Owners of former Berkeley family nursery now want to cultivate cannabis

The owners of a now-closed nursery in Berkeley want to reopen its doors to business, but instead of selling flowers and plants, they want to turn it into a first-of-its-kind cannabis retail nursery. 

“This lot actually covers the whole Dwight (Street) front,” describes Masao Yabusaki.

The 27-year-old grandson of the owner who purchased the property in 1984 says it is a move to adapt to the changing times.  

Dwight Way Nursery, located along Dwight Way between Ninth and Tenth Streets, closed in 2014 following a death in the family and since then Yabusaki has been lobbying city leaders to allow him to turn the land into a facility of cultivation and sale of cannabis.

“They’re going to allow us to cultivate here for only seeds and clones,” Yabusaki told KTVU on Tuesday. Basically we’re a micro-business if we’re allotted distribution, retail and cultivation and that would allow is to package our own seeds on the property.”

Yabusaki, whose family still lives on the land, needs a permit to cultivate cannabis at this specific location, which is currently only allowed in the manufacturing district of Berkeley.

One city councilman told us there is support for the idea because of the family's long-standing in the community and the fact that the land has been used as a nursery for over a century.

“After 127 years of being a nursery, it’s sort of like an established thing in the neighborhood,” said City of Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington.

The nursery has always been located in the middle of a residential neighborhood and Yabusaki has already began taking steps to limit exposure to those walking by. 

“Give or take six months ago we started planting vines across the fence line so if families with their children or children walking home from school, they would not be able to see inside the property."

Yabusaki counts Jana Blackburn among the numerous neighbors who support his idea. 

“His family has owned that and this is a generation that’s going to restart Berkeley to bring Berkeley back again. It’s always been hippie town so it will be cool,” said Blackburn.

On Monday night, the city planning director and city manager will ask city council on eight topics related to the sale of cannabis in Berkeley.

Among them, the items on the agenda is whether can non-cannabis nurseries be allowed to convert  to cannabis store-front retailers.

The planning director and city manager will draft an ordinance and present it to the council.