Business owners at a Pinole mall are upset over a stream of people apparently looking to buy marijuana at a vacant storefront since the weekend, notwithstanding the city's virtual ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

In a 15-minute period around lunchtime Tuesday, about a half-dozen vehicles drove up to the storefront near the back of the Magganas center on Appian Way, only to leave after their occupants found the place closed and empty, with blinds drawn and a "For Lease" sign at the entrance. A few got out of their vehicles to check, while others just drove away.

"They ain't even here no more," said one man wearing a sweatshirt with a picture of a cannabis leaf, apparently believing a cannabis club to have recently moved out, rather than to be preparing to move in. "All their (stuff) is gone," he said to two companions; he declined to comment further.

The co-landlords at the two-story, two-building complex just south of the Pinole Vista shopping center differed on what exactly was going on with the vacant storefront and were equivocal about whether they had signed a lease with a tenant. Dimitri Magganas said he has received inquiries from medical marijuana businesses but that he doesn't want them in his complex.


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Athan Magganas said a lot of businesses are interested in renting the storefront; he said he did not know whether one prime prospect is a cannabis club or not, but that "if the city accepts it, I will look into it."

Under Pinole's ordinance, enacted in 2007, a medical marijuana dispensary or cooperative "shall be allowed, " but "only if consistent with state and federal law."

Medical marijuana is legal under state law, but the federal government holds that marijuana is an illegal drug with no medical value.

Business owners at the Magganas center told Bay Area News Group they worry that a stream of marijuana customers could drive away patrons of the other shops and professional offices by taking up scarce parking spaces and because of security concerns.

Law enforcement officials say cannabis clubs are sometimes targets for people seeking to steal drugs or cash.

Aside from recreational uses, marijuana is used to alleviate discomfort and chronic pain caused by an array of ailments, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, AIDS, nausea, appetite loss and anxiety.

One man who stopped by the storefront Tuesday said he had a marijuana prescription from a doctor and that he was looking for the GDP Collective.

GDP Collective, also known as Gran Daddy Purp Collective, operated until recently on Hilltop Mall Road in Richmond. A phone message to GDP on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Pinole officials said that as of Tuesday, no one had applied for a business license at the address of the vacant storefront.

Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760.