The higher my dive into the cannabis legalization dynamic, the less clear what the impact has been on manufacturers, dispensaries and patients / customers. I’ve written previously about two totally different dispensaries, one, The W.E.E.D., a showcase of cleanliness, good customer service, compliance, high quality product and tax collection, the other, Rolling Stoned, a dynamic, exciting, duty-free recreational trailer-bazaar stocked with a wide variety of potent items and staffed with attractive budtendresses, some with groovy Russian accents. I’ve since patronized a third local dispensary, Kings, located on the other side of the airport, where I had yet another totally unique experience as a new patient and customer.
The newest dispensary to serve my customer needs is, like Rolling Stoned, fairly close to home. Kings Pre ICO bears a humble, if not unprepossessing, storefront and is matched on the inside with a cozy dispensary. There is ample customer street parking on the street, but take note that the parking across the street is designated for another business. I climbed the steps and was buzzed in before I had a chance to push the buzzer and was greeted by a kind young man wearing a “security” jacket. He sat me down in the customer lobby, went behind the office window and processed my paperwork while I took a clipboard and filled out a form. I was pleased to discover that Kings takes it’s medical role seriously. It is extra work, but I think it is respectful and appropriate to differentiate between medical and recreational customers.
The young security guard / office administrator then unlocked a door just across the small lobby and took another customer inside. I was impressed at the idea that one person was playing all the roles in the process, from security to administrative to sales and counseling. Serious multitasking. I eyed the two desk-sized glass cases featuring concentrates, edibles, pre-rolls, etc., and then gazed up at the back wall where jars of flowers stood fragrantly on a set of shelves. The budtender showed incredible patience and attention to the first customer, working with him to find the best meds for the amount of cash the customer had to spend. The customer, who had a small, well-behaved dog with him, seemed really happy with his chocolate bar and flower as he trotted out to start his day.
Another customer arrived and took a seat on the bench while I approached the concentrates cases and tried to take it all in. I noticed that just to my left stood a dabbing rig with e-nail. I’d never seen one up close before and I was intrigued. My budtender enthusiastically highlighted some of his favorite concentrates and helped me pick out a few grams. It was happy hour, and I was a new patient / customer, so I was given big price breaks on product and ended up with a gram and a half of shatter and a gram of honeycomb wax. Realizing that I was getting low on my White Russian flower, my helpful budtender simply asked me how much money I wanted to donate that day to help me find the right strain. First time I had ever been asked this question as a customer, and I appreciated it. I gladly included an eighth of Citrus Cookies with my purchase and slid down the counter to the register to complete my purchase.
While waiting to pay, I asked my host about the rig, just to my left. I asked about the e-nail and explained that I had a vape pen but not a rig…that I’d never used a rig and wasn’t sure whether to get one. The compassionate budtender kindly offered to allow me to try the rig, using house shatter. I thought about it for a second and decided to go ahead, since this was my chance to experience it for myself. One of the best customer service gestures I had experienced at any dispensary I’d ever patronized.
I waited for the budtender to finish helping the next customer with a small flower purchase and then followed instructions for how to hold the dab rig and be ready for use. I hadn’t realized that dab rigs are basically bongs, but with different headpieces. I also had mistakenly thought that the “nail” was the pointy tool you used to place the dab into the bong. Wrong! I still wasn’t clear about how the electric nail worked – I still didn’t understand that a “nail” isn’t shaped like a nail, so wasn’t sure where the nail was. I had also heard about quartz and titanium nails and wasn’t sure how that played into the experience either. And I had never heard the term “banger”, tho it didn’t apply to this rig. I was a completely clueless customer!
Following instructions, I took my place at the rig’s mouthpiece and watched as my host pulled a decent, pebble sized dab onto his dabbing tool and dropped it onto the titanium e-nail. The shatter bubbled right away and I inhaled deeply as the budtender placed the hood over the nail and cool and fragrant vapor first filled the bong, and then my lungs. It was one of the most pleasant cannabis experiences I’d ever had, because the vapor was so smooth and not harsh like smoke. I pulled a good 3 or 4 more chambers full of vapor and felt absolutely wonderful. The gesture was pure compassion on the part of my budtender, nothing manipulative or untoward about it, and was a kindness that I will remember as return customer.
I departed Kings and said my thanks and good byes to my new budtender and thought about what a great high the dab produced. It felt clean, very cerebral, euphoric & creative. The sensation of all that vapor was also a very enjoyable experience, and I realized that it was time to add a rig to my repertoire. But I was still very uncertain about price and about the crème bruelee torch, so I took a day to think about it. The next day I drove down the boulevard to Blue’s, my local smoke shop. I parked on the street and walked to the opaquely mirrored front door and rang the bell. I was buzzed in right away and was struck blind by the darkness blanketing the room. I couldn’t see and clumsily asked to use my cell phone light, which I did just for a second. I picked up a dab tool and cleaning brush and asked about dabbing rigs.
The salesman patently probed my interest with a few questions, including how much I wanted to spend. Not yet fully committed to the idea, I told him I could spend fifty dollars, thinking that would be far too little. But lo and behold he had a decent sized clear glass beaker-shaped bong with glass banger and hood, which he sold to me all-together for $41, dab tools and a mini/portable torch included. I was a happy customer! I went home to try it all out. It took me a while, but after buying a larger torch and watching a few more videos, I’ve become reasonably adept at heady, tasty, low temp dabs. If only concentrates weren’t so d&mn expensive!
So far the dabbing experience has been like smoking ganja again for the first time. It is potent, long-lasting, clean, euphoric, and doesn’t leave the odor that burned plant material does. That said, the question remains, how necessary is it to buy only tested, labeled concentrates, which cost significantly more and include a hefty tax? It is an unwelcome customer challenge to have to choose between potential health impact and affordability. My customer optimism gives me hope that as the industry settles down and assimilates to the new regulations, and as new technologies are discovered and implemented, producing concentrates will become more cost-efficient and customers like me will buy and pay the tax on more reasonably priced, tested, labeled and quality-assured concentrates. It will be win-win for customers, dispensaries, distributors, manufacturers, and the government who seizes and redistributes the tax revenue. Time will tell. For now, as a customer, I recommend all 3 dispensaries mentioned above as well as the smoke shop. Happy dabbing!