Can marijuana save the music industry? Ask Dave Prinz, the co-owner of beloved Bay Area record store chain Amoeba Music, and the answer is an emphatic "yes." Actually, Prinz is talking about the health of his corner of the industry, namely physical retail, and even more specifically his flagship store in Berkeley which is now eying a new strain of revenue.
Amoeba Music has applied with the city of Berkeley to open a medical marijuana dispensary inside its store. The city already has three such places and years ago approved a fourth. In its bid, Amoeba said it would make room for a pot dispensary by moving all the jazz and classical merchandise out of its own room and into the main store. The two businesses would have separate storefronts.
"We need supplemental income," Prinz told East Bay Express. "That's the real truth. This helps keep us open and enables us to do some amazing shit."
According Prinz and fellow co-owner Marc Weinstein, who spoke with The Daily Californian, the Berkeley location has fallen on hard times and hasn’t turned a profit in years. They also see it as a potential boon for surrounding businesses. The addition of a dispensary in the area would "benefit bookstores, record stores, cafes and add a lot of very good traffic to Telegraph," said Weinstein, referring to the street Amoeba is located. Or as Prinz put it, "That street could really frickin' use this… the whole neighborhood would like the street to be more civilized."
Amoeba has married weed with music retail before, having rented out space above its San Francisco location on Haight Street to a medical cannabis office called Green Evaluations. Prinz said that the clinic “fits in with what we do” and actually draws foot traffic to that story.
In Berkeley, Amoeba is up against five other groups seeking the same permit. There will be several public hearings, then a group called the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Commission will make a recommendation to the city council, which will choose the winning bid.
Though it appears to have a strong argument to host the city’s fourth dispensary, Amoeba does have its work cut out for it. The chair of the advisory commission has come out against Amoeba’s plan, citing potential illegal activity on the street. "I don’t think it’s a good situation," Charles Pappas told the Daily Cal. "You really don’t want people who come in and buy medicine and then reselling it on [Telegraph]… there’s a lot of underground dealing going on."