Amoeba adapts from music to marijuana

Louis LaVenture,

 Amoeba Music, known for trading, buying and selling all forms of new and used music will begin to sell a new product soon: marijuana.

According to Amoeba Music employee Debby Goldsberry, the Berkeley location applied for and received a permit to sell marijuana last month. The music store, which originally opened in Berkeley in 1990, now has three locations that include San Francisco and Hollywood. According to Amoeba Music officials, the Berkeley store will transform its “Jam Room” into a marijuana dispensary, with a separate entrance from the music area.

It will be a collaborative effort with the Berkeley Compassionate Care Center group, a marijuana collective based in Berkeley and located on Telegraph Avenue, the same street as Amoeba. The new dispensary at Amoeba will be called the Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective; however, it will take at least a few months to make sure they are in accordance with all of the city ordinances that surround marijuana sales. One of the major requirements is a 600 foot buffer zone from all schools and hospitals, something that Amoeba fits.

With many consumers going the digital route to obtain music, the physical music industry has taken a blow. According to Amoeba co-founder Marc Weinstein, from 2008 to 2015, the Berkeley location lost 50 percent of all total sales. Billboard Magazine confirmed those numbers and also said the famous Telegraph Avenue location, which had 90 employees in 2008 had just 35 today.

Co-founder David Prinz said the Hollywood location makes on average $20 million annually and the marijuana sales will help subsidize lost income from the other two locations; however, there are no current plans to open dispensaries at the Hollywood or San Francisco locations yet.

Weinstein and Prinz both said they did not believe the addition of a marijuana dispensary would discourage patronage of the Berkeley location.

“If anything, it should generate a ton of sales,” Weinstein said. “That’s the goal.”

Marijuana is a booming industry in California, according to California state records that record the monetary aspects of the industry. In 2015, dispensaries registered with the state recorded more than $600 million in total sales and more than $55 million in taxes. In 2014, marijuana sales nationwide numbered more than $4.6 billion, $5.4 billion in 2015 and are projected to be more than $7.1 billion in this year.

Colorado passed the same amendment in 2012 and the state began selling marijuana in 2014. As of July, Colorado marijuana sales were already more than $500 million, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Amoeba Music officials said they will keep customers updated of the progress on their website and through emails while the revamping takes place. According to a statement from the collective, they are hopeful to open in a few months.