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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Purple Star Pot Club: Gus Murad's Dispensary Was Robbed of Its Weed

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 6:45 AM

click to enlarge Another night at Medjool for Murad (right) -  FLICKR.COM/BCEFPHOTOS

You might not recall who Gus Murad is, but you probably remember his bar. To children of the mid-2000s, no evening of Mission debauchery was complete without a visit to Medjool and its legendary rooftop bar.

Political types, of course, will never forget Murad, the Gavin Newsom intimate who used the bar to curry favor with City Hall (which led to embarrassment when it came out that the rooftop party space violated height exemptions).

These days, Murad is out of the restaurant business, but he's still a landlord -- and still involved with selling drugs out of the space at 2520 Mission Street, though of a different kind, and to a different clientele. Last week, the Murad-funded Purple Star medical marijuana dispensary -- downstairs from the roof and the former hostel space that now houses veterans -- was robbed by armed gunmen.

The robbers barged into the dispensary last Thursday and reportedly got away with about 20 jars of medical-grade weed, according to reports. The suspects were arrested shortly after in the Western Addition, with the weed in hand.

It's not clear how they got past security, although we hear Purple Star had an "open-door" policy that differs from most well-secured dispensaries. Murad did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment from SF Weekly, nor did the individual listed as a partner in the Purple Star collective effort on Department of Public Health records return our message.

Some will recall that Murad resigned his seat on the Small Business Commission after it was revealed that Medjool's roof was too damn high (which was around the same time he was pushing for different zoning controls on the New Mission Theater/Giant Value parcel up the road). It was around that time that Murad announced a fire sale, putting everything from the Medjool space to the theater space on the market.

The theater/store sold and will open soon as Alamo Drafthouse theater/brewery, but Murad still owns the Medjool building at 2520 Mission. Over the past couple of years, he leased the restaurant space to the team that runs Beretta, and put some Section 8 housing for formerly homeless veterans in the space that used to house a hostel. On the ground floor, plans to put in a medical marijuana dispensary sailed through the Planning process in a few months' time (other dispensaries have taken years to clear all the permitting hurdles).

There's no love lost with some of Murad's old friends from the neighborhood: Before the medical cannabis dispensary was approved, members of the Mission Miracle Mile Business Improvement District -- including one who attended Murad's wedding in Morocco -- sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, demanding federal authorities intervene and shut down the dispensary if it was allowed to open.

Purple Star is up and running -- and meanwhile, a dispensary called Shambhala Healing Center down the road is the target of a federal Justice Department asset forfeiture effort.

Unfortunately for Murad and for the city's medical marijuana dispensaries, this is exactly the kind of incident medical cannabis's enemies love. Police have all along argued that dispensaries engender crime Although that notion has exploded as pure falsehood before, armed robberies are indeed crime.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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