In February 2016, the Orange County Register broke what seemed like a major medical-marijuana story. Television celebrity Roseanne Barr was set to open a legal dispensary at 1327 E. Saint Gertrude Place in Santa Ana. Roseanne’s Joint would sell a line of her own products, including cannabis strains and THC-laced chocolate-covered macadamia nuts harvested from her farm in Hawaii.
At the time, Barr explained that, aside from being a longtime cannabis user, she had been using it medically to fight glaucoma and macular degeneration, two conditions that are causing the actress to gradually lose her eyesight. Her partner in the deal, Aaron Herzberg, of CalCann Holdings LLC, an Orange County company that specializes in real-estate-investment and cannabis-business consulting, estimated that the storefront in an industrial area of Santa Ana would open as early as April 2016.
According to the Register story, Herzberg was hired as Barr’s lawyer in 2010. Herzberg became involved in the industry through cannabis real estate several years ago, and Barr pursued presidential nominations for the Green Party and the Peace and Freedom Party in 2012. The two stayed in touch and became friends; their relationship, Herzberg explained to the Register, made the transition from friends to business partners natural.
Fast-forward nearly 12 months: Roseanne’s Joint still isn’t open. In fact, it appears it never will, as a dispensary called Bud and Bloom has been operating in that location as of late last November. The Weekly asked the actress via Twitter if she had any comments regarding why the dispensary didn’t open, and she responded, “It didn’t work out for me and the investor.”
Herzberg confirmed the news in an interview. “The facility is now called Bud and Bloom,” he said, “and it’s a very special place.” When asked about Barr’s vague statement and why the dispensary collaboration didn’t work out, he said he had no comment.
It’s unclear how many investors were involved in the failed deal, but Chris Francy, one of Herzberg’s partners at CalCann Holdings LLC, was also set to be a partner in Roseanne’s Joint. (Francy didn’t respond to a request for comment, but he is listed as a partner with Herzberg in Bud and Bloom.) In recent articles about the dispensary, both men were photographed in the storefront with a man named Kyle Kazan, a real-estate investor who closed a “$12.6 million fund to invest in Bud and Bloom and other cannabis ventures,” according to the Register.
Before any legally operated dispensaries opened in Santa Ana, it was known that Herzberg had an interested in operating storefronts. In October 2014—prior to the passage of Measure BB, the legal framework allowing 20 medical-cannabis dispensaries to operate within Santa Ana—Mayor Miguel A. Pulido met with Herzberg and local activist Doug Lanphere to ask if they had money to help him make marijuana legal in Santa Ana, according to a Voice of OC story.
As a result, Herzberg paid the California Homeowners Association PAC $10,000, although he claimed he gave the money to his neighbor, Adam Probolsky, a well-known Republican operative. Probolsky, however, denied his involvement in the money transfer. Lanphere also gave $5,000 to the Homeowners Association, per the mayor’s request.
Herzberg said in a 2015 interview with the Weekly that he made the contribution because he felt the mayor was genuine about legalizing cannabis. That said, it seemed as if Pulido were desperate to bulk up his legal defense fund. Herzberg alleged the mayor displayed aggressive behavior and contacted him after the initial meeting to ask for another large chunk of cash and if there were any other people Herzberg knew who’d be interested in contributing. Herzberg ended up writing a check to Pulido’s re-election campaign for $1,000—the legal limit. He convinced Francy to make a similar contribution.
The situation with Pulido and the way the “legal” cannabis industry unfolded in Orange County—calling what was happening in Santa Ana “corruption at a whole new level”—drove Lanphere to move to Oregon, he said; he has since opened three legal dispensaries there.
Herzberg, on the other hand, has stayed in the county and has his hand in multiple ventures, including Santa Ana dispensary OC3 and now Bud and Bloom.
According to the Register, Barr was to have had a lot of control in the aesthetics of Roseanne’s Joint; it quoted Herzberg saying the TV star wanted to offer customers “a very high-end, premium experience with very rustic wood floors and a very open environment.” Barr’s aesthetic influence was obviously never removed from the plans.
Considering the Register uses Herzberg as a main source for updates and information on the OC cannabis industry, it’s somewhat surprising that Barr’s decision to back out of the deal was never mentioned by the Santa Ana-based daily newspaper. The story behind the comedian’s withdrawal remains a mystery.