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Jul-08-2014 11:45printcomments

Did Starbucks Just Issue a Worldwide Ban on Pot Advocate Kevin Saunders?

An extreme and odd decision by an entire coffee chain.

Kevin Saunders
Mayoral hopeful Kevin Saunders is an easy target, and Starbucks has him in their sights. Why? Good question.
Photo by Bonnie King

(MARINA, Calif.) - Medical pot advocate/ex-law student/erstwhile Marina mayoral candidate Kevin Saunders is no stranger to controversy—or restraining orders, for that matter. But this is one he probably didn't see coming.

Saunders says he was served (no pun intended) by Starbucks at the July 1 Marina City Council Meeting with a notice that he's been permanently banned from every Starbucks location in the world.

"Notice of expulsion and warning against trespassing," the notice, bearing the Starbucks logo and forwarded to the Weekly by Saunders, states.

The rest reads as follows: "We regret to inform you that you have been expelled from Starbucks Coffee Company's locations for the reasons listed in this notice. Starbucks hereby revokes any license and privilege you might have to visit Starbucks locations. Starbucks requires you to leave its locations immediately and do not return. This expulsion notice is permanent and applies to all Starbucks locations."

It also states that if Saunders fails to follow the warning, Starbucks may call the police and "seek criminal and civil remedies for trespassing."

The notice bears the name of Balynda Cota, Starbucks' district manager, as well as a signature. The reasons checked off—causing disruption to a business and threatening the well-being of a customer or employee—apparently relate back to an incident from several weeks ago in which Saunders got into a loud confrontation with a former Monterey College of Law classmate while standing in line.

Saunders says he called the police, but no arrest was made. Instead, he was charged with causing a disturbance. That case is pending in Monterey County Superior Court, along with a host of others.

Laurel Harper, a member of Starbucks' corporate media relations team, says she's looking into the matter.

Marina Police Chief Ed Rodriguez confirmed his department served Saunders with the no-tresspass request at the July 1 City Council meeting. He also said that request stemmed, at least in part, because of Saunders' behavior when police visited that Starbucks on their breaks.

"I've called and complained about verbal abuse my staff was getting from him when my staff would go in," Rodriguez says, "and I made it very clear to them, if that was the type of treatment my staff was getting when they went in to get coffee, they would get their coffee somewhere else."

Saunders, meanwhile, writes in an email to the Weekly, that he spends more than $4,000 a year at Starbucks and treats all their employees with respect.

"This is beyond any sense of fairness or justice! Now I'm pissed!" he writes.

Saunders has been no stranger to controversy around the Monterey Peninsula. Some of the highlights:

  • Last September, Saunders was suspended from Monterey College of Law after sending threatening emails to a professor who gave his girlfriend a bad grade. The school followed the suspension up with an expulsion, then obtained a restraining order against him;
  • Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado also sought (but didn't get) a restraining order against Saunders after Saunders threatened on Facebook to knock Delgado in the teeth;
  • Last October, Saunders was accused of violating the restraining order by sending emails to Monterey College of Law student Daniel Hollingsworth and his attorney;
  • Last December, Saunders was arrested and jailed for allegedly selling marijuana to undercover police officers, only one of whom had a card identifying himself as a medical marijuana patient.
  • His next court date in that case is July 31. Saunders says he plans to run against Delgado for mayor of Marina in the fall.

    First published: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 Monterey County Weekly


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.