This past Saturday was Swedish Flying Saucer’s inaugural 4/20 holiday and to commemorate the occasion, we headed out to a few local dispensaries to catch some of the action. We checked Weedmaps and Instagram to look for local deals and holiday product highlights but of the many different bargains and premiums offered nearby, BOGOs, percentage discounts, and dollar deals, though generous, seemed unremarkable. We took our time sussing out dispensaries offering the best discounts AND the best selections while keeping our eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. Although one of our go-to dispensaries seemed to have the biggest discount of the day (30% across the board), their limited extracts inventory kept us looking. If this was to be a truly special day, we needed to step outside the box and try something new.
As we perused discounts, deals, and menus, it occurred to us how much better the 4/20 holiday would be if celebrations were less transactional and more communal, active and participational. There were a handful of official 4/20 celebrations booked at various fee-charging venues, but free community gatherings with cannabis, accessories, gear, clothes, and food available for purchase were notably absent. Where were the street festivals with areas for individual and communal cannabis consumption, with games, contests and other 4/20-related activities? We know, we know…compliance!
A common theme found on the Swedish Flying Saucer blog is our call for a more engaged, active and communal cannabis experience for consumers in the post-legalization world. We very much enjoy shopping for cannabis products but feel the exchange is often perfunctory and reduced to merely selecting and purchasing products. We at SFS envision a future when the mere functional is supplanted by a more engaging, communal, meaningful exchange of ideas and information. Until that time, we’ll continue to make our cannabis purchases as human and budtender-collaborative as possible.
By 4/20 morning we’d more or less finalized a short list of dispensaries and headed out to shop. We’d have dedicated an entire day to celebrating 4/20, but reality dictated otherwise and we decided to get up early and hit a few stores while inventories were full and gift bags in abundance. We’d be missing out on the afternoon taco trucks but it was a price we were willing to pay. And although we’d imagined ourselves patronizing our favorite, tried-and-true, local dispensaries, by Saturday morning we realized that we needed to step outside the box if it was to be a special day. We now saw that the deals of the day would be found in less well-traveled places.
Our first 4/20 stop was in nearby Sun Valley at the previously reviewed most-excellent Exhalence dispensary. Exhalence sits atop the Glenoaks exit of the northerly 5 freeway in a large building in the back of a sizable, gated lot. Even though it was early, before 10 am, we’d still expected to encounter a crowd of cars and parking valets. Instead, we glided from the off-ramp right into a two-thirds full lot with ample open spaces, where we parked and geared up for our first 4/20 foray. We’d been to Exhalence only once before and were most impressed. Our experience this weekend left us even more agog at the dispensary’s ability to fill its near-cavernous shop with a truly broad selection of cannabis flower, products, and brands. Exhalence staffs their giant u-shaped counter with a team of budtenders who work both independently and as a team to serve a greater number of patrons at a time than many other dispensaries can handle. Everything about Exhalence is on a scale beyond what we’ve found at other local storefronts and their 4/20 operation was a perfect example.
Indeed, Exhalence’s 4/20 lobby was buzzing with customers, vendors, and security as we crossed the transom and checked in with reception. We passed a Kushy Punch table and another that now escapes us while a second guard waved us past the tables and through a door. We made a note to ourselves to visit the Kushy rep on the way out (unfortunately, we blew it and totally forgot!!). Once inside, a third security dude had us wait between the black stanchions while several customers shopped at the cases.
Within seconds we were standing at the extracts’ case across from our budtender and were overwhelmed by the many brands and products behind the glass…more than we’d ever seen in one place at one time. Our eyes gravitated toward tried and true brands in our price range and we began to break down the essentials with our budtender. She guided us toward the brands and strains that fit our profile, pointing out THC percentages and other helpful info and giving us a chance to see and smell different extracts. Our budtender recommended Raw Garden’s live resin, a brand/product endorsed at our last Exhalence visit and at a few other notable Valley dispensaries.
Although we’ve enjoyed Raw Garden grams before and were well-satisfied, we were blown away after dabbing this particular 4/20 Raw Garden purchase. Our budtender very thoughtfully recommended the Orange Flame #9 sauce, an Indica-heavy strain produced by crossing Extreme Fire, Blueberry Headband, and Leroy OG. The sauce is both intensely pungent and impressively potent. When we breached the sauce jar later, at home, and inhaled the sharp, penetrating orange spice aroma, we knew that the near 80% THC content was for real. This is one of those sauces of which a little dab will do ya…in.
We added a gram of Beezle Extracts sauce (South Fork Kush strain) and 2 grams of Brite Labs jelly wax (GG#4 and Forbidden Fruit strains) to our order and waited for the balance due after applying Exhalence’s generous 25% 4/20 discount. We were jazzed to find jelly wax strains other than those carried at our local shop, especially GG#4. And we were all the more pleased because Exhalence charges $5 less/gram of jelly wax than does our usual retail outlet. The total reached a tad beyond $100, earning us a contest entry (weekend in Las Vegas), and as the budtender returned our change she handed us one of the remaining gift bags.
We drove off in high spirits and headed to our next destination, but not before agreeing that we needed to visit Exhalence more often, especially on Saturdays and Sundays when we can grab extracts at 15% off, or on another day to catch one of the many visiting vendors. We weren’t yet sure of our next 4/20 destination as we drove south on the freeway. We’d planned to take advantage of a 30% discount on jelly wax at one of our usual shops but had received a better deal on the wax at Exhalence. We considered our other go-to dispensary in Studio City and headed more or less in that direction until we recalled a nearby “grand opening” 4/20
We parked on Lankershim Blvd. after failing to find a spot in front of the Vineland St. shop and walked around the triangular block until reaching a sizable parking lot and building, not quite as large as Exhalence, but nonetheless impressive. We were again met by a squad of affable security guards helping a few employees set up tables and balloons. A guard took our medical recommendation and brought us inside for processing as this was our first visit to MMD’s new North Hollywood dispensary. The dispensary had been in this spot for some time but under a different name and ownership. This 4/20 “grand opening” was a celebration of their rebranding as MMD NoHo and they had a variety of discounts and specials in place to mark the occasion.
MMD Noho was more frenetic with customers and staff than Exhalence had been, but it was now later in the morning and more customers were shopping. We took our place in line behind the stanchion and without a wait were called up to the counter by a spirited budtender who greeted and guided us to the extracts. We briefly surveyed the wax but as there were more folks waiting now than at our first stop, we felt a little pressure to be quick. The extracts selection, solid as it was, wasn’t as prolific as Exhalence’s and the only wax discounts today were for the purchase of Raw Garden products. Although we would’ve saved a little more if we’d bought it at Exhalence, we picked another gram Raw Garden sauce at MMD, this time Fruit Fusion #12 (an Indica-dominant Berries and Cream phenotype) with a 76% THC profile.
Our budtender next guided us over to the edibles where we sought potent Indica gummies and hoped to grab 3 Kiva brand Camino 100mg gummies packs for the price of 2, but our knowledgeable budtender advised that the three strains they carried were all hybrids. She instead suggested a brand that was new to us, Plus, and their tins of 5mg/dose, very tasty cannabis-infused gummies. We grabbed 3 Plus Indica “Restore” tins (90mg THC/10mg CBD) and before paying asked about one more item on our shopping list: a standard vape battery. Our lame 4/20 decision was paying $15 for a Heavy Hitters battery just so that we could vape the free Grapewreck cartridge in our Exhalence gift bag. Our kind budtender tried to find a free battery for us, but they were out. She did give us one of MMD’s remaining gift bags which included a pre-roll and other goodies. One of the day’s two 4/20 goodie bags had also included a potent gram of Inhalence Jungle Juice flower and a Rasta-skull lighter.
We departed MMD Noho thinking we might grab a Lime scooter and head back later for the free taco truck, but our 2019 4/20 adventures more or less ended once we were home. We’d made some great purchases at a good price, gotten some free goodies, and visited a new shop. Good times! The Plus gummies are delicious and have helped with insomnia, though we haven’t yet explored their micro-dosing potential. So far 50mg about an hour before bed works well. We enjoyed our MMD experience and look forward to visiting the shop on a less celebratory day to see how it holds up over time. We enjoyed our Exhalence visit even more, as it reinforced our initial positive impression and gave us cause to patronize the shop more often. If storefronts like Exhalence can sustain larger inventories and staff while offering reasonable prices and discounts, consumers will benefit. We at Swedish Flying Saucer will keep doing what we can to make that a reality!