SMART COLLECTIVE BRINGS THE “A” GAME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WELLNESS, EARTH, ENERGY: THE WEED RENEWED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PUFFY DELIVERY SETS THE PACE!

(photo: facebook)

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

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

-Weedmaps dot com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRITE LABS JELLY WAX SHINES A LIGHT ON YOU!!

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

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

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

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

Why Cannabis Extracts Need a Spectrum of Components

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

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

(Leafly dot com)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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