HERCULES -- A medical marijuana dispensary that moved out over landlord-tenant and licensing issues earlier this year has been forced out of its new digs for similar reasons.
Hercules Health Center had operated in a double-suite at 500 Alfred Nobel Drive in North Shore Business Park from late 2010 until it was forced out in February. In March, under the new name Hercules Holistic Center, it rented a business condo at 706 Alfred Nobel Drive and applied to the city for a license to operate a medical cannabis cooperative.
But the city denied the license, and the condo owner has repossessed the premises.
That owner, who declined to be named in this story for privacy reasons, said she did not know the nature of Hercules Holistic Center's activity until recently, when, she said, some neighboring businesses complained about marijuana smoke. Until then, she said, she had assumed that the city approved whatever the business did because it operated for several years just down the street, and that the business's owner, Ed Breslin, told her it offered massage and other therapies.
But Breslin's attorney, Derek St. Pierre of San Francisco, said the landlord "has known since Day 1 the type of entity that Hercules Holistic Center is." The complaint alleging marijuana smoke, St. Pierre said, might be related to the burning of sage by some members of Breslin's team as part of a cultural ritual associated with a move to new premises.
In 1996, California voters approved marijuana for medical use on the recommendation of a doctor. But the federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug with no medical value.
Hercules effectively banned cannabis clubs with a 2006 ordinance that denies a license to any business that violates federal or state law.
In its original Hercules location, Breslin's company had offered an extensive menu of marijuana varieties for medicinal use along with massage, hyperbaric chamber and pain-relief therapies and an in-house chiropractor, Todd Kaufmann. Medical marijuana is used to alleviate discomfort and chronic pain caused by an array of ailments, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, AIDS and cancer and the ravages of chemotherapy.
Kaufmann's business license lapsed at the end of 2011. In July 2012 -- by then Kaufmann and Breslin had parted ways -- Breslin applied for an administrative use permit and business license at 500 Alfred Nobel Drive for an entity named Alive Action Institute, but the city turned him down, citing the prohibition on businesses that violate state or federal law, said Hercules Planning Manager Robert Reber.
Another license application in September, by Mia Curcuruto of Alive Action Institute, was denied also, Reber said.
The city has given mixed signals about its stand on medical marijuana, if only by its long acquiescence to Hercules Health Center's operation despite the 2006 ordinance. And earlier this year, a report by City Manager Steve Duran cited taxation of medical marijuana among possible future revenue sources for the city.
In his March business license application, Breslin projected the business's monthly gross receipts in Hercules at $75,000.
St. Pierre said Hercules Holistic Center has not evaluated what its next steps will be.