Quondam Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, the first woman elected to that office in 2011 after her work as a member of Oakland's City Council, has some new, shall we say, high ambitions. Quan, along with husband Dr. Floyd Huen, hopes to operate an Outer Sunset medical marijuana dispensary, an expansion of the popular Market Street pot shop the Apothecarium.
It was at a contentious meeting with neighborhood residents that CBS5 learned last week of Huen's role in the dispensary's westward expansion to 32nd and Noriega. Huen, who would be a co-owner of the business along with the current Apothecarium owners, pitched the business as the first partially Chinese-owned dispensary in the city, in a largely Chinese area.
“There’s not enough access to medical cannabis for the Chinese community," he said at the community meeting. But the crowd, also largely Asian, was hostile and shut down Huen before he could finish his pitch. “I thought they would have at least enough respect to hear me out,” helamented.
The Apothecarium also now has a branch in Las Vegas and one in the works in Berkeley, and in addition to the Outer Sunset, the city is reviewing its applications for a new offshoot in the Marina.
Following up, the Chronicle reports that Jean Quan is also in on the business, having lost her reelection bid two years ago to current Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and she would be a co-owner with her husband. She called the effort "mainly" his idea, although she authored Oakland's dispensary legislation in 2004 during her time as a City Council member.
As for Huen, in his work as a gerontologist, he says he's prescribed medical marijuana since 1996 for chronic pain, cancer, and diabetes. As he tells the Chronicle, he's "especially interested in providing bilingual and culturally sensitive services that collaborate with traditional Asian medical practitioners." And, what's more, he's already been working for the Apothecarium as a consultant.
Speaking to the East Bay Times, Apothecarium spokesperson Eliot Dobris made the case for an Outer Sunset dispensary. "There are no dispensaries in the Sunset right now... We think just like everyone has access to a pharmacy in their neighborhood the same should be true for medical marijuana."
Opponents fear the potential shift toward recreational marijuana, approved by California voters in November, reveals that the "medical" aspect of the dispensary is just a Trojan horse. "This is a beachhead for bringing recreational marijuana to the Sunset, and we don’t want it sold in our neighborhood,” Valerie Schmalz, a protestor at the fateful community meeting, told the Chronicle.