Hi Fidelity, Berkeley’s newest marijuana dispensary, officially opens

Ketki Samel/Staff

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Hi Fidelity, a new marijuana dispensary located next to Amoeba Music on Telegraph Avenue, officially opened Saturday.

The dispensary is expected to increase foot traffic and boost vitality at the intersection of Haste Street and Telegraph Avenue, which has been “problematic” in the past 25 years, according to Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Owner of Hi Fidelity and Amoeba Records co-founder Marc Weinstein said the opening went “very well,” and that in spite of coinciding graduation events, opening day saw an “excellent stream of customers.”

According to Weinstein, the new marijuana dispensary has many goals, including cultivating an atmosphere in which “there’s something for everybody.” Unlike other stores that pressure people with a line and little time to speak with sales associates, Hi Fidelity encourages its customers to take a survey of all products, and to interact with other customers and cannabis experts, Weinstein said.

“Amoeba’s reputation and attraction of really high-caliber people imposes responsibility for Hi Fidelity to be run properly, and that is our aim,” Weinstein said. “We want to do marijuana justice, as we’re so passionate about it and its educational uses.”

Restricting product sales to those made by the best practices is also very high on Hi Fidelity’s list of priorities. These include farming practices that are organic and dry-based, and recruiting producers who agree that cannabis is an essential part of life. Human civilization, according to Weinstein, has systematically kept marijuana from humans, even though cannabis might have helped multitudes of people in the past.

In 2016, City Council approved three new cannabis dispensaries in order to meet growing recreational and medicinal demand. Hi Fidelity is the first of the three to open, and Worthington and Mayor Jesse Arreguín said they consider it an important addition to the Berkeley community.

“Because Amoeba has been an exemplary employer for so many years, I have confidence that they will take on this new mission in a way that brings vitality to the community,” Worthington said.

In addition, Arreguín said the dispensary provides a foundation not only for increased business and vibrancy among the intersection, but also in regard to paying employees reasonable wages and supporting them by means of a labor union.

According to a statement from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 648, or UFCW Local 648, Hi Fidelity’s main stakeholders, including Marc Weinstein, were the first to commit in writing to model labor standards. The statement described Amoeba Records as integral to the city of Berkeley, and a source of satisfactory jobs.

“That agreement set a very high bar, offering a living wage, paid holidays, vacation, sick leave, medical benefits & a defined benefit pension plan for their future workers,” the statement said. “UFCW Local 648 looks forward to continuing our relationship as Hi Fidelity establishes itself as another icon in Berkeley.”

Contact Nicholas Olivares at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nicholivares.