Meet Mr. Blunt
On the east side of the San Francisco Bay lies Oakland, California — the home of Oakland native, Alphonso “Tucky” Blunt Jr.
Blunt was raised in a household that was no stranger to cannabis. His parents and grandparents used it and sold it. As such, it was naturally a part of his life the minute he entered the world.
“I think the first picture that I’ve seen when I was little, I have a picture in one of the backseats of my parents’ cars, where I had two diaper bags,” he adds. “One was the regular diaper bag, and one was the ‘trap bag.’”
Where His Life Changed
It was years later that Blunt was arrested in the very city he was raised in for possession of cannabis. He had less than $80 worth of flower on him at the time.
In 2004 Blunt was arrested, and sentenced to 10 years of felony probation with a search clause, meaning that he and his possessions could be searched at any moment when law enforcement was present.
That charge changed his life forever. Blunt started selling cannabis back in 1996 at the age of 16-years-old. He then turned into the very businessman he is today, currently as the proud owner of Blunts And Moore Dispensary.
The Beginning of Blunts And Moore Dispensary
The dispensary is located in none other than his hometown. Blunt opened it after winning the lottery drawing run by the social equity program, becoming an official social equity applicant himself.
Due to Blunt’s past charge, he qualified for the Oakland, California Social Equity program. The program, which was approved by the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DRC) back in 2017, provides industry-specific technical assistance, business ownership, no-interest loans, and waivers from city permitting fees.
According to the Cannabis Business Law, “An eligible Equity applicant is an Oakland resident who either has a cannabis conviction in Oakland after November 5, 1996, or has lived for 10 of the last 20 years in the police beats with a disproportionately higher number of cannabis-related arrests.”
Blunt’s Reality of Social Equity
As for Blunt’s personal experience with the social equity program, he states,“the Social Equity program is great. It’s a start, but it’s not enough as of right now. We definitely need to get all of the people convicted for cannabis crimes out of jail. Period.”
Though he was the lucky winner of the social equity lottery, Blunt explained that he still had to start Blunts And Moore from the ground up. Although he obtained a license, he did not have the money that he needed to get going.
Particularly, for him, this was something he had done his whole life, from selling cannabis at a young age to selling it professionally now. He owes all of his success to the amount of networking and determination he puts into his business.
“I literally approach it just like I did in the streets,” he says.”The only difference is I’m not looking over my shoulder for police, and I’m not worried about going to jail for it.”
“I was given a billion-dollar license in a billion-dollar industry, with no funding,” he adds.
To address his lack of funding for his future business, Blunt conducted a lot of “guerrilla marketing” to build his brand from the ground up. More than anything, he got the word around about Blunts And Moore, by talking to people and promoting his brand. Years later, Blunts And Moore is thriving.
The Walmart of Cannabis
The dispensary itself carries a variety of cannabis products, ranging from flower to edibles, drinks, CBD products, and even options for dogs.
In an ever-changing industry, Blunt makes sure to stay up to date with all of the new strains and trends, while also keeping the old-school products alive.
“If you name it and it’s on the market, we got it- we got the Gelatos, Ice-Cream Cakes, the Zazas.” He adds, “I like to call us the Walmart of cannabis.”
His Future Goals
For the future, he sees Blunts And Moore reaching new heights, including more locations. Blunt plans to expand the dispensary’s presence throughout California and parts of the country. Blunt is currently looking at places like Los Angeles, New Jersey, Atlanta, Oklahoma, and Florida, with plans of expanding in the next three years.
Besides his goals for his business overall, Blunt hopes to see others like him become entrepreneurs.
“I believe there should be another ex-felon, in another city that has a dispensary in the same zip code they caught their case in,” he says. “It means something to me being a Black dispensary owner in the same city that I went to jail for selling cannabis in.”
To him, his story, his crime, is what has shaped him into who he is today. More than anything, he wants that to be a lesson to everyone.
“Everything I’ve ever done in my life has helped me prepare for this dispensary because it’s the same way I’ve always run my life,” he adds.
Still, of course, his past messed him up for a while, with his criminalization changing his outlook on life forever. Instead of letting the crime define him, he turned it around and defined the crime.
As if sharing his story and dreams weren’t enough, Blunt makes sure to give back to his community. Blunt runs a small t-shirt business, Equi-Tees which gives $5 from each shirt purchase to a grant for another future social equity business.
After the death of George Floyd, demonstrations broke out throughout the country, including in Oakland. Looters broke into and vandalized several businesses — including Blunts and More.
The looters stayed for nearly 10 hours. However, once all had settled down, Blunt and his employees created a concert called “I Got Five On It” to give back to other businesses affected just like his. All of the proceeds went to every business, but his own.
Blunts and more isn’t just a business, it’s a message. And every detail, from the colors he chose for his brand, tells a story.
“That orange, that color, all of that symbolizes the happy moments,” says Blunt. “It’s a story within a story.”
More than anything Blunt wanted to take his story and make it one that everyone can instill in themselves. Getting charged with cannabis possession, and going through that struggle, might’ve been the worst thing to happen to him, but it also might’ve been the best.