Records and Weed: A Match Made in California Heaven

This almost sounds like the plot of a sitcom: A record store in a historically left-leaning, liberal enclave gets permission to become a weed dispensary as a way to maybe bring in a little extra cash, with the intentions to put the sales counter in the corner of the store preserved for jazz.

Welcome to the Berkeley, Calif., location of Amoeba Records, where fact and fiction, art and real-life, blur into one hazy, smoke-filled vision of reality.

As FactMag.com reported earlier this week, the Berkeley location will convert its jazz section to a pot dispensary, all on the up-and-up-in-smoke thanks to California’s medical marijuana laws.

One employee of the store, Debby Goldsberry announced on Facebook is intending to open “the most epic dispensary ever at the Amoeba location on Telegraph… My mind is kind of blown right now!”

The Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective will open the store in a few months. “And or anyone who needs a weed prescription, the Bay Area record store has you covered—they already house a medical marijuana doctor’s office.”

As the East Bay Express explains, the Berkeley City Council voted in July to approve two new medical marijuana dispensaries, and Amoeba was long believed to have the strongest standing to win one of the licenses. One of the store’s co-owners told the newspaper last October “Weed can help save music—absolutely. Here’s a way.”

Some in the city are trying to pressure the council to allow cultivation, arguing Berkeley is losing out on the big bucks currently going to Oakland and Richmond at the pace of about $1 million a year in revenue for not licensing and taxing commercial cultivation.

But back to the development at the Berkeley store: Brian Zisk, creator of San Francisco’s annual MusicTech Summit, told East Bay Express last year “People are already getting stoned and ending up at Amoeba.” With the dispensary? “They’re going to spend four times as much.”

Previously, the store’s founder, Marc Weinstein, told Billboard  the store had gone from employing 90 people to just 35 and that the store took in only half as much cash in 2015 as it did in 2008.

 

This is all unrelated to the sale of the LA-Hollywood Amoeba store, which might be in real estate limbo when the current lease is up, even though the developer who bought the plot of land upon which the iconic store sits says they’re willing and interested in negotiating a future on the site for the music haven.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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