Friday, June 5th, 2009 at 6:30 am in Print columns.
Well, the last week’s story, “Fate of Alameda pot club likely heading to court,” doesn’t really have a happy ending for anyone. The City Council just said no to the Purple Elephant medical marijuana dispensary on Webster Street. (Say, wouldn’t that business name give you a little red flag regarding its inventory — other than children’s toys.)
Not that, if one is trying to open a pot dispensary, one would necessarily go to City Hall and say, “Howdy. We’re going to sell pot over on Webster Street for people with medical problems. How about a nice business license. Here’s our check.”
Chances are, that wouldn’t fly. So instead, you might just mention that you’re going to sell “miscellaneous retail,” which seems like a smarter way to get that license.
So, they opened last summer, the city somehow discovered that miscellaneous retail is pot-related and revoked its license and now the business has said it’s taking the city to court to stay in operation.
People have pretty strong opinions about pot. It’s a love-hate thing, even while the state goes about reconsidering whether or not it should be legalized. The council didn’t make a statement about whether medical marijuana dispensaries are bad or good, nor whether marijuana is bad or good, though surely they each have their own opinions on the topic. Instead, the council chose to put a moratorium on dispensaries as a land use issue, to look at how they affect health and safety.
The bad thing here is that, if the city is concerned about those issues, how did this go through in the first place? It’s one of those slip-ups that has caused bad news for the operation, its customers and the people in the West End who feel their business district isn’t the right place for it. A lot of people have been affected. We could blame the dispensary owner for trying to slip through the cracks with his “miscellaneous retail” line, but, frankly, if I got a mailer from a company called Purple Elephant that only sold miscellaneous retail, I’d have a pretty good suspicion there was something the Purple Elephant was keeping to itself.
If another business applies for a license and it’s called, say, The Joint, and sells undefined, miscellaneous items, it would be prudent for the city to do a little research before making any decisions.