4/20 SWEET DEALS AND BETTER DAYS AHEAD

This past Saturday was Swedish Flying Saucer’s inaugural 4/20 holiday and to commemorate the occasion, we headed out to a few local dispensaries to catch some of the action. We checked Weedmaps and Instagram to look for local deals and holiday product highlights but of the many different bargains and premiums offered nearby, BOGOs, percentage discounts, and dollar deals, though generous, seemed unremarkable. We took our time sussing out dispensaries offering the best discounts AND the best selections while keeping our eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. Although one of our go-to dispensaries seemed to have the biggest discount of the day (30% across the board), their limited extracts inventory kept us looking. If this was to be a truly special day, we needed to step outside the box and try something new.

As we perused discounts, deals, and menus, it occurred to us how much better the 4/20 holiday would be if celebrations were less transactional and more communal, active and participational. There were a handful of official 4/20 celebrations booked at various fee-charging venues, but free community gatherings with cannabis, accessories, gear, clothes, and food available for purchase were notably absent. Where were the street festivals with areas for individual and communal cannabis consumption, with games, contests and other 4/20-related activities? We know, we know…compliance! 

A common theme found on the Swedish Flying Saucer blog is our call for a more engaged, active and communal cannabis experience for consumers in the post-legalization world. We very much enjoy shopping for cannabis products but feel the exchange is often perfunctory and reduced to merely selecting and purchasing products. We at SFS envision a future when the mere functional is supplanted by a more engaging, communal, meaningful exchange of ideas and information. Until that time, we’ll continue to make our cannabis purchases as human and budtender-collaborative as possible.

By 4/20 morning we’d more or less finalized a short list of dispensaries and headed out to shop. We’d have dedicated an entire day to celebrating 4/20, but reality dictated otherwise and we decided to get up early and hit a few stores while inventories were full and gift bags in abundance. We’d be missing out on the afternoon taco trucks but it was a price we were willing to pay. And although we’d imagined ourselves patronizing our favorite, tried-and-true, local dispensaries, by Saturday morning we realized that we needed to step outside the box if it was to be a special day. We now saw that the deals of the day would be found in less well-traveled places.

Our first 4/20 stop was in nearby Sun Valley at the previously reviewed most-excellent Exhalence dispensary. Exhalence sits atop the Glenoaks exit of the northerly 5 freeway in a large building in the back of a sizable, gated lot. Even though it was early, before 10 am, we’d still expected to encounter a crowd of cars and parking valets. Instead, we glided from the off-ramp right into a two-thirds full lot with ample open spaces, where we parked and geared up for our first 4/20 foray. We’d been to Exhalence only once before and were most impressed. Our experience this weekend left us even more agog at the dispensary’s ability to fill its near-cavernous shop with a truly broad selection of cannabis flower, products, and brands. Exhalence staffs their giant u-shaped counter with a team of budtenders who work both independently and as a team to serve a greater number of patrons at a time than many other dispensaries can handle. Everything about Exhalence is on a scale beyond what we’ve found at other local storefronts and their 4/20 operation was a perfect example.

Exhalence lobby
Exhalence’s lobby is huge, with plenty of room for customers and vendor tables (photo: Exhalence)

Indeed, Exhalence’s 4/20 lobby was buzzing with customers, vendors, and security as we crossed the transom and checked in with reception. We passed a Kushy Punch table and another that now escapes us while a second guard waved us past the tables and through a door. We made a note to ourselves to visit the Kushy rep on the way out (unfortunately, we blew it and totally forgot!!). Once inside, a third security dude had us wait between the black stanchions while several customers shopped at the cases.

Within seconds we were standing at the extracts’ case across from our budtender and were overwhelmed by the many brands and products behind the glass…more than we’d ever seen in one place at one time. Our eyes gravitated toward tried and true brands in our price range and we began to break down the essentials with our budtender. She guided us toward the brands and strains that fit our profile, pointing out THC percentages and other helpful info and giving us a chance to see and smell different extracts. Our budtender recommended Raw Garden’s live resin, a brand/product endorsed at our last Exhalence visit and at a few other notable Valley dispensaries.

Exhalence interior
Exhalence fills its huge dispensary with a wide variety of products and several skilled budtenders (photo: Exhalence)

Although we’ve enjoyed Raw Garden grams before and were well-satisfied, we were blown away after dabbing this particular 4/20 Raw Garden purchase. Our budtender very thoughtfully recommended the Orange Flame #9 sauce, an Indica-heavy strain produced by crossing Extreme Fire, Blueberry Headband, and Leroy OG. The sauce is both intensely pungent and impressively potent. When we breached the sauce jar later, at home, and inhaled the sharp, penetrating orange spice aroma, we knew that the near 80% THC content was for real. This is one of those sauces of which a little dab will do ya…in.

4/20 Raw Garden Orange Flame #9 Live Resin Sauce with box
Raw Garden’s Orange Flame #9 sauce tests at almost 80% THC

We added a gram of Beezle Extracts sauce (South Fork Kush strain) and 2 grams of Brite Labs jelly wax (GG#4 and Forbidden Fruit strains) to our order and waited for the balance due after applying Exhalence’s generous 25% 4/20 discount. We were jazzed to find jelly wax strains other than those carried at our local shop, especially GG#4. And we were all the more pleased because Exhalence charges $5 less/gram of jelly wax than does our usual retail outlet. The total reached a tad beyond $100, earning us a contest entry (weekend in Las Vegas), and as the budtender returned our change she handed us one of the remaining gift bags. Exhalence’s goody bag included a pre-roll or two, an Acme Elixirs Grapewreck vape cart, and other good stuff. Hard to remember which gift bag had what. We left Exhalence happy but kicked ourselves for forgetting to visit the Kushy Punch table. 

4/20 Beezle Extracts 1g South Fork Kush Live Resin Sauce
Beezle’s Live Resin Sauce is potent, aromatic, and relatively affordable

We drove off in high spirits and headed to our next destination, but not before agreeing that we needed to visit Exhalence more often, especially on Saturdays and Sundays when we can grab extracts at 15% off, or on another day to catch one of the many visiting vendors. We weren’t yet sure of our next 4/20 destination as we drove south on the freeway. We’d planned to take advantage of a 30% discount on jelly wax at one of our usual shops but had received a better deal on the wax at Exhalence. We considered our other go-to dispensary in Studio City and headed more or less in that direction until we recalled a nearby “grand opening” 4/20 celebration not far from where we were that we’d found out about on Instagram.

4/20 Brite Labs Jelly Wax GG#4 & Forbidden Fruit
We found Brite Labs Jelly Wax strains we’d been looking for – $5 less than we usually pay

We parked on Lankershim Blvd. after failing to find a spot in front of the Vineland St. shop and walked around the triangular block until reaching a sizable parking lot and building, not quite as large as Exhalence, but nonetheless impressive. We were again met by a squad of affable security guards helping a few employees set up tables and balloons. A guard took our medical recommendation and brought us inside for processing as this was our first visit to MMD’s new North Hollywood dispensary. The dispensary had been in this spot for some time but under a different name and ownership. This 4/20 “grand opening” was a celebration of their rebranding as MMD NoHo and they had a variety of discounts and specials in place to mark the occasion.

MMD Noho was more frenetic with customers and staff than Exhalence had been, but it was now later in the morning and more customers were shopping. We took our place in line behind the stanchion and without a wait were called up to the counter by a spirited budtender who greeted and guided us to the extracts. We briefly surveyed the wax but as there were more folks waiting now than at our first stop, we felt a little pressure to be quick. The extracts selection, solid as it was, wasn’t as prolific as Exhalence’s and the only wax discounts today were for the purchase of Raw Garden products. Although we would’ve saved a little more if we’d bought it at Exhalence, we picked another gram Raw Garden sauce at MMD, this time Fruit Fusion #12 (an Indica-dominant Berries and Cream phenotype) with a 76% THC profile.

4/20 Plus Blackberry & Lemon Indica "Restore" gummies tin
Plus Indica “Restore” gummies are delicious and each tin contains 10mg CBD for every 90mg THC

Our budtender next guided us over to the edibles where we sought potent Indica gummies and hoped to grab 3 Kiva brand Camino 100mg gummies packs for the price of 2, but our knowledgeable budtender advised that the three strains they carried were all hybrids. She instead suggested a brand that was new to us, Plus, and their tins of 5mg/dose, very tasty cannabis-infused gummies. We grabbed 3 Plus Indica “Restore” tins (90mg THC/10mg CBD) and before paying asked about one more item on our shopping list: a standard vape battery. Our lame 4/20 decision was paying $15 for a Heavy Hitters battery just so that we could vape the free Grapewreck cartridge in our Exhalence gift bag. Our kind budtender tried to find a free battery for us, but they were out. She did give us one of MMD’s remaining gift bags which included a pre-roll and other goodies. One of the day’s two 4/20 goodie bags had also included a potent gram of Inhalence Jungle Juice flower and a Rasta-skull lighter.

We departed MMD Noho thinking we might grab a Lime scooter and head back later for the free taco truck, but our 2019 4/20 adventures more or less ended once we were home. We’d made some great purchases at a good price, gotten some free goodies, and visited a new shop. Good times! The Plus gummies are delicious and have helped with insomnia, though we haven’t yet explored their micro-dosing potential. So far 50mg about an hour before bed works well. We enjoyed our MMD experience and look forward to visiting the shop on a less celebratory day to see how it holds up over time. We enjoyed our Exhalence visit even more, as it reinforced our initial positive impression and gave us cause to patronize the shop more often. If storefronts like Exhalence can sustain larger inventories and staff while offering reasonable prices and discounts, consumers will benefit. We at Swedish Flying Saucer will keep doing what we can to make that a reality!

CANNABUTTER IN THE KITCHEN!

Swedish Flying Saucer is proud to announce our second cannabis home demo video, a short clip illustrating the basic method for creating cannabutter at home.

What are the home cannabutter basics?

Our last home demo video illustrated our preferred method for decarboxylating cannabis, a necessary step to activate THC’s psychoactive properties. Once cannabis has been decarbed, it is ready to infuse into butter.

Making cannabis-infused butter at home is fairly straightforward, although you’ll need a few supplies including butter, cheesecloth, a few large rubberbands and an adequately sized bowl. The most important step in crafting home cannabutter is remaining vigilant and stirring the pot regularly while simmering. The added water helps control the temperature, but a watchful eye is key.

Care is also required when affixing the cheesecloth to the bowl and for all other aspects of transferring the cannabutter mixture from the pot. Once the cloth has been drained and the bowl put in the fridge to set, all that is left is to remove the bowl after 24 hours, eject the hardened butter (which has separated from any remaining water) and break down the butter into chunks for storage. Cannabis-infused butter should be kept frozen until ready for use. For more specific, detailed home cannabutter instruction, check out our latest video:

KITCHEN CANNABUTTER: A HOME DEMO by SWEDISH FLYING SAUCER

DURBAN POISON DECARBOXYLATION: A HOME DEMO

Swedish Flying Saucer is proud to announce our first cannabis home demo video, a short clip illustrating the simple yet essential cannabis decarboxylation process.

What is decarbing and why should you decarboxylate your herb?

Decarboxylation is a process whereby cannabis is subjected to controlled heat to convert non-intoxicating THCA molecules into psychoactive THC molecules. Ingesting raw cannabis will not get you high because your body lacks proper cannabinoid receptors to process the unconverted THCA. Because medibles and other cannabis edibles are ingested and not burned, the flower used in these recipes must first be potentiated via decarboxylation. Decarbing isn’t necessary when you smoke or vape because the heat produced by flame or coil decarbs the herb as you consume it.

This demo illustrates all the basics involved in decarbing herb. It is simple yet essential information for anyone who enjoys cooking with cannabis.

DURBAN POISON DECARBOXYLATION: A HOME DEMO by SWEDISH FLYING SAUCER

SMART COLLECTIVE BRINGS THE “A” GAME

Smart Collective, 10745 Riverside Dr, Toluca Lake, CA 91602

Smart Collective is a humble dispensary, located inconspicuously in the hallway of a single story Toluca Lake office building. Inside the nondescript suite a very clean and spare waiting room accommodates patients while a security guard processes paperwork. The dispensary interior is also clean and orderly and the store’s abundant wares are admirably organized and displayed there in a very limited amount of space.

I picked up a half-gram of Crown Oil Orange Cookies shatter (Photo: Leafly)

Smart Collective’s cases and shelves are well-lit and clean and the spruce and luminous room radiates a feeling of contentedness, warmth, and positivity. My budtender, Annie, was very friendly, very attentive, answered all my questions and made sure my order was correct. She happily checked stock and prices for me and thoughtfully calculated what the total would be with my 15% first-time patient discount so that I could decide whether to add anything else to the order.

Gram of Crown Oil King’s Kush Live Resin Sugar (Photo: Instagram)

Smart Collective hosts an impressive selection of cannabis extracts including more than a few priced to fit modest budgets. I picked up a gram of Crown Oil live resin sugar (King’s Kush) and two half-grams of Crown Oil shatter (God’s Gift & Orange Cookies) as well as a gram Stiiizy pod (OG Kush). Smart Collective had what I needed, the whole experience was a joy and I departed in great spirits. It is most reassuring to know that there are some great folks working in the cannabis industry. These good people – and I hope to be one of them soon enough – are giving their all in support of a successful, legal, safe cannabis industry.

I also grabbed a half-gram of Crown Oil God’s Gift shatter (Photo: Instagram)

In the meantime, the upside for me is being blessed to live near the NoHo, Toluca Lake, Burbank nexus where there are abundant local dispensaries like Smart Collective dedicated to providing safe, legal cannabis products. Each dispensary with its own charm, selection, pricing, discounts, and commitment to customer satisfaction. Life is good!

Big thanks to Annie & the crew at Smart Collective for a superlative cannabis buying experience today!! Looking forward to my next visit. 🙂

WELLNESS, EARTH, ENERGY: THE WEED RENEWED

The WEED neon sign
The WEED (Project Cannabis) 11557 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604 (photo: Yelp)

A few days ago I returned to The WEED dispensary in Studio City for the first time in nearly a year and was very happy to see the store thriving in the new post-legalization reality. The WEED was the first cannabis storefront with which I had a long term relationship and served me well as a medical patient in the years prior to legalization. I took leave of The WEED last summer because the transition to legal/recreational regulatory sales initially was plagued by diminished supplies of legal, tested, safe products (particularly extracts) and because the taxes were high enough to price The WEED’s stock out of my budget. In other words, there was very little for me to choose from. It was an untenable predicament, but I didn’t blame The WEED. Simply put, it occurred to me that I might find lower prices in a lower-net-worth neighborhood closer to home.

The WEED interior
The WEED is luminous as a light box and radiates warmth and health and good vibes all around (Photo: Yelp)

Leaving The WEED was a logical economic decision for me at the time and it allowed me to explore the ways in which legalization was affecting the industry on a larger scale. My foray into the constellation of local North Hollywood cannabis dispensaries (some legal, some not) revealed a variegated yet abundant supply of cannabis extracts and other products. No one dispensary carried large supplies of extracts, but the dispensaries were clustered in close proximity making it easy to visit one or another to find a desired product or selection. Experiencing a greater cannabis industry depth and breadth also provided much blogging content and inspiration while enabling me to judge my past experiences at The WEED against those I was usually, but not always, enjoying at other storefronts.

The WEED parking lot
The WEED offers complementary valet service which is sometimes necessary (Photo: Yelp)

Returning to The WEED this week reminded me of everything I loved about the dispensary as a medical patient in the pre-legalization days but hadn’t appreciated. During my hiatus, I would discover one quality or another lacking in my new dispensary customer experiences, but rather than return to the past, I marshaled on in search of what I’d left behind. I began to imagine the kind of dispensary I would run if I could and composed reviews more reflective of what I wanted dispensaries to be than what they truly were. More than anything else, I missed The WEED’s knowledgeable budtenders, their congeniality and willingness to chat. Although I’d met some kind and experienced budtenders in my diaspora, none of them was willing to talk shop for more than a minute or two. I’ve blogged about this subject and about my unrequited search for a more congenial and engaging, and markedly less transactional, budtender-patient experience.

The WEED lobby
The WEED’s lobby is clean, spacious and comfortable with product info, ATM and friendly staff (Photo: Yelp)

I was spoiled in my pre-legalization The WEED patronage. The willingness of budtenders there to spend time talking shop with me gave my cannabis buying experience a decidedly heimish quality. It wasn’t a place where “everyone knows your name”, but I had become acquainted, if not friends, with budtenders like Gary, Alena (Elena?), Paul (or was it Pete?), Cindy and others whose names I can’t recall and I looked forward to seeing them on my weekly visits. The well-rounded budtenders were just as comfortable talking music, hiking, parenting, and sports as they were discussing cannabis. There also seemed to be a thoughtful balance between male and female budtenders, a dynamic not found very often at local dispensaries. In hindsight, The WEED provided the closest experience there is to a cannabis club, where consumers and professionals engage their cannabis curiosity and develop their cannabis IQ. I learned much from The WEED’s informed budtenders and hope to match their superlative customer service skills once I find the budtender job that is right for me.

The WEED extracts case
The WEED hosts a wide variety of extracts made from many popular strains. (Photo: Yelp)

Terpy Tuesdays are The WEED’s extract discount days when they offer a 15% price reduction on wax, crumble, shatter, live resin sugar, badder and more. Although I visited on a Tuesday, as a returning patient (with renewed doctor recommendation) I received a 20% discount on my purchases. And although the regular Terpy Tuesday discount is 10% less than the Waxy Wednesday discount at my regular local dispensary, the local storefront hosts only a few brands and a limited variety of wax and is at times out of my favorite Brite Labs Jelly Wax, as it was this week, with no comparable alternative in stock. The WEED’s wax discount isn’t the largest around, but it is more generous than most, and what the dispensary may lack in discount percentage it more than makes up for with its wide selection. Customers can also choose the Terpy Tuesday discount on Fridays, The WEED’s pick-your-discount day.

The WEED hosts an extensive clutch of multi-strain cannabis extracts with plentiful grams and half grams ranging in prices fitting both limited and unlimited budgets. None of the NoHo dispensaries I’ve frequented have been able to maintain a decent stock of extracts in terms of quantity, variety or price. The WEED on Tuesday had seemingly 20, maybe 30, different extracts on their shelves giving me for the first time in recent memory the ability to compare, contrast & deliberate options before making a final decision. This engaged deliberation was made possible by my budtender’s willingness to conduct business at my pace, waiting patiently until I was finished asking questions while offering as many helpful answers as possible. The customer-centered approach is truly a win-win for The WEED and its patrons because satisfied patients are able to take a more active and dynamic role in choosing their meds, and satisfied customers are almost always returning customers.

purchases
My knowledgable and patient budtender gave me several excellent and affordable choices

I surveyed The WEED’s many extracts with the dynamic and enthusiastic help of my experienced and engaged budtender who gladly pulled out samples for my scrutiny, identified strains and varieties for me, gave suggestions that fit my budget & chatted for a bit about the cannabis industry. Without feeling rushed, I confidently chose three grams of live resin sugar – Apex Extracts‘ Kosher Kush and TerpBoys Killer Fruit & White Fire OG – and a gram of Chong’s Choice Zkittles badder. My budtender and I both were unsure about Killer Fruit and supposed it might be related to Forbidden Fruit. Additional research suggests that Killer Fruit is an Indica-dominant hybrid cross of Grapefruit Haze and Grape Ape.

TerpBoys extract
I bought a few grams of TerpBoys live resin sugar, a brand that’s new to me. Their White Fire OG is superb.

In a still inchoate California cannabis industry, The WEED is far ahead of the many other dispensaries I’ve patronized. To its credit, The WEED began assimilating the new rules early on and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to selling legal, safe, quality cannabis products. My first visit to The WEED after almost a year revealed a thriving cannabis storefront populated by smart, friendly and helpful staff. When I left The WEED last year their shelves were near barren compared to the proliferation of products they formerly hawked. On Tuesday’s return, I was greeted by welcoming staff, (including their very affable security guard who remembered me), and was bedazzled by an abundant array of products, varieties and strains (some I’d never seen before). It truly was The WEED renewed!

The WEED is now part of a dispensary conglomerate called Product Cannabis, which also includes Project Cannabis NoHo (formerly Green Valley Collective) and DTLA Project Cannabis. I was relieved to find that although now under a larger corporate umbrella, The WEED has maintained and even enriched the qualities that made it such a welcome stand-alone dispensary in the past. Management was wise to incorporate the new industry regulations proactively, taking a long term approach to business. They may have lost (temporarily) a short-sighted customer or two (like me) during the challenging transition, but they must’ve known that we straying customers would return once the dust began to settle and the industry regained its legs. Whether a prodigal customer like myself or a newbie in search of a reliable dispensary with excellent customer service, The WEED has all you NEED!

Q: “Where’d you get it?” A: “I got it at The WEED!”

The Dickies “Got It At The Store” from their Banana Splits 45 (1979) on A&M Records

PUFFY DELIVERY SETS THE PACE!

(photo: facebook)

Puffy Delivery (also known as Organix/Puffy Delivery or Organix Delivery) is a cannabis delivery company serving communities across Southern California. Puffy Delivery carries a wide range of cannabis products at prices comparable to those charged at other storefront and delivery dispensaries. Puffy Delivery accepts telephone and online orders and gives customers the option to pay by credit card or with cash. The company serves medical and recreational patients with an emphasis on customer education, making explicit their purpose as a cannabis provider in their Weedmaps mission statement:

Our goal is to give our patients access to the absolute healthiest and best alternative medicine as well as the tools to make informed decisions on how Cannabis can benefit their personal situation best. WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU!

-Weedmaps dot com

An undated, “sponsored” article (i.e. advertisement) in the Irvine Weekly, noted at the time of publication that although California had not licensed any cannabis delivery companies to operate throughout the state, across all counties, Puffy Delivery had already “secured licenses to not only sell cannabis in Orange County, but also in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and a few other hotspots ranging from north to south”. These several discrete licenses afforded Puffy Delivery an aggregate reach beyond any other California delivery service, providing Californians throughout the state access to the same menu and product choices and the same delivery time window (“…about 47 minutes per delivery, one of the fastest delivery times on the market”).

I chose Puffy Delivery for my first cannabis home delivery experience this past week after checking out their Weedmaps menu and comparing it to others from companies serving my area in Los Angeles County. My product list included a full gram Strawberry Cough Stiiizy pod and a few grams of wax, hopefully a GG#4 live resin and an indica strain, depending on what was available. Puffy Delivery’s menu is more extensive than most storefront menus and they carry multiple brands and items for each product category. The items in each category vary in potency and price, though all are tested and safe. Most importantly to me, Puffy Delivery carries a robust variety of cannabis extracts.

There’s no disguising the fact that discounts are what enable me to patronize the cannabis industry to the extent that I do, trying new products, storefronts and services and blogging about them. Thus, I am always in search of a new cannabis experience that can be had at a reduced price. Puffy Delivery offers a very generous 30% off first-time patient discount which paid the taxes and a little more toward my purchase of the aforementioned Stiiizy pod as well as a gram each of Manolos Sunset Sherbet shatter and Raw Garden GG#4 sauce. Although Puffy Delivery’s excellent selection and reasonable prices were key, it was the sizable first-time patient discount that facilitated this new experience in obtaining cannabis meds.

Getting set up as a first-time Puffy Delivery customer was easy enough. I took a selfie with ID in hand and texted it along with a picture of my medical recommendation and cannabis order to Puffy and awaited their reply. About twenty minutes later the agent called me and said she had sent a text, but I hadn’t received it. She confirmed my items were in stock then reiterated the individual prices and confirmed what the total would be after applying the discount. She further confirmed that I was being charged only medical use taxes and gave me an hour and a half to two-hour window for delivery. The delivery window wasn’t a problem at all, though it is worth noting that it was longer than the 47 minutes cited in the Irvine Weekly puff piece (pardon the pun!).

Puffy Delivery driver calls en route to ask if ok to park branded car in front of house (photo: insta stalker)

Although he took a little longer than 47 minutes, the delivery guy arrived in less time than the estimate given over the phone. My meds appeared at my doorstep in about an hour, which felt very quick. Apparently, my delivery guy had tried to call me en route without getting through. True enough, I had received a call from an out of state area code shortly before his arrival but had assumed it was spam call due to the many I receive each day. Good news is that although I blocked his number, thinking it was spam, he still showed up with my order. He explained that they call en route because some customers prefer that the branded Puffy Delivery vehicle not park in front of their homes. After confirming the order’s accuracy and accepting payment, my delivery guy kindly stuck around to chat for a few minutes. (Suggestion to Puffy Delivery: Would be helpful in the future to advise clients to expect a call from their driver en route, and to note details such as out of state area code.)

Patronizing Puffy Delivery afforded me the opportunity to experience cannabis purchasing at my own pace, in the comfort of my own home, where I could interact with cannabis professionals calmly and unhurriedly, both on the phone and in person. My in-store dispensary purchases almost always feel rushed with on-the-spot strain and variety decisions hastily made based on real-time inventory availability. This is a huge downside of cannabis storefront purchases, especially if a dispensary doesn’t maintain an accurate online menu. The Puffy Delivery experience was much more of what I wanted in a thoughtful, deliberative and analytical cannabis purchasing experience.

Puffy co-founders Michael Ng and Patrick Martin (photo: Irvine Weekly)

I wholeheartedly recommend Puffy Delivery to anyone interested in cannabis home delivery. My initial experience with the company was unequivocally positive. The only stumbling block preventing my personal full-throttle Puffy Delivery patronage is their lack of regular daily or weekly discounts. But even without such discounts, Puffy is a worthy, licensed cannabis provider selling tested, safe products at average prices and delivering them to your home at no extra cost (for orders $50 and up) in about an hour. Their staff is informed, professional and friendly, they maintain an accurate online menu, and they get your meds to you quickly. I would gladly make a full price, no discount purchase from Puffy Delivery if unable to get to a dispensary or to obtain an otherwise unavailable product. Puffy Delivery gets my unwavering endorsement, as a reliable and trustworthy cannabis resource, particularly for any first-time cannabis home delivery consumers wanting to experience a calmer and more human approach to purchasing cannabis.

Epilogue: Although I linked to it in the first paragraph, I hadn’t discovered Puffy Delivery’s official website until finished with this piece. I’ll be scrutinizing it, myself, but in the interim I encourage anyone so interested to have a look as well, here.

BRITE LABS JELLY WAX SHINES A LIGHT ON YOU!!

The Stones “Shine A Light” live in ’85. May Brite Labs shine a light on you today!
Brite Labs Jelly Wax Strains (photo meadow dot delivery)

Brite Labs Jelly Wax is a whole plant full-spectrum C02 cannabis extract that when dabbed produces large, fragrant vapor clouds which effectuate and transmit discrete, potent strain-specific qualities to the discerning cannabis consumer. Brite Labs Jelly Wax is available in several Indica, Sativa and hybrid strains and is reasonably priced relative to other gelatinized cannabis extracts. Their jelly wax has a smooth texture and a honeyed, syrupy consistency and is drawn easily with a dab tool and dropped on a nail for vaping. When dabbed at moderate temperatures, around 710 degrees, the jelly wax ably reproduces all the sweet and earthy flavor tones found in the fragrant strains’ flowered form.

Bright Labs Jelly Wax is ideal for e-nail dabbing. When dropped onto a properly heated nail, its viscous corpulence melts and boils seamlessly into generous clouds of flavorful vapor. I’ve vaped crumbles, shatters, live resin sugars, sauces and distillates with my e-nail, but dabbing Brite Labs Jelly Wax has provided the best overall combination of flavor, potency, and affordability. The several Brite Labs Jelly Wax strains I’ve tried offer THC percentages ranging roughly from the mid-50s to the mid-60s which may seem modest when compared to sauces, shatters and distillates containing even higher THC ratios. But as I’ve learned from experience, THC isn’t the only cannabis ingredient affecting a user. When vaped, the aggregate components retained in the Brite Labs Jelly Wax C02 extraction process produce a synergistic high that outshines the more robust THC-potential found in standard extraction concentrates.

The Brite Labs Jelly Wax C02 extraction process enables the retention of essential, flavorful terpenes and hundreds of other “therapeutic bioactive compounds“. Buttressed by these compounds, the terpenes intensify the jelly wax’s potency and enrich the user’s overall cannabis experience. There’s a distinct richness in Bright Labs Jelly Wax’s heady vapor that enwraps the dabber physically as well as psychoactively in a manner far more profound and impactful than when vaping similarly priced, standard cannabis extracts. Anecdotally speaking, dabbing Brite Labs Jelly Wax in comparison with most crumbles or shatters is akin to drinking Jaagermeister or mead in place of quaffing a skunky beer. But don’t take my word for it. Leafly, in their inside look at full spectrum extracts, says more or less the same thing, though perhaps more succinctly and scientifically:

Why Cannabis Extracts Need a Spectrum of Components

[…]Spectrum is the name of the game when it comes to giving cannabis extracts their character. Within living cannabis exists a suite of over 500 therapeutic bioactive compounds. This spectrum of molecules contains not only the cannabinoids and terpenes that are loved and recognized among cannabis aficionados, but also a plethora of other lesser-known but equally important elements such as flavonoids, phenolic amides, and sterols.

With standard extractions, oftentimes many of these lesser-known components are filtered out, leaving behind a product lacking depth and complexity. This is often the case with extracts such as shatters and waxes that are lacking in their flavor profile. Sure, these extracts contain high levels of cannabinoids (namely THC), in many cases over 70%. However, with a low percentage of bioactive compounds such as less prevalent terpenes and flavonoids, the experience becomes flat and unremarkable.[…]

(Leafly dot com)


I’ve blogged previously about the important role terpenes play in maximizing one’s dabbing experience and yet for variety’s sake and in the hope of discovering worthy cannabis products also continued to purchase terpene-diminished, crude, quasi-palatable yet tested and affordable extracts. I’ve become less tolerant of the unpleasant taste of these extracts of late, and it occurred to me that Brite Labs Jelly Wax might prove an effective mask for ameliorating the taste of subpar shatters and crumbles. I tested my theory by loading a few bits of crumble onto the sticky spoon end of a dab tool, dipping the crumble into the jelly wax and then watching the jelly envelop the crumble like amber fossilizing a prehistoric insect. I then dropped the semi-opaque, jelly-encased crumble onto a moderately hot nail, set the carb cap in place, inhaled deeply, and experienced a much fortified hybrid potency ensconced in a richly enhanced flavor profile. This flavor-masking trick works for all solid dabbable waxes, although shatter is best adulterated by adding a bead of Brite Labs Jelly Wax to the nail just after dropping the shatter.

Brite Labs Jelly Wax has some room for improvement, none of it having to do with the quality of the wax. Although cannabis packaging is evolving in tandem with the legal cannabis industry and although many refinements have been realized, sundry problems remain. Packaging for liquid or viscous extracts such as Brite Labs Jelly Wax presents one such challenge. If the package encasing the lidded container isn’t handled and stored flat and right side up from the factory to store shelves the concentrate within gathers on one side or on the lid of the container. Even if righted post-purchase, the problem is slow to remedy. Concentrate also tends to stick to the styrofoam underside of the cap, some, but not all of which can be scraped off and salvaged. So even before having opened a $35 (or higher) jelly wax purchase, a part of the contents are wasted. To the company’s credit my Brite Labs Jelly Wax containers haven’t ever leaked, a problem I have experienced with other brands.

Containers don’t list strain names or keep jelly centered if not flat (photo: visiteiffel dot com)

My last bit of constructive criticism is a specific request to Brite Labs: Please print the names of the strains on the top of the caps containing the jelly wax!! Once a container is removed from its outer packaging, there are no visual means to identify the strain within. I enjoy Brite Labs Jelly Wax so much that I try to have at least two different gram strains on hand at a given time. But unless I write the strain name on top of the cap, I am at a loss to maximize my product experience.

Brite Labs GG#4 Jelly Wax is listed as a Sativa (photo: stickyguide dot com)

Speaking of strains, no cannabis product review would be complete without a short overview of the underlying strains and varieties. Brite Labs Jelly Wax is made from several popular and potent varieties: Purple Kush, XXX OG, Forbidden Fruit, Birthday Cake, Cinderella 99, Jagoo, Hawaiian Dream, Lemon Cake, Sunset Sherbet, GG#4, Mendo Breath, Do Si Do, Strawberry Fields, Velvet Purps, and that may not be all. For some reason, Brite Labs’ website doesn’t provide a list or catalog of their Jelly Wax strains. I haven’t seen their GG#4 wax at my local dispensary which is a bummer, because GG#4 has proven a go-to salve for my sciatica and tendonitis pain. I was surprised to see that Brite Labs Jelly Wax GG#4 strain is listed as a Sativa on the package because it is elsewhere categorized as a hybrid and because its name references its tendency to “glue” the user to the couch.

Brite Labs makes Pax ERA pods & standard vape cartridges (photo: sticky guide dot com)

Brite Labs also manufactures full spectrum, whole plant C02 extracted oil for vape cartridges and Pax ERA pods, enabling its brand to reach beyond dabbers to more conventional vaping consumers. This seems like a smart move as it reinforces Brite Labs’ brand identity vis a vis its extraction process and its focus on vape-able oils and broadcasts this identity to a larger and more profound mainstream audience. The company’s impactful and vibrant logo and packaging distinguish its products from other brands – a formidable challenge for standard vape cartridges – and in their simplicity are easily recalled by consumers. Brite Labs continues to survive – and hopefully, thrive – in spite of both black market competition and vape cartridge oversaturation. Most importantly for cannabis consumers, Bright Labs survives and thrives without having to raise prices, sacrifice quality or interrupt production. Brite Labs was wise to focus on a single extraction process and only a few products. By employing a full-spectrum process and prioritizing quality, affordability and (strain) variety above all else, Brite Labs demonstrates a rare and valued integrity and commitment to customers in a still inchoate cannabis industry.

STRAINS IN THE SPOTLIGHT: GG #4

GG#4 Flower
GG#4 / Gorilla Glue / Original Glue flower (photo: potguide dot com)

GG#4, also known as Gorilla Glue #4 or Original Glue, is one of the most reliably effective cannabis strains available for ameliorating pain and promoting physical relaxation. While many Indica strains are known simply for their ability to induce sleep, GG#4, a hybrid strain, is notable for promoting mental and physical relief through pain-management and holistic comfort, making it useful as both a daytime and nighttime palliative. The “Glue” in the name Original Glue refers to the way the strain “glues” the user to the couch by loosening and unwinding muscular tension. The popular GG#4 can be found at local dispensaries and is available in a range of varieties including flower, concentrate, extract, dry sift and more.

Flavor’s GG#4 live resin sugar is the only branded cannabis variety of the strain that I’ve used and contains over 60% THC content, making it far more potent than other forms or varieties of the strain. Dabbing GG#4 live resin sugar with a 710 Life 710-degree e-nail further potentiates the strain’s calming qualities, vaporizing the live resin evenly without burning it. A generous, pea-sized GG#4 live resin sugar dab in the evening relaxes the body, allowing the mind to free itself from pain-awareness and cleanse itself of the day’s toxic accumulation. A similarly sized dab before bed facilitates a near-effortless transition from wakefulness to slumber, as limbs unagitated won’t instigate troublesome tossing and turning.

Cannabis Sativa is known for its stimulating, cerebral, and occasionally psychedelic effects, yet the Sativa genetics in GG#4 promote calmness and physical relaxation in the user. GG#4 was borne of a coupling of three parent strains including Chem’s Sister, a Sativa-dominant variation of the classic Chemdawg, Sour Dubb (also called Sour Dubble), the hybridized child of East Coast Sour Diesel and Sour Bubble, and Chocolate Diesel, the Sativa-heavy offspring of the original Sour Diesel and Chocolate Thai. GG#4’s two-thirds Sativa to one-third hybrid provenance is counterintuitive, to say the least, for a strain so kinetically soporific in effect. It appears that GG#4’s palliative value derives from the same characteristics found in some other Sativas that energize the psyche without causing anxiety. Durban Poison, a landrace strain considered a “pure” Sativa, similarly elevates mood and promotes happiness and contentment in the user.

flav gg4 lrs
Flavor GG#4 Live Resin Sugar sells out quickly (photo: shop dot sfvog dot org)

GG#4 is emotionally uplifting and physically and mentally relaxing, providing much-needed relief both to medical and recreational cannabis users. I’ve written previously about the Flavor brand and about their live resin sugars, and I continue to rate them highly for producing quality, affordable and potent extracts. Unfortunately, the GG#4 live resin doesn’t stay on the shelves for long and there is a notable lag time between restockings, leaving medical patients such as myself who suffer from ailments like sciatica and insomnia, reluctantly looking for other options.

As more black market storefronts are shut down and the legal cannabis industry finds its legs, it is time for manufacturers to increase production, expand distribution, and reduce prices. Flavor has an excellent opportunity to establish their brand and grow their company, but they have to up their game as a company. They need a website. And they need to make their shatter products available for retail sale, if, as their distributor’s website indicates, they do exist. I’ve never seen Flavor brand shatter, though I hope one day that I do, and that it is GG#4.

CANNABIS-FRIENDLY MUSIC, PART 3

Note: This is the third installment in our series about cannabis-friendly music. The order applied to the videos & clips isn’t a ranking, but simply follows the order of posts on our Instagram feed. All you need to know is that is heady, cannabis-friendly music.

11. Kicking off the third set of cannabis-friendly music videos is a short film featuring the song “The Ballad of Evel Knievel” as an accompaniment to an interpretive recreation of Evel Knievel’s many ambitious motorcycle jumps (most of which were punctuated by ill-fated landings). Evel was on television throughout the 1960s and 1970s, usually featured in an ABC Wide World of Sports special. The jumps varied in setting, from a cache of 18-wheeler trucks to the Caesar’s Palace fountain, to Snake River Canyon and beyond. Evel was more than ambitious; he was relentless. Relentless because he wasn’t always successful and he endured many serious, bone-breaking injuries, yet he still continued jumping.

Evel released a largely spoken-word, eponymous album in 1974 wherein he attempted to answer philosophically the fundamental question so often put to him by fans and critics alike: Why? Why did Evel do what he did? He answers the question in his poem, “Why?” (reprinted below), on the last track on side 1 of his LP. Whether he succeeded in answering the question is up to us to determine. “The Ballad of Evel Knievel” is the only song on the album, which also features a twenty-minute press conference, an extended message from Evel to “the kids”, and the daredevil’s wistful musings on “the future”. The LP stands alone as a cannabis-friendly cultural artifact the essence of which is captured perfectly by this short homemade cannabis-friendly film, Canyon In The Sky by Gordon Langley.

EVEL KNIEVEL – CANYON IN THE SKY by Gordon Langley featuring “The Ballad of Evel Knievel”

Why?
Everywhere in this world that I go,
No matter who or what I know,
The people, they look, 
Most of them stare,
I wonder if they even care

They see this cane with its golden crown,
Some of them smile, but most of them frown.

I hear them laugh, and see them cry,
No matter what,
They all ask why?

Well, I’m just like you, and you,
and you, and your wife,
We have a special purpose in life.
This way of life, I’m glad that I found,
For like you, I too, make the world go round.

We’re all alike,
Oh yes, we are,
We all have a dream on some faraway star

For when it is over and done at the end of the day,
Some can relax, but I go to pray.
For I know that tomorrow in some other place,
I’ll have that fear again to face.

Could it be the quest for money and fame,
Oh no,
To play with my life is not much of a game.

It’s a want- a want that’s so dear,
It’s given me faith,
I can face the fear

Oh yes, I do think about a day
In life when fate came along and struck my way.

Each time I was hurt, they all said,
The guy is lucky that he’s not dead.

They were right.
But I wanted to get up
To try it again,
I kept telling myself that I knew I could win,
So I’d close my eyes, and to the lord, I’d pray,
Oh, help me God, let me walk someday

And he did.
Every stitch on every scar
Has just brought me closer to my dream afar.

To be a man,
And to do my best,
To stand alone is my only quest.

Success is a term that has a broad use,
For and I to have none in life – there is no excuse.

For you, to do what I do is not right-
But, for me, it’s not wrong
What I’ve been trying to tell you all along
Is that it’s got to be.

So, you wonder why?
The answer to that is just like you,
I’ve got to be me…

– Evel Knievel. (1938-2007)

12. Evel Knievel’s is always a hard cannabis-friendly act to follow but Monoshock‘s “Ice Gazelle” from their posthumous Lost Shock collection makes a commendable effort. The band’s first release, the Primitive Zippo 45 on Womb Records, features on its cover a chiaroscuro rendering of a guy smoking out. They later recorded a cover of Hawkwind‘s “Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)”. They were a cannabis-friendly band making cannabis-friendly music. Aural cacophony…glorious din… however characterized, there’s no doubt it is cannabis-friendly music.

ICE GAZELLE by Monoshock

13. The next cannabis-friendly tune speaks directly to something many cannabis users once dreaded in the pre-legalization days (and may still depending on the employer) known as the drug test. Yo La Tengo captures masterfully in this one short piece all the emotions that surface in the face of drug screening, from the awkwardness and discomfort of forced sobriety in the weeks prior to the test to the anxiety over whether the test will come out clean. The song communicates personal angst at the outset with ominous bass thuds setting the tone and half-formed chords introducing the mood and melody, which is decidedly unsure, inchoate, and a bit of a mess.

Steadied hands soon regain chording control and tame the melody to create space for the singer to tell his tale. The lyrics take great care to convey the singer’s inner fragmentation at being without his steadying drug of choice (we’ll assume it is cannabis), as he confesses that “I’m not ready to face that thing today / I wish I was high”. The song reveals the singer’s unsettled vulnerability as he admits that “I hate feeling the way I feel / I hate feeling the way I feel today / I wish I was high”.

The desire for cannabis comfort finally has the singer imagining what he would be doing if not for the test as he describes his vision to the listener, “I see myself with headphones on / I’m listening to Wake of the Flood (2x) / now I’m high”. Desperation and anxiety have pushed the singer to psychically recreate the setting he would otherwise occupy, high and listening to the Grateful Dead with headphones on. But the daydream is ephemeral and within moments the sobered singer admits his inability to ditch this “wish” that he was “high”.

The singer begins to rationalize the exaggerated desire to be high by conceding he’s “brighter than nothing / smarter than nobody” and “wasted away.” The singer’s self-worth is shot and wholly subject to his desire to be high. He’s physically diminished and lacking the strength to redirect his efforts, even for the sake of the income that would enable him to buy more cannabis. The song never really resolves and there’s no indication whether the singer passed the test, or even took it at all. The song ends with the same ominous bass thuds with which it began but then adds one repetition of the verse melody to end the piece signifying, perhaps, a final thread of hope to which the singer clings.

Don’t take my word for it, tho. Here’s Yo La Tengo performing “Drug Test” live and sober in 1989:

DRUG TEST by Yo La Tengo

14. Next up isn’t cannabis-friendly music per se, but it is cannabis-friendly. Those old enough to remember SCTV will be familiar with the character Dr. Braino and his “Dr. Braino Hour” segment. John Candy, RIP. That was indeed the ultimate bummer.

BUMMER by Dr. Braino (SCTV)

15. Rounding out this 3rd installment of Swedish Flying Saucer’s cannabis-friendly music video menagerie is Rod Stewart’s Faces covering Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” live in Edmonton, Canada in 1973. The show also happened to be Ronnie Lane‘s last gig with the band (he died in 1997). The song is a classic and I would’ve much rather posted a live version of Christine McVie performing it, but I couldn’t find one. There’s something about cannabis and live music performances complement one another, whether attending a concert or watching live footage at home. And there’s something nostalgic that comes to the fore that is cannabis-enhanced when seeing those guys so young and at their peak. So just put yourself in the right mood, sit back, relax, and enjoy.

BUDTENDING THE RECORD STORE

Budtenders are a consumer’s link to the cannabis industry. They are dispensary ambassadors providing consumers with up-to-date information about strains, varieties, and products, about regulations, taxes, and the law, and about new technology, methods, and brands. Budtenders are both repositories and transmitters of crucial industry knowledge and effectively liaise between the consumer and seed banks, growers, processors, trimmers, manufacturers, distributors, bakers, candy makers and most of all, dispensaries. I decided last year that as my kids head off to high school and college, I would very much like to find a job in the cannabis industry and invest my passion for and knowledge about marijuana in serving the needs of dispensary patients and customers.

Kris Knox, right, a bud tender, helps Kris Bunker of Boulder choose a strain of weed at the Terrapin Care Station (photo: stuffstonerslike)

From the 1970s through the 1990s one of the coolest jobs a young adult could get was a record store job. I was fortunate to work at a few record stores in my youth. One of those gigs was easy to get because I already had music retail and distribution experience. That was at Tower Records – a retail chain that by the 1990s had become a signifier for “record store” much like kleenex and band-aids denote their own eponymous signifieds. The Sacramento, CA-born Tower was steeped in rock and roll lore due in large part to its legendary Sunset Strip megastore, and because of its eventual suburban ubiquity, kind of like Starbucks. The Wherehouse and Licorice Pizza music chains that had blanketed Southern California gradually faded away in the 1990s as Tower’s market share increased along with its satellite stores. I worked at the Tower Records in Woodland Hills around this time. It was a fun job, but I was about to start a family and needed something more corporate (a need I no longer share).

Tower Records Sunset Location facade
End of an Era: Tower Records legendary Sunset Strip storefront in 2013 (photo: Wehoville dot com)

The first record store job I had was in the late 1980s at an independent shop in downtown Santa Barbara. Although I’d been immersed in underground music, punk, new wave, sixties garage music, psych, rock and roll, folk, and so many other musical genres since age 12, I’d never thought of myself as cool enough to actually land a record store job. But I was desperate, having just moved down to Santa Barbara from Santa Cruz, about to start my sophomore year at college. I had already started a job in the Sears warehouse, but it was mind-numbing work and I knew right away that I needed to find something else. Walking up downtown State St. on my day off I thought, “what the heck”, and went into a record store and filled out an application. Having all but forgotten about it, I was surprised later to get a call from the manager who was desperate to replace someone. So without a second thought, I split Sears and I never looked back. Sometimes we get lucky, and I was thankful for the record store opportunity because I needed it, and my experience there led to future music industry opportunities.

The Runaways at Licorice Pizza record store 1977
Joan Jett, Cherie Curie, Lita Ford & The Runaways at at the Licorice Pizza in Canoga Park, 1977 (photo: nightlight dot com)

It is not lost on me how many of today’s cannabis dispensaries resemble the record stores of yore. The brands, varieties, strains and forms of stylishly packaged cannabis products artfully displayed in boutique dispensaries very much resemble the LPs, cassettes, CDs, posters, fanzines and videos that once stuffed the bins and lined the walls of record shops. Finding an eighth of a strain you love but rarely see at your go-to dispensary, like Cookie Family Gushers, is kind of like stumbling onto a rare 45 at your fave record store. Music and cannabis purchases, whether new releases or rare strains, are very personal and at times emotional choices for consumers because they’re so deeply tied to identity and lifestyle.

Cookie Family Gushers bud
Cookie Family Gushers, my fave strain that I never see anymore (photo: greenrush dot com)

In my dispensary reviews, I focus on my overall experiences at given shops rather than only my purchases, because I value the feeling I take with me when I exit a dispensary. Did I feel acknowledged, affirmed and respected by dispensary staff? Was my budtender patient, thoughtful and informed? Was the store clean, well lit and organized? How accurate is their Weedmaps menu? Was the budtender willing to talk music with me for a few minutes while I shopped? As a record store clerk, I learned to help shape a customer’s overall in-store experience in a way that benefitted both customer and store. As a result, I have high expectations from the dispensaries I patronize and can identify the qualities that inspire me to return to a given shop. With these qualities in mind, and with my ever increasing cannabis literacy, I now seek the opportunity to create positive and rewarding experiences for marijuana users. I was once able to land a number of music industry jobs, but these are different times. So how challenging will it be for me to find budtender work?

THE BANGS (aka THE BANGLES) first 45 is very rare, kind of like a long lost cannabis strain

Although some dispensaries advertise for budtender jobs on internet job boards, others do not and instead rely on word of mouth or social media for candidates. Many, but not all, of the formal listings for budtender and other dispensary jobs require some amount of cannabis industry or budtender experience to even get an interview. This is reasonable but it also filters out interested applicants lacking such experience yet possessing other qualities suitable for the position. And it begs the question, how otherwise does one acquire cannabis industry experience?

Fortunately, in this age of at-your-fingertips information, anyone motivated enough to seek out specific knowledge required for a job like budtending need only invest the requisite time and effort doing at-your-fingertips research to acquire enough knowledge to create an employment opportunity. In other words, thanks to the internet, lay folks like myself aspiring to dispensary work are on a less uneven playing field vis a vis those with actual industry experience. And the good news for prospective budtenders like me gets better with the continuing proliferation of cannabis dispensaries, particularly here in the east San Fernando Valley, leading me to believe that budtender jobs ultimately may not be as rare as record store jobs once were.

Good budtenders create a positive overall experience for dispensary patrons (photo: gocaliva)

A side-by-side record store/cannabis dispensary comparison begs another interesting question: Is it now as easy to get to know friendly budtenders and to become familiar at a dispensary as it once was to befriend record store clerks and get to know their shops? The short answer is more encouraging than you might expect. Although dispensary shopping lacks what record store customers once enjoyed in terms of unfettered browsing, a worthy budtender will guide his customer around the store as part of the browsing experience. Rather than adrift in the store, dispensary customers are anchored to their budtenders and in that manner have the opportunity to become familiar. The biggest difference I see is that a consumer can’t really patronize a dispensary without buying anything, and he isn’t expected to linger indefinitely while making a decision, whereas a music shopper can spend days familiarizing himself with a store without spending a dime. Understanding the legal limits on a cannabis customer’s shopping encounter is key to respecting the differences between record store and dispensary experiences. Perhaps one day, cannabis regulations will find a way to accommodate a more casual dispensary shopping affair.

Grady, owner and operator of Grady’s Record Refuge, Ventura, CA (Photo by Sergio Bastidas/Brooks Institute, ©2008)

Another significant difference between record stores and dispensaries is that music products are generally less expensive than cannabis products. Theoretically, a music customer can visit a record store more often than a cannabis customer visits a dispensary because it generally costs far less each record store visit than it does at a dispensary. Thus it is all the more challenging for those lacking financial means to become familiar with the cannabis industry and with a prospective dispensary-employer. Making matters more difficult, sales tax on cannabis is roughly three times more than the tax on records and compact discs. The economic challenges facing inexperienced, would-be budtenders are formidable, but they aren’t as unyielding as they appear at first glance. The free flow of at-your-fingertips information about cannabis and cannabis employment available on the web gives prospective dispensary employees like me who might be short on means the opportunity to acquire knowledge regardless of income or experience.

To the north and west of where I live there are several cannabis dispensaries and it isn’t unreasonable to believe I might find a budtender job at one of them. For now, I’m left to continue experiencing what I can of the cannabis industry, researching, writing, editing and publishing my thoughtful observations here at Swedish Flying Saucer. I’m happy to continue in this manner for now while seeking out opportunities to enrich my understanding of the cannabis industry and working towards my desired goal. In this manner, I will advance my marijuana industry “experience” even though technically only a layperson. I’m a few years older than most budtenders I encounter, and it is easy to see how a younger person might have an easier time landing a job. But folks of all ages consume cannabis for medical or recreational reasons and of them, there are those who prefer an older budtender. And I’ve no doubt there are dispensary managers who appreciate the kind of responsibility and perspective that comes from maturity.

I’ve also noticed that a majority of budtenders are female, which has me wondering if that is the norm and another hurdle I must clear in my pursuit of a dispensary job. Ultimately it is inconsequential because I am patient and determined to achieve what I’ve set out to accomplish. I have abundant confidence that as the cannabis industry continues to grow, it will carve out a budtender opportunity for me, your faithful scribe. Once that happens, I look forward to seeing you on the other side of the counter!

Old school budtending (photo: stonerdays)