Report From Oaksterdam: 'Scrip No Longer Needed To Buy Marijuana
A few months ago, I wrote about a batch of cannabis caramel corn that a friend brought back from Oakland. She'd gotten it at a place she described as a recent Bay Area phenomenon: marijuana stores that sell their products on the sly, without all the rigmarole of prescriptions and state government oversight. They've gone underground in reaction to pressure by the Federal Government on growers and dispensaries, and in response to a laissez faire attitude on the part of the government of Oakland - which calls itself Oaksterdam in emulation of Amsterdam - and other municipalities. I had to check out the phenomenon for myself.
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So last week I flew to the Bay Area and visited one of the stores. Though I can't reveal exactly where it is, or the name of the place, my friend took me to a nondescript storefront on a side street not far from downtown Oakland. Downstairs a small coffee bar sold the usual espresso beverages along with an exceedingly modest selection of pastries. It seemed like a front.
We walked past the java joint, down a narrow hallway, and up a darkened stairway to a landing, from which we could be see a lit doorway at the end of the big empty second floor. Inside, a gentleman of perhaps 60 with a handlebar moustache had planted himself behind a counter consisting of two glass cases. He introduced the products rather enthusiastically, rubbing his hands and smiling broadly. Had he been sampling his wares?
In the right case we spotted a dozen types of rolled marijuana cigarettes in garishly decorated cardboard-and-clear-plastic packaging, inside of which were long glass test tubes corked with plastic, each with a single perfectly rolled spliff inside. Some represented single strains of weed, some mixtures of various types, and still others fortifications of weed with kief or hash. The guy described some as "mellow and laid back" and others as "wild and speedy," pointing to each in turn.
Next: pot-laced chocolate bars