July 18 2018
California begins adult use cannabis sales on Jan.1, and is expected to become the largest market for cannabis. I'm in San Francisco as I write this, headed to L.A. for the next column.
When both states have full legalization, which one's better? So here's how this goes: I decide to get my California medical marijuana card. Google directs me to Nugsmd.com, which has me upload a copy of my Oregon ID and some basic info, including what ails me. I pay $69 and two minutes later a doctor calls me and asks how cannabis helps me with my stress and insomnia. I've barely answered when he says I qualify, and 30 seconds later, my doctor's recommendation arrives in my inbox while we are still talking. He says San Francisco has more liberal rules, allowing those with a MMJ card in if they do not have a California ID—but says when I'm in L.A., I should use delivery services. Points for California for being faster, cheaper and more convenient.
I get recommendations for San Francisco dispensaries, although finding one isn't exactly a problem. At one, I count off less than 50 steps before I'm at the front door of another.
My Lyft driver is 20-something, and when my vape pen falls out of my bag and rolls across the seat, he picks it up and laughs. We trade pens and take a couple hits. "Daaaaahym, man, yours is MUCH better. What IS that?" Point: Oregon.
I visit four dispensaries. The first is divided up into one room each for edibles, flower and concentrates. The flower room has bulletproof glass and a banker style window. Flower is prepackaged, and I can only buy certain strains by the gram, or by 2- to 3.5-gram parcels. I tell the budtender what I will repeat at each stop: that I'm interested in terpenes over THC content, that I want a sativa and indica, and ask if it's organic.
marijuana-2766322_1920.png The concentrate room budtender is both adamant in his assessment that my request for solvent "free concentrates" is "What is up, man. Solvent free is what is up." He's also high AF, and shows me some live resin. I say all resin I have seen is made with butane. He blinks at me several times. "Yeah, well, I mean... this stuff...it's, like, double purged, so, like all the solvents are gone, you know? Plus it's smells real good." Point: Oregon, for budtender knowledge.
I check out their vapor lounge, up a flight of stairs to a loft. It's a large sunlit room filled with couches, bistro tables a pool table and TVs on mute. Bob Marley is playing because this is a cannabis lounge in San Francisco, so of course it is. I count 26 other patrons as I smoke my free pre-roll of GSC.
No one talks to me as I do, then again, "approachable" isn't a term used to describe me.
T he next dispensary has a row of booths 10 feet across the room from the counter selling cannabis. Trading my ID for a freshly sterilized volcano mouthpiece, I vape a bowl of some Durban Poison and watch others shop. Again, no one next to me chats me up. (Point: California. THIS is AWESOME.)
The third dispensary has friendly budtenders with a better understanding of solvent free, and I buy some bubble hash from a farm touting their biodynamic grow methods.
The final dispensary is the best, with a fantastic selection of flower, full melt hash from legendary Frenchy Cannoli and the most knowledgeable budtender yet. They have a lighted magnifying glass at the counter, which showcases their absolute top shelf flower. It's difficult not to buy more.
California wins with ease of access, lower taxes and dispensaries where you can consume on site. Oregon wins with stricter testing standards, better oils, and more craft cannabis. But four isn't much of a sample, as the Bay area has 1,000+ dispensaries, or at least that's anyone's best guess. Regulation is a bit lax for them.
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