The vibe at Bay Area Safe Alternative (BASA) is mellow. This simple cannabis dispensary manages to keep its diligent and dedicated staff perpetually eager to assist in any way. Located at the corner of Divisadero and Grove, next to 4505 Burgers and BBQ, this small shop is stuffed with top-of-the line product and knowledgeable budtenders. Despite its small size, BASA provides a cozy and friendly environment, and has created a safe and comfortable experience for long-time customers as well as the uninitiated.
But BASA is so much more than a simple dispensary. BASA is a safe, fun and convenient place to refill your stash, buy the latest and greatest products, and get great advice and suggestions.
Since its inception in 2003, locally owned BASA, now located in San Francisco’s historic Western Addition neighborhood, has provided area residents with a reliable, safe and consistent source for quality medical cannabis. With its wide range of products at attractive price points, the company has consistently offered retail customers great value.
In 2003, BASA began dispensing medical marijuana under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act. Before legalization in 2016 for recreational cannabis use, BASA’s distribution model was based on the “speakeasy,” which came into being during prohibition in the 1920’s and 1930’s. BASA’s first dispensary, opened in 2003 and located at 120 Mason Street, an internet cafe, was designed on this model. Customers with valid medical marijuana cards and ID would present their requests to a barista in the coffee shop and then be directed downstairs to a private smoking lounge.
Based on the success of the coffee shop on Mason Street, in 2006 BASA opened the Valencia Street Café, a coffee shop and discrete dispensary, again based on the speakeasy concept.
By 2006 the company was operating in three different locations, but BASA’s founding was not without controversy. Defying the DEA threats, BASA refused to stop operations at 120 Mason Street and was ultimately closed down. The second dispensary, located at the Valencia Street Café, was also under DEA scrutiny. While defying orders to shut down, a fire in 2012 broke out next door to the Valencia Street Café, destroying it. Perhaps the fire was a mixed blessing, as it shielded BASA from further scrutiny by the DEA.
The third location, at the corner of Grove and Divisadero, was also opened in 2006 and has been the home of BASA ever since. In 2016 California voted to legalize recreational cannabis sales, well positioning BASA to begin selling to the general public, over the age of 21.
BASA is a compassion-based enterprise and still considers cannabis as a medicine. If you take the time to notice, even BASA’s very cool logo employs a stylized version of the caduceus, the ancient symbol for medicine.
BASA strives to provide the lowest priced products in the area. Since its inception, BASA has provided free medical cannabis to patients who cannot afford it. In addition, BASA has actively supported grass roots and nonprofit cannabis advocacy groups from the beginning. Tariq Alazraie and the whole staff find this work satisfying because ultimately they are helping people.
Behind the storefront, in the backyard, a remarkable group of smart, high-energy staffers, mostly women, meets weekly with Tariq to discuss strategy, delivery, compliance, marketing efforts, or anything else someone wants to bring up. The staff is remarkably enthusiastic about their chosen tasks and each in turn, speaks about their progress in completing them. Many of the staff have been with BASA for 20 years, and Tariq considers them family.
In 2011, BASA opened an indoor grow facility in the Bayview following California Attorney General Guidelines which allowed cultivation for the members of the collective. As a result of this indoor grow facility, BASA now offers its own branded products through a microbusiness. The ability to derive so many products from this humble, ancient plant is truly remarkable. BASA’s grow facility is designed with state-of-the-art technology, overseen by experienced cultivator Christian Ramos.
BASA intends to open another dispensary at 4994 Mission Street in the “Excelsior” district. It will be larger than BASA’s current dispensary, containing a smoking lounge as well as mezzanine.
BASA is committed to providing a unique and fun experience. We’re right around the corner from Golden Gate Park. Come in, pick up a pre-roll and stroll through the park or simply cruise the neighborhood. Enjoy fine dining from NOPNA, Tsunami, or Che Fico, watch a show at the Independent, or enjoy Adult gaming at the Emporium.
Although new dispensaries seem to open every other week, BASA has consistently been at the forefront in terms of new products and fan favorites. BASA has been in this business since the beginning, and as the industry has grown up so has BASA. This is an exciting time for the cannabis industry as science and technology fuel so many product innovations.
BASA is the longest-running dispensary in San Francisco. Since 2003, we have been solely focused on our customers. Bay Area Safe Alternatives will continue to maintain our reputation for friendly service and reliable, reasonably priced products in a variety of forms. BASA is here to stay.
We run a long-standing compassion program that provides free or reduced-cost cannabis to low-income patients. To learn more about this program and see if you qualify, contact us today!