Oakland’s medical marijuana industry has expanded. With one new dispensary opening its doors, the city now has six in operation.
Magnolia Wellness, a retail pot shop in the Acorn Industrial neighborhood, opened to the public Aug. 1. It joins five other dispensaries in the city: Harborside Health Center in East Oakland, Purple Heart Patient Center in the Jack London Square neighborhood, Oakland Organics in Old Oakland, Coffee Shop Blue Sky in Uptown, and Blüm in Uptown.
Magnolia began as a marijuana dispensary located in Sacramento but was shuttered by joint efforts between local and federal law enforcement to target medical marijuana providers across the state. Medicinal weed is legal at the state level but remains illegal at the federal level, and many local governments have partnered with federal law enforcement because they want to drive it out of their communities.
Like the Blüm dispensary in Oakland and other pot shops elsewhere, Magnolia had a difficult time finding commercial real estate. Landlords typically won’t rent to marijuana businesses because of their questionable legal status. In particular, landlords fear the federal government will seize their property as part of a prosecution.
Voters approved medical marijuana in California in 1996. Oakland began regulating dispensaries in 2004, limiting the number allowed in city limits. The number was initially set at four but was increased to eight in 2012. Magnolia was one of four dispensary groups that were granted permits.
Oakland is currently embroiled in a fight with the federal government over its dispensary program. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag launched proceedings last year to close Harborside under civil forfeiture laws on the grounds it had become too big.
Harborside, which bills itself as the “largest pot shop on the planet” fought back. So did the City of Oakland, suing Haag and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to stop the closure. A judge dismissed the suit, saying the city had no standing to intervene, but agreed to let the shop stay open until Oakland’s appeal has worked its way through the court system.
Harborside’s case is just one of hundreds across the state. Prosecutors and political leaders routinely put the squeeze on businesses, property owners and landlords in an effort to drive medical marijuana providers out of town.
Like many other dispensaries, Harborside has developed a side delivery service as a means of preparing for eventual closure. But it’s not clear how safe those businesses are, either, since law enforcement in some parts of the state has begun targeting them as well.
Magnolia Oakland will now be a part of the city’s uncertain marijuana future. The dispensary, located on Adeline Street near the Inner Harbor, carries a full menu of smokables, edibles and infused products. The dispensary currently carries 12 indica strains and 13 sativa strains, as well as two organic strains.