When Alphonso “Tucky” Blunt stands in front of his dispensary, Blunts + Moore, he knows he’s home.
Located but a Stephen Curry heave away from the Golden State Warriors’ longtime arena in Oakland, Blunts + Moore made headlines as the world’s first equity-owned dispensary when it first opened its doors in the fall of November 2018.
Though the Warriors would acrimoniously depart for San Francisco and a new arena shortly thereafter, Blunt’s shop – run with business partner Brittany Moore – continues to cement its own legacy as a modern cultural and community hub for Oakland adults.
At the center of it all is Blunt, a fifth-generation Oakland native who, by his own account, has been selling Cannabis in one form or another since he was a teenager.
“I’ve been selling Cannabis since I was 16,” he said. “I’m 40 now, so to have people who were buying from me then, now coming into the store that I own to buy it? Talk about amazing.”
In what can only be described as a true Bay Area origin story, Blunt told California Leaf that it was his friendship with Mike Marshall – the vocalist featured on Luniz’s immortal 1996 Oakland rap anthem “I Got 5 On It” – that jumpstarted his quest to opening the planet’s first equity-owned Cannabis dispensary.
“The Luniz and all of those guys are friends of mine, but in particular, I’m close with Mike Marshall,” Blunt said. “One day, he called me and was like, ‘Have you ever caught a weed case in Oakland?’”
Blunt had, in fact, caught a weed case.
In 2014, Blunt was arrested for being in possession of a firearm (one he was licensed and registered to carry) and about $80 worth of Cannabis. Aware of the harsh mandatory minimums such charges carried, Blunt took the first deal offered by Alameda County – ten years felony probation. Though Blunt paid his required restitution (early) and successfully got his records first sealed, then later expunged, his probation status made him an easy target for law enforcement. Undeterred, Blunt kept at it.
So, when Marshall called and pitched Blunt on Oakland’s new equity program in 2017, the Oaksterdam University graduate affectionately nicknamed “the one-man dispensary” by some of his clientele, was more than happy to listen.
This was about a year after the city had initially announced its plans.
Shortly thereafter, Blunt found himself vying for one of four licenses being offered via a lotto ball format. The drawing took place in January 2018. When Blunt’s ball was one of the lucky four selected, his focus immediately turned to funding in the form of a deal that would not deprive him of majority control. Thus, Blunts + Moore did not seek any outside incubation assistance from another company, but instead found an offer in which Blunt would retain 100% ownership of his license.
On November 24, 2018, the world’s first equity-owned dispensary at last opened. Recalling the excitement of those early days, Blunt acknowledged the significance of welcoming longtime customers he’d served outside of the law, now arriving at his licensed place of business to legally buy weed from him.
“I was happy, but they were super happy too,” he said. “People have been telling me forever that if anybody was going to do this, it was going to be me. I heard that all the time because of how I moved around in the illegal space, so it was pretty dope. It’s humbling. It’s amazing.”
In the landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area, the cultural overlap between music, sports and world-class Cannabis offers a perfect melting pot for Blunts + Moore to operate as a dispensary, but more than that, as a vibrant extension of today’s Oakland community.
Among Blunt’s cadre of certifiably cool friends are three former Golden State Warriors – Al Harrington, Matt Barnes, and Stephen Jackson – all of whom now have roles in the Cannabis industry.
“I was introduced to Stephen Jackson in 2018 and now my wife and I have keys to his house in Oakland,” Blunt marveled. “To have that kind of relationship after two years of knowing someone is dope as hell. Normally, I’m real guarded, but for them to come here, play for us, and now all three of them are like my peers in the licensed Cannabis space? It’s very full-circle. Plus, they’re just cool dudes overall.”
Given the trajectory Blunt has been on since his arrest in 2014, it’s understandable that he has no plans to stop at one Blunts + Moore location. To the contrary, his vision is to franchise the model he’s installed in Oakland in each new state that votes to approve adult-use sales.
“Anywhere with legal Cannabis, they should have an equity program,” Blunt said. “And that first store under the equity program should be Blunts + Moore. The franchise model is pretty easy: Find another ex-felon, just like me – someone from the area who loves their city – and bring them in at 51%.”
The idea, he explained, is to be a resource for the next wave of Tucky Blunts, who in turn, will hopefully do the same as well.
“The space has nowhere to go but up,” Blunt said, “but it’s got to be going up with people in the space actually taking part in the decision-making. We’ve got a lot of these big companies coming in and treating it like a normal business, but Cannabis is a different type of business and you have to treat it as such. They come in and try to buy us out, but they need to come and try to work with this.”
Blunts + Moore
701 66th Ave., Suite B, Oakland, CA.