Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 19, 2009

Purple Elephant Haze

Filed under: Alameda, Business, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:38 am

The most recent edition of the Alameda Magazine has a story about the Medical Marijuana joint (no pun intended) that surreptitiously opened on Webster Street a while back.   To recap, the Pot Club, Purple Elephant opened without anyone in the City actually understanding that they would be dispensing weed.  Last November the City decided to place an emergency moratoriumon any pot clubs coming to the City until they could sort out who to regulate these types of businesses.

The hearing tonight at the City Council is an appeal by the owner of Purple Elephant to appeal the revocation of their business license.   While I’m not that happy about a pot club open and operating in my hood — yeah I’m a little NIMBY that way — I do understand that it is a necessity for some people and I’m sympathetic to the argument that it’s safer for those vulnerable folks to have a safe and clean place to get their, um, medication.   However, from all accounts there appears to be quite an abuse of the system.   From the Alameda Magazine article:

On a day that might have been slow at most businesses, Dec. 30, 2008, a Monday during a holiday work week, lunchtime was busy at the Purple Elephant. There was a steady crowd on the block between Haight and Lincoln. 

In the first 30 minutes I sat there, six guys in their 20s—one every five minutes—arrived at the Purple Elephant and were allowed in. During that time, the only other customer was a woman who looked like she was in her 30s.

They all left within five to 10 minutes of arriving, each clutching a brown paper lunch bag. 

Only one guy was turned away. The guy, probably in his 30s and wearing a black sweat suit with red trim, stormed out of the Purple Elephant entrance. “Dude, I’m at the f*** club. Where are you?” he screamed into his phone. For the next 30 minutes he walked up and down outside the dispensary, yelling and cursing into his phone.

Finally, a security guard came outside and told him to stay away. He disappeared.

The first time I visited, I stood behind a girl, maybe 18, with long, straight blond hair and lots of black eyeliner. She wore a white T-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. She looked like any high school student on the Island. She smiled at me as she handed her medical marijuana ID card over to the security guard. He let her go up the stairs.

Although I have to say that the young girl probably wasn’t 18ish, as a digression aren’t kids looking younger and younger these days?   I swear all the kids who I see marching up to the College of Alameda look like babies.  Babies I tell you!  

So anyway, I’m a little bothered by the city staff using the argument that the sale of pot is illegal under federal law.   While it is, it isn’t under California law which was voted on by Californians.  So, yeah….awkward.  Staff, of course, is recommending that the appeal be denied.



  1. I’ve probably seen at least 20 people enter the establishment. All were under 30. All were men. Most were dressed either like gangbangers or Mission District hipsters.

    I’m for legalization of marijuana, but the whole medical marijuana thing has turned into a farce. It was just a back door way towards legalization. Maybe everyone secretly knew it would be.

    As for who at City Hall gave the ok for the permit, I certainly hope that person was on the pink slip list. Also, the city was caught completely flat-footed by not having any sort of legislation already passed on the matter. Now, we’re going to have spend time, money and legal fees to sort the whole mess out. Not a confidence builder in our city government.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 19, 2009 @ 8:12 am

  2. To be clear- medical marijuana is legal in California. This is a state decision and the Supreme Court doesn’t even want to discuss it.

    AP 5/18/2009:
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear another challenge to California’s decade-old law permitting marijuana use for medical purposes.

    The high court on Monday refused to hear appeals from San Diego and San Bernardino counties, which say the justices have never directly ruled on whether California’s law trumps the federal controlled substances laws.

    Supporters say marijuana helps chronically ill patients relieve pain. Critics say the drug has no medical benefit and all use should be illegal.

    San Diego supervisors had sued to overturn the state law after it was approved by voters in 1996, but lower courts have ruled against them.

    San Diego and San Bernardino counties argued that issuing identification cards to eligible users, as required by the 1996 state law, would violate federal law, which does not recognize the state measure.

    A state appeals court ruled that ID card laws “do not pose a significant impediment” to the federal Controlled Substances Act because that law is designed to “combat recreational drug use, not to regulate a state’s medical practices.”

    The cases are County of San Bernardino v. California, 08-897 and County of San Diego v. San Diego NORML, 08-887.

    Not so simple though I guess.. This guy just got sentenced to 10 years in prison for growing medical marijuana in CA:

    Comment by SpankyM — May 19, 2009 @ 11:05 am

  3. I have two dear friends who are suffering from fatal illnesses who both benefit greatly from medical marijuana. Luckily, they do not live in Alameda and will not be inconvenienced by the Webster Street closing. As to the people who frequent pot clubs, my friends are in their late 50s and early 60s respectively. If we are going to decide on the legitimacy of an enterprise by the age and attire of those who frequent it, I guess we’ll have to close all the bars, convenience stores, and, oh, yeah, the high schools. I think the city is wise to issue the suspension until they get their ducks in a row, but this is not going away. I’d rather Alameda have the tax dollars. Also, there have been no reports of criminal or disruptive activity in conjunction with the Purple Elephant, what bar or high school for that matter can claim that?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 22, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  4. #3

    A few doors down from the pot club is the Webster Street Pharmacy. The age and attire of those who frequent that dispensary contrasts significantly with those entering the Purple Elephant. Isn’t it amazing how many young men can only find relief from their illness by smoking pot? And isn’t it also amazing the wide variety of pot and hashish that pot clubs offer?
    “He asked what I like, and showed me a number of different strains I might be interested in. He let me smell each one and told me what was a popular seller and what not. When I decided, he weighed it in front of me. “I don’t trust places that don’t weigh it right in front of you” he said. He picked off the stems, and threw in a little more than what I paid for. I picked up some stuff called platinum god’s gift and it might have been the best stuff I’ve picked up anywhere so far.”

    Remember, I’m for legalization of marijuana, but this whole “wink, wink” way of doing it just makes people cynical. Anyone can get a pot card. There are doctors who build their practices on it.

    Just legalize it like alcohol and drop the pretense about medical dispensaries.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 22, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

  5. I am a mid 30’s Aids patient that goes to the Purple Elephant. I have full blown Aids, can’t grow my own medicine and they provide it for me. When I signed up there 9 months ago, I weighed 130lbs and looked frail, thanks to the medicine, I am up to 185lbs, back to work, and have a normal quality of life.

    They make me feel safe, I drive all the way from the valley to visit them. I enter a clean location, get id’ed, then go upstairs and get id’ed again then assisted.

    I’m a non imposing white guy, I am not a gangster or a person abusing the system. I feel safe here, something I don’t feel at other clubs. No BS, no racial tension, no drama, and cool security.

    Please, for the people like myself, please do not be like Stanislaus county and close cannabis clubs, loosing tax money and making patients drive 75 miles each direction to get medicine.

    before medical cannabis – cd4 count 190, weight 130, quality of life none

    after medical cannabis – cd4 count over 400, weight 185, quality of life excellent

    So yes, good stuff from it, and even if the ‘ballers’ or other types might use it too, would you rather they have the munchies or be out pissed on the streets?

    California needs the tax revenue too..

    Comment by arthur — June 27, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  6. I live in Alameda and I love that the Purple Elephant is down the street from my house! I’m a 25 year old Caucasian (white) girl, I am a model so I might not look like I belong in there but I am seriously ill. In addition to dealing with Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other stress related symptoms I have Ulcerative Colitis and Slerosing Cholangitis. I take immune system suppressant pills to help keep my Ulcerative Colitis under control but it doesn’t alleviate any of my related symptoms such as nausea. I’ve been prescribed a couple of different pills for nausea and none of them have worked for me, and I don’t want to have to take a fucking prescription pill for every kind of symptom or illness that I suffer from anyways.

    Just because drugs are prescription does NOT mean that they are safe or acceptable! Many people abuse prescription pills and think that they aren’t drug addicts! I’ve known people who have died from over dosing on prescription pills.

    I’ve had very bad reverse reactions to other medications given me for Ulcerative Colitis and there is no known treatment for Sclerosing Cholangitis, which is a rare liver disease. I am very fortunate to have access to marijuana for medicinal purposes, and I think that it should be legalized for everyone to use without a medical reccomendation.

    Almost everyone suffers from something that they would benefit from using marijuana whether they know they’re correct diagnosis or not, or they are just having a bad day. Marijuana is a great alternative treatment! I’m not saying it is a cure all, it is more like a comfort treatment to get us through the day and to be able to be in less pain, feel less stressed/mental, eat, relax, and rest.

    The “nimby” bitch that wrote the article above doesn’t seem to have a problem living in Alameda where there are so many bars, and it is way better for you and your body to smoke some pot than to drown your sorrow/problems in alcohol. Drinking alcohol will only lead to other health problems, accidents, arrest, violence, death, and so forth. That “nimby” bitch is also so narrow minded that they probably think that cigarettes and all prescription drugs are okay too. I am extremely upset that they’re trying talk shit about having a medical marijuana dispensary in they’re neighborhood because it is my neighborhood too and there are a lot of other people that it benefits.

    The Purple Elephant has brought a lot of business to other businesses on Webster Street. I used to hardly ever go to Webster Street because it was like a fucking ghost town, but now that I’ve been going to the Purple Elephant I shop and eat off of Webster Street quite frequently, even when I’m not actually going to the Purple Elephant.

    Comment by Sarah Shevon — July 19, 2009 @ 10:48 am

  7. Smoking all that pot doesn’t seem to have improved your attitude. Perhaps you need to adjust the dosage?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — July 19, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

  8. I also suffer from ulcerative colitis. I am currently in between health care due to a change in my work situation. I ran out of meds and fell into a “flare up” I agree with Sarah when she talks about not wanting to take pills for the rest of her life. UC medications have long term side effects that are horrible (some of these medications are steroids, and imunosuppresents).

    For the past month I’ve used marijuana to control my symptoms. I use it to control inflammation and pain (ibprophine tends to cause more inflamation in the gut – with added bleeding and more pain once its effects wear off). There is no medical evidence out there that marijuana alone can “cure” colitis (just as there is no medical cure), however it has been known amongst many (including many GI doctors) to reduce symptoms. I feel like it has helped me. Also, some conventional treatment is usually necessary (such as mesalamine (asacol) ). In addition try adopting to a gluten-free diet.

    I believe people should have an open mind to med marijuana. Some people really need it..not just a gimmick. It helps people live better lives who can not otherwise. Please do some research and learn to accept other people’s views before judging them. Thanks

    Comment by Bob evert — July 24, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

  9. Considering how many of you pretend to be open minded, you sure seem to have a closed mind on the issue of MJ. I don’t smoke it, but I don’t think that it is any of my business if these pot-heads want to … as long as my taxes don’t pay for it and as long as they don’t get behind the wheel while high. It cracks me up how so many so-called “liberals” just love to stick their noses in other people’s business.


    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — July 24, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

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