Slide Show: East San Fernando Valley Cannabis Dispensary Exterior Design in Black & White

Cannabis dispensary exterior design is now a common feature of the commercial landscape here in the east San Fernando Valley. Dispensaries are so prevalent and so commonly seen by us as we commute from neighborhood to neighborhood that most of us no longer take note of their external uniqueness, the character of their facades, or their impact these exteriors have on our feelings about the Valley’s commercial terrain. 

Survey of Cannabis Dispensary Exterior Design

I recently began documenting local cannabis dispensary exterior design on my walks through North Hollywood, Studio City, and adjacent neighborhoods, where many such storefront facades are heavily clustered. The 24 black and white images included in this post are only a small sampling of the shops abounding in the east Valley, but they provide a diverse view of the different dispensary styles and forms encountered here on a daily basis.

Blending Into The Commercial Landscape

San Fernando Valley Residents see and engage cannabis dispensary exterior design every day, whether we consume cannabis or not. I can’t travel very far outside of Burbank before seeing a green cross or punny dispensary sign. But in the years since California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, most of us have come to take for granted the subtle and sometimes overt ways in which dispensaries continue to affect our perceptions of the ever-evolving valley commercial environment.

A Dispensary Exterior Design Niche

As you gaze at the slide-show images, ask yourself if in the years before legalization you ever dreamed cannabis commerce would become so common and so prevalent. Ask yourself if you ever could’ve imagined legalization would become so normative that cannabis dispensary exterior design would carve out its own niche, perhaps taking the place of the now near-extinct record store exterior design or book store exterior design or drive-in diner exterior design.

What does cannabis dispensary exterior design mean to you?

Please post your comments, below.

The Depicted Dispensaries

The following dispensary storefronts are those included in the slide show. Please see my past dispensary reviews for shopping recommendations.

Elevate Dispensary is Sweet & Friendly

Elevate dispensary in Sylmar is hidden right out in the open on the first floor of a corner mini-mall

Elevate dispensary in Sylmar, CA, is a spacious, brightly lit, clean and well-organized shop hosting a robust inventory of cannabis strains, varieties, brands, and products catered to the tastes and interests of connoisseurs and newbies, alike. I drove out to the far reaches of the northeast San Fernando Valley yesterday to meet Elevate’s friendly staff, behold its large stock of wax extracts, and make the most of its first-time patient discount.

Conveniently Located / Anonymously Situated

Elevate dispensary is easy to navigate to, just a block north of the Hubbard St. exit off of the Foothill Freeway. The store is situated anonymously in a corner mini-mall across the driveway from Yum Yum doughnuts. There’s no large sign screaming “cannabis dispensary”, so keep an eye out for the small signage posted on the glass doors facing the street.

A Warm Reception

I caught a whiff of sweet herb wafting out to the sidewalk and found my way to the dispensary entrance. Elevate’s receptionist greeted me with a friendly smile and an offer of assistance as I walked in the door and approached her desk. She was hospitable, deferential, and processed my paperwork quickly. I appreciated the warm welcome very much. My visit was off to a great start!

Yelp photo of Elevate's lobby
Elevate’s spacious and relaxing lobby (photo: Yelp)

Elevate dispensary’s lobby is clean and spacious with plenty of seating and reading material. Although my wait was brief, I enjoyed spending a few minutes relaxing in a comfortable chair where I scanned product literature and a cannabis consumer magazine called Dope. There were several free copies of the current issue strewn about for customers to browse or take home. I took mine home with me for a close reading and for future review.

A Beautifully Bright, Clean & Organized Dispensary

The receptionist quickly finished with my paperwork and guided me to Elevate’s inner dispensary sanctum which is quite large, incredibly well-lit, and which boasts cases filled with products stacked in neat, well-organized, rows. That Elevate can fit so many items into its cases is impressive; that it can keep everything so well-organized is even more impressive.

The brightness of the inner dispensary light was so intense that at first I had to squint. As my eyes grew accustomed to the light and I surveyed the room I found myself muttering, “This is beautiful…this is beautiful” a few times. It was the first thing I said to the budtender who walked over and asked how she might help me.

Elevate's enormous, super-bright, clean inner sanctum
Elevate boasts a huge, super-bright, clean, crisp & well-organized inner sanctum (photo: Yelp)

Budtending Sweetness at Elevate Dispensary

My budtender greeted me with a warm smile and was very sweet and patient as she listened to and tried to accommodate my requests for information about products, strains, and prices. Although she wasn’t a wax expert and had to look up the prices for items that interested me, my budtender seemed genuinely motivated to help me find what I was looking for and didn’t begrudge me the time I needed to make my selections.

Wax Customers, Do Your Homework!

Even with the aid of a sincere and helpful budtender, the sheer number of wax boxes and containers on the 2 shelves in the large, refrigerated, glass case was a bit overwhelming for both of us. It took some effort and skill to direct my budtender to the specific items as seen from her side of the case. Her modest strain knowledge left me to rely on my own cannabis intelligence to differentiate between indica-dominant and sativa-dominant hybrids, but I didn’t mind as it was an opportunity for me to test my own budtending abilities.

Elevate's interior showing refrigerated extracts case
Wax products are kept in abundance in the large refrigerated case on the far right (photo: Yelp)

Customer Confusion When Products Lack Prices

I enjoy working with budtenders even if I know more about cannabis than they because it affords me an opportunity to demonstrate my cannabis expertise. However, I don’t enjoy having to guess the prices of products because dispensary management fails to place price tags or labels on products or shelves. The wax selection process at Elevate dispensary is complicated and takes far more time than necessary because prices are not listed in a way that is convenient for either customers or budtenders.

Most budtenders don’t memorize product prices in my experience, so I did not blame my budtender for her unfamiliarity with the prices of different wax brands and varieties. Nonetheless, budtenders should not have to consult the store POS to check the price of each item in which a customer shows interest. It is inefficient, complicated, and wastes the customer’s time as well as that of those waiting in line.

Elevate dispensary should consider labeling their wax boxes with price tags, or at least label sample containers for each product so that budtenders can easily check prices at the same time they open containers to display the wax to customers. This is a management issue, not a budtender concern, and if at all possible, management should make it easier for Elevate’s budtenders and customers to locate prices. None of us can stare at the big digital board up on the wall at length, scrunching up our eyes from across the room, waiting for information on a particular product to appear in the board’s diminutive, inscrutable text.

A Thoughtful First-Time Discount

With some effort, a little patience, assistance from a second budtender, and with the honesty and diligence of my own budtender, I was able to make satisfying wax choices and enjoy the benefit of Elevate dispensary’s first-time discount (I think it was 15%). I’ve already begun reviewing the grams of Emerald Family Farms and Raw Garden live resin that I purchased, as well as the half-grams of Flavor and House Weed shatter, and I look forward to posting my takes on these products by brands I’ve previously reviewed.

Shop Here, But Come Prepared

My trip to Sylmar was a success and I will return to Elevate dispensary in the future for the following reasons: its friendly, sweet staff, its large inventory, and its competitive prices. My advice to any soon-to-be Elevate customers is to do your own research before arriving. Consult Elevate dispensary’s Weedmaps menu, research the strains and varieties listed, and make a long list of your pre-selections for informed product purchase options.

Bonus Time: Legion of Bloom’s Brand Ambassador, Emma

I would normally end a dispensary review at this point, but after I tipped my budtender and headed for the exit, I spotted the vendor table I’d stopped at briefly on the way in and decided to ask the brand rep about her job. The young lady, Emma, is a brand ambassador for The Legion of Bloom, and she was more than happy to chat.

A Knowledgeable, Experienced Company Rep

Emma answered my questions openly and in much detail. I found what she had to say relatable and on point and was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak in depth with someone so knowledgeable about and experienced with the cannabis industry. Emma was a tall cool drink of water, so happy to talk shop, so aware of the bigger issues related to legalization, and so down to earth and personable. The Legion of Bloom made a superb choice in choosing Emma to represent its brand.

Emma offered a thoughtful overview of her work as a brand ambassador and spoke broadly about her cannabis experiences in Colorado versus California, about the creeping corporatism of the legal cannabis industry, about budtending and dispensaries and more. This probably sounds like an unremarkable, ordinary experience, just to have a conversation like this, but it truly was a rare opportunity to engage someone so knowledgeable about and familiar with the industry.

The Legion of Bloom vape cartridges
The Legion of Bloom vape cartridges are cannabis oil, terps, and that’s it! (photo: cannabis dot net)

An Elevated Dispensary Experience

The reality is that most budtenders lack either the knowledge or the skill (or both) to provide the kind of in-depth exchange I experienced with The Legion of Bloom’s Emma. So thank you Emma & The Legion of Bloom for the opportunity to engage and learn, and thank you Elevate dispensary for this positive, first-time patient experience. I look forward to seeing prices on wax products when I return to Elevate and will be sure to pick up a Legion of Bloom vape cartridge, too.

Current Dabz: Apex Extracts

Apex Extracts makes and distributes some of the best looking, smelling and tasting legal cannabis extracts sold locally here in the east San Fernando Valley. Grams of their potent diamond-studded live resin sugars and sauces are priced to sell at $35 per gram on most dispensary menus. As a dedicated dabber with limited financial means, I value the ability to procure high-quality wax at an affordable price and applaud Apex Extracts for its efforts.

Apex & Its Competitors

Apex isn’t the only worthy cannabis extractor with products on local store shelves so I’ll also be taking a look at products from a few brands I’ve already discussed here, like Lumpy’s Flowers, Raw Garden, Nug and Terp-X. I’ll review those products as well as first impressions of new-to-me wax brands like Viola and Budder Bus in coming “Current Dabz” installments.

Where to Find Apex Products

Green Valley Collective, now called Project Cannabis – NoHo, on Magnolia Blvd., is where I first noticed Apex Extracts products. I’ve since found their live resin sugars and sauces at the shop’s Studio City sister-store, The WEED. The WEED’s budtenders rightly recommend Apex’s wax as a good deal for customers like me, who are on a limited budget.

Why Apex Stands Out

Of its many worthy price point competitors (TerpBoys, TerpX, Brite Labs, Flavor, the much-hyped Raw Garden, and others), Apex stands out by providing the best quality. Its large diamonds, superb strain variety, and general appearance is, on the whole, better than the others. Following are reviews of the 5 Apex live resins I’ve sampled over the past few weeks. I’ve enjoyed all of them, though I probably won’t buy them all again, as you’ll see.*

Apex’s Live Resin Varieties

Over a three week period, from about May 23rd to June 13th, I sampled the 5 different Apex Extracts live resins reviewed below, in addition to 7 waxes from other brands mentioned above. Apex live resins made up almost half of my purchases because they are aromatic, tasty, potent, ideal for low-temperature dabbing, and they are on the low end of the price range while remaining high in quality.

Alien Rock Candy Live Resin Sugar

Picture of Alien Rock Candy Live Resin Sugar in jar and boxed
Sweet candied potency and large THC diamonds

Potency & Appearance

Alien Rock Candy Live Resin Sugar is my favorite of the 5 Apex waxes reviewed here. The indica-dominant child of Tahoe Alien and Sour Dubble, Alien Rock Candy is a potent strain that cradles your body in an all-encompassing hug, calming nerves and soothing aches, pains and other maladies. The sugar tests at a modest 66% THC, but is supercharged by a full-spectrum “entourage effect” that interacts with the mind and body synergistically for a truly elevating experience.

Most other competitively-priced live resin sugars are made up of tiny THC-A granules submerged in oceans of oleaginous sauce. Apex’s Alien Rock Candy Live Resin Sugar granules are larger than the norm, more like tiny pebbles stacked in a mound, while its light amber-yellow sauce behaves like a Panang curry, coating and sticking to the THC diamonds, giving them a wet, waxy, golden puddle in which to bathe without drowning.

Highlights:

  • Appearance: Beautifully large diamonds coated in a light yellow-amber sauce
  • Aromas: Sweet, candy, citrus, orange, and mint
  • Flavors: Candy, citrus, and mint
  • Effects: Uplifted, happy, and relaxed
  • Problems Treated: Insomnia, pain, depression, anxiety, and stress
  • Testing: 66.8% THC, .1% CBD
  • Potency: Really strong
  • Overall Rating (1 – 5) (5 is highest): 5
  • Try Again: Yes

Grape Bubba x Cookies & Cream Live Resin Sugar

Potency & Appearance

A melding of 2 powerhouse strains in their own right, this live resin sugar provides an intense, but balanced hybrid effect. The Bubba’s potent indica properties play counterpoint to the Cookies’ heady sativa qualities and together, the two conduct a contrapuntal yet synergistically harmonic high that balances and blends sativa uplift and indica relaxation. The combination keeps me cool but alert, allowing me to observe and analyze situations without coming unglued.

Most visually notable, and what struck me first about this product, is the virtual absence of what I’d normally expect to see: sugar granules marinating in their all-encompassing sauce. Instead, this live resin sugar is born sauceless, a near-immaculate clump of large, orange-yellow-amber, caviar-like THC diamonds. These are the largest diamonds I’ve seen so far at any price (though I admittedly do not shop for higher end wax).

When I compare THC diamonds like these to what I’ve found in many of Raw Garden’s similarly priced live resin waxes, there really is no comparison. Apex’s diamonds in size and appearance easily eclipse Raw Garden’s comparable, high-quality sugars. Raw Garden is great, but Apex is just as good, if not better. If you’re a Raw Garden regular, why not give Apex a try next time?.

Highlights:

  • Appearance: Large caviar-like, orange-yellow, THC diamonds, no sauce
  • Aromas: Candy, grape, bubblegum, and mint
  • Flavors: Sweet, mint, and cheese
  • Effects: Uplifted, happy, and relaxed
  • Problems Treated: Pain and stress
  • Testing: 70.89% THC
  • Potency: Really strong
  • Overall Rating (1 – 5) (5 is highest): 5
  • Try Again: Yes

Triangle Kush x Nothing But Kush Live Resin Sugar

Potency & Appearance

Apex Extracts produces a number of hybridized live resin sugar and sauce strains that simply list the crossed strain names rather than creating a new, all-encompassing name. The marriage of Triangle Kush and Nothing But Kush strains follows this rule and tells us that the result is an indica-crossed, kushy hybrid.

There’s little if anything in the sugar’s kush combination to balance its strong indica sedative effects. After a few dabs, my formerly awake and somewhat anxious nerves were plunged into unfocused, tired, sleepiness. I felt my eyes enwrapped and gently folded into slumber-readiness as the effects took hold. Due to its near-pure sedative properties, this is an extract best dabbed at the end of the evening for relaxation and sleep.

Although called a live resin sauce, once again Apex includes very little sauce in what appears to be a pile of tiny orange-brown stones. The plentiful gravelly, resinous mini-diamonds shimmer in a dark-to-light amber glaze and again showcase Apex’s ability to produce quality extracts at reasonable prices.

Highlights:

  • Appearance: Like a clump of yellow, orange and brown Nerds candies
  • Aromas: Floral, sweet, and candy
  • Flavors: Forest, mint, and cheese
  • Effects: Relaxed and sleepy
  • Problems Treated: Insomnia, pain, and stress
  • Negatives: Fatigue and confusion
  • Testing: 68.4% THC, .17% CBD
  • Potency: Boom
  • Overall Rating (1 – 5) (5 is highest): 5
  • Try Again: Yes

Starburst OG x Do-Si-Dos Live Resin Sugar

Potency & Appearance

Starburst OG is the sativa dominant hybrid created by crossing Fire OG and Pre-98 Bubba Kush, while Do-Si-Dos is the indica dominant hybrid resulting from the merging of Girl Scout Cookies and Face Off OG. Together, these hybrid strains produce a focused yet relaxed, balanced wax high similar to Grape Bubba x Cookies N Cream (see above).

I was stressed, tired, and feeling a little empty before dabbing this Apex sugar, but afterward was in a much better, calmer, more relaxed and patient mindset. This was another Apex sugar that I felt first and foremost in my face, which experienced the gentle, soothing caress of a sheer cannabis mask. This soporific effect is thoughtfully counterbalanced by Starburst OG’s sativa kick, which allows you to maintain alertness and focus. I like this as an evening-time dab wax that winds me down without knocking me out.

This Apex Live Resin Sugar appears more like Raw Garden and the many other affordable live resins that consist of gritty, grain-sized sugar granules bathed in abundant, viscous sauce. In fact, the grains in this sugar are small enough to be inscrutable as they are totally encased in a thick amber-orange sauce and only apparent once lifted onto a dab tool.

Although the test results show added terpenes, the wax’s aroma is surprisingly light and mild, a disappointing surprise that diminished my dabbing experience a wee bit. Nonetheless, the abundant cannabinoid properties present in this live resin sugar yield an enjoyable if not overly potent high, while the wax, itself is ideal for relaxation without fatigue.

Highlights:

  • Appearance: Polished amber-orange glassine surface encasing resinous sauce thickened with sugar grit
  • Aromas: Mild floral, and fragrant
  • Flavors: Wood, earth, mint
  • Effects: Happy and relaxed
  • Problems Treated: Depression, anxiety, and stress
  • Testing: 69.8% THC, .2% CBD, 5.04% Terpenes
  • Potency: Really strong
  • Overall Rating (1 – 5) (5 is highest): 5
  • Try Again: Yes

Mint Chip Live Resin Sauce

Picture of Apex Mint Chip live resin sugar in jar and boxed
The sauce dabs nicely, but isn’t my favorite Apex live resin sugar

Potency & Appearance

I recently picked up this Apex Extracts strain and have only sampled it a few times. Mint Chip is produced by crossing Sin Mint Cookies (an indica-leaning combination of Girl Scout Cookies and Blue Power) with Green Ribbon BX (a slightly sativa-leaning, balanced hybrid combining Green Crack and either Trainwreck, Afghanica or White Rhino – true status is unknown).

The resulting Mint Chip Cookies (aka Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies) strain is another well-balanced hybrid combining the best of subtle indica and sativa characteristics. Unfortunately, there is little in the wax (like sugar or diamonds) to buttress the otherwise moderate THC percentage and as a result, the effects of this wax are a little mild for my taste.

The strain is said to be a “rare cross of opposing genetics” and a “strange hybrid”, according to Leafly, though I’ve yet to experience the practical significance of such an oddity. Apex’s Mint Chip Live Resin Sauce is a true sauce, with little hint of anything granular. In many ways the amber, orange and brown sauce resembles a jelly wax or sap extract and dabs nicely in a banger at low temperatures. If you enjoy flavor even more than potency, this wax doesn’t disappoint.

Highlights:

  • Appearance: Gelid amber/orange/brown sauce with shiny glassine surface; brown mustard
  • Aromas: Mint, grass
  • Flavors: Mint, cheese
  • Effects: Energetic and relaxed
  • Problems Treated: Pain and fatigue
  • Testing: 65.57% THC
  • Potency: Strong
  • Overall Rating (1 – 5) (5 is highest): 4
  • Try Again: Yes (unless better strain & variety options are available)

*I’ve also enjoyed Apex’s fantastic Kosher Kush live resin sugar but did not take notes at the time. I do recall that it was a perfect strain to dab for evening relaxation and for sleep.

Lumpy’s Flowers Lifestyle

Lumpy’s Flowers identifies as a lifestyle cannabis brand with a “passion to fuel creativity and forward momentum” in the lives of its customers, helping each of them craft a “positive, active, and healthy” approach to daily living.

Lumpy’s Flowers is a multi-award winning Northern California cannabis cultivator, manufacturer and distributor producing potent proprietary strains and high-quality extracts.

Continue reading “Lumpy’s Flowers Lifestyle”

Cannabis-Music Nexus, Clip By Clip

THE CANNABIS-MUSIC NEXUS

I live in a cannabis-music nexus. A cannabis-music nexus is a place where marijuana-enhanced music listening transforms the conventional act of “listening” into a much deeper, more holistic, enlightening and elevating mind and body musical synergy. In other words, it is a cannabis-infused, music-focused state of mind that makes listening to, watching, performing and contemplating music a purely enjoyable and illuminating experience.

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A Call for Higher Budtender Standards

Budtender working with customers
Budtender displaying cannabis sample or his customers
(photo: Cannabis Reports)

I expect cannabis dispensaries to employ knowledgeable, energetic, customer-service savvy budtenders who’ll reciprocate my enthusiasm and fulfill my product needs and service expectations. I prize those exceptional budtenders who transform my dispensary visits into cannabis bonding sessions where I can learn the latest product and industry news and make thoughtful purchases.

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Cannabis-Friendly Music, Part 4

Treble clef chaos

Note: This is the fourth installment in my series about heady, cannabis-friendly music, drawn from the clips I’ve posted on Swedish Flying Saucer’s Instagram feed.

16. Max Frost & The Troopers – The Shape of Things to Come (1968)

Max Frost & The Troopers’ “The Shape of Things to Come” is a fierce 1960s anthem by the fictional band at the center of American International Pictures’ 1968 teen rebellion film Wild in the Streets. The shock-cinema spectacle tells the story of Max Frost, an idealistic rock and roll lead singer who becomes involved in politics until all turns to chaos when the band’s fanatic followers take to the streets.

Continue reading “Cannabis-Friendly Music, Part 4”