A Nevada County resident who hosted the popular “Hippy Gourmet” cooking show on PBS for six years was arrested after narcotics detectives conducting a medical marijuana compliance check allegedly discovered a commercial pot-growing operation.
Bruce Murray Brennan, 58, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of growing marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale and was booked and released on $10,000 bail.
Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies had gone to Brennan’s home in the 20000 block of Woodbury Drive in response to a complaint, said Lt. Stephen Tripp.
They were initially conducting a compliance check to determine if he was in violation of the county’s new medical marijuana cultivation ordinance but obtained a search warrant when it became clear that Brennan was growing for profit, Tripp said.
“He admitted to selling, to making a profit,” Tripp said.
Deputies allegedly found about eight to 10 pounds of processed cola in packages, as well as scales.
“He still had 80 plants, fully developed, waiting to be harvested,” Tripp said.
After Brennan was arrested, deputies allegedly found $5,000 in cash hidden in his underwear.
TV show aired nationally
Brennan catered to celebrities such as Ronald Reagan and Francis Ford Coppola in the 1970s, then moved to
San Francisco and opened an inn with his sister in the Haight, according to a biography posted on “The Hippy Gourmet” website.
The Hippy Gourmet television series began in 2001 on public access cable TV stations in San Francisco and Marin County and started broadcasting on PBS nationally in 2004.
But Brennan left the show in 2007, executive producer James Ehrlich said.
Brennan had been the victim of a violent home invasion
robbery at his property that October, at a time when the show was about to launch a cookbook with a publicity tour, Ehrlich said.
According to The Union archives, a group of five men wearing ski masks and armed with crow bars, baseball bats and at least one hand gun invaded Brennan’s home looking for marijuana and cash.
Eight people were left beaten and bound on the floor, including one young woman; three were seriously injured.
One person was able to escape from the home and sought help at a neighbor’s house.
A rented van was left at the scene, full of newly cut marijuana, believed to be from the property’s “extensive” indoor and outdoor gardens.
According to Ehrlich, Brennan was in Berkeley with him at the time, participating in a celebrity cook-off.
“We had a parting of the ways,” Ehrlich said. “There was a lot of weirdness. … I was really upset.”
Brennan was replaced by other hosts for a while. Although the show is no longer produced, “The Hippy Gourmet” still airs in reruns.
Ehrlich described Brennan as a “really nice guy,” adding, “He’s like (naturalist) Euell Gibbons. He’s the kind (of person) who knows where you can find chanterelle mushrooms in the woods.”
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.