Alaska Cannabis Club owner and marijuana activist Charlo Greene will be evicted from a rental property at 225 E. Fifth Ave. in downtown Anchorage where she had been holding club events.
In an eviction hearing Friday, District Court Judge Pamela Washington ruled that Greene, whose legal name is Charlene Egbe, had failed to provide insurance for the Alaska Cannabis Club.
However, Washington disagreed with the landlord's allegation that illegal activities had been taking place on the property.
Greene, who gained national notoriety in September after quitting her job as a reporter on live TV and announcing herself as owner of the cannabis club, appeared before the court Friday without an attorney.
Paralegal Ronda Marcy sat with Greene at the defendant's table and conferred with Greene throughout the hearing. A few of Greene's supporters, including several family members, sat in the audience.
Also in the audience was Sarha Shaubach, the downstairs tenant of the property at 225 E. Fifth Ave. Shaubach and Greene both began renting the property in November. Conflicts quickly arose between them, resulting in restraining orders being exchanged between the two. Shaubach is the owner of the Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles, which includes a BDSM (bondage/discipline/sadism/masochism) leather boutique and caters to "kink education."
Attorney Paul Kelly represented landlord Ethann Oldham. Kelly argued that Greene had violated two conditions of the lease. Illegal activity had taken place on the property, he argued, and Greene had failed to provide insurance for the cannabis club.
Kelly argued that the Alaska Cannabis Club had been serving alcohol illegally. He presented as evidence Facebook posts by the Alaska Cannabis Club advertising events that were "BYOB" – defined in one post as bring-your-own "booze and buds."
Private investigator Gary Swett also took the stand, testifying that he had attended a cannabis club event on New Year's Eve, where he had been served alcohol.
Greene argued that there was no proof alcohol had been served at the clubhouse. She wasn't in charge of the Facebook posts for Alaska Cannabis Club, she said, and could not control what others posted. She questioned Swett's testimony, asking him to provide photographic or video proof alcohol being served. He said he had not been able to in his capacity as an undercover agent.
Greene asked Oldham how many times government agencies had been called to the property. Oldham listed numerous complaints to police, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and Anchorage Fire Department, among others. Greene asked how many citations had arisen from these visits.
"Zero. Yeah. It is amazing," Oldham said.
Greene argued that she would have received a citation if illegal activity had been taking place. She also cited a state statute stating that social organizations can have alcohol on their premises.
Kelly also argued that Greene had failed to secure insurance for the cannabis club. Oldham said she feared being held liable if people consumed alcohol on the premises and then got into some kind of accident.
"The liability issue is gigantic for my husband and I," Oldham said.
Greene alleged Oldham had interfered with her attempts to secure insurance.
Oldham testified that she had called her insurance broker, Andrea Dolan, "scared to death" that she would lose her insurance policy after learning the club had been promoting events where it would be serving alcohol without a liquor license.
Greene said that after Oldham's phone call to Dolan, her own insurance quote from Dolan had been dropped. Repeated attempts to secure insurance had been unsuccessful, Greene said.
Dolan appeared telephonically before the court. She stated that Oldham had "contacted me to request the status of her tenant's insurance coverage." Oldham had neither encouraged nor discouraged her from placing the cannabis club under insurance, Dolan said.
The parties also debated numerous other points, including whether the property was solely commercial or multipurpose and when and for how long utilities had been cut off.
"I believe I was taken advantage (of)" as a novice business owner, Greene said.
"There seem to be a lot of issues" between Greene, Oldham and Shaubach, Judge Washington said near the end of the hearing. She reminded the parties several times that the court would decide to evict based only on the two violations alleged by Oldham's attorney.
After nearly two hours of testimony, Washington ruled that Greene had not violated any laws. Social organizations can have alcohol on their premises without a license, Washington said.
Based on testimony provided by Dolan, Washington ruled that Oldham had not attempted to interfere in Greene's attempt to provide insurance. Greene had had more than 60 days to secure insurance, a reasonable amount of time, Washington said. Thus, that provision had been violated, she ruled.
Washington gave Greene until 5 p.m. Monday to vacate the premises.
Greene declined to comment after the ruling.
The cannabis club announced in a Facebook post that it would be holding its final event at the downtown location Saturday.
"We will be moving to another location and will address all concerns from our members" during the event, the post states.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing