Alphonso “Tucky” Blunt Jr. is the eclectic owner of Oakland’s first social equity dispensary, Blunts + Moore. This cannabis dispensary has humbly become known as “The Happy Store” not only for the enjoyable items they sell, but their dedication to uplifting the community.
As the first-ever cannabis retailer to open under Oakland’s Social Equity Program, Blunts + Moore represents a lot more than just a friendly place to buy weed. Essentially acting as an extension of Tucky himself, the place brings to life the vibrant cannabis culture of Oakland and celebrates its Black roots.
Tucky dreamt of opening a dispensary of his own after running an errand for his grandma to a medical collective in 1999. After being denied his license in 2003, being told, “Black people will never own dispensaries,” Tucky’s dream never died.
He caught a charge in 2004 for selling weed that largely kept him working on car detailing. But, when Oakland’s Social Equity Program began coming together from an amendment ordinance spearheaded by councilwoman Desley Brooks, the pieces started falling into place. Whether he was enjoying weed as a teenager or attending Oaksterdam (America’s first cannabis college) as a young adult, Tucky has been ready to take on the role he has today.
Growing up rapping and playing music in the area, Tucky is about as real as it gets when it comes to the title of an OG from the Bay. His friend Mike Marshall from Timex Social Club is the one who sang the hook on Luniz’s smash-hit stoner anthem “I Got 5 On It” and is also the person who actually got in contact with Tucky to get the ball rolling. He told Tucky that he knew some people out in Atlanta that were trying to put together a dispensary, but needed someone with a case from Oakland. With a 4.0 GPA and the ability to type over 90-words-a-minute, Tucky is sharp as can be and was an easy choice.
It was November 2017 and Tucky came together with his partner Brittany Moore to turn in their application among 65 others. With theirs being among the 36 that made it through, Oakland threw a lottery to choose four applications to grant licenses to. With their ball going in third, it ended up being one of the last four numbers left, securing them the license. With only the need for a simple business plan, experience with cannabis, and a building that was up to code—it was meant to be. Tucky and Brittany were then able to find a building that they could assume complete ownership of and the rest is history. We were able to speak with Tucky about the trials and tribulations that Blunts + Moore has faced since opening, as well as the successes they’ve seen from connecting with the community in truly meaningful ways.
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Achieving Brand Loyalty
It’s obvious that Tucky has big respect in the Bay Area, he even got on Sway In The Morning since the new decade to chop it up. He said to Sway that “at the end of the day, the customer not gonna come back to the grower, they’re coming back to the shop.” When asking him to elaborate further on that statement, he said that “it’s about being active in your community where your store is.”
Tucky went on to say that “most of your clientele is going to be local. It’s of paramount importance that you’re cool with your neighborhood.” He brought up that it’s hard to come in as an outside brand and have the same pull with the community that Blunts + Moore has. Tucky said, “I’m from the hood—you know me!”
“If I Have A Space, Then You Have A Space”
Tucky’s level of community engagement is so blatant that you wonder if it’s all part of his master plan, or if it happens organically. “Initially when we opened, I knew a ton of people that cook food. So I was like damn, how can I get some people and have them cook food and wow the people waiting and help the community?” He said he brought in a ton of food vendors and didn’t charge them to take up space outside Blunts + Moore. Tucky also gave 40% off at the dispensary to whoever came to work with the vendors that day.
“In the Oakland I grew up in, if I have a space—you have a space.” He told us that “the other stuff [community events] I just fall into, and all of the new stuff has kind of come across my desk.” Tucky said, “I’m a community person so I am always looking for ways to keep my doors open. We had 15 vendors at the shop one day, just in the outdoor area, like a flea market. We helping each other.”
“I Got 5 On It” Virtual Fundraiser
During the Black Lives Matter protests in Oakland, Blunts + Moore was broken into and had to shut down for a brief period. Several other stores were also hit including Cookies, so Tucky got on the line with his Weedmaps friend to express that he wanted to raise money for other people. To celebrate Tupac’s birthday and bring the city together, Blunts + Moore, Cookies, Saucey, and Weedmaps threw the “I Got 5 On It” virtual fundraising sesh. “It was the first idea I wanted to do,” Tucky said. “I talked with Berner, he offered us money…but I told him I didn’t want it—we’ll give it to back to the people.”
“I called B-Legit and Scarface and then we threw it all together,” Tucky told us. “I gave back to four separate dispensaries. I kept getting a bunch of calls saying if you’re being positive, then I can’t be negative.” Tucky said that “every dispensary I gave to was not from equity, and that meant something to me. Now we got companies trying to buy it out for other states to have their own ‘I Got 5 On It’ event.” Tucky’s response to the lootings and ability to spin it into something positive that got the community involved is a perfect example of how he operates. The fact that other people are trying to buy out his idea now is only a testament to how much he represents the culture.
Growing Up With Legends
With the stacked line-up of Bay Area legends on the “I Got 5 On It” bill, it’s very apparent how deep Tucky’s connections run. A lot of this comes from being at the right place at the right time, and being the most genuine person possible at any given point during that time. He told us stories about his friend Chris Ellis and his old house on 106th and Longfellow. This was where he connected with many emcees and DJs such as his longtime friend and legendary producer, 4rAx from The Mekanix. You’ll find 4rAx’s beats showing up in both Digital Underground and Tupac’s catalogs, as well as many popular artists today. Tucky amended his story, saying “it started a little before that because my mom and dad are known in Oakland.”
Tucky got more and more into music as he got into early adulthood, getting into all of the local clubs by the time he was 19. “I met all the big DJs,” he told us, “I used to throw parties and comedy shows too. That legacy was built by being around and being in the right circles.” He said, “a lot of the local Oakland rappers are my partners because we all grew up together. I didn’t know back when I met these people that it would lead to helping me out in this facet of life.” Tucky told us that “I’m not on that when I meet people. A lot of the people I knew from the clubs was getting their cars detailed from me, so we been working together forever.” “I been in this game my whole life, it was meant for me because I don’t think anyone else can do this like me. None of the other licensees in Oakland are like me,” Tucky told us.
What About The Other Equity Licensees?
Blunts + Moore is the world’s first equity-owned dispensary, but there are three others that won the same lottery. Where are they? “They just issued four more, so eight out in total, but I’m the only one open currently,” Tucky Blunt said. “It says a lot about the program. There’s a bunch of Black owners, but we don’t know we exist.” Blunt went on to say that “it’s kind of been segregated amongst ourselves, we need to come together. We are the culture, and we’re misrepresented. There’s a bunch of Black legalized businesses, but you only know if you’re in their local area.” Talking about the other equity licensees, Tucky said, “I wish the other dispensaries were open. So, I gotta keep letting people know it just needs education and funding.” He went on to say that “they put too many people in decision-making areas that don’t understand cannabis.”
To highlight this, Tucky brought up that he’s “in the poorest neighborhood with the highest taxes,” he said, “if we lower the taxes we could sell more weed!” He also asserted the importance of voting on a local level to bring more funding to things like the Social Equity Program. “You have to vote at your city and county level and that’s how you pass the legislation. Growing up where I grew up we always knew the places to vote locally. We have to vote at our lower elections because those people help craft the laws.”
Touching on the subject of law enforcement, Tucky spoke on the importance of the police protecting cannabis dispensaries. During the protests, there were over 60 cars and 200 people that pulled up to break into Blunts + Moore. “We got broken into because it was the perfect opportunity,” Tuck said, “there’s a criminal side to the cannabis space that was waiting for this activity.” Organized crime has continually been a problem in the cannabis industry. There have been countless stories of dispensaries, producers, and processors getting robbed blind or at gunpoint.
He then talked about how most people don’t realize how much of the money from taxation on cannabis goes to the police. “I want that presence, but the cannabis space is so centered around keeping the police out,” Blunt said. “We need that gun, we need that badge, they was firing back at security guards.” Concluding, Tucky said, “it’s a different time now, especially if we paying for them with our taxes, we deserve that protection.”
Plans for Expansion
Though he didn’t plan it, Tucky intends on continuing to act as a spokesperson or ambassador to the need for more Black ownership in the cannabis space. “I want to franchise, I wanna keep us in a good light no matter what,” he said. With Blunts + Moore seeing many speedbumps along the way, they’re up and running again at full steam after reopening. It’s evident that nothing is able to stop Tucky from busting down whatever door he needs to in order to secure his rightful place.