BOB O.G. & THE WHITE WIDOW GLOOKIEZ – BUDD’R CRUMBLE FLOWER BOWL

Back cover of their first album.
Bob O.G. & The White Widow Glookiez – Budd’r Crumble Flower Bowl LP

Swedish Flying Saucer has from inception intended to reach beyond the confines of wordpress blogdom and expand our scope and potential. To that end, we gleefully announce the creation of Swedish Flying Saucer’s music production arm. To celebrate our expansion, we’re announcing our first release, from a recently discovered group called Bob O.G. & The White Widow Glookiez. Their sounds evoke the space rock, psychedelic, cosmische musik stylings of 1970s German groups like Neu! and Faust and heavier English analogues like Hawkwind. The group takes their name from a variety of strains, flower and concentrates, and features Screamin’ Diz on lead & electronics and Fudgie Tajentu holding down the rhythm like a fine tuned pendulum. Budd’r Crumble Flower Bowl is available to stream or download on Bandcamp, here :

BEST BATCH YET: A DURBAN POISON – CANNABIS COOKIES COLLABORATION

PART ONE

It was a chance encounter between Althea and Donna, two erudite and enlightened educators enrolled in a summer Shakespeare seminar here in the City of Angels that sparked a successful cannabis-converting collaboration between the legendary Lord Sassafrass and the powerful Prince Jazzbo. Althea and Donna would become widely known and beloved for their 1977 reggae-pop hit, “Uptown Top Ranking”, which versioned many earlier reggae hits including Trinity‘s “Three Piece Suit and Thing” and Alton Ellis‘s original / Marcia Aitken‘s cover of “I’m Still In Love with You”:

Their musical collaboration and success would come later, but in the interim both women were very pleased to connect their spouses, also future reggae notables. Donna’s partner, Lord Sassafrass, would eventually find commercial success, but his earlier records would prove the best. His work with the great Lee Scratch Perry on his Upsetter produced 1978 single, “Green Bay Inquest”, a version of Perry’s earlier production of Debra Keese & The Black Five’s “Traveling”, would become a highlight of his early career :

Althea’s better half, Prince Jazzbo, had already been producing his own records and would in 1976 work with Channel One‘s Bunny Lee in King Tubby‘s studio on the LP “Kick Boy Face” (a name later assumed by the French-Los Angeles punk denizen and Slash magazine scribe, Claude Bessy) and with Lee Scratch Perry and the Upsetters in Black Ark Studios on Jazzbo’s classic album, Ital Corner“Natty Past Through Rome”, which Perry would also dub up for the b-side, “Rockstone Dub”, would be considered a classic track from this latter LP.

Althea and Donna were yet to join forces for musical fame; they first had to find common ground for a friendship. As it turned out, the two top-notch teachers lived in almost perambulatory proximity, which was particularly productive because shortly after the start of their seminar, the pedagogical pair readily ride-shared the course’s first field trip. During the drive the duo casually conversed about their better halves’ present preoccupations. The revealing repartee coaxed out a core commonality in their partners’ philosophies indicating a keen interest in cannabis. Donna gave Althea some rhetorical reconnaissance about Lord Sassafrass’s emergent enterprise, a privately built virtual spacecraft of the mind called Swedish Flying Saucer,  just then climbing celestially towards a cosmic perch from which to capture the current character of the California cannabis industry. Althea was animated in acknowledging Sassafrass’s activity and advised Donna accordingly about Prince Jazzbo’s parallel penchant for homegrown herb and cannabis confections. For the rest of their ride, Althea and Donna related to each other their respective spouses’ commitments to cannabis.

Lord Sassafrass LP Cover
Lord Sassafrass on the cover of his 1985 LP Poccomania Jump

Donna described Sassafrass’s tried and true talent for converting fresh cannabis flower into carefully crafted comestibles, and Althea readily rejoined that her roommate, Jazzbo, had a green grow happening at the homestead and was feeling out for a fellow traveler to convert his cannabis into a connoisseur’s cornucopia. In no time at all these two inspired instructors constructed a prospective collaboration between the two men that would engage their effusive interest in herb and commence correspondence between them.

Prince Jazzbo, 1976
Prince Jazzbo, 1976 (Photo: Getty Images/Mojo Magazine)

Jazzbo cabled Lord Sassafrass about his grow and mentioned his mission to find someone to make marijuana medibles. It was a fine and inviting bit of outreach, but Sassafrass declined the offer, lacking confidence in his cannabis cooking skills. He had made batches upon batches of pungent and potent cookies that most folks couldn’t choke down, jar after jar of bitter, sweet and powerful honey slides that only Neil Young would appreciate, and hundreds of medical maricaps that lost their THC qualities far too quickly. In other words, out of respect for cannabis and for his new contact, Lord Sassafrass at first declined Prince Jazzbo’s offer and suggested contingent considerations, because he did not feel his cannabis cooking skills could be called competent.

In the ensuing days, Lord Sassafrass was at a loss for having missed an opportune moment so closely married to the Swedish Flying Saucer mission. He felt even more morose for missing out on a meeting of the marijuana-minded. Sassafrass continued to compose about and correspond with others in the cannabis industry and was convinced he’d not hear from Jazzbo again. Then one day, a few months later, Prince Jazzbo was back. He messaged Lord Sassafrass a new missive reiterating his reasons for contemplating this cannabis cooking cooperation and announced most modestly an absence of expectation about Sassafrass’s baking. Jazzbo had never met Sassafrass, had only once corresponded with him, and yet was willing to entrust this questionable quantity with a plentiful portion of his planted pakalolo. This was a second chance for Sassafrass to honor the outsourced opportunity and he joyously jumped at the chance to dry, cut, grind, decarb, convert to cannabutter, and then bake the imminent harvest into enticing edibles.

Mature cannabis plant
One of the mature plants on the Prince’s veranda that survived harsh wind & rain

Within days Lord Sassafrass had ascended the hilly heights to Prince Jazzbo’s palace to inhale the sweet, aerated aroma of many mature, verdant, sticky and particularly resinous cannabis plants, still potted and soon prepared for harvest. Jazzbo had patiently plotted and nurtured the plants’ potential for particularly serious potency and as the days grew shorter and the weather grew volatile and somewhat unhinged, he knew harvest time was here and began to prune. The plants had persevered through a ransacking by rain and a weakening by howling winds that harassed the city in the preceding days, and Jazzbo took swift action, sectioning off stems of the strong sativa strain and bringing the weather-beaten buds inside to begin the drying process. Jazzbo thoughtfully hung these stems in his home to have ready for Sassafrass’s haul back to the ‘burbs where he would soon begin his big bake. Jazzbo proved his professionalism with his proactive management and maintenance of his marijuana plants. Jazzbo’s care and concern for cultivating consumable cannabis was clear.

Prince Jazzbo and Lord Sassafrass established in short order that cannabis wasn’t the only commonality connecting the two connoisseurs, as they both maintained masterful musical minds and loved to speak about the subject. Jazzbo took note of Lord Sassafrass’s Sun Ra t-shirt, sparking a sound-centered symposium of sorts as the two men took stock of some of the most sublime, exacting, and on occasion, most estranged music of the past century. Sassafrass was sweetly surprised to hear of Jazzbo’s parallel passion for Beefheart, Zappa, Pharoah Sanders, Ornette Coleman, Coltrane, and so many more musicians who sought out the strangeness and spirituality of aural outsider-ism and otherness. Simply put, Sassafrass and Jazzbo marshaled their passion for music, the magnificence of which was magnified once marijuana was in the mix. Whether making music, listening to music, or musing about it, Sassafrass and Jazzbo knew that cannabis, cacophony, and creative cogitation were all connected.

Time passed quickly as the two talked music and marijuana while Sassafrass acknowledged the affable advances of Althea’s and Jazzbo’s sweet and convivial canine. Just as Jazzbo was waxing wisely on the wild musical ways of Pharoah Sanders, his sonorous soliloquy was suddenly superseded by the sound of the dinging doorbell. Prince Jazzbo had invited the good Dr. Alimantado to join in the proto-harvest cannabis pruning and was expecting him. It was clear to Sassafrass at once that Jazzbo’s friend was a true fellow traveler for whom music and marijuana meant more than many other matters. Jazzbo introduced Sassafrass to his good friend whom Sassafrass would soon learn was also a lover of retrograde musical movements. Dr. Alimantado would one day delight denizens with his own percussive patois on tracks such as “I Killed The Barber” from his classic 1978 LP Best Dressed Chicken in Town. Alimantado’s “Barber” was a vamped version of John Holt‘s “Ali Baba”. But for now this trio was but a gathering of a few new friends focused fully on the Prince’s plants, the kind that would inform and influence their future forays as musicians.

Mature Cannabis Plant up close
The Prince’s plants were ready for harvest

After giving his guests a chance to greet each other, Prince Jazzbo paraded Dr. Alimantado around the plants on the patio and broke a few budded branches off of the bunch for Alimantado to dry and trim. Jazzbo then took his visitors up to the den to display to them his box of freshly dried and trimmed flower. Jazzbo generously bagged up a bouquet of buds for both Sassafrass and Alimantado to take home. Jazzbo then proffered Dr. Alimantado and Lord Sassafrass a pipe and the trio sat satisfyingly out above the courtyard and continued their compelling conversation. Sassafrass thought he’d heard Jazzbo say that he’d ceased smoking, which was the reason he wasn’t wafting it up with them, and also the reason he’d offered Lord Sassafrass the edibles enterprise. For the next hour or so, Jazzbo, Alimantado and Sassafrass sat in the shaded sun soaking up all the sounds and stories they could share. The banter was an absolute blast, and Lord Sassafrass left Jazzbo’s princely palace looking forward to future encounters with his new friends.

PART TWO

Lord Sassafrass flew over hill to home in Prius power-mode, with stemmed buds strewn across the rear seats in a wide-open 30-gallon trash bag. Windows down and climate control engaged, the sweet and powerfully pungent scintillation of freshly cut cannabis permeated the Prius. Sassafrass enjoyed the aromatic envelopment almost as much as he sought to be certain that the smell would be silenced in time for the school bell in sixty minutes. Fortunately, Lord Sassafrass stocked particularly potent packets of odor eliminator in his car to aid in ameliorating the olfactory onslaught of odiferous malodorousness.

Drying Cannabis
Jazzbo’s stalks hanging to dry in the garage

Once home, Sassafrass took little time to tease out a tactic for drying the deciduous detachments. He located and lashed twine to metallic rods and cardboard sockets in his garage and ably affixed each of the twelve shimmering bud- and leaf-bearing branches to the twine to dry. After hanging the twelfth branch, Lord Sassafrass stepped back to gaze and gawk at the terrifically trichomed brilliance bound up in each bursting bud. A moderate yet steady drying process precluded any further planning, so Lord Sassafrass found a fan, flicked the switch and sealed the saplings in to deter unwelcome eyes from pursuing the pungent aroma to its present position. There was nothing more for Lord Sassafrass to do than sit for five or six sunsets until the hanging hemp was dry, but not desiccated. While he waited, Sassafrass studied up on the strain and seeds Prince Jazbo had planted to produce such a stunning sativa. Lord Sassafrass sought to understand the strain’s strengths and subtleties and use them as a source of inspiration to coax out his culinary capabilities.

Trichomes
Sparkling trichomes on the drying buds

Sassafrass knew that Jazzbo had obtained the seeds for a pure sativa strain native to Africa called Durban Poison. He started digging and discovered on the website Westword that Durban Poison had been voted in 2015 one of the three most popular cannabis strains in Colorado. This piqued Sassafrass’s interest in the Poison and he pondered Westword’s pronouncement that Durban Poison was a legendary strain, inspiring bootleg imitators and wannabe seed bankers to germinate fakes. Sassafrass was suddenly susceptible to becoming skeptical about the seeds sewn by Prince Jazzbo, but then he recalled Jazzbo’s assertion of the seeds’ African authenticity. Once convinced of the cannabis’s proper provenance, Lord Sassafrass pondered the potent flower’s effects and how its edible form would foster different feelings because of the high concentration of THC.

Air Vape X
The dried Durban Poison vaped nicely in Sassafrass’s AirVapeX

Lord Sassafrass was grateful for the additional multiple grams of dried Durban Poison he’d gathered at Jazzbo’s house thanks to Jazzbo’s generosity and goodwill, and he gladly engaged Jazzbo’s ganja in the days following that first visit. The acrid aroma of uncured herb had dissipated decidedly from Jazzbo’s dried Durban Poison and in its place Sassafrass sensed was the Poison’s more commonly encountered pungent-cum-earthy palette. Sassafrass had detected a diesel flavor when he and Dr. Alimantado bonded over the bowl they smoked at Jazzbo’s and now sensed it again. Lord Sassafrass also ventured to vest a ground up half-gram in his compact vaping unit known at the AirVape X. He first filled his failsafe four-stage grinder full and finessed the fudge-like stickiness of the full flower finally to furnish him with the right dimensions for the device. Next he dialed the digital thermostat to four hundred and twenty-eight degrees and waited a few minutes for full heat before finally filling his lungs with fresh vapor tasting of pine and earth. He did not detect the diesel in the vaped Durban as much as he had when they’d smoked the sativa.

Drying Bud
Undried Durban Poison bud

Lord Sassafrass continued to vape and smoke the Durban flower and gauged the potency and effects produced by Jazzbo’s happening harvest as he awaited the drying process in his garage to be done. He was so accustomed to indica’s comatose couch-lock that he was caught off-guard and pleasantly surprised by the sativa’s sublime cerebral stimulation. Daytime doses of Durban Poison kept Lord Sassafrass focused, energized and on-task, and often found him forgetting he was high. When Sassafrass paused from a task to rest, the high returned rapidly and he was reminded right away that he’d already readied himself with a round of rips from Jazzbo’s homegrown harvest. Lord Sassafrass’s research revealed that the most manageable and meaningful manner in which to master this motivating marijuana was to maintain mental focus and find fun or fascinating activities and follow-thru with them. The effects of Jazzbo’s exotic strain would surprise Lord Sassafrass even more in subsequent days, as his motivation to make explicit the most accurate description of the strain’s full effects encouraged an encounter with flower in a more concentrated, edible form.

Prince Jazzbo’s Durban Poison gave Lord Sassafrass an entirely new experience with cannabis. Sassafrass was a long time indica loyalist who suffered from insomnia and medicated with marijuana to support sleep. Indica, especially in concentrated form, induced relaxation, comfort and occasionally, couch lock. Sassafrass had sampled various sativas in the past, but many were sativa-dominant hybrids, and others were simply unremarkable. Jazzbo’s Durban Poison, on the contrary, was a one hundred percent sativa that affected Sassafrass in ways he was totally unused to. Jazzbo’s poison was almost completely cerebral in effect and left his friend free of languor or limpness in his limbs. Sassafrass sought to summarize the sativa’s superlative high, particularly after consuming the strain in concentrated form, but was unsatisfied with what he’d scribbled down. Fortunately he found a finer account than his own on the Westword website that mirrored his experience and made explicit the effects produced by Jazzbo’s Durban Poison:

The classic sativa hails from southern Africa as a landrace strain, meaning its original genetics were pure and free of anything indica. After being smuggled out of Africa in the ’70s, Durban Poison gained popularity in Amsterdam because of its heavy smell and short flowering period, and it didn’t take long for word to cross the Atlantic. Today, Durban Poison makes a legitimate argument for a spot on the Mount Rushmore of strains, having fathered popular children such as Cherry Pie, Girl Scout Cookies and many more with strong sativa effects.

In other words, Prince Jazzbo had dialed in to a Durban Poison landrace-linked seed source and generated a good three or four mature marijuana plants, a portion of which he had passed to Sassafrass to convert into cannabutter.

PART THREE

Cannabis Trimming set up
Trimming process: Flower was dry enough to come off in Sassafrass’s gloved hands

Back at home, Sassafrass checked on the drying stalks at least a couple of times a day, until after six days and nights in the fully fanned garage, the proverbial flowers were ready for plucking. The stalks were removed cautiously by Sassafrass, who wore light blue nitrile, powder-free, gloves and was ever so careful not to jar or knock the stalks and lose any of the precious, twinkling trichomes. The sleek, tight-fitting examination gloves more than managed to maintain resin-free hands, however the sheerness of their simple design allowed for many random rips requiring re-gloving. Lord Sassafrass self-handicapped his hands even more by missing the message on the massive box of gloves specifying these were for small-sized hands only. Lord Sassafrass’s large hands had no other option than to stuff themselves like sausages into the almost unmanageable prophylactics.

Culled Bud
The buds practically jumped off the stalks, they were so ripe!

The buds were so ripe for plucking that they practically parachuted from their poky stems without Sassafrass’s prodding. The flower wasn’t especially dense, but it was thick and resinous and very sticky, with trichomes covering all visible trim and leaf as well. The cuttings’ floral aroma was pungently piney, but the fresh and very verdant, concentrated chlorophyll in the just harvested hemp caused a greatly enhanced, cascading aroma to claim olfactory authority in the room. Lord Sassafrass had made a modest move to suss out a screen box to aid in the collection of dislodged trichomes, but the boxes weren’t stocked in storefronts. He grabbed instead a glass baking pan over which he carefully pulled the bursting buds free of their branches as his handsome handling of the harvested hemp helped hold the trichomes in place. Sassafrass found almost none in the glass pan when finished. Lord Sassafrass told Prince Jazzbo about the tasks undertaken and took pictures during each phase of the process to provide Jazzbo with photos of his progress. When the cutting was complete, Sassafrass filled up five overstuffed half-pint jelly jars and sealed, bagged and stored them away in a dark place to cure until the next step.

Jar of Harvested Cannabis Flower
One of five full jars of flower Sassafrass culled from the dried stalks

Within a few days of pruning and jarring the potent plant material, it was time for further preparation and processing. Lord Sassafrass retrieved his metallic red four-stage grinder and began loading it with buds, leaf and trim, twisting and pulling the sectioned cylinder back and forth until all resistance to the rotating had been removed. The pungent plant perfume was pulled through the porous grinder portholes and filled the air and Sassafrass’s senses with floral freshness. The sticky, resinous sativa sap kept causing the grinder to get stuck and required patience and persistence to punch through. Lord Sassafrass continued to remove stubborn stems and bits of wood from the buds as he channeled the cannabis into the grinder chamber. Once all the grinding and cutting was complete, Sassafrass consulted his computer to confirm the calculations for countering the carboxyl group in the cannabis, done through a process called decarboxylation. This process converts the carboxyl group, the THC-A, into a cannabanoid the body can consume and integrate psychoactively. Decarboxylation activates automatically when cannabis is consumed by smoking or vaping, because it is heat that causes the THC-A conversion, however it is a manual process necessary to prepare cannabis for consumption in food if the consumer craves the effects of a complete complement of cannabinoids.

Cannabis Prepped for Decarbing
Sassafrass’s home set-up for preparing fresh flower for decarboxylation

Lord Sassafrass preheated the oven to 230 degrees and let it warm while placing parchment paper on cooking pans and putting on the freshly pulverized Poison, spreading it thinly and evenly across the paper. There are multiplicities of heat-time ratios made manifest in magazines, books and on the internet, describing many different decarboxylation methods for converting THC-A. Sassafrass had blogged about the decarbing method and ratio he’d debriefed from Ed Rosenthal’s detailed instructions delivered in his book, From Trash To Stash. Due to the multitude of decarboxylation methods, Lord Sassafrass attempted to assimilate an alternate approach to the elimination of the THC acid and for this conversion considered a course cited at the website Merryjane. Lord Sassafrass previously pivoted away from pulverizing the pillow-like flowers prior to placement on parchment paper, but in this preparation chose instead to churn up the choom before potentiating it. In short, the baking sheets would each portage ground up ganja and occupy the oven for forty minutes at 230 degrees, allowing enough time for the heat to transform the THC-A and further dry the fresh flower to make it favorable for food use.

Decarbed cannabis
Decarbed herb, fresh out of the oven should be a dark green with hints of brown

Days prior at Prince Jazzbo’s palace, Dr. Alimantado and Lord Sassafrass had eagerly eyeballed the sumptuous green stalks geared for grinding and gastronomic engorgement and attempted to gauge the weight of the gangly green limbs. After drying, cutting, pruning, grinding and decarboxylating the ganja, Sassafrass could now engage his simple yet sleek food scale and measure the marijuana. Whatever the original weight of the wetter wampum, the net poundage of the fully nurtured and reduced plant nuggets was nearly two and a half ounces, give or take a few grams. There would be more than ample Durban Poison to make several cups of canna butter for Sassafrass to apportion in preparing potent edibles. Although Lord Sassafrass had much experience cooking with cannabis, he had never concocted cannabutter, nor had he snapped together sweet cookies from scratch. He used to include ground indica as an ingredient rather than filtering the flower finely through cheesecloth, which he now admitted was a preferred path to potency. Lord Sassafrass was determined to downshift the manic medible-making momentum and take care to concentrate on each component of the cannabis conversion rather than contemplating the cookie construction comprehensively. The first course in the conversion was the creation of cannabutter, and Sassafrass courageously cantered up to the counter to commence cooking.

Decarbed flower in jars
The net weight of the decarbed flower was about 2 1/2 ounces

As with the decarbing, Lord Sassafrass consulted a number of competent sources to create his own personal plan. The recipe combined instructions from the myrecipes website, Ed Rosenthal’s “From Trash to Stash” and other sources, to create a formula that balanced butter potency and yield to make the most efficient use of the Durban Poison’s penchant for cerebral stimulation. Two and a half ounces was far too much cannabis to convert in one cook in a home kitchen with limited space and equipment, so Lord Sassafrass began with an ounce of decarbed, ground flower and completed the recipe confidently. Although myreicpes instructions called for four sticks of butter for each ounce of flower, Lord Sassafrass used seven sticks, or three and a half cups, of high quality, unsalted butter. He added the blocky butter to an accommodating cooking pot and with it a quart of water, or at least enough water to keep the plant material an inch or so from the bottom. He then turned on the burner to a very low setting and set the pot to sit there for three hours, simmering but never boiling, then stirred steadily in a regular rotation. Lord Sassafrass carefully concocted his cannabutter by keeping close watch on the temperature and by steering the sativa stew around the pot regularly. Sassafrass scraped the sticky suds from the sides of the pot, keeping the slow-cooking cannabis squarely in the barrel of the buttered water basin.

Butter in a pot
Sassafrass used seven sticks of butter (3.5 cups)

Lord Sassafrass marveled at the minimal marijuana odor emitted over the three hours his sativa sat simmering. He worried it would be much worse. He watched the pot as the watery surface became increasingly shiny and viscous while more buttery bits of the Durban made their way to the turgid top and started to brown. Sassafrass was serious about his first turn at the cannabutter wheel and took the time to monitor most every moment in the merging of cannabis and butter. Finally, after three hours on the stove, the sativa stew’s color had grown dark green and featured golden butterfat floating freely on the surface. Lord Sassafrass liked what he was looking at and found its appearance compared favorably to images found amidst the few recipes he favored. He brought out a large bowl with a broad lip around the edge that would keep the covering cheesecloth from collapsing into the cannabutter. Sassafrass remembered reading in one of the recipes that double layers of cheesecloth were required to remove remnants of the plant while recycling only the buttressed butter into the bowl. He kept the cloth folded to leave the two layers in place and covered half of the bowl with it, then repeated the ritual around the other side of the bowl. Sassafrass retrieved two big rubber bands and slowly stretched them out and over the top of the lip and let them snap around the underside, capturing the cheesecloth and putting it firmly and completely in place.

Cannabutter after 1 hour
Cannabutter after simmering 1 hour
Cannabutter after 2 hours
Cannabutter after simmering 2 hours
Cannabutter after 3 hours
Cannabutter after simmering 3 hours has a shiny, viscous surface (ready to strain)
Bowl with cheesecloth
Double layer of cheesecloth rubberbanded to the lip of the bowl

Lord Sassafrass placed the glass bowl in the empty sink to situate it strategically in preparation for the pour. The cannabis and butter concoction had cooled slightly but merited moderation in handling the still hot and viscous stew. Sassafrass gloved his determined digits and gathered the calming cauldron, then shuffled slowly across the kitchen, keeping the viscous liquid from lurching over the sides. When he sidled up to the sink, Lord Sassafrass steadied himself and ever so patiently prepared to pour the pottage, tipping it tentatively just above the center of the clean cloth covering the bowl. The green translucence of the liquid first leaving the cooking pot poured right through the cloth, though not quite quickly enough to speed the process. Lord Sassafrass took his time, never allowing the butter to pool atop the cloth. As the pot emptied, more plant parts poured onto the cloth and Sassafrass was careful to keep these pieces in place. He soundly scraped the scraps of sativa along the sides and bottom of the pot and pushed them at last onto the warm and potent buttery pile. Lord Sassafrass let the stew sit atop the cloth, allowing butter and water to drip into the bowl before finally, and with much finesse, gathering up the corners of the cloth and collecting them, along with the rubber bands, to put together a kind of poultice. He held the swollen cheesecloth poultice above the bowl while butter and water steadily dripped from the bottom, then grabbed the ball of the poultice with a gloved hand and determinedly squeezed out more of the translucent liquid, careful to keep the cannabis inside the cloth. After the final plant-free drops fell into the bowl, Lord Sassafrass left the spent poultice in the sink and retrieved a silicone lid to fit around the bowl’s lip. He cleared out the back of a refrigerator shelf and before putting the bowl to bed noted the dark green and cloudy white layers that had already formed there.

Cannabutter in cheesecloth for straining
Cannabutter straining in cheesecloth over bowl
Cannabutter remains after straining
Plant Remnants after straining (don’t squeeze the cheesecloth too hard or plant material will come through)
Cannabutter separating from water
Cannabutter just strained and already separating from the water
Freshly strained cannabutter (top view)
Freshly strained cannabutter and water, top view

Lord Sassafrass waited at least twenty-four hours before returning to the refrigerator to check on his creation. He was particularly pleased to see a much clearer layer of water with an almost fluorescent olive layer of butter floating atop it. The first-time butter maker breathed a sign of relief and readied a knife to insert around the edges. He culled the cannabis-infusion carefully, keeping it round and whole, set it on a plate and perused it. He was very pleased with his handiwork and after pausing for a picture, proceeded with the process. He wiped all excess water from the surface of the sativa butter, set down three half-pint jelly jars and secured a sharp knife. Sassafrass broke up the butter into half- and quarter-stick sizes and stuffed the bright green chunks into the jars and sealed them, then replaced the chunked butter trio in the spot formerly occupied by the cooling bowl. He did not know how much butter he bore but knew that there would be enough for a range of recipes. Lord Sassafrass turned to the internet for information, finally finding a familiar resource, the Nestle Toll House baking website, which contained a host of confection how to’s. Sassafrass had a hankering for chocolate chips but had become bored with characterless chocolate chip cookies. He read reviews and reviewed recipes and the result would be even better than he then realized.

Fresh cannabutter
Fresh cannabutter looks like a big green pie. Freeze any not used after 2 weeks.

PART FOUR

1 cup cannabutter
1 cup softened cannabutter

Lord Sassafrass chose as his first cannabutter cooking contest a divine and delicious recipe for chewy chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. The recipe called for one cup of butter – in this case, cannabutter – so he took a jelly jar from the fridge and let the butter sit and soften. In short order, Sassafrass was pressing and tugging and squishing the chunky green butter into a stainless steel measuring cup until full. He followed the recipe faithfully and was finally rewarded with almost five-dozen cookies. Lord Sassafrass was unable to utilize any of the methods for measuring potency he knew other than eating and waiting to feel the effects. Due to the wide range in THC content in different Durban Poison grows it was impossible to estimate the effects. so after the cookies had cooled Sassafrass picked up an average-sized treat and began to eat. His first bite sent a chocolate shockwave to his core, stimulating his senses to such an extent that Sassafrass forgot about the cannabis infusion. He was about to succumb to a second cookie but the remaining cannabutter caught his eye and convinced him to reconsider. Lord Sassafrass did not want to wait but knew there was no other way to sample the strength of the sweets.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Durban Poison Ultimate Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cannabis Cookies

Lord Sassafrass commenced clean-up operations in the kitchen and by the time he was done with the dishes sensed a sort of cerebral stimulation that he could only source to the sativa strain. Sassafrass had always been interested in indicas to help him handle his insomnia, so the sativa sensation felt unfamiliar to him and made it harder to unpack the potency. Still, the single cookie effect struck him as suggestive of a more substantial high were he to consume a higher count of cookies. Sativa was new to Sassafrass and he liked the focus on the frontal lobe rather than the lugubriousness of couch lock that experienced with indica strains. Consuming a single chocolate chocolate-chip cannabis cookie put him in a good place, but Lord Sassafrass was a special breed belonging to a secret society that sought superior experiences with sensimilla. To that end, he also had a high tolerance for THC and could not be the true guide in gauging the ganja’s potency. Sassafrass knew he must eat more – multiples, in fact – to truly measure the cookies’ ability to ameliorate all unwelcome aspects of existence. Lord Sassafrass was a committed cannabis consumer and believed in the power of cannabinoids to counter life’s many challenges.

Sassafrass contacted Prince Jazzbo to convey to him the completion of the first batch of cookies and call him over to collect his half of the comestibles. Jazzbo was jazzed to drive down to receive delivery and found himself in familiar territory, down the street from a dearly departed denizen Jazzbo designated as a former close friend. The visit validated Lord Sassafrass’s initial impression of Jazzbo as a genuine guy who happened to grow ganja and who was happy to gift it to friends, generously, as he had with his Durban Poison and as he would with his half of the cookies. Sassafrass was downright stunned, yet somehow not surprised, to discover the Prince’s punk past and his palling around with people about whom Sassafrass had only heard stories. Jazzbo’s past was populated with many musicians who’s music Lord Sassafrass loved and still listened to loyally, and Sassafrass felt he couldn’t have been more lucky than to have linked up with his new pal, the Prince. Before leaving, Jazzbo collected his cookies and promised to call Sassafrass with his comments. Jazzbo reported right away that a quarter of a cookie did not render the right results, but that a half of a cookie had him high and happy as a hescher, and he mentioned Metallica as the music that matched his sativa sojourn.

The following day found Sassafrass in the kitchen to concoct another count of cookies. Prince Jazzbo preferred an oatmeal raisin recipe for this round and Lord Sassafrass, though he did not like raisins alone, did like them in oatmeal cookies and opened a new jar of cannabutter to commence cooking. The recipe retrieved by Sassafrass called for a cup and a quarter of cannabutter and he again let it sit and soften before stuffing into measuring cups. Lord Sassafrass also allowed himself the opportunity to combine his chocolate chocolate-chip confections with his current cookie-making by eating three of them before beginning to bake the new batches. The chewy chocolate cookies crumbled in his mouth and cascaded across his tantalized taste buds. Prince Jazzbo warned his unwitting cookie comrades not to be deceived by the delightful taste of the cookies or there would be unwelcome consequences. This caution did not concern Sassafrass or his high tolerance, which is why he eagerly ate three cookies before commencing the oatmeal cook. Lord Sassafrass buzzed along while beating ingredients in a mixing bowl and soon began balling up dough and dropping it on the pan. After an hour or so of adding ingredients and dealing with dough, Sassafrass started to feel the serious effects of the sativa cookies. He was energized and focused, and his head felt like it was about to float off of his body. He was eagerly euphoric and enhanced his kitchen activity with an energy he’d never previously entertained. And at the same time, there were many moments he had no memory that he was milling around on marijuana. Sassafrass saw this when gabbing with the gardener only to recall, half way through the conversation that he was currently of a chronic cannabis consciousness.

Oatmeal Raisin Cannabis Cookies
Durban Poison Oatmeal Raisin Cannabis Cookies

Lord Sassafrass was determined to describe the effects of the Durban Poison concentrated in the cookies but found his words fell short of supplying a full story. Sassafrass searched others’ accounts of the strong sativa and went back to the Westworld website, where he discovered the perfect description:

Feelings can include an uplifting buzz that makes sitting on the couch difficult. Although this is a powerful sativa, paranoia is relatively rare for Durban Poison users, who are typically too busy riding a bike or working around the house to notice much else — making it a possible treatment for depression and drowsiness.

Sassafrass, too, had been buzzed by the strain’s stimulating effects to the extent that he had to keep moving around the kitchen, totally occupied by cooking. When he waited a few moments between mixing ingredients he suspected that his head was halfway to Hungary because it would not halt when he did. During the ensuing days, Sassafrass would sample a few sumptuous cookies and feel fully capable of completing all the cleaning and caretaking of his castle and would then write at his waiting work station about the wonderful way he felt. The Durban Poison did much to dismantle any depression and make the day undeniably delightful. And the concentrated cookies complemented his morning coffee in form and substance. Lord Sassafrass was quickly converting his cannabis compulsion away from indicas and straight to sativa strains.

Prince Jazzbo had invited Dr. Alimantado to accompany him to the Lord’s manor but the good doctor was on call and couldn’t attend. Jazzbo was planning a party, however, and hoped to include all of his cannabis crew in the celebration, so Sassafrass could expect to encounter Alimantado in the months to come. Jazzbo took a second trip overland to retrieve his half of the oatmeal raisin cookies, and Sassafrass still sought stories from Jazzbo about his Hollywood punk heyday. The Prince was again all too affable and accommodating in answering with intriguing anecdotes. Both men were very agreeable with the arrangement and anticipated future association with the aim of converting cannabis into cannabutter, and cannabutter into cookies. Jazzbo grabbed his goodies and headed for higher ground while Lord Sassafrass contemplated the half-cup of cannabutter he still kept in the refrigerator, which was required to be cooked or risk losing its concentrated cannabinoids. He and Jazzbo both felt the refrigerator squeeze and the space taken up where their cookies were situated. Both cooling containers were at capacity and could not accommodate more cookies than they currently were. But the cannabutter could not continue to cool in the fridge and had to be factored into a fresh batch or cookies or be frozen. Lord Sassafrass rounded up his recipes and planned to prepare a brand new batch, this time making mouthwatering old fashioned soft molasses marijuana cookies.

Drying and decarbing flower, converting it to cannabutter and baking cookies had all been much easier than Lord Sassafrass had first thought. In the past he’d prepared his potent cookies using a cheap cookie mix and bottom barrel butter and he’d kept the cannabis in the cookies. Assembling cookies from scratch required some additional shopping steps, but Sassafrass succeeded in finding the ingredients he sought. The molasses cookie recipe called for dark molasses, with more enhanced molasses flavor but less sweetness than regular molasses, and with less barbecue intensity than the blackstrap variety. Lord Sassafrass set out to snag a bottle of dark molasses and stopped off at Pavillions to shop, but the market only had regular molasses. Sassafrass made it to many more markets that morning including two different Ralphs, two different Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Smart & Final. Lord Sassafrass thought he’d got what he needed at Vons, but as he was beating the butter he opened the molasses bottle and looked at the label and lo and behold, it was blackstrap. Lord Sassafrass stayed stoic and stopped the assembly so he could step out to seek out a simple bottle of regular molasses, since dark molasses had disappeared from store shelves. Sassafrass left home and at long last found himself in line at Sprouts, where he’d finally folded and figured the mundane molasses would work well because of its sweetness.

Cookie ball in sugar
Molasses cookie ball rolling in sugar before baking
Cookie balls on parchment paper
Cookie balls on parchment paper

Lord Sassafrass still couldn’t tell how much cannabutter remained in the jar. He stuffed the softened cubes into a measuring cup and came up short. There were approximately one and one third sticks of cannabutter – two thirds short – so Sassafrass substituted some chunks of regular butter to complete the cup. Lord Sassafrass’s patience and persistence finally paid off, as he was able to put all the ingredients together and after rolling the large dough balls in sugar, placed them atop parchment paper on the baking pan. When complete, the chewy molasses cookies were larger in size than the last batches and promised a potent punch even with only the partial infusion of cannabutter. Lord Sassafrass smiled at the gingery smell of the generously apportioned cookies and contemplated consuming one. Sassafrass couldn’t keep away from the brownish-bronze bites covered with crystalline, sparkling sugar, and scooped one up and stuffed it into his open mouth. It was delicious, without a doubt the best batch yet, and within the hour Sassafrass was soaring. He packaged his and Jazzbo’s halves and housed them in the cooler, which now contained cookies in all available compartments. And buried deep in the back of Lord Sassafrass’s freezer still sits a jelly jar containing an ounce and a half of decarbed Durban Poison destined for conversion into cannabutter once the current cookies have all been consumed.

Molasses Cookies
Durban Poison Old Fashioned Soft Molasses Cannabis Cookies

THE GRASS LOOKS GREENER AT GREEN VALLEY COLLECTIVE

Green Valley Collective sign
Green Valley Collective on Magnolia Blvd., just south of Vineland, in NoHo, CA            (Photo: Leafly)

I have driven up and down Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood, CA, and passed Green Valley Collective for longer than the dispensary has been in  business. I would see it clearly almost every day yet never seriously consider patronizing it even though I was a medical marijuana patient in need of a reliable medical dispensary. I can’t account for this avoidance, for there is nothing about the dispensary at all uninviting or worrisome. In fact, in the years preceding medical marijuana legalization, an exotic and woefully under-patronized Jamaican restaurant called Coley’s occupied the spot, and I had dined there in the 1990s. In other words this was familiar territory, inside and out, and yet after six months of reviewing local dispensaries I hadn’t even perused their Weedmaps menu. Why?

Coley's Jamaican Restaurant
Coley’s Jamaican Restaurant in NoHo (Permanently Closed)

The answer is that sometimes the things we want or need most are right before our eyes. And yet because they are so close to us we fail to see them. I’ve spent generously in time and money surveying different dispensaries and products and publishing reviews of my experiences. The upside of all that investment has been my discovery of dispensaries with good customer service, quality-tested cannabis and cannabis products, reasonable supply and pricing, organized displays, well lit & clean store environments, friendly, knowledgable and supportive budtenders, easily accessed locations, and adequate parking. Although I had already discovered a handful of dispensaries possessing most of these characteristics, the industry’s product uncertainties and pricing inconsistencies were negatively impacting the most important of these qualities: supply and affordability. If I could not find nor afford my meds, the rest would be moot. I began searching Weedmaps in earnest, extending my travel radius to allow for dispensaries further from home. Then one day last week  I passed Green Valley Collective in my car for the thousandth time and finally, out of necessity, made the connection that I could be one of those happy-looking customers I saw going in and out of the dispensary’s front doors.

Cannabutter
Homemade Cannabutter separating from water

As cannabis businesses on the grey or black market finally feel real pressure to either comply with the law or close down their storefronts, quality dispensaries are revealing themselves to the cannabis-consuming public and setting a positive standard for the industry.  These compliant storefronts are like hunks of potent cannabutter separating from water and floating to the top and must be recognized and supported by cannabis consumers or they will vanish, the industry along with them. Compliant cannabis producers and manufacturers similarly require the support of discriminating consumers to survive in the long term. If compliance conforming businesses and high quality products finally succeed in eliminating all unregulated competition, it is safe to assume that consumers will benefit from more standardized pricing and greater product consistency. Cannabis customers at last will be empowered to make rational, informed, economically sound decisions about how to acquire their meds. Once the black market is all but vanquished (it will never be eradicated completely) the leveled industry playing field will enable cannabis businesses to compete fairly for the ultimate prize: repeat customers. It is that simple.

Cannabis Taxes, Los Angeles
Cannabis Taxes, Los Angeles, CA (Photo: Hopegrown website)

Taking black market dispensaries out of the picture will enable the industry to establish realistic price points for particular products based on supply and demand, affording the consumer a reasonable expectation of paying about the same fair price for a given product at any nearby dispensary. Although recent months have seen the gradual disappearance of black market storefronts and non-compliant items locally, consumers like myself continue to experience significant price-outs and shortages of certain cannabis varieties and products. Compounding the financial burden on consumers are the incredibly hefty recreational use taxes, themselves another set of hurdles that have the potential to sink the entire industry if prices don’t come down in the long term. Shrewd dispensary operators have recognized their customers’ financial limitations and have made the very smart decision to offer consumers regular daily and weekly discounts. There are a few dispensaries I like very much but which I tend to avoid because they only offer a first time customer discount, or no discount at all. It is also unfortunate when a storefront is well stocked with quality items but is not licensed for medical sales, meaning no break on taxes for medical patients such as myself. Marijuana businesses seeking repeat customers and company growth – if not industry survival – would be wise to offer incentives like daily discounts while differentiating between medical and recreational taxes.

Because I purchase dabbable waxes and concentrates primarily, I am often faced with high prices and short supplies and consequently must patronize a handful of local dispensaries to acquire the best possible meds at the lowest prices. When a storefront is able to keep in stock even a small variety of products made by brands I trust at prices I can afford, I tend to stick with that dispensary until things change. To wit, after patronizing a certain local dispensary regularly over the past month I last week finally experienced the inevitable shortages in their supply of dabbable concentrates. What remained on their shelves was of good quality, but they were the same three items I had purchased on my last two trips. Lack of choice can leave a customer feeling like he is settling mindlessly for remnants and not obtaining the precise meds he needs. This runs contrary to the spirit of medical cannabis use. And yet there I was lacking options, feeling a bit like a captive audience. I could have left empty-handed but since I knew the three available items were of excellent quality and reasonably priced, I purchased them again without regret while realizing I needed to shop elsewhere in the short term. The plain truth is that the most successful businesses find ways to circumnavigate distribution shortages or bottlenecks, doing whatever possible to meet consumer needs. These businesses understand that when a customer shows up and a dispensary is out of product, he may go elsewhere. And if another storefront has the products he needs on the first visit, the customer will most likely return to that other dispensary for his future meds.

Dab Wax Shelves
Random dispensary shelves featuring many dabbable concentrates (Not GVC) (Photo: Leafly)

I try to be a loyal customer to businesses that treat me well because I value good customer service and appreciate the recognition as an essential partner in commerce. Businesses would see no profits and cease to exist without dedicated customers, and yet there are far too many businesses that take shoppers for granted. I won’t return to a dispensary with impatient or discourteous staff – such behavior should not be rewarded with anyone’s patronage. But the last dispensary I’d visited had treated me well and thus before moving on to a new dispensary I felt it appropriate, if not honorable, to give the old storefront another shot. One of the budtenders there affirmed to me that the staff maintained up-to-the-minute accuracy on their Weedmaps menu, so I duly scanned their list one last time and was again disappointed, noting that the dispensary’s concentrates supplies were even more depleted than on my previous visit. I decided that returning to a shrinking supply of waxes would not only be disappointing, but would also rob me of the enjoyment I experience as a consumer taking stock of the different brands and varieties available. I needed to know if there was a comparable, local alternative with a larger selection of reasonably priced dabbable concentrates. I needed options. I did not want to become robotic and habitual about my meds, buying the same products on each visit. And then I remembered that Green Valley Collective was just around the corner, and my prospects suddenly improved.

GVC Front
Green Valley Collective storefront (Photo: Google)

I looked up Green Valley’s Weedmaps menu and was impressed right away with the wide array of products and varieties they carry. The detailed list included a number of items meeting my particular cannabis consumption needs including several wax concentrates and varieties for dabbing, a selection of Pax ERA pods for vaping, and a robust palette of flower with an emphasis on hybrid strains. Their prices were reasonable, no higher than other local dispensaries and in some cases lower, and they offered different daily discounts. My discount day would be Thursday, when there was a buy one / get one at 20% off regular price (limit 2). I was both relieved and encouraged by the wide selection of concentrates carried at Green Valley Collective and planned my Thursday trip accordingly. Before heading over, I took another long look at Green Valley’s menu and noted a few affordable concentrates of interest to look for. I wasn’t exactly sure about how the dispensary’s first time customer discount worked, but I was confident I’d at least be able to take advantage of the daily deal. I also noticed that they opened at 9am, an hour earlier than most other dispensaries. This was a plus, as I like to do my cannabis shopping in the mornings.

Green Valley parking
Green Valley’s very accommodating parking lot

As they were already open, I immediately put on shoes, got in the car and reviewed my mental list of products to look out for at Green Valley Collective. Five minutes later I was driving into the dispensary’s uncharacteristically large rear parking lot recalling my lunch at Coley’s many years prior (jerk chicken, black beans and rice, and bottle of Red Stripe). That sweet and savory memory was the perfect tonic for my usual first time customer jitters, and as I walked across the lot toward the front of the building I felt very much at ease. I noted security cameras posted strategically on the side of the building and appreciated the dispensary’s concern for customer and staff safety. I walked around to the front of the building and approached the entrance. I can’t recall if I was buzzed in by the front desk or if I just walked in through the front doors, but as I entered the lobby, I was almost breathless at the welcoming warmth and openness of the interior. It was not at all what I’d expected and on the whole was unique from other dispensaries I’d patronized. Where other dispensaries were compartmentalized, largely in deference to security concerns, Green Valley had an open floor plan that flowed from front to back and side to side. My recollection is that there was no glass window separating the intake administrator from the lobby, no metal grill through which customer and security were forced to communicate, and most stunningly, part of the wall at the rear of the front desk opened up into the dispensary interior, giving customers a glimpse of their destination while conveying a sense of transparency and trust. Within moments of stepping into the lobby, it was clear to me that whomever designed this dispensary paid especial attention to how energy would flow through the building in a manner resembling feng shui.

GVC front desk
Green Valley’s front desk. (Photo: Weedmaps)

The openness and internal flow of the building at Green Valley Collective, as I would discover, are as much a product of the spatial orientation as they are of the warm, luminous lighting that facilitates movement and enables customers to connect freely and transparently with staff and with whatever items of interest they spy in the cases or on the shelves. The thorough array of lights placed thoughtfully throughout the store reveals to the customer a very well organized, uncluttered, clean and functional dispensary. Customers who can see the full field of products and varieties arranged in an orderly, logical display enjoy the ability to compare all options and, with the aid of an informed budtender, make the best possible individualized choices. Customers will also notice new products, brands, and varieties and ask about them, affording budtenders the opportunity to introduce these new items into the mainstream while educating customers and making sales. That kind of thinking is win-win, and the openness and transparency I experienced at Green Valley Collective was a strong statement about the company’s integrity and purpose as well as its commitment to building positive, trusting, long-term relationships with its patrons.

As I entered Green Valley Collective, a friendly intake admin welcomed me with a smile and processed my paperwork while I directed my attention to an iPad stand on my right. Whereas at other pre-ICOs or collectives I’ve had to sign and initial digitally in multiple places, scrolling down past clause after initial-requiring clause, Green Valley’s customer agreement required only a single signature. This small but appreciated simplification of the sign-up process  reiterated to me a higher level of trust in the dispensary-customer relationship matching what I’d been struck with as I entered the lobby. I’ve found it somewhat stressful at other dispensaries standing and reading through page after page of a patient/member agreement, initialing each paragraph along the way. It makes me feel like they’re going to bust me for breaking a rule. “See! See!! You initialed clause 8 right here!!”  No thanks. Green Valley’s single signature agreement was just right. After I entered my e-mail address on the iPad to complete the sign up, the friendly admin returned my paperwork and handed me a discount card and slip for the budtender, who would be ready momentarily. As I turned for a moment to look at the spacious waiting area I heard my name called and was then buzzed in to the passageway connecting the lobby and the inner dispensary. This passageway is more like a  portal of sorts and the only completely sectioned off area in the shop. It is actually kind of cool to walk through because it feels like you are transporting from one part of a spaceship to another.

Green Valley Collective interior
Inside GVC: clean, lit, organized & stocked. Customers line up in the middle of the room. (Photo: Yelp)

I walked through the exit door at the south end of the portal and into the dispensary’s inner sanctum to see up close what I had moments ago gazed at from across the building. The openness and transparency I had experienced in the antechamber was magnified all the more now that I was in the midst of the dispensary’s wares. In the second or two after I opened the door I noted again the totally illuminated warmth of the room and its cleanliness and orderliness. Not in a sterile, antiseptic way, but in an open, inclusive, warm and trusting way. The dispensary’s thoughtful design says to the customer, “We want to be sure you have the very best opportunity to see clearly what your product choices are and know everything about that product that the packaging and our budtenders can communicate to you.” As a regular cannabis consumer and dispensary patron, I couldn’t imagine a more welcome message.

As those first few impressionistic seconds faded, Jessica, an engaging budtender with a kind countenance and affable demeanor, greeted me enthusiastically as a first time customer and asked what I wanted to see. I mentioned concentrates and clarified that I was seeking the dabbable variety, not cartridges, and Jessica directed me to the north-west corner of the shop. There are glass cannabis product-containing counters on three sides of the dispensary interior as well as cases and shelves along the walls. Patients await their turn in the middle of the room, giving them a 360 degree view of the items on display. Because I was the only patient at the time, there was no wait. Jessica walked along the perimeter to meet me at the showcase housing various live rosins, shatters, crumbles, bubble hash, diamonds and other dabbable concentrates ranging in price from under $20 for half grams of Flavor crumble to almost $100 for high end extracts like 710 Labs water hash.

GVC Concentrates
Dabbable waxes & concentrates on GVC shelves (Photo: Weedmaps)

I’ve written much about the price of dabbable concentrates and the challenges this presents to consumers, dispensaries and manufacturers. I still hold out hope that as the black market disappears and the industry begins uniformly to adhere to regulatory standards, the price of extracts and distillates will diminish. In the current market, however, the dabbing consumer is left on his own to navigate dispensary menus and weekly discounts in search of the best possible wax products for the lowest cost. I was encouraged by the selection appearing on Green Valley’s Weedmaps menu and thought the prices looked fair and comparable to other dispensaries atop my list. I was extremely pleased to discover that I had been incorrect in my understanding of their first time customer discount, because the Collective gives patients a 20% discount on their first and fifth visits in addition to offering different daily deals. Customers receive a punch card at their first visit to track their progress. It isn’t clear whether customers receive a new punch card after their fifth visit – I will ask next time. I also discovered that if you navigate to their website and provide your e-mail address, they will reply with a coupon for fifteen percent off the customer’s next purchase (I have not confirmed whether this promotion is still valid – it may be old).

GVC discount punch card
Customers receive 20% off on their 1st & 5th visits

With my new customer discount card in hand I surveyed the different waxes and resins on display and tried to correlate them with what I’d seen on Weedmaps. Some items rang a bell, while others did not, and there were a few items listed on the menu that I did not see on the shelves. It is easy to envision the challenges inherent in maintaining up-to-the-minute accuracy on Weedmaps menus, particularly while the industry remains in flux. If the industry survives and grows, there is little doubt that dispensaries will ably maintain fully accurate menus via their own websites and apps, giving customers live updates on stocked items. The good news is that Green Valley’s Weedmaps menu was accurate enough to have previewed the kind of choices I would see there, even if those exact products were no longer in stock. In other words, there were options. I perused the dabbable offerings on display and recognized something I’d seen on the menu: Flavor brand live resin sugar. I’d enjoyed Flavor’s potent and affordable crumble wax previously, having purchased it several times around the corner at the also excellent Zen NoHo dispensary, and was pleased to have the opportunity to try the sugar, reasonably priced at $45/gram (and less with my discount). By reasonably priced, I mean comparable to the lowest prices I’ve seen at similar local dispensaries for tested, labeled and pre-packaged dabbable concentrates. I chose (50/50 hybrid) Cherry OG and (indica dominant hybrid) Mango Sherbert (Sorbet?) grams of sugar while continuing to eye the shelves for an additional pick.

Flavor Mango Sorbet
Flavor Mango Sorbet live resin sugar (1g) for $45 (Photo: Eaze)

My eyes tracked over to a few varieties of Neutron Genetics live rosin shatter half-gram packages on display and Jessica brought them out of the case to give me a closer look. I found a few strains I liked, but when Jessica searched for the sale product she discovered they had sold out. Jessica was extremely contrite about the mix up and genuinely at a loss for it, assuming all responsibility and assuaging any disappointment on my part, and I continued my search,  gazing inquisitively at the shelves’ remaining wax offerings. The 710 Labs badders, rosins, and water hash were priced far out of my league at $80-$90/gram, so I kept my eyes roaming until I noticed items I hadn’t discovered on the Weedmaps menu. On a lower shelf in the case I spied grams of bubble hash by Nasha and considered my options. I’d never tried bubble hash and wasn’t sure about its dabbability. Jessica advised that if I wanted to dab it, I should first grab some wax on the dab tool and then dip the sticky end into the hash to coat it before hitting the banger. The gram of hash cost $35 ($28 with the discount) and Jessica guided me toward the (indica cross) Blue Cheese to meet my nighttime relaxation needs. I continued to peruse the shelves and wondered to myself which customers were those able to afford $90 grams of concentrate. Not me. Jessica was extremely patient while I considered my options and gave me ample time to deliberate while also suggesting alternatives like Nasha’s hash temple balls (I may try next time.) Jessica did not rush me at all and asked if there was anything else I needed even though there were now customers waiting in the mid-store line. I can’t emphasize enough how important Jessica’s patience with me was to my positive first impression of Green Valley Collective.

Nasha Blue Cheese Bubble Hash wasn’t on the menu, but was on the shelves for $35/gram (Photo: Kushy dot io).

Patience with cannabis consumers isn’t just good customer service, it is an acknowledgment by the dispensary staff that cadillac concentrates and connoisseur cannabis are not cheap and that consumers should be afforded a reasonable amount of deliberation before making a final choice. Realistically, this principle of budtender-customer patience applies to all dispensary exchanges, because affordability is so relative to a customer’s means, and those budtenders who show the most patience make the most lasting impressions on customers. Green Valley Collective recognizes not just the high cost paid by customers for quality compliant cannabis products, but also the impact of taxes imposed by city and state, which the dispensary responsibly differentiates for its recreational and medical consumers. Other storefronts I’ve patronized have not been clear about taxing customers, and I’ve on a few occasions reluctantly paid recreational taxes even though I am a medical patient. No surprise that I return to these businesses only when other options are unavailable.

GVC Staff
Green Valley Collective staff (Not sure how up to date this is) (Photo: Weedmaps)

Satisfied with the three grams I’d chosen, I tracked Jessica along the length of the counter to the nearest cash register and asked if she wouldn’t mind giving an overview of the store since we had only so far focused on waxes and concentrates. Although another budtender by that time had begun to help waiting customers, there were others still in line, and yet Jessica nonetheless accommodated my request and causally yet methodically identified where in the store they stocked different categories of products. As I followed her description of the room with my eyes I caught a glimpse of the waiting customers, all of whom seemed engaged by the 360 degree view from their perch in the middle of the store. This reconfirmed my initial impression about the wisdom of placing the line in the room’s midpoint – that it is very customer-centered thinking. My recollection is that the last product section described by Jessica contained their CBD selections, and as I took mental note of what I could, Jessica processed my discount card and explained that my savings would offset the taxes plus a little more. My budtender’s thoughtful tax/discount explanation was itself another acknowledgment of and respect for my financial concerns as a customer, and I again appreciated it. To top it off, as she packaged my purchases and wished me well, Jessica explained that I would receive a $1 discount if I brought back the child-proof meds bag on my next visit. Some other dispensaries provide a bag gratis on the first visit and charge a fee if the customer fails to bring the bag back on subsequent visits. This punitive approach has always struck me as in poor taste. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, Green Valley Collective conversely offers customers an incentive to recycle their meds bags. As a customer, I always prefer carrots to sticks. Every. Single. Time.

GVC Purchases
First Impressions: With the first time 20% discount at Green Valley Collective, I got my three purchases the easy way!

Since bringing my meds home I’ve had the joy of sampling them all. The Flavor sugars, although moderate in THC content at around 65%, are so terpene-rich that a single pea-sized dab will envelop your body, glaze your eyes and in some ways feel as potent as concentrates 30% higher in THC content. Jessica’s advice about dipping a dab of wax into the bubble hash didn’t pan out, as the hash granules were hardened and compacted. The hash was fresh, having been made only a month prior, but it was not for dabbing. Instead, I’ve at times enjoyed chunky scoops of the Blue Cheese atop crumbled Tangie moonrocks in a glass pipe, at other times atop hybrid moonrock bits in an iced beaker bong, and I’ve also sandwiched scoops between layers of Durban Poison grounds for dry vaping in my AirVapeX. This last method has proven the most enjoyable, as the bubble hash’s incense-like sweetness complements and balances Durban Poison’s piney, diesel taste, while the heavy indica qualities of the Blue Cheese moderate the Poison’s overstimulating tendencies. I’ve looked further into the dabbability of bubble hash but decided that it would be better used with flower or by itself either in a pipe, bong, or in the AirVape X. I look forward to checking out Nasha’s other products, its temple ball hash in particular, and will keep an eye on Green Valley’s Weedmaps menu and hope that they’ll add Nasha to their inventory.  And I’ll look forward to returning to Green Valley Collective on Thursdays and Fridays for their daily deals – on Friday’s customers can pick their own deal from the other daily offerings – and will be a very satisfied return customer if what I experienced on my first trip is matched from visit to visit. My superlative first trip to Green Valley Collective this week tells me I have every reason to expect it will.