The world’s largest independent record store may be trading jazz for jazz cigarettes. Amoeba Music has just applied for its flagship Berkeley, California store to become the city’s fourth medical marijuana dispensary. Should Amoeba get the permit, they plan to convert their jazz and classical room into a dispensary, moving the records into their main inventory. The room would then be built into its own building, giving Amoeba two storefronts: One for records, one for weed.
Pot and music has a long history together. Willie Nelson is coming out with his own strain of weed (and so are noted dead people Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix), Snoop Dogg is launching his own pot culture website, and listening to music while high is just… great.
Amoeba isn’t guaranteed to receive the license: There are five other applicants, however, only one other is local to Berkeley. In an interview with The Daily Californian, Charlie Pappas, the chair of the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Association (BMCA) said: “Amoeba and one other person who’s a Berkeley person [have applied]: They’re tolerable, but all these other groups are dispensaries from other cities trying to open in Berkeley. I don’t like that. I don’t like that at all.”
The permit would give Amoeba a new, needed revenue stream: Due to the music industry’s downfall, it’s harder and harder to make money selling physical media. In fact, the Amoeba store that is up for the permit has not been profitable in the last few years. Marc Weinstein and David Prinz, owners of Amoeba, hope the boost in income from selling pot would allow the store to resume donating to local music organizations like the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts.
This would not be Amoeba’s first dispensary either; Amoeba’s San Francisco store has been home to a medical marijuana storefront for the past year. Should Amoeba also get the Berkeley permit, we may see an increase of other businesses expanding their offerings to include legal marijuana. We may even see more stores with a cultural connection to pot sell the drug on the side, like art supply stores or maybe even Guitar Center! We may also see a decrease in use of dangerous drugs like spice (also known as synthetic weed or K2).
California has not legalized recreational marijuana, however, it is expected the state will vote to legalize pot in 2016. A similar statute, Proposition 19, almost passed in 2010; only 53.5% of voters voted against it. This summer in preparation, California commissioned a report on how to best handle legalization.
The next step for Berkeley is a series of public meetings discussing the city’s options for the fourth dispensary. After that, the BMCA will make its recommendation, but the City Council will make the final decision.