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Amoeba Music Granted License to Open Marijuana Dispensary in Berkeley


In late September, Amoeba Music was granted licensing to open a medical marijuana dispensary. The store, currently located on Telegraph Avenue, will convert a portion of the building to medical marijuana. Owners Marc Weinstein and David Prinz are excited about the new opportunity this brings to the Amoeba brand.

Amoeba Music, along with many other record labels, has seen a decline in profit with the digital age. Society obtains their music in a different way now. Music is recorded in a more technologically advanced manner now. People just don’t buy records and CDs much anymore, so the owners had to get creative and come up with another solution.

Marc Weinstein said:

"This is absolutely going to help save the Berkeley store."

The granting of this license marks Amoeba Music as the first record store in California to double as a medical marijuana dispensary. This move is going to help the brand stay in business after 8 consecutive years of reported financial losses. The record retailer reports that 2016 sales reports show 50-percent of the sales reported in 2008. A change was necessary to keep the brand alive.

Amoeba Music has other stores in California, which have made up for the losses in Berkeley. Although all three locations have experienced decreased sales, the Berkeley store, although just blocks from UC Berkeley, has suffered the greatest losses.

Weinstein said:

"The Berkeley store got a lot slower than the other stores a lot sooner, partially because of the culture that surrounds Telegraph. But also the students in general, especially five to ten years ago, came in, and the new wave was downloading and streaming music. Really, a lot of students don’t understand why anyone would by a hard copy."

Thoughts of branching into the medical marijuana industry didn’t just happen overnight. This is five years in the making. Amoeba has been trying that long to have licensing granted to them. Executive director at Magnolia Wellness Collective, Debby Goldsberry, has been assisting Amoeba’s owners to get their new business setup, the Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective. The current Amoeba location on Telegraph Avenue is 3,000-square feet. The dispensary portion will take over the Jazz, world music and classical sections.

Aside from just selling medical marijuana, Weinstein and Prinz are also dedicated to educating the public about the benefits and uses of medical marijuana. For licensing alone, $100,000 was paid out. The conversion of the space is estimated to cost several hundred thousand dollars.

Weinstein said:

"It’s going to be a full-service, comprehensive dispensary for the neighborhood."

The business partners say that if the Berkeley store’s conversion proves to be successful, they will also look at converting the other two locations as well. At their San Francisco location, a medical marijuana evaluation office is on the upper level. What makes these owners good candidates for the marijuana industry is that they aren’t just about the money; they believe in the industry and care about patients.

Weinstein said:

"Cannabis dispensaries are our first experiment in this business – a business we strongly believe in.

We think access to cannabis is a human rights issue and my partner Dave and I are both very much on the same page.

We’re being afforded an opportunity to come into this business with fresh eyes and come up with a new model on Telegraph.

We feel the responsibility and we’re hoping to make everyone happy with a model that is strictly Berkeley-style and very much a part of the community."

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