A tree grows in Brooklyn, a flowery business blooms in a San Francisco side street. Technically no cannabis flowers grow at the Bloom Room, but the cool and airy dispensary feels like an oasis in the middle of a drab and industrial street full of formidable gray buildings, concrete lots and metal fences. One step inside the Bloom Room and a patient’s spirits are lifted immediately as sweet smelling air (a light mixture of aromatic greens and fresh cut flowers) fills the lungs and clears the head.
The Bloom Room is appropriately named: the business emphasizes the holistic effects of cannabis that manager Stephen Rechit says other dispensaries are ignoring, especially the slight physical and psychological effects of terpenes (terpenoids). Terpenoids are the most fragrant compounds released as cannabis flowers are heated up. They are quicker to release at temperatures lower than needed to release THC along with the more harmful and potentially carcinogenic compounds.
“We’re the only dispensary talking about terpenes, fragrances,” Rechit said. In addition to selling over 16 strains of dried flowers and dozens of edibles, the Bloom Room staff is eager to show off its collection of balms, massage oils and topical cannabis treatments meant to soothe and relax the patient subtly, without making them noticeably high. Smell plays an important role in the process of medication at the Bloom Room and no one here sneezes at the import placed on the aroma of cannabis as part of the medicine.
“Fragrances can make you feel different effects, just like strains do,” Rechit said. “Maybe you’re someone who really likes the sativa effect but it makes you too wiry. So you can use a lavender oil to even it out.”
The Bloom Room, significantly painted on the exterior with gigantic flower stalks making it the only bright place on the block, is run by not by one owner but five. The owners originally worked at the respected San Francisco dispensary Medithrive before it went under in November 2011, when they received a letter from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag demanding the dispensary close due to its proximity to a school campus.
It was a big setback and a blow to Rechit and his coworkers, true believers in the cause for cannabis. However, they were far from giving up. For a year, the former Medithrive crew operated as a delivery service until the managers thought, “let’s team up together for this spot,” — the Bloom Room, which opened in March.
The passion Rechit has not only for his business but for the entire movement to decriminalize is palpable.
“There’s a disconnect between the government and the people,” he said. “So much cannabis is being consumed but our policies are so antiquated. I really feel people in California are getting jealous right now. We’re supposed to be pushing the others: leading, not following.”
In keeping with the leadership sentiment, the business works as a collective, with the five equal managers running the dispensary, somewhat specialized to different departments. A delivery service is still run out of the back room of the Bloom Room, though not under the same name. So far, the dispensary has received no complaints from neighbors or pressure from the building they occupy, but Stephen is aware of the risks he runs opening a shop again. “It’s hard to feel comfortable these days,” he said.
But the owners feel good about this location adhering to legal restrictions, such as being an appropriate distance from schools and despite Jessie Street’s rundown quality now, the neighborhood is improving. Burning Man corporate offices can be seen from Bloom Room windows, and the dispensary is only blocks from downtown San Francisco. With brick walls inside and out, and the small but uncramped space inside the store, the Bloom Room feels like a modern café.
“We’ve just been doing right by our patients, and we grow by word of mouth,” Rechit said.
The Bloom Room’s customers may browse the large selection of cannabis products and smell each strain for themselves. Every strain is available for customers to check out and smell, with coffee beans in a jar on the side to clear the palate. The most popular strain in the Bloom Room is Durban Poison.
“It has a cult-like following,” Rechit said. “It’s really clear-headed. You can smoke it, keep moving, and go about your day. It’s a good sativa for the daytime. Some strains, like the Big Lebowski, are so strong just smelling it feels like inhaling vapor.
All the plants and products are from local San Francisco growers, bakers, and edible makers part of the collective. The Bloom Room sells edible brands such as Cannabis Kitchen, Bliss and Kiva. Despite the small square-footage, the interior of the Bloom Room is very open, even with the modern vapor station at the back of the room where patients can enjoy their purchases during their breaks from work or daily routines.
First appeared in issue 7 of Cannabis Now Magazine.