Unlikely neighbors: Oakland's newest cannabis dispensary sets up next to cop shop

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In business, there are fewer things that are more true than this age-old mantra: Location, location, location.

So, it’s kind of curious that Oakland’s newest pot shop plans to set up next to the city’s cop shop.

Yes, by the end of this month Have a Heart dispensary hopes to open its doors at 721 Broadway, a 2-minute walk from OPD headquarters at 455 7th Street.

“Yeah, it might seem kind of ironic,” said Larry Wagner, a project manager for the dispensary, which has a conditional permit from the city to open on July 29. “But hey, just look how times have changed in California.”

Selling recreational marijuana became legal in California on Jan. 1, 2018, and Oakland embraced the law with open arms. To date, the city has nine dispensaries and has eight more – including two run by Have a Heart – on a conditionally approved list. 

Have a Heart co-owner Josh Chase, who represents the city’s four “equity” partners to date, said it’s not a liability to be so close to police – it’s an asset. 

“I met with the police chief and she was very open and accepting,” Chase said. “The only thing she was worried about was security.”

Chase said he assured Chief Anne Kirkpatrick that when the dispensary’s doors open – and the mural highlighting Oakland’s culture and history is complete – that ample armed security guards will grace the entrances and exits. 

He said he chose the “perfect” location of the dispensary after “literally walking up and down every street in Oakland.” 

Oakland police did not respond for a comment regarding the opening of Have a Heart, and did not specifically say whether crime in the city has been affected with the legalization of cannabis and the growing number of dispensaries in the city.

However, in California, overall, crime has been on the decline, although cannabis-related crimes are more complex.  

This week, muralist Charms Won was out on Broadway, creating a lively scene of lucky dragons and hot rod cars as a nod to Oakland’s diverse culture ahead of the dispensary’s opening.

He said everyone has been very friendly, from passersby on the street to recovering drug addicts taking their daily walk around the building. 

And who has been the most welcoming? The police. 

“The cops love it,” Won said. “When I tell them we’re opening up across the street, they all say, ‘This is awesome.’”