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.
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.
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.
In the meantime, the upside for me is being blessed to live near the NoHo, Toluca Lake, Burbank nexus where there are abundantlocaldispensarieslike 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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ChoiceZkittles 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.
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!”
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!).
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.
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 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 waxesthat 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.[…]
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Note: This is the thirdinstallment 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.
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 posthumousLostShock collection makes a commendable effort. The band’s first release, the PrimitiveZippo45 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.
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:
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.
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.
Budtenders are a consumer’s link to the cannabis industry, providing product and brand information, relaying important industry news, explaining regulations and taxes, demonstrating new devices, and much more. 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 more. 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 combine my passion for and knowledge about marijuana with gainful employment. Lacking industry experience, a budtender job seems to be an ideal position for me to build a deep and fundamental understanding of all that is involved in bringing safe, legal cannabis products to the public.
As the cannabis industry continues to grow, there is an increasing need for companies to hire additional staff. Industry growth is a sign that legalized cannabis is succeeding, putting down roots while meeting current demand and preparing for future expansion. Companies are structuring themselves corporately in anticipation of big business dealings along the lines of the adult beverage industry. This bodes well for both the future of legal marijuana in states that have authorized its sale and use and for national legalization, generally. As the industry expands and establishes a foothold in new markets, more new jobs are created, reducing unemployment and increasing consumer spending. This is all very good news, particularly for job seekers. But it is worth taking a closer look to see what kinds of cannabis industry jobs are actually available and how accessible these jobs are to the general public.
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 was easy to get, working as a holiday temp at Tower Records back in the day. But the other record store job was at an independent shop in downtown Santa Barbara, and the only reason I got that job was that I knew someone who worked there. I recently began applying for budtender work at local dispensaries and it is not lost on me how much today’s cannabis dispensaries resemble record stores of yore. The truth is that there aren’t many record stores around these days, so those jobs now are even harder to come by. The continuing proliferation of cannabis dispensaries, particularly here in the east San Fernando Valley, however, leads me to believe that budtender jobs are plentiful and available to the right candidates.
Although some dispensaries advertise for budtender jobs on internet job boards, others do not. Most of the listings for budtender and dispensary positions require some amount of cannabis industry or budtender experience for a candidate’s consideration. 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 of how one acquires cannabis industry experience if he is excluded preemptively from consideration for the only job that would provide him with that requisite experience. The best answer I can come up with at this point is that in almost all cases, the only opportunity for those who haven’t acquired budtender experience is to either know someone working at a dispensary or be a well-acquainted customer. Record store jobs work the same way.
Even with this strategy, how easy is it for a customer to become so familiar to a dispensary staff that he would be offered a job even if lacking budtender experience? The short answer is that it isn’t as easy as doing the same thing in a record store. Why? Because anyone may walk into a record store and browse without buying anything, spend time talking with the employees there, ask them questions and demonstrate music literacy. Dispensaries, on the other hand, regulate customer ingress and at times require the customer to sign a legal agreement. Once the customer is in the door, there is an expectation that he will make a purchase. Dispensaries don’t allow for the kind of browsing one can do at a record store. And because dispensary shopping generally requires a budtender’s active assistance, time is always of the essence so that waiting customers may be served. The downside of this for the customer at the counter is the feeling of being rushed to make a choice and complete the transaction. This leaves very little time for an idle, getting-to-know-you chat with budtenders, and makes it much harder for a customer to establish himself as a familiar face to be considered for a job, as he could otherwise do in a record store.
Another significant difference between record stores and dispensaries is that music products are generally less expensive than cannabis products. A music customer can find a desired used compact disc or elpee for, say, five dollars, but a dispensary customer generally has to spend more than that on each visit. Theoretically, a cannabis customer could buy a gram of flower for something close to five dollars, but whereas that elpee or compact disc can be played over and over, the gram is only going to last a day or two in most cases. In short, it is more expensive to patronize a dispensary than a record store, making it all the more challenging for a prospective budtender to be there to familiarize himself 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 clearly impedes the ability to compete for dispensary work.
The growth of the cannabis industry is the result of individual cannabis businesses across the board becoming successful and expanding production and marketing operations to meet demand and increase sales. Consequently, there are many marijuana-related jobs listed that don’t require any cannabis industry experience at all, because they are corporate positions. The corporate cannabis listings include VPs, Operations, Product and Social Media Managers, Sterile Processing and Lab Techs, Sales Reps, Accountants, and the list goes on. All of these require either a corporate background or technical skill irrespective of any affinity for cannabis, no matter how passionate. My desire to work in the cannabis industry is fueled in large part by a desire for a decidedly non-corporate experience. Budtenders in almost all cases aren’t corporate, and the position, itself, is wholly unique to the cannabis industry. Marijuana and marijuana products are a budtender’s focus, leaving him free of corporate considerations, departmental budgets or production chain issues. And while corporate and technical jobs generally restrict employees to office interiors and cubicle walls, laboratories, and greenhouses, budtenders man the front lines engaging the public, meeting new and likeminded people, exchanging ideas and information and sharing a passion for cannabis.
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. But upon closer look, not all dispensaries are the same. The three storefronts to which I’ve submitted my resume are all successful, legal, well-run shops where any self-respecting cannabis aficionado would eagerly work. It is more than reasonable to believe that competition for budtender positions at these outlets is high, and that candidates with experience or official cannabis education or with friends on staff have the greatest likelihood of being hired. But these are three of at least ten, if not more, local dispensaries. What of the others? There are a few legal, compliant local dispensaries that I’ve yet to patronize, but I’ve avoided them thus far due to high prices. Other local dispensaries are black market or quasi-legal at best and incompatible with my approach to cannabis.
For now, I’m left to continue experiencing what I can of the cannabis industry, 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 establishing friendships with budtenders that might lead to 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. I’ve also noticed that a majority of budtenders I engage 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!
Note: This is the second 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.
6. Starting the second round of cannabis-friendly music videos at number six is another Swedish Flying Saucer project, unofficially dubbed The Record Refugees. The track, called “Kosmische Rock”, is a glorious cacophony of cannabis-infused musik abiding Tommy Hall’s & Roky Erickson’s concept of “play[ing] the acid” (in this case, “playing the cannabis”) in an effort to transmit cosmic consciousness to the listener. Always helpful if the listener takes the initiative to put herself in that state of mind prior to listening, if possible, but it isn’t essential.
7. The Pink Fairies took heavy, psychedelic, speed-fueled rock to overdose levels, leaving the world with a classic 1973 LP, one of our favorites, called Kings of Oblivion. Fortunately for us, video exists chronicling their sort of psych-out mayhem, courtesy of French television, which has supplied a panoply of obscure and brilliant music videos to streaming platforms for our cerebral consumption. Here are the Fairies playing live in London in 1973, recorded by the French for their Pop 2 programming. Video also includes an interview.
8. The Pretty Things were another superb English psychedelic rock band that included future Pink Fairies drummer Twink on their groundbreaking album S.F. Sorrow.The Pretty Things began early on as a Stones-esque English R&B band who’s musical style evolved over the years in tandem with other groups and which peaked with this album. S.F. Sorrow was recorded at Abbey Road studios and features the kind of pop psychedelia that bands like The Beatles and The Who had incorporated into their own repertoires. Once again we owe the French gratitude for hosting and capturing this classic performance.
9. We continue to hold fast to the British Isles with the next video featuring two classic and deeply talented songwriters and musicians, Bert Jansch (RIP) and Anne Briggs. Jansch’s story is book-worthy, so I won’t even try. Suffice to say he was Scottish and brought up musically on traditional English folk songs and the folk-blues of the duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. Jansch is known for, among other things, being ripped off by Paul Simon, who asked to learn Jansch’s arrangement of “Scarborough Fair” and then copyrighted it under his own name. This song, “Blackwater Side”, is another traditional English folk song arranged by Jansch. Led Zeppelin included an instrumental version of the song that mirrored Jansch’s arrangement on their debut album, which they titled “Black Mountain Side” and credited to themselves. Once again, Jansch had been ripped off by other musicians. Anne Briggs is an English folk singer and songwriter with a beautiful voice who sadly never gained the kind of recognition she deserved. She certainly deserves more than I’m offering here, so let this be a starting point for the uninitiated. Know that this song suits her voice and style very much. Here are Anne and Bert from the documentary Acoustic Routes.
10. Rounding out part 2 in our cannabis-friendly music parade and bringing us back to the US is the electronic music experimenter, Bruce Haack. Haack’s work burrows deeply into the guts of electronic sounds, in some cases nearly fusing with circuit boards and capacitors, sounding more like a robot than a human. The highlight and lead-off track of his album Hush Little Robot, “Electric To Me Turn” could be Haack’s most robotic infusion as he wails and moans in a cyber-spiced plea along with the frenetic, synthesized music track. The song is relentless in tempo and evokes the desperation of a machine seeking authenticity and autonomy. It is chilling, but fun, and begs the question whether Haack finally succeeded in fulfilling his robot calling.
This week’s dispensary field trip took me to Exhalence, a well stocked, competitively priced, readily accessible storefront in Sun Valley. The two-story building is easy to spot from the road and sits astern an amply sized parking lot on Roscoe Blvd., just off of Glenoaks Blvd. Those driving up the 5 Freeway from LA can exit right across the street from the shop at Roscoe, and there is a southerly onramp right there as well for the return trip. Exhalence opens earlier than most dispensaries, at 8:00 am, closes at 10 pm, serves medical and recreational patients, and offers online ordering.
Exhalence’s roomy parking lot holds at least 10 spots, which suits the larger-than-normal building. The dispensary lobby is spacious and modestly appointed with comfortable seating and calming aromas wafting from scented candles. The front desk is staffed by an affable and efficient admin who processes intake paperwork and checks IDs for returning customers. It was only a few moments after entering before I scrolled down one of the 3 digital sign-up stations and completed the patient agreement. There’s a jar on the desk filled with an assortment of Halloween candy for customers to grab and take home to enjoy once their meds kick in. I figured I oughta wait until my second visit before grabbing free-bees from the front desk (although I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded).
For whatever reason, I rarely have to wait anymore in a dispensary’s front lobby, and if I do, it is only for a minute or two. Exhalence was no different, and as soon as the admin handed back my doctor recommendation, the security guard invited me into a very spacious room with a ceiling two stories high, featuring cases and shelves lining the back. The walls and cases are stuffed full of all kinds of flower, concentrates, edibles, pre-rolls, waxes…you name it. There were 3 or 4 budtenders working during my visit, one in training, and all were friendly and helpful. The young lady who seemed to be the lead budtender that afternoon was very knowledgeable about extracts and concentrates and offered me good advice.
First timeExhalence customers receive a 15% off discount (minimum $20 donation), softening the tax blow. There are discounts each day, with wax discounts on Shatterdays, and a 15% discount with minimum $25 donation on Sundays. After scrutinizing the extracts brands and products, and with budtender advice, I purchased a gram of Raw Garden Zookies sauce, a gram of Flavor OG Kush live resin sugar & a half-gram OG Kush Stiiizy pod. Total bill came to just over $100. Pretty average pricing – not more, nor less expensive than the comparable local dispensaries I’ve patronized.
Exhalence customers who spend $40 are invited to spin the dispensary goodie wheel for 25 cents. The wheel includes various discounts and accessories and currently lists different premiums than those listed in the picture, below. I spun the wheel and received a 4% discount to be applied on my next visit (which can be combined with the daily discounts). My budtender said she would note the discount in my account for my next visit. There is another premium, however, that I missed out on and which wasn’t mentioned by the admin or budtender but which is noted on the Exhalence Weedmaps page. They offer a rewards program, giving the customer 5% back in credit on every purchase. This is the first dispensary I’ve encountered that offers this kind of rewards program. I’ll have to mention it on my return trip and hopefully, they will make it retroactive to include my purchases this week.
I’m familiar with the excellent Stiiizy pod and strain (OG Kush) I purchased, and have enjoyed Flavor’s live resin sugars in the past. The Raw Garden brand is new to me, however, and this was only my second Raw Garden purchase. A few weeks back I grabbed a gram of their Bogglegum strain live resin, which is moderately potent yet which seems to enfold the body in full spectrum plant essence when vaped at 710 degrees. I’ve only tried the Zookies sauce once so far, but like it more than the live resin because it is more fragrant and sweet and seems to combine the best characteristics of terpinated distillates and extracted waxes. The live resin is more pungent than sweet and seems to contain the grassy tasting terpene, phyto.
I was very happy with my virgin visit to Exhalence and look forward to return trips. We east valley residents are blessed to be surrounded by a growing number of worthy dispensaries selling quality, safe cannabis products at prices no greater than the Industry norm. In this sense, cannabis is a consumer’s market – at least in my neck of the woods – and customers have the option to patronize a dispensary at a time that is the most cost-effective. The Exhalence discount days that benefit me are on Shatterdays and Sundays, but I tend to make my dispensary visits on weekdays and frequent local dispensaries offering weekday discounts on waxes and distillates. That said, I’m very satisfied knowing that Exhalence is a go-to weekend dispensary should I need one. For all you weekend warrior dabbers out there, Shatterdays and Sundays at Exhalence are made especially for you. Don’t miss out!
The term “house weed” is generally applied to generic, basic, inexpensive cannabis that a dispensary offers patients and customers (usually in joint form) as part of a premium or first-time customer bonus. One dispensary manager gave me a house joint “on the house” in recognition of a review I posted about his store. I graciously accepted the gesture, but I’ve put the joint aside as an absolute last resort should the home stash run dry. At a time that so many different strains and varieties of cannabis products are readily available, many with potencies twice, three times and in some cases, four times as high as even the dankest flower you’ll find on dispensary shelves, we’re left to wonder why, with so many effective options, would any cannabis user even want “house weed”?
At my most recent dispensary visit, just yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a brand that totally redefined the ubiquitous “house weed” epithet by turning it from a negative to a positive. By crafting a stylized trademark and simple packaging design with a recognizably generic font in bright red that pops out against a white background, they’ve transformed the notion of boring, inert “house weed” into a viable cannabis brand of the same name. Their packaging is utilitarian, with a functional simplicity consistent across all of its products. For flower in gram and eighth sizes, and for shatter, a branded ziplock pouch is used while a branded jar houses full ounces.
I purchased two half grams of House Weed shatter, Berry Kush, an indica, and Slymer, an indica-dominant hybrid, each packaged in one of House Weed’s signature ziplock pouches. Although it has positively transformed the idea signified by the term, House Weed has not changed a key conceptual old school “house weed” element: affordability. The local dispensary where I discovered the House Weed brand charges ten dollars per half gram of shatter! This isn’t only a fantastic price vis a vis affordability, but it suggests that maybe (please let it be so), the price of quality, tested, safe, labeled and packaged extracts is starting to settle down. The shatter strains I purchased are solid and effective, with THC percentages in the 60s, yielding a robust potency at a reasonable price. House Weed products are available at select dispensaries throughout the sunshine state and some of these storefronts are indicated on the company’s website. My local dispensary isn’t listed, however, so consumers will need to consult individual dispensary menus to be certain.
House Weed’s internet presence sadly hasn’t kept pace with the company’s growth: the only products listed are sativa, indica and hybrid flower packaged by the gram, eighth or ounce. Their website fails to list available strains and doesn’t mention shatter at all, a deficiency they really ought to correct. Their Instagram feed is similarly lacking in product promotion. Elsewhere on the web, I’ve found images of Blue Dream, Cherry OG, and GG4 shatter. The cannabis delivery service Greenrush carries House Weed flower strains including Cherry OG, Cookies, Purple AK and Cherry AK. In addition to the above-listed varieties of House Weed shatter, Greenrush lists one additional strain, Gelato, and also features House Weed prerolls that come in packs of five. Preroll strains include Pink Cookies and OG Kush. Why aren’t any of these listed on House Weed’s website?
The House Weed brand name is both a play on the term for generic, bargain basement herb and a reference to “house parties”, where kids gather to hang out, listen to music, smoke ganja and have a good time. House Weed wants its customers to view the brand as a connection to those free-flowing, anything goes teenaged weekenders of their youth. Their website contains the company’s mission statement which playfully renders and reframes the consumer’s sense of nostalgia and youthful memories. The House Weed brand, in the words of its purveyors, is “inspired by the good old days of house parties, bumping jams from your boombox, DJ battles, and dub bags,” which they simplify and sum up with a bold affirmation that “HW is the dopeness.” I can attest that their Slymer shatter is, in fact, “the dopeness”.
House Weed isn’t the only brand staking a claim to budget-friendly cannabis extracts and related products. I’ve written previously about the Flavor brand which is sold at local dispensaries. Flavor is also reasonably priced, its half-gram crumble retailing for $15, and makes fragrant and potent live resin sugars. Both House Weed and Flavor are owned by the Salinas, California based Indus Holding Company, yet they compete with each other for concentrate-purchasing consumers. The main difference between the two is that Flavor manufactures crumble, live resin sugar and shatter, while House Weed produces the items mentioned above, the only overlap being shatter. Flavor products have largely faded from my local dispensary shelves (their crumble is all I tend to see anymore), and doesn’t seem to have a web presence, so it is hard to know in which direction the company is headed. In the interim, House Weed provides affordable, potent alternatives in a variety of strains. Ask for House Weed products at your local dispensary or consult the company’s website and you, too, will feel the nostalgic and money-saving rush of a house party on a budget.