Category: Lifestyle

Moe Greens Is S.F.’s Most Deluxe New Dispensary

Its smoking lounge cements San Francisco’s place as America’s leading recreational-cannabis destination.

There are more legal cannabis smoking lounges in San Francisco than in the rest of the U.S. combined. We now have nine such lounges at dispensaries citywide, whereas Denver just licensed only its second, Oakland has one, and the rest of America does not have any.

Hell, a single block in SoMa has as many marijuana lounges as the entire country outside San Francisco does. The corner of Ninth and Mission streets is home to smoking lounges at the Vapor Room, SPARC, and ReLeaf.

Some of these lounges consist solely of patio furniture thrown in a corner, while others are elaborate, baroque parlors with chandeliers, flocked velvet wallpaper, and widescreen TVs. The newest cannabis smoking lounge is the city’s most opulent yet, the luxe lounge of the just-opened Market Street dispensary Moe Greens.

“It’s Lounge 2.0,” Moe Greens founder and CEO Nate Haas tells SF Evergreen. “We wanted Moe Greens to be a throwback to the San Francisco our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in, the San Francisco where you’d get dressed up on a Saturday night and go to a place like Joe’s or Alfred’s Steakhouse for a drink.”

Despite the Las Vegas-inspired logo, the name “Moe Greens” is not a reference to the casino mogul from The Godfather.

“One day, I was holding some cannabis and my partner, who sometimes calls me Moe, said, ‘That’s a lot of green, Moe,’ ” Haas remembers. “That was the light bulb moment. Now we provide ‘mo green at Moe Greens.’ ”

It has by far the largest legal consumption lounge in the city, with separate, dedicated rooms for vaping, smoking, and dabbing. Its swanky aesthetic is similar to that of the Barbary Coast dispensary, which is run by the same management team.

“Lounges are very important for us,” Haas says. “When recreational cannabis passed, it increased competition. Building lounges that are unique, and that embody the San Francisco we and our families grew up in helps to differentiate our dispensary from all others.”

Shockingly affordable prices also differentiate Moe Greens from the pack. House grams are available for just $8, a price not seen in the city in years.

Smoking lounges might look like they’re only for big spenders, but they’re not. The steampunk-inspired lounge at Urban Pharm, one of the few that allow vaping and smoking indoors, sells individual dabs for as low as $5 — and Dollar Dabs for just a buck during Friday happy hour.

Whether a lounge allows you to just vape, or to dab, or to smoke raw flower is up to the dispensary itself. Most only allow vaping, but provide Volcano vaporizers and clear plastic huff bags free of charge. Others provide loaner bongs and dab rigs, but none of them allow alcohol or tobacco. 

The license to smoke pot legally indoors is not granted by the San Francisco Office of Cannabis, which generally handles marijuana permit approvals. The license to smoke — technically, a “Cannabis Consumption Permit” — is actually awarded by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH).

Yep, the Department of Health gives permission to smoke weed.

“The health department has taken a harm reduction approach to cannabis consumption,” DPH spokesperson Veronica Vien tells SF Evergreen. “Rules and regulations allow consumption to occur, but limit youth exposure and underage access,” and “mitigate overexposure to indoor smoke through enhanced engineering controls.”

The department’s cannabis consumption laws describe these engineering controls as “a ventilation system capable of removing all detectable odors, smoke, and byproducts of combustion.”

Lounge owners say these ventilation requirements are actually among the easier regulations to comply with.

“These hurdles are minimal for existing dispensaries,” according to SPARC CEO and chairman Erich Pearson. “The process with DPH has been smooth.”

SPARC’s lounge is one of those Volcano vape-only facilities, but customers are allowed to light up and smoke flower on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 4:20 p.m.

Right around the block from SPARC, the Vapor Room has the most noticeable pot smoking lounge in town. That’s because it’s right smack dab in their giant front window, for every passerby to see.

“Our lounge is integrated into our retail experience and is prominently displayed by our front window,” says Vapor Room owner Martin Olive. “We believe this helps remove the unnecessary stigma of feeling like one ought to hide their cannabis use in dark corners.”

Most San Francisco cannabis lounges are concentrated on a four-block strip in SoMa. But two of them are outliers — literally.

Way out in the Richmond and deep in the Mission, the Harvest dispensaries provide conference room-style lounges with giant TVs. Both act as co-working spaces, cannabis farmers markets and event venues, or host infuse dinner meetups like Dim Sum and Dabs or Fried Chicken and Dabs.

“Our lounges provide a cannabis-friendly workplace, a utopian gathering place, a remarkable educational facility or the most beautiful space to consume,” says Harvest guest services manager Tom Powers.

Sure, it’s all fun and dabs at these stylish and hip cannabis lounges that cater to convention-hoppers and the new SoMa tech set. But for many San Franciscans, the lounges really do provide a crucial public resource.

“Elderly, disabled, and ill folks can and do experience isolation from medicating with cannabis alone in their homes,” the Vapor Room’s Olive points out. “Everyone else may be forced to use cannabis in parks, on the street, or in their car when medicating, all of which can expose them to unnecessary and illegal risks.”

SPARC’s Pearson adds, “The lounges are critical for the many medical cannabis patients that live in government-subsidized housing that does not allow cannabis consumption.”

San Francisco will not remain home to the nation’s largest number of cannabis lounges for much longer. West Hollywood just awarded 16 consumption lounge permits for onsite smoking or edibles. These permits are contingent on the businesses getting fully licensed, but WeHo is well-positioned to surpass our cannabis lounge count. 

Las Vegas will be getting them soon too, possibly this year. But San Francisco’s lounges served as the basis for Las Vegas’ framework. Expect other cities to continue following our lead as legal cannabis spreads across the U.S.

Our cannabis lounges really are a wonderful airport bar-type social space where you find yourself mingling with tourists, veterans, SSI recipients, or CEOs. And San Francisco has set the trailblazing standard that dispensaries across the world will look to when they want to fire up.

Moe Greens, 1276 Market St., 415-762-4255 or moegreens.com

 

Legalizing Marijuana, With a Focus on Social Justice, Unites 2020 Democrats

People in Colorado still remember John Hickenlooper’s crack after the state legalized marijuana, a move he opposed: “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”

But Mr. Hickenlooper, the governor at the time of the 2012 initiative allowing recreational use of cannabis, eventually changed his mind. He acknowledged that fears of increased use by children did not materialize, and he boasted of the tax revenues for social programs that regulated sales delivered.

Entering the Democratic presidential race this month, Mr. Hickenlooper joined a field already jammed with pro-legalization candidates, a reflection of swiftly changing public opinion since Colorado became one of the first of 10 states with legal recreational marijuana.

The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.

A Democrat who is not on board with legalization or addressing it in terms of repairing harms brought by prohibition for decades is going to have a tough time convincing any voter they’re serious about racial justice,” said Vincent M. Southerland, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at New York University Law School.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey last month introduced the pointedly named Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove the drug from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge past convictions. Supporters note that African-Americans are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though rates of use are similar.

“It’s not enough to legalize marijuana at the federal level — we should also help those who have suffered due to its prohibition,” Mr. Booker said in a tweet.

Other 2020 candidates in the Senate quickly signed on as sponsors, including Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/us/politics/marijuana-legalize-democrats.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

The Chadwick Journals, Chapter Oren 2 Minute Sneak Peek

Coming Spring 2019! Become a Patron NOW and be one of the FIRST to see the all-new season! Patreon.com/andseen Follow us on all social media! IG: @&SEEN Twitter: @andseennetworks Facebook: @andseennetworks In the upcoming season of The Chadwick Journals, Chadwick struggles through his brother’s birthday when the desperate, Oren shows up on his doorstep unannounced. Together, they sift through their pain and gain a deeper understanding of their plights. Starring Damian Toofeek Raven, Matthew Hancock, and Skhy Black.

Panic Erupts at Hamilton Performance Because of False Active Shooter Threat

A Friday evening Hamilton performance in San Francisco left three people injured after an attendee suffered a medical emergency that was mistaken for an active shooter situation. Per CNN, a woman experienced a heart attack during the musical’s pivotal scene when Alexander Hamilton is shot by Aaron Burr in a duel, which caused many audience members to “self-evacuate” after believing the woman, who stood up to leave the theater to seek treatment, was actually shot. Panic further spread when someone in the audience yelled “gun!”, prompting the theater’s attendees to stampede outside. Police told CNN that three people were injured and taken to a nearby hospital as a result, with the most serious injury being a broken leg. The woman who suffered from the heart attack was also hospitalized and in critical condition.

In a tweet, the city’s Orpheum Theatre said an attendee “activated the theater’s fire pull station,” which instructed the audience and cast to “follow the life/safety system’s automatic announcement and exit the theater.” However, followup tweets from attendees said they believed the theater failed these supposed safety protocols, with many people likening what happened to “mass chaos” with “absolutely no support and direction” from the staff. In fact, one attendee witnessed “staff hiding themselves” from the pandemonium.

Gumbo, the Classic New Orleans Dish, Is Dead. Long Live Gumbo.

Rich in flavor and history, the dish is no longer a fixture of local restaurants. Some chefs see that as a chance to reinvent it.

NEW ORLEANS — Decades ago, soon after moving to this city from India, Arvinder Vilkhu began telling his wife and children, “If we ever have a restaurant, we must have a curried gumbo.”

Mr. Vilkhu had tasted his first gumbo in 1984 during a job interview at a New Orleans hotel. “I was so much in love,” he said of the rich dish, something between a soup and a stew. He began developing his own distinctive version after immigrating here later that year.

But it wasn’t until 2017, when the family opened their Indian restaurant, Saffron Nola, on a restaurant-dense stretch of this city’s Uptown neighborhood, that he began serving his gumbo, bright with ginger, turmeric and cilantro. 

“New Orleans wasn’t ready for Indian gumbo,” said Mr. Vilkhu’s son, Ashwin, the restaurant’s general manager. “It is now.” This is an extraordinary time for the city’s signature dish. Gumbo, long a fixture in restaurants here, has disappeared from many menus as new chefs arrive with different cuisines and ideas, catering to a population remade by the transplants who settled in the city after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005.

But the chefs who have stuck by the dish are using the moment to stretch its boundaries by adding ingredients that defy tradition, bringing it fresh relevance. Many of the innovations reflect global influences on New Orleans cooking, particularly from South and Southeast Asia. This time of year, with the cooler weather and the start of the Mardi Gras season, may be the best time to sample them — and to appreciate gumbo’s long and continuing evolution.

Michael Gulotta, a New Orleans native, has resumed cooking the seasonal seafood gumbo he introduced as a lunch special last year at Maypop, his modern restaurant in the Warehouse district. It’s seasoned with lime leaf, fermented black beans and black cardamom, in homage to the Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants that have long flourished on the city’s outskirts.

“I served that gumbo all last winter,” Mr. Gulotta said. “People went crazy for it.”

Gumbo has existed in various forms across south Louisiana for centuries. It can contain any number of ingredients, depending on the chef and the season. But until recently it was rare to find gumbo that incorporated ingredients beyond a fixed list of proteins (fowl, sausage, local shellfish), aromatics (onion, bell pepper, celery — known locally as the holy trinity) and spices (cayenne, thyme, white pepper). Gumbo’s flavor is further influenced by roux, the blend of fat and flour used to thicken the broth. It’s a French technique adopted by Louisianians, who often cook the roux so long that it darkens and takes on bitter notes reminiscent of Mexican mole. Sliced okra and the sassafras powder known as filé, a Native American contribution to Louisiana cooking, are also used as gumbo thickeners, either in combination or in place of roux.
READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/dining/gumbo-recipes-new-orleans.html

Trump Pledged to End H.I.V. But His Policies Veer the Other Way.

WASHINGTON — In his State of the Union address, President Trump announced a bold plan to end the scourge of H.I.V. by 2030, a promise that seemed to fly in the face of two years of policies and proposals that go in the opposite direction and could undermine progress against the virus that causes AIDS.

In November, the Trump administration proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for Medicare beneficiaries to get the medicines that treat H.I.V. infection and prevent the virus from spreading.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly urged Congress to repeal the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though Medicaid is the largest source of coverage for people with H.I.V. And he has promoted the sale of short-term health plans that skirt the Affordable Care Act, even though such plans usually exclude people with H.I.V.

To end the spread of the virus, federal health officials say they must reduce the stigma attached to gay men and transgender people who are at high risk so they will seek testing and treatment. But for two years the administration has tried to roll back legal protections for people in those groups.

Those opposing moves by the administration have AIDS activists baffled.

“The president’s announcement comes as a surprise, albeit a welcome surprise,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, the law and policy director at Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. “It represents an about-face on H.I.V. policy.”

The administration describes the plan to end the spread of H.I.V. as one of the most important public health initiatives in history. But the record shows a rather large gap between the administration’s words and deeds.

Since Medicare’s outpatient drug benefit began in 2006, the government has required prescription drug plans to cover “all or substantially all drugs” in six therapeutic classes, including antiretroviral medicines to treat H.I.V.

In November, the Trump administration proposed a new policy to cut costs for Medicare by reducing the number of drugs that must be made available to people with H.I.V.

The proposal would allow certain exceptions to the requirement for Medicare drug plans to cover all drugs in the six “protected classes.”

Insurers could require Medicare beneficiaries to get advance approval, or “prior authorization,” for H.I.V. drugs and could require them to try less expensive medications before using more costly ones, a practice known as step therapy.

People with H.I.V. and doctors have condemned the proposals.

Bruce Packett, the executive director of the American Academy of H.I.V. Medicine, representing doctors who care for H.I.V. patients, said the administration’s proposals “could be catastrophic” for Medicare patients with the virus, as well as for the president’s campaign to end the epidemic.

“At least 25 percent of all people living with H.I.V. who are in care in the United States rely on Medicare as their insurer,” Mr. Packett said.

Those patients are 65 or older or have disabilities and often have other chronic diseases or conditions, so doctors need access to the “full arsenal” of medicines to treat H.I.V., Mr. Packett said.

Many of the Medicare patients with H.I.V. are taking medicines for their other conditions, so doctors have to worry about drug interactions, Mr. Packett said. In addition, he said, some have drug-resistant strains of H.I.V., and different patients often respond to the same drug in different ways.

“It’s important that providers have access to all the available options” among drugs to treat H.I.V., he said.

Requirements for prior authorization and similar restrictions can delay the start of treatment. Studies show that a rapid start to therapy, within a week or even a day of diagnosis, produces better results for patients and reduces the likelihood that they will infect others while waiting for treatment.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/us/politics/trump-hiv-plan.html