The woman called back again to wish us the worst of luck, after the jump. The ABC, meanwhile, confirmed the arrests to the Weekly. First posted at 7:01 a.m. on Dec. 16.

We've been to many a legit nightlife venue lately where the fragrant aroma of strong marijuana smoke filled nearby walkways and smoking areas. Since the explosion of pot shops in L.A. in the last three years, it's been almost a fact of life:

Lots of sick hipsters need their medicine. When they're at bars and clubs. It's therapeutic.

But some people at Prime Time Pub (best bar name ever) in Hollywood were allegedly taking California's quasi-legit tolerance for weed to a new level. State authorities say someone sold it there. And customers smoked it there. Inside. At the bar.


We know: Awesome business plan (that and Michael Phelps-brand, cannabis-infused beer).

Problem is, if true, it's not legal. Selling marijuana to people with doctor's notes — somewhat legal. But doing so at a bar conflicts with the state's alcohol laws.

Something brought detectives with the state Department of state Department of Alcoholic

Beverage Control to the bar at 5556 Santa Monica Blvd. (in the same stretch of the street where a quasi-homeless man wanted for questioning in the Beverly Hills murder of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen recently offed himself).


The narcs allegedly spotted patrons smoking, and someone selling, possibly including an employee, an ABC spokesman said.

Arrested on suspicion of having and/or selling marijuana were 49-year-old Hong Thi Nguyen, the employee, and 70-year-old patron Don Whittington (wow, way to go, grandpa).

The ABC states the arrests could put the bar's alcohol license in jeopardy.

Ya think?

Update: After receiving several calls from a woman identifying herself as Nguyen, who said we got the story wrong — that she wasn't arrested — the Weekly obtained the press release from the state ABC. It reads:

Authorities arrested one employee (Hong Thi Nguyen, 49) and one patron (Don Whittington, 70) at the bar on December 14, 2010 for sales and/or possession of marijuana.

Additionally, we asked an ABC official with knowledge of the situation to expound on the accusations. She said Nguyen was cited for marijuana possession and released at the scene and that Whittington was booked on suspicion of possessing pot for sale.

The source who says she's Nguyen said that “all they find from me is one joint in my tip jar.”

The woman claiming to be Nguyen (she said her “married name” was Iverson and that the Prime Time was “my bar”) said that Whittington “only” allegedly had a half-ounce on him at the time of his arrest. She said he had a medical marijuana card. The ABC had no knowledge of such a card.

Interestingly, the person claiming to be Nguyen told us the problem at Prime Time isn't weed but methamphetamine. She said she had been complaining to authorities about meth-heads who “take over” her bar and “do lines” out in the open.

At one point she said the Weekly was out to get her because her daughter was famous and has a television show. Then she said this writer was a regular she recognized (not true — never been) who had a personal problem with the bar.

She accused ABC enforcers of being afraid to take on the alleged meth-heads.

“My bar is safe haven for crystal meth users,” she said. “But they can't go after these guys. They do lines at the bar. I complain all the time and nobody does anything about it.”

“Last night you ought to see the group that was there last night doing crystal meth,” she said.

Thanks for clarifying. Way to set us straight.

Update #2: The woman called back to say she's one of the bartenders, not the owner, despite having called it “my bar” previously. (It's possible we misunderstood).

She also accused this reporter of being a regular whose motive was to try to convince her fellow bartenders to go work for another venue (because there's such a high demand in his arena).

Finally, she noted the upcoming eclipse and that she hoped it would bring us the worst of tidings.

And to all a good night.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

LA Weekly