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Dispensary Profile: Boo-Ku Collective Care, Van Nuys, CA

18 March 2010 News 29,180 views No CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

Boo-Ku Collective Care in Van Nuys opened three years ago as the real estate market peaked and its owner could no longer earn money flipping homes.

The initial $80,000 investment has already paid off. After about a year in operation, John, Boo-Ku’s owner, was able to cover the payments on the last home he couldn’t sell, as well as his bills.

All went well until John (who asked that his last name be withheld) was jailed for six months for a domestic violence offense. He learned the hard way about running a dispensary as an involuntarily absent owner. By the time of his release, his inventory had mysteriously disappeared, marijuana dispensaries had sprouted up throughout the San Fernando Valley and the Great Recession had descended on California.

“I got out of jail, I had spent all my capital and had $500 worth of weed. You can’t trust nobody in this business.” John recalled between puffs of a cigarette in his windowless office. It’s decorated with reproductions of posters for Depression-era narco-exploitation movies such as “Reefer Madness.”

But Boo-Ku – tucked in the back office area of a busy, down-on-the-heels strip mall populated in part by a doughnut shop, Chinese fast food restaurant and hair stylist, is hanging on. There is now obviously more than $500 of marijuana on inventory: 15 glass jars containing medication sit on the counter. There are two employees. John buys from about 10 growers. The glass cabinets contain a fair-sized variety of edibles, mostly outsized brownies and cakes from the “I Can’t Believe It’s Pot Butter” line, churned out by a local catering firm.

But John, a 42-year-old with a neat but casual appearance, said volume is down dramatically from its peak. He has slashed prices, capping them at $55 for an eighth of an ounce. He says he cannot afford the print advertising that has become a staple of dispensary marketing.

Although Boo-Ku sits at the end of a slightly grubby, dimly-lit second-floor corridor, its 1,200 square feet itself seems a reflection of its owner: clean-cut, but seemingly wary and hunkered down. Every room of the dispensary contains a surveillance camera. Patients enter through a double-doored vestibule John calls a “man-trap.” Only one door at a time may be opened, and those in the vestibule may be immediately locked inside should they draw weapons or act suspiciously. Stop-sign-shaped posters in the reception and dispensary area exclaim: “I do not consent to a search. I am going to remain silent. I want to speak with my attorney.”

So, far, only a single Los Angeles Police Officer has tried to gain access to Boo-Ku. Lacking a search warrant, he was turned away, John said.

When the neighboring hair stylist complained about fumes from the dispensary, John installed a charcoal-charged chimney to vent smoke. Otherwise, there have been no other complaints. A patient who has been trying to hang out for prolonged periods of time was strongly discouraged from loitering.

 There will soon be little reason to do so. Boo-Ku’s lounge, painted a deep burgundy and furnished with gold lame sofas, a flat-screen television, a Playstation, and a chess set on a coffee table, will soon be shut down to comply with new dispensary regulations recently passed by the Los Angeles City Council.

 And John, who originally named his dispensary to capitalize on the term “beaucoup buds,” is considering a name change for his business. “It had a nice ring, but I’m not as happy with it anymore,” he said.

 Boo-Ku Collective Care

6817 Sepulveda Blvd., Second Floor

Van Nuys, CA 91405

Phone: (818) 908-9255

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Website: http://boo-ku.xicks.com/Boo-Ku-Collective-Care.html

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