Sequester the Crackdown and Enjoy the Blüm 

Oakland's newest medical cannabis dispensary has some truly fabulous ganja.

Thanks to the recent federal budget cuts, known as the "sequester," the Drug Enforcement Administration must slash its spending by 8.2 percent. And DC bureaucrats who are looking to trim the DEA's $2.02 billion annual budget by $166 million should start by examining the funds used to finance the harassment of lawful medical marijuana dispensaries in states where the drug is legal.

Medical cannabis towns like Oakland could really use such a break, and so could the city's new dispensary: Blüm. Weed patients passing through or living in the Uptown area should be pleased with this new, four-month-old club: It offers a model experience similar in vibe to San Francisco's The Green Door. Behind beefy security awaits some of Oakland's finest indoor cannabis — although you're not going to hear Blüm owner and operator Salwa Ibrahim talking about it.

The reason is that the seventeen-month-long federal crackdown on California medical marijuana continues to reverberate throughout the industry. All across the state, prosecutors have dislodged dispensaries from their homes and spooked landlords at the same time. Oakland's Harborside Health Center is still in court facing off against US Attorney Melinda Haag and the IRS. And a group of new Oakland dispensaries, including Abatin Wellness, Magnolia Wellness, and The Tidewater Group, have yet to open because of difficulty in finding landlords who will lease to them.

In fact, it's unclear how Ibrahim managed to score a space for Blüm at 578 West Grand Avenue; she didn't want to speak openly about her business with Legalization Nation. Instead, the courageous entrepreneur allowed her sterling facility and superb crops do the talking.

First off, Blüm has a good location at the busy intersection West Grand and Northgate avenues. The area, however, also sees its share of Oakland street crime, including auto burglaries and vehicle thefts, so the club has lots of security, with guards stationed in the back parking lot and at the front of the club. Inside the entry to the one-story brick building, bulletproof glass shields the receptionist. Behind the locked main doors, a cashier sits ensconced in another layer of thick glass. Cameras record everything.

But Ibrahim also has attempted to soften Blüm's look as best she can. Decorative plastic strips brighten the fences in the back parking lot. Freshly planted flowers line the walkway. New paint covers most of the graffiti, and the signage is tastefully designed. Inside, the main room is huge, warm, and bathed in muted sunlight. The hardwood floors gleam and the tasteful hipster art of Oliver Black adorns the walls. Blüm's well-designed menu glows on enormous banks of flatscreen TVs.

And for those of you who despise the long lines at some of the East Bay's other clubs, Blüm is the spot: bomb cuts and zero delays.

We got a special tour of Blüm's flower selection, and by the looks of it, Oakland is growing some truly fabulous ganja. Growers show up at Blüm all the time, so the club has its pick of the local crop, as evidenced by the selection of both top-shelf and mid-priced flowers.

Blüm offers near-perfect cuts of Cadillac Purple and Presidential Purple. Both have a huge grape smell, sport high scores for potency, and are completely dark and dank. Blüm's mid-grade Girl Scout Cookies, meanwhile, rivals top-shelf buds elsewhere, and the club's Platinum Cookies are simply phenomenal. Popularized by the rapper Berner, Platinum Cookies mixes OG Kush, Cherry Pie, and Durban Poison. The big, dark, dense, multi-colored nugs have a complex smell best summed up as similar to that of a mint baked good. The weed's effects are neither too euphoric nor too sleepy, and patients smoke it to relieve stress, anxiety, and pain.

Blüm's OG Kush selection is also a best in class. There's the Premium OG and the Reserve OG, along with the Lil' Bud OG, which was actually just the smaller buds of Reserve OG for $25 per eighth. That's a bargain and we were sold, though we promised to return for the mid-grade Super Lemon Haze, Chem' 91, and Pineapple. The club also offers a fair amount of concentrates like cold-water hash and hash oil, plus plenty of edibles.

The inventory is lab-tested, with potency scores for the molecules THC, CBD, and CBN — which is awesome. The club also sells all its buds pre-packaged in plastic pouches, which is faster than weighing out sacks on demand, but sacrifices some olfactory information. It's always helpful to sniff big jars of pot for unwelcome attributes like a fishy fertilizer smell.

Blüm also takes Visa and MasterCard despite ongoing efforts by the US Department of Treasury to deny banking service to dispensaries. In fact, that's another great sequester target, now that we think about it.

Seeds & Stems

Next up: Magnolia Wellness is slated to open this spring in West Oakland, the dispensary stated in a February 28 announcement online. The former Sacramento area club won big at the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in Los Angeles this February. "Our 3rd place award winning sativa, the Red Congolese; our 2nd place winning edible, Sweet Stone Gummy Bears; and our CBD award-winning Harlequin Shatter from Fortyone Wax, will be available at our new location along with countless other unique flowers, concentrates, and edibles. Look for us in West Oakland this spring; we can't wait to see you there!"

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