A prominent Mission district businessman is leaving the restaurant and real estate industries for the medical marijuana trade.

Ghassan “Gus” Murad, who owns the New Mission Theater and Medjool restaurant with its controversial rooftop bar, is a partner in Morado Collective, according to records. The medical marijuana dispensary is proposed for space that’s currently empty at 2520 Mission St., a property that also houses the restaurant and a hostel, according to records filed Feb. 22 with the Department of Public Health.

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If approved, the dispensary would be part of a “pharmacy and respite care” complex for the gay Hispanic community, said Eduardo Morales, who is listed as an operator on the application and is executive director of city nonprofit AGUILAS, which provides HIV/AIDS prevention services to that community.

Plans for Morado have not been finalized, but patients would be able to access cannabis and other medications from an on-site pharmacist, Morales told The San Francisco Examiner. Patients also would be able to stay overnight, possibly in the space currently occupied by the Elements Hotel, Morales said.

“It wouldn’t be like some place in Amsterdam to go and buy marijuana,” Morales said. He said Murad approached him about the dispensary, the profits of which also would provide a dedicated revenue stream for nonprofits such as AGUILAS and the LGBT Center.

“It’s about sustainability for nonprofits … within the rubric of respite care,” Morales said.

AGUILAS receives about $350,000 annually from the Department of Public Health for HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention services, Morales said.

Murad did not respond to calls seeking comment. Real estate attorney Victor Marquez, speaking on Murad’s behalf, said Murad is the dispensary’s landlord. Murad also made a “small loan” to help start the project and paid the $8,656 permit fee, records show.

Medical marijuana dispensaries need approval from both the Planning and Public Health departments, a process that can take up to a year.

Medjool was previously involved in controversy surrounding height restrictions on its rooftop bar — which has hosted fundraisers for nonprofits and for politicians such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a former mayor. The proper permits were eventually obtained, but not before Murad resigned from both the Small Business Commission and the neighborhood Business Improvement District.

Medjool has closed, but a new eatery operated by the group that runs Beretta, Starbelly and Delarosa is expected to open.

Opening a cannabis dispensary could be risky. Five San Francisco outlets have closed since November after receiving letters from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who on Feb. 21 also issued a similar letter to the landlords of a dispensary in the 2400 block of Mission Street.

But the feds won’t bother Morado, promised Marquez, because “we’d provide bona fide patient care,” he said.

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News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: San Francisco, CA
Source: SF Examiner
Author: Chris Roberts
Contact: www.sfexaminer.com/contact
Copyright: SF Newspaper Company LLC
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