the day after getting the lease, the City called to notify him that more requirements would have to be met before he could operate there.

Commissioner Julie Vaissade-Elcock denied favoritism and cautioned Gasparas not to compare his business to HMS.

She said HMS had been the only one to get its application in on time and that its sole LUC issue was proximity to the Plaza, making it relatively easy to waive.

“We’re not playing favorites,” she said.

Oetker is fed up with the accusations as well. Delays in processing CUP apps, he said, had to do with late and incomplete applications. He said his office has been working steadily with the cannabis centers to get complete applications before the Planco.

“At some point in time, somebody has to make a decision,” he said.

Art project

Flyers affixed to the Sai Center’s old location directing customers to the new place were taken down. Thursday night, a man and woman were out front of the K Street building decorating the trailer which had been used in the move with Sharpie marking pens.

The trailer was slathered with slogans, interspersed with cannabis leaves, reading “Grand Opening” “SAI CENTER HAS MOVED,” “Prop 215 Collective” and the center’s new address and phone number. Most of the stringy, spectral lettering was difficult to read from passing cars, if that was the intention.

But maybe not – the woman called it an “art project” and showed a thumbnail sketch of the mural in progress which depicted a logo including a stylized eye. It bore little resemblance to the wispily-lettered full-scale version. One statement was emboldened for readability in a Christmas-like red and green color scheme, though it lacked case consistency. “We Buy and SEll MEDICINE,” it read.

The man involved later visited the Eye office to ask that his face not be shown in any published photo. He said he had been spit on and had garbage thrown at him by passersby during the streetside artistic foray.

Lawyers loom

Though cannabis activists have condemned Arcata’s cannabis regs as invalid, intrusive and possibly unconstitutional, it was pressure from the other side – the federal government, which considers any licensing of cannabis illegal –  that has now thrown Arcata’s system into question.

Two weeks ago, the City of Eureka received a letter from U.S. Northern District Attorney Melinda Haag warning that the city’s pending medical cannabis ordinance would violate federal law. If Eureka violates the Controlled Substances Act by licensing cannabis cultivation, processing and distribution, Haag warned that the city and its officials could face injunctions, civil fines, criminal prosecution and property seizure.

The letter was not sent to Arcata, which already has Land Use Code provisions regulating medical cannabis centers. But the prospect of being held personally liable – possibly even jailed – for enforcing municipal cannabis laws has motivated City staff to suspend the approval process pending direction from the council. The matter has been placed on the council’s Oct. 5 agenda.

“If local jurisdictions issue permits for marijuana operations, planning staff may be prosecuted,” said Larry Oetker, director of Community Development. “From my perspective as a professional planner, my role is to process permits according to the Arcata Municipal Code. Now myself and staff are being intimidated in implementing it.”

He said the core issue is a classic one – jurisdictional clash between local, state and federal government.

Even as it prepares to deal with a possible legal menace from the feds, the City is girding for a possible court tangle with Gasparas.

A special Monday morning City Council meeting to consider purchase of a new playset for Chevret-Vaissade Park was preceded by a closed session over anticipated litigation, possibly the beginning of another legal adventure for Gasparas, this time involving the City.

Afterward, Mayor Susan Ornelas reported that the City would take “appropriate legal action” against the Sai Center for operating without a required permit.

“We’re hoping for voluntary compliance, but I’m not very optimistic that that’s what will happen” said Police Chief Tom Chapman. He said the City had several options, including nuisance abatement, court injunction, even possible criminal prosecution. He noted that the Land Use Code specifies that property owners are subject to civil sanctions as well.

When Eureka’s Hummingbird Healing Center opened without a CUP in 2009, the county obtained a preliminary injunction with Judge Dale Reinholtsen labeling it a “public nuisance.” Its CUP was later approved in February of this year.

The City could go the same route, but given his record of non-compliance, what level of legal intervention would stop Gasparas from continuing to do daily business at 889 Ninth Street is unknown.

The City’s Notice of Violation was also served to the McDonald/Cook Building’s owners Friday, but their Sai Center tenant remained open for business through the North Country Fair Saturday and Sunday. Signs in the center’s window read “Prop. 215 Community Welcome.”


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80 Responses to “Gasparas Defies City, Opens Plaza Pot Shop – September 22, 2011”

  1. Ian Ray

    Mark Sailors, I googled your claim and found People v Urziceanu which states the opposite of what you wrote.

  2. Mark Sailors

    Why endanger city officials that are trying to accomodate the law? At this point let prop 215 as it was written be the law of the land, that way none of our well meaning elected officials or city staff get dragged into a federal raid if and when it happens. There are plenty of ways to combat growing in residential settings that do not expressly include medical marijuana, like illegal building modifications, non permited electrical work etc.

    As for retail cannabis shops, let them fight for retail space like everyone else, and not limit them to an arbitrary number. But also make them live up to every other rule and law that every other business that functions in Arcata has to abide by.

  3. Ian Ray

    Mark, one of the issues I’ve not heard addressed over the years regarding the emerging cannabis businesses is the magnitude of their effect on the grow houses you mention. I’ve read multiple newspaper accounts of houses raided containing figures such as 900 plants. If grow houses are prolific like newspaper reports make them seem, it would be impossible for local cannabis businesses to handle even 1% of the product generated by these grow houses. The magnitude of supply leads me to believe that there is no significant connection between cannabis businesses an nuisance grow houses which is contrary to what citizens say at Arcata meetings.

  4. “There are plenty of ways to combat growing in residential settings that do not expressly include medical marijuana, like illegal building modifications, non permited electrical work etc.”

    That doesn’t work because then they’d say, “You never told us we couldn’t use every bedroom in the house for growing.”

    Apart from the electrical and structural issues, the ordinance helps protect housing for people to live in rather than plants.

    “As for retail cannabis shops, let them fight for retail space like everyone else, and not limit them to an arbitrary number.”

    Cannabis is an intoxicant. We limit the number of liquor outlets dispensing an intoxicant. Among other things, the limit is intended to prevent an unhealthy economic monoculture from taking over the downtown.

    “The magnitude of supply leads me to believe that there is no significant connection between cannabis businesses an nuisance grow houses which is contrary to what citizens say at Arcata meetings.”

    Some growers told me they do a little business with the local centers, but that most of their stuff goes to the Bay Area and beyond.

  5. Ian Ray

    Kevin, from your sample, I think it is safe to say that the major impacts are a result of the export market.

    The comparison to liquor licenses is questionable considering alcohol products are openly displayed and advertised with the only real scrutiny being on-site consumption. Bars have clear impacts, what are the impacts of cannabis storefronts? Cannabis seems like a boring business model for so much controversy.

  6. Cannabis isn’t advertised? Beg to differ.

    The cap on cannabis centers was first suggested when they were cropping up like Starbucks in other cities, and Gasparas’s mom bought the house at Samoa and H to become one. It appeared to be a potentially runaway phenomenon here. Fears of a downtown economic monoculture, among other things, propelled the new regs into law.

    No, the impacts of cannabis centers aren’t the same as liquor stores and bars. They’re different. They involve traffic and circulation, odor, energy use, solid waste, proximity to neighborhoods, schools and parks, visual impacts and more. The LUC attempts to address those.

  7. Mark Sailors

    Well, this is all going to be a moot point when one of the two initiatives to legalize cannabis passes in the next election.
    Personally I like the one that has it legal for 18 and over and allows a 10 x10 grow for anyone over 18 in any residence anywhere in California. I dislike the regulate cannabis like wine initiative.

    As for people that would argue the ” they never told us not to use every room in the house” argument…any home based business can use no more than 25% of a residence, anyone blowing up an entire house is obviously running a business out of their home and in violation of those rules as well.

  8. Mark Sailors

    If corporations are people as the supreme court has ruled then I would think it would not be legal to ban or limit the number of businesses in a certain area,!as it would be illegal to say mo African Americans in downtown… Just the way i read it.

  9. Zoning is the equivalent of racial discrimination?

  10. Ian Ray

    Kevin, some would argue zoning has gotten out of control in the last century. Case law as it currently stands recognizes CUPs being acceptable for businesses that could create a nuisance unabated and don’t provide a necessary function. In the early days, land use codes were intended to ban brothels and gambling establishments from creating a nuisance. The scope of local land use regulations has grown considerably over the years, especially in California.

  11. I’m sure there are those who oppose zoning, and types of zoning, both on principle and for personal benefit. All are free to participate in our public process.

    Housing developers bridle at Land Use regs, skewering Arcata for its suffocating regulation and greenspace set-asides, landscaping requirements etc. And yet there is construction going on all over town and they point with pride to their quality Arcata developments, a product of the stringent regs. The bars have pushed back against things like the anti-smoking regulations, first proposed by the City and then later adopted in the labor code, which it didn’t affect their business at all once it happened, and the proposed stool tax for alcohol enforcement. They didn’t like having to take ABC training either.

    The dispensaries were operating essentially unregulated. It stands to reason that they are slow to comply with the onerous documentation requirements. But it did slow down the gold rush without hindering access for thousands of 215 patients.

  12. Mark Sailors

    I would argue that it did affect acces to quite a number of patients, a lot of them now are members of Hummingbird Healing Center, or the THC that is in the same shopping center. It is much harder for some of those patients to get to their medical provider. The centralized production at the Arcata clinics limits the strains avaiable to what is profitable to the clinics, whereas with patient providers they grow what works for them and any extra is put into the collective marketplace and can benefit other patients.

    Ian, as soon as I get to my laptop I will note the case law I was using to say that at the centralized production by clinics is illegal under state law.

  13. Mark Sailors

    I didn’t say corporations had civil rights, that was the SCOTUS.
    If zoning discriminates against a corporation just because of it’s size or nature that would in fact a civil rights violation… If corporations are people.

  14. Mark Sailors

    My original point was that f the police are arresting kids for selling pot on the plaza, and making my pedicab drivers get background checks and whatnot Gasparas should at the very minimum obey the simplest of regulations that apply to businesses in Arcata. If he thinks the laws should be different he should sue, if not get to obeying the rules.

  15. Well, between the various centers I’m guessing at least 10,000 people in a town of 17,000-plus are getting what they need pot-wise. Maybe we need to educate these people about how repressed they are.

    Corporate personhood notwithstanding, I don’t get the analogy between racial discrimination and zoning. One is what you are, the other is what you do.

    No one rational wants to regulate ethnicity. If you want to go Tea Party and advocate zero regulation on business, I’d posit that that’s a patently unrealistic approach.

  16. Mark Sailors

    I just think that the “pot stores” shouldn’t have to jump through any more hoops than any other business that sell medicinal herbs, like moonrise or the coop. Steve is refusing to obey ANY rules or laws regarding business, see his failed “Indian food “restaurant.

    The analogy, in my mind is that cannabis was once illegal for everyone, once African Americans were slaves and that was legal. There are new laws now, slavery is illegal and medical cannabis is legal. What we got with the repeal of slavery and with the new non criminal medical cannabis, are jim crowe laws. I see the medical cannabis ordinance as a medical marijuana jim crowe law.

    If corporations are people then barring them from town, or certain areas of town sounds completely like “whites only” parks and water fountains. Not to mention the blatant job discrimination medical cannabis patients face.

  17. Mark Sailors

    “Well, between the various centers I’m guessing at least 10,000 people in a town of 17,000-plus are getting what they need pot-wise. Maybe we need to educate these people about how repressed they are.”

    Not to be a jerk, but a lot of the people that dislike the medical cannabis situation in Arcata see you as the enemy, as a defacto agent of the police. Not that I agree, but I get 20 people a week asking why I take pictures for your paper since you are “so anti pot”…

    Not agreeing, just pointing out that the disgruntled medical cannabis patients would NOT tell YOU about it at all, since they see you as a major part of the problem, I for one disagree, but you cant change peoples opinions.

  18. Twenty a week, eh? That’s about 1,000 a year, all reading the Eye even though it is the enemy and an agent of the police. And, unlike every other oppressed minority, steadfastly keeping their issues out of the paper.

    You have to laud these loyal readers’ impressive self-discipline. I’d only suggest the obvious – that this vast army of disgruntled medical patients/Eye readers are marginalizing themselves by remaining silent about their plight.

    Maybe they are working with the Humboldt-Del Norte Medical Society to address their concerns.

  19. Mark Sailors

    Ok maybe not twenty a week, more like 20 total, one a month or so.

  20. Mark Sailors

    I think, from what they tell me, is that they have returned to purchasing their medicine on the black market instead of going to the outskirts of Eureka.

    I can not wait until all of this is a moot point when we finally pass legalization. You never hear all this hubbub over home brewing, or microbrew beer makers.

  21. So there are multiple thousands of individuals using Arcata’s four cannabis dispensaries, but 20 confused souls would rather buy street drugs than use a clean, well-lit center where the meds are grown under controlled conditions.

    With those numbers, it sounds like we’re doing something very right in Arcata.

    Also, you’re more optimistic than me that we will legalize cannabis. That would be rational, and not in keeping with the times. We have been getting legalization/decriminalization measures on the California ballot and then failing to pass them since 1972.

  22. Mark Sailors

    Yeah, you know me, endless optimism.

  23. Ian Ray

    Mark, did you ever find a court ruling dated after the Urziceanu case? That case appears to invalidate what you wrote although I have not performed an exhaustive Web search. It is my understanding that the USDOJ threatened Oakland regarding their licensing plan and state agencies welcome such a plan, specifically the California State Board of Equalization. The recent federal raid in Oregon is an example of potential USDOJ enforcement.

  24. Mark Sailors

    The weekend is my busy time for the Kineticab. I have not pulled up the case as of yet.

  25. Humboldt goddess

    I had been close to gasparas for years and he would show compassion to some and rip apart others in a very bi-polar way. I have seen many people try and retaliate against various treatments and business practices and all were hellish. While his business means and meant a lot to me and others, it would be beneficial to the community to change owners if it were to remain open. It was only a matter of time before his karma caught up.

  26. former manager

    after reading this i agree with alot of what is said, i managed this place for a short amount of time (all i could handle). if arcata eye has anymore questions id love to answer them regarding the arcata and redding icenters, and redding grow. please get ahold of me at my email.

  27. Mark Sailors

    I just got my laptop back, it had to go to HP for warranty service.
    The cases and applicable statutes are as follows:

    The most recent was the Long Beach decision in the 2nd district court of appeal that says that NO local government may institute a permitting, or zoning law that is contrary to the CSA.

    “Appellate court voids Long Beach marijuana dispensary law
    The panel rules that the city authorized distribution of pot in violation of federal law. The decision could force Los Angeles to rewrite its medical marijuana ordinance.
    October 06, 2011|By John Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times

    In a decision that could upend the way California cities regulate medical marijuana, a state Court of Appeal has ruled that Long Beach’s ordinance regulating dispensaries violates federal law.

    The city held a lottery, issued permits to the winners and charged fees, which the three-judge panel said put it in the position of authorizing the distribution of marijuana in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes the possession and sale of the drug illegal. Marijuana use remains illegal under California law except for medical purposes.”

    Mentch Decision
    Supreme Court limited use of the “the person exempted under this act who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health or safety of that person.” It did not limit the activities of patient / caregiver collectives operating under Health and Safety Code 11362.775.

    Trippet Decision:
    Appellate Court, Prop 215: Patients not entitled to “unlimited amounts,” but transportation and possession are authorized. “The rule should be that the quantity possessed by the patient or the primary caregiver, and the form and manner in which it is possessed, should be reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs. What precisely are the “patient’s current medical needs” must, of course, remain a factual question to be determined by the trier of fact.”

    Urziceanu Decision:
    Appellate Court, SB 420: Rights to collectively obtain, cultivate and dispense not protected by HS11362.5 but they are protected by HS 11362.7. Chris Conrad testified at the original Sacramento trial and is cited.

    Peron Decision: Appellate Court: “Proposition 215 does not allow ‘unlimited quantities of marijuana to be grown anywhere.’ It only allows marijuana to be grown for a patient’s personal use. Police Officers can still arrest anyone who grows too much, or tries to sell it.”

    Under California law, medical marijuana patients and primary caregivers may “associate
    within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for
    medical purposes.” (§ 11362.775.) The following guidelines are meant to apply to qualified
    patients and primary caregivers who come together to collectively or cooperatively cultivate
    physician-recommended marijuana.
    A. Business Forms: Any group that is collectively or cooperatively cultivating and
    distributing marijuana for medical purposes should be organized and operated in a manner
    that ensures the security of the crop and safeguards against diversion for non-medical
    purposes. The following are guidelines to help cooperatives and collectives operate within
    the law, and to help law enforcement determine whether they are doing so.
    1. Statutory Cooperatives: A cooperative must file articles of incorporation
    with the state and conduct its business for the mutual benefit of its members.
    (Corp. Code, § 12201, 12300.) No business may call itself a “cooperative” (or “coop”)
    unless it is properly organized and registered as such a corporation under the
    Corporations or Food and Agricultural Code. (Id. at § 12311(b).) Cooperative
    corporations are “democratically controlled and are not organized to make a profit
    for themselves, as such, or for their members, as such, but primarily for their
    members as patrons.” (Id. at § 12201.) The earnings and savings of the business
    must be used for the general welfare of its members or equitably distributed to
    members in the form of cash, property, credits, or services. (Ibid.) Cooperatives
    must follow strict rules on organization, articles, elections, and distribution of
    earnings, and must report individual transactions from individual members each
    year. (See id. at § 12200, et seq.) Agricultural cooperatives are likewise nonprofit
    corporate entities “since they are not organized to make profit for themselves, as
    such, or for their members, as such, but only for their members as producers.”
    (Food & Agric. Code, § 54033.) Agricultural cooperatives share many
    characteristics with consumer cooperatives. (See, e.g., id. at § 54002, et seq.)
    Cooperatives should not purchase marijuana from, or sell to, non-members;
    instead, they should only provide a means for facilitating or coordinating
    transactions between members.
    2. Collectives: California law does not define collectives, but the dictionary
    defines them as “a business, farm, etc., jointly owned and operated by the members
    of a group.” (Random House Unabridged Dictionary; Random House, Inc.
    © 2006.) Applying this definition, a collective should be an organization that
    merely facilitates the collaborative efforts of patient and caregiver members –
    including the allocation of costs and revenues. As such, a collective is not a
    statutory entity, but as a practical matter it might have to organize as some form of
    business to carry out its activities. The collective should not purchase marijuana
    from, or sell to, non-members; instead, it should only provide a means for
    facilitating or coordinating transactions between members.

    So, taken as a whole, a collective can grow, but only what a patient needs, and con only get back the costs, where as a co-op may purchase cannabis from patients and then sell it to other patients for the mutual benefit of the membership, on a not for profit basis.

    Confusing, yes. Impossible to make work legally, no. Incredibly difficult for former black market growers/dealers to comprehend, yes.

    Once i find the other file folder I will post the other 3 or four relevant cases.

  28. Ian Ray

    Mark Sailors, thank you for those readings. It appears that the Long Beach decision invalidates all potential permit/license issues found in the previous cases. If the Long Beach decision stands, it would seem that cities and counties have few tools to regulate cannabis businesses other than their zoning violation abatement processes.

  29. Mark Sailors


  30. Anonymous

    Steve Gasparas has had a long history of emotional and temperamental problems from his days at Naperville Central High School to his time as the owner of Express Carpets and Hardwood, a business that his mother financed and Steve ran into the ground from his excessive drug use and emotional instability. Steve gets what he wants at anyone's expense, blame it on a "Daddy doesn't love me issue, or a mommy's boy syndrome."
    I've known Steve for a very long time growing up with him, and I've seen the Jekyll and Hyde personality, it's not a surprise at all that his mental aptitude has been brought into a vicious malaise. When the money runs out, so do the "Nice Dreams" perhaps its time for another Bong and a handful of mushrooms for Steve to find his next vision. SAD.


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