Los Angeles

Neighbors Dread ‘Gangster' Super Bowl Party at ‘Marijuana Mansion'

When cannabis businessman "BigMike" Straumietis asked his social media followers to guess who's throwing "the most gangster Super Bowl Party in Hollywood?," those who've been paying attention knew it would be at the gated sprawling hillside estate he calls his "Marijuana Mansion."

His Skyline Drive neighbors figured it out when the trucks full of party equipment began arriving the first of the week, continuing every day since.

"Anybody can have a party," said Ilse Speck, who moved into the Laurel Hills neighborhood three decades before Straumeitis and is more than a little peeved by his party style. "But hundreds and hundreds of strangers? And you advertise it on social media?"

Straumieitis made a fortune through his company Advanced Nutrients, which sells products for hydroponic growing of marijuana, and reports annual sales of $90 million. A master of  promotion, he's known for his parties and for posting racy video of them online, showing acrobatic entertainment, lavish spreads of food and drink, and cannabis being enjoyed, often by attractive and sometimes only slightly-clothed women.

"Are you getting plenty of feed and plenty of weed?" BigMike can be heard asking his guests on the video of his first big party at the Skyline Drive Marijuana Mansion last summer.

By all accounts, that party drew more than 500 guests.  By some counts, way more.

By some neighbors' accounts, even with valet parking and shuttle buses, it choked their Laurel Hills community with traffic congestion, and left behind mounds of trash in streets, sidewalks and yards.

Several neighbors say that is the main reason they dread the Super Bowl Party, though even in post-Prop 64 California, some acknowledge they are not comfortable with the images of cannabis being partaken so freely by so many guests.

"You're basically setting up a de facto marijuana dispensary in a residential neighborhood," said Skyline Drive resident Todd Canty.

"It's very open what he's trying to portray there, the lifestyle, the actions," said neighbor Alex Palermo. "People are not going up there just to watch the Super Bowl and have a couple of cheeseburgers."

A representative for BigMike insisted only those with a valid medical marijuana card are served, and that all is done legally. The rep said Straumietis was busy Friday and not available to discuss his event, but responded with a statement emphasizing the Super Bowl fest is a personal party at his residence.

"BigMike and his friends support a great and honored American pastime and wish to do this once again in the privacy of his own home," the statement concluded.

Whether or not the differences could be resolved with dialogue, neighbors have been pushing Los Angeles city officials to intercede. The city did deny a request for a permit to set up an outdoor stage, according to the office of Fourth District Councilman David Ryu. Some residents remained disappointed the city could not stop the party, or limit the number of guests.

Last fall the City Council approved a Ryu motion calling for an ordinance to regulate so-called "party houses." The drafting of that ordinance has yet to be completed by the City Attorney's Office.  Regardless, it's not clear if it would apply to the Marijuana Mansion situation, where the person hosting the parties holds what is believed to be a long-term lease on the property

Neighbors cringing at the prospect of the "gangster" Super Bowl party acknowledge they had been optimistic when they heard last year that the property had been leased, and thought that would end what they saw as a pattern of random parties thrown by different hosts.

"Now my neighbor is the Marijuana Don at the Marijuana Mansion," said Palermo, who declined an invitation to attend the August party, and was not invited to Sunday's.

BigMike had been planning a year end party, but the day it was scheduled came during wet weather and a power outage, and that party never took place, several of the neighbors said. They noted seeing a large generator being delivered to the Marijuana Mansion this past week.

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