Pubdate: Wed, 07 May 2014
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Copyright: 2014 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


Win or lose, Oakland's Coliseum district is now a lot happier thanks
to a shiny new medical pot dispensary, Phytologie.

East Bay medical cannabis patients have a new access point for their
alternative herbal remedy of choice. Phytologie Wellness Center opened
for business late last year on Enterprise Way near the Oakland-Alameda
County Coliseum complex. And the new medical pot dispensary is a model
for cleanliness, security, and professionalism.

While most East Bay cities ban dispensaries because of inaccurate
fears about crime, Oakland is part of a compassionate constellation of
cities - including San Francisco (which has about two dozen clubs),
Berkeley (which has three clubs), and Richmond (which also has three
clubs) - that has embraced medical weed. Oakland began regulating
medical cannabis outlets in 2004 and collects roughly $1.4 million in
annual taxes from them.

Amid the federal-state medical pot crackdown of 2011, Oakland again
went against the grain and doubled its number of operating permits
issued to dispensaries from four to eight. About a dozen groups
applied for the new permits, including a Montel Williams venture
called Abatin Wellness.

Abatin failed to win one of the new permits, but became an alternate
while four groups with conditional permits looked for space to lease.
Months passed, a group with a conditional permit backed out, and it
was Abatin, now dubbed Phytologie Wellness, that managed to find a
spot off the Hegenberger Road exit of Interstate 880, just off Edes
Avenue, behind a Day's Inn and a Jack in the Box.

It's easy to get lost in the rugged, heavily industrial maze off
Hegenberger. Oakland's seventh licensed dispensary is also very
low-profile. The establishment hasn't courted publicity, and it
doesn't have street signage. But the club's incongruity with the
neighborhood gives it away nonetheless.

The outlet is meticulously landscaped, power-washed, and litter-free,
ensconced behind a new, green-screened chain-link fence topped with
barbed wire. Shiny, white, antennae-like cameras protrude from the
roof of the Seventies-style, one-story office building. On a recent
visit, two security guards directed traffic to free onsite parking.

Past the metal detector, Kendrick Lamar's "ADHD" played in the lobby,
and intake took a few minutes with a valid state ID and a physician's
recommendation. Everything shined brand new, from the stained,
hardwood floors to the white walls and fluorescent office lights.

Past the locked door to the main room, Phytologie has a smelling
station that features several strains and an info guide. Product
displays lined a side wall and a line of patients formed down the
middle of the space. Heavy dudes with neck tattoos and work boots,
graveyard-shift workers in hospital scrubs, and businessmen waited for
their turn at the two budtending stations. Two menus posted on
flat-screen monitors on the back wall were jam-packed with product. We
counted about twenty indicas, seven sativas, and twelve hybrids, plus
several dozen concentrates, edibles, and topicals.

"Phytologie" riffs on the Greek-language root words for "plant" and
"to grow," and the club's herb looked and smelled like it was produced
by some expert cultivators. Top-shelf strains such as Pincher's Creek,
Old Amsterdam, and Classic Trainwreck went for a maximum of $55 per
eighth-ounce. On the day I visited, business was booming due to
Phytologie's $50, half-ounce special - a fresh, THC-rich house mix of
popcorn buds and shake in a big canister.

The club also had crowd-pleasers, such as A-grade Blue Dream, along
with some epic Super Cookies priced to move at $40 an eighth. Other
signs of greatness included Ed Rosenthal Select Sativa Blend MediCones
for $17 each and Rump Wax's galaxy-class shatter for a pricey $70 per

How can such a new dispensary have such an amazing lineup just six
months in? The helpful, knowledgeable clerk said the folks from
Cannabis Buyer's Club of Berkeley were directing operations. That
explains the trademark Pincher's Creek strain that the club had on
sale. As for Montel Williams, he has been out of the picture for
months, she said.

Phytologie is cash-only due to federal interference in banking related
to medical cannabis. An onsite ATM charges a token fee. Customers who
refer others to the dispensary get 10 percent off - as do same-day
Coliseum event ticketholders.

Seeds and Stems

A historic bill to regulate California's medical cannabis industry got
some much-needed amendments and passed a key committee hurdle last
week. State Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) removed from his Senate
Bill 1262 onerous doctor rules and an ill-advised proposal to have
county health departments play an enforcement role in medical pot
dispensaries. The cannabis industry-friendly amendments led to the
bill's unprecedented endorsement by patient advocates at Americans for
Safe Access and California NORML. The California Cannabis Industry
Association (CCIA) withdrew its opposition to the bill and has now
taken a "neutral" stance on it. The Senate Health committee passed the
bill in a 6-0 vote, and the legislation heads to the Appropriations
committee next.

SB 1262, however, has yet to spell out important regulations. The
legislature and the governor will still have to agree on whom they
want in charge of policing the state's multi-billion medical cannabis
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt