Why Consistency Matters in Cannabis Edibles
The story is a familiar one; I decided to try a different company for cannabis edibles and found them ineffective or uncomfortably strong (or weak) due to inconsistency in their manufacturing. Sometimes this is just a mild inconvenience or waste of money but other times it makes for a very sustained, uncomfortable, and inescapable experience. It’s no secret to those that know me, I love Wana gummies. No matter how many times I have them, they’re always the same. Inexpensive, consistent in strength and flavor, and easy for me to find here in Colorado. I’ve yet to be as impressed with another company, though they are slowly catching up. When I purchase a cannabis edible that touts 10mg of THC per serving, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a gummy, chocolate, lollipop, lemonade, or the myriad of other confections I haven’t listed. I want to be able to trust that it’s actually what it says it is.
Regulating Cannabis Edible Consistency
My home state began regulating potency in the middle of last year, with a whopping 179 page document outlining all of Colorado cannabis edible rules. It allows for a 15% variance, meaning that for a standardized 10mg dose, can be anywhere between 8.5-11.5mg. For someone like me who routinely eats 30mg at a shot, that subtle variation isn’t a huge deal, but would be for friends who consume a puny 2.5mg dose and are stoned. It can be a major issue. Even the National Institute of Health addressed that “severe cannabis-induced behavioral impairment are common [in edibles], experienced by 65 percent of medicinal cannabis users”. That’s an enormous pool of people!
While there is a much smaller variance in cannabis edibles these days, I still run into problems. Labs only test portions of the products, so who’s to assure that the entire batch is consistent? The labs themselves have run into issues also, with some being found to have fraudulent certifications or simply erroneous results. In some states even if a lab admits they made an error, the results are permanent, and can result in destruction of the entire batch of products. So what do we do?
Cannabis Edible Taste Matters
While there is always a place in my stomach for some homemade hash brownies, major companies need good manufacturing processes when they hit the market to assure a consistent and delicious product. Make no mistake, making edibles is a major manufacturing endeavor, despite often letting you think they are a mom and pop operation. Consumers are growing more demanding and when I have 50 different choices of edibles at a given time to choose from, if it’s not great (potency or taste), I will likely never try it again. The bad ones or the inconsistent ones, will die out. In the same way that a Budweiser® tastes the same if I drink it in China, Milwaukee, or Amsterdam, companies should be able to replicate their edibles in the same manor.
So far, Wana is still the only one to impress me in this way but I hope the industry proves me wrong. Step up manufacturers of cannabis edibles. Show us how its done.
Vaping has become a popular way to consume cannabis and there are a variety of ways you can vape cannabis to get the results you’re looking for. The differences between vaping dry flower and vaping oils (also called concentrates) have long been debated. Both types of cannabis consumption are valid and both have different effects and uses.
Cannabis consumers tend to be very loyal to their preferences between vaping dry flower or vaping oils. It’s hard to know what will work for you since each person is going to react differently and have different goals when using cannabis while vaping. Neither option is wrong, it’s just about what works for you.
In a survey report from TVape, a whopping 86% of the 700 respondents agreed to the statement that they “felt generally better after vaporizing as opposed to smoking”. One thing for sure, people do seem to prefer vaporizing to smoking.
If you aren’t sure about the differences vaporizing cannabis or vaping oils yet, that’s ok. There’s a lot of research out there and it’s hard to narrow it all down. You probably even have friends telling you one way is better than the other. With that in mind, here are some concrete differences between vaping dry flower and vaping concentrates.
What Is Cannabis Concentrate?
A cannabis concentrate is a product stripped of the excess plant material and impurities leaving behind only the most desirable parts of the cannabis. When compared ounce to ounce with natural cannabis flower, concentrates have a greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Concentrates come in many forms, like wax, creams, lotions, and oils. It gets so complicated that UCLA came up with a whole page on cannabis concentrate terminology. They all have their own particular uses but vaping with oil is what you’re looking for information on at this point.
Understanding the composition of oil will help you understand the differences between vaping flower and vaping oil.
What Are The Benefits Of Vaping Cannabis Oil?
Concentrates like oil have a higher percentage of THC when compared to dried flower cannabis. This gives the oil a more potent punch when vaped. For patients using cannabis as a treatment for symptoms like anxiety or pain, this is a good thing. It acts more quickly and is a more powerful dose of medication to really attack the symptoms and calm them more efficiently at times.
Vaping oil recreationally also has similar effects. Many recreational users will find they reach their preferred level of high while vaping oil. Again, this has a lot to do with the higher concentration of THC in the oil.
When it comes to cannabis oil there’s definitely a less is more factor. A small amount of oil may not look helpful but it’s definitely extremely powerful.
Oils are also easier to use on the go since they come in easily carried forms. Pre-filled cartridges are almost impossible to mess up, and they’re so portable you don’t have to worry about not having your cannabis with you when you need it. If you get hit by a sudden wave of panic you have something fast-acting on hand that you can use right away.
[Related: Vessel Vape Pen Review]
Is Processed Cannabis Safe in Oil Form?
Harvard’s Peter Grinspoon can’t answer his own question in this post on the safety of CBD, let alone THC. He asks the questions and then dodges it, so it will be hard to get a definitive answer.
Remember how concentrates are made? They’re stripped of all parts of the plant, which includes the terpenes. Since terpenes in marijuana are part of what gives medicinal benefits that can be an issue if you’re vaping to treat a medical condition.
Terpenes are often added back in with artificial flavorings but it’s not quite the same. It’s sort of like drinking apple juice and thinking you’re getting the same nutrition as an actual apple. This doesn’t mean oil has zero benefits, in fact, you’ve already read about the many benefits oil vaping does have. It’s just something to be aware of.
There’s also something to be said about removing the ritual involved in preparing the dry flower version. Some cannabis consumers prefer the ritual and find it to be part of their calming encounter with marijuana consumption. Again, that comes down to personal preference but a pre-filled cartridge isn’t going to give you that option.
What Are The Benefits Of Vaporizing Dry Flower?
Dry flower (or dry herbs) have all the parts of the plant included. That means you’re getting all the natural terpenes and cannabinoids straight from the plant itself.
Vaping cannabis flower gives you the full aroma and taste of the plant as well. Some cannabis consumers claim that vaping the dry herb is a fuller, richer experience that can’t be mimicked by vaping cannabis oil.
The psychoactive effects are different as well. You’re already aware of the THC difference but vaping dry flower creates a different effect overall. The high from vaping dried flower is going to be more like the high from smoking a joint or bowl. If that’s the effect you are seeking, then vaping dry flower is a great option for you.
What Are The Negatives Of Vaping Dry Cannabis?
Because it’s a plant that isn’t regulated yet (as it’s not federally legal yet) there’s no way to certify it as organic. While specific growers may use organic practices, overall there’s no industry standard on what pesticides are or are not ok to use. It’s possible you could be exposed to pesticides passed on through vaping dry herb.
Research also waivers on the effects of vaping dry flower on your lungs. Nothing is concrete on either side of the debate, but there is some question as to the long term effects of vaping dry flower. These same discussions are not being had when it comes to vaping cannabis in oil form.
It’s nothing that is conclusive enough to discourage you from vaping dry herb but it’s something you should still be aware of. If you have lung issues currently you should speak with your doctor to see what they think is best regarding your own personal health issues and what types of cannabis you choose to consume.
You’re the only one who can make the best choice about which way you want to consume your cannabis. It’s okay if you try vaping both dry flower and cannabis oil before deciding which you like best, but before you decide, remember that not even Harvard’s PhDs have an easy time answering these questions yet.
You can also consult your doctor, a dispensary employee, or cannabis expert to help you make a more informed decision. Whichever option is best for you, you’re bound to enjoy the great benefits of vaping cannabis. Find what works for you and stick with that. You’ll be more than thrilled when you do.
It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse. The state hasn’t figured out yet how to license growers. There are still plenty of retail operations (provisioning centers) in the state, but there’s little flower to be had. Someone in Michigan government thinks they’re doing a good job. They aren’t.
It’s no longer just the medical cannabis market that has draconian fees and regulations. Now regulations for the recreational market are coming. And the fees are cutting out the little guy…again. Michigan’s actions and proposed regulatory rules for applying for a grow or dispensary license will ensure the black market remains larger than the legal cannabis market. Big moneyed players are the only ones who can get in the rec game. And when there’s no product in the legal recreational marketplace (dispensaries), there will be plenty of money flowing into the black market. Michigan is going to lose 100s of millions of dollars to the same market where it has always lost potential tax revenue. It’s the illegal market.
The Michigan Cannabis Market is in Deep Trouble
The Michigan cannabis market is at a dangerous crossroads and it’s the fault of the new governor, plain and simple. Governor Whitmer (D) was elected last November on a campaign promise to normalize the Michigan medical cannabis market and develop the best adult use market in the U.S. In the face of current evidence, the promises are hot air.
New Michigan Cannabis Licensing Agency
Governor Whitmer dissolved the old bureaucracy licensing retail and grow operations. She then initiated a new regulatory department called Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). The MRA is supposed to be efficiently granting licenses. They’re not. It’s run by the same person who previously held up licenses, Andrew Brisbo. The people at the regulatory agency are breaking their arms patting themselves on their collective back for the good work they’re doing. The MRA is not doing good work, or enough of it to help the state markets now. If they were doing a good job, the dispensary shelves would not be bare.
Street Reality for Michigan Cannabis
The reality is quite different on the street. Medical cannabis patients are hurting. Effective medicinal products are not available, including Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). RSO is reputed to have an analgesic effect on cancer. There is at least one lawsuit because of the lack of product some cancer patients need. It’s not going to get better soon unless the courts step in once again and tell the regulators in Michigan to get their act together.
So, What Happened in Michigan?
A quick recapitulation of the facts; Gov. Whitmer dissolved the department of the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in charge of licensing both growers and retail operators. She replaced it with a new department called the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). This simply substitutes one bureaucracy for another. Both the old LARA and the new MRA are run by the same person, Andrew Brisbo. Brisbo gives the impression he does not care about the medical cannabis market or its patients.
The MRA has granted only twelve grow licenses to date. Twelve grow licenses for well over 100 licensed stores in Michigan? There’s just not enough cannabis to go around. Currently, dispensaries have very little cannabis flower product on the shelves.
Michigan’s Cannabis Market
Michigan growers have little interest in growing flower, as concentrates are much more profitable.
Michigan caregivers (the original growers of cannabis) gave way to an unregulated hodgepodge of stores. This was the original failure of the state; A failure to regulate the burgeoning medical cannabis retail market. The adult use market is supposed to start later this year. If it happens, the shelves will be bare.
Currently, there are about 300,000 registered medical cannabis patients in Michigan. If they only smoked two grams per week, per person, about 13,000 pounds of weed per week would be needed to keep patients supplied with cannabis.
13,000 pounds/week works out to more than 50,000 pounds a month. That’s a lot of weed. It takes at least 20 weeks to go from planted seed or clone to cured harvest. Twelve growers, no matter how big, can’t handle that. 100 big growers, maybe. How does Michigan expect to grow the market when adult use comes online? The simple answer is, they can’t. Dispensaries only have 12 growers from which to buy. Past caregivers can either dump what they have or divert it to the black market. Guess what is going to happen? The black market will thrive!
What Michigan Needs to Do to Fix the Problem
Here are 5 things Michigan needs to do right now. Not three or six months from now. Now!
- Recognize cannabis is business. The state gets tax revenue from these businesses. In order to operate and thrive, businesses needs inventory. Cannabis flower inventory in the market right now is scant, and has been for over a year.
- Allow caregivers (and let’s call them small growers, since that’s what they are) to sell their product to the dispensaries.
- Open up the licensing system for smaller growers with smaller fees.Now everyone has to show at least $150,000 in assets, with $37,500 in liquid assets. That’s a non-starter for many people who might like to become a grower. The current Michigan cannabis licensing fee scale is pretty steep. This takes smaller growers out of the cannabis business.Convert “caregivers” to “growers” and make them ’boutique’ growers for a new, craft category. Treat them like the state treats wineries or distillers. Allow the ’boutique’ growers to grow 50 to 100 plants. Create a lower fee for smaller grow operations. This allows smaller, disadvantaged communities access into the marketplace. What a win-win!
- Regulate the Michigan cannabis model after the alcoholic beverage market. Both are controlled substances. Both need regulation at some level, especially because both are revenue streams for the state.
- Let growers and dispensaries have a say in how they’re regulated. The best interests for both groups will regulate the free flow of legal cannabis products in Michigan. Make sensible regulations and implement them slowly enough to not disrupt the market.
The Current Reality
Excess cannabis grown by past ‘caregivers’ is currently not allowed in dispensaries. Until earlier this year it was. Now it is going to the illegal market. Where does the state think it’s going? Do they think growers going to destroy their harvests? What should the small cannabis farmers do? They need to make a living. The cannabis is going to the black market, that’s what is happening. Since January 2019, 3 times Michigan failed to implement a reasonable and thoughtful approach to medical cannabis.
Get your head out of your nether regions, Michigan. You have patients, and soon adult consumers, wanting to pay tax dollars to the state.
Even if you offered me a million bucks, there’s no way I could articulate a perfect cannabis strain to you; they simply don’t exist. No one strain has everything. Ever. Sometimes I want a light pineapple flavor with a Sativa buzz to send me to the stars. Other times simply bottomless sleep. Maybe it’s pain, a migraine, nausea, or maybe I just decide take down two pizzas; let’s discuss a few…
What Drives Your Cannabis Strain Selection?
Despite aroma coming to my mind first, taste is actually the most interesting for me. An often-overlooked factor, taste requires excellent technical execution during the grow, with good nutrients and more importantly, a proper flush at the end. Nothing sucks worse than having some bitterness on the burn because of a little fertilizer late in the flowering cycle. It ruins many strains for me. Similarly, this can be an absence of flavor depending on the micronutrients or other issues.
Superior Taste of a Cannabis Strain
I remember making a bonsai tree many years ago with a phenotype of Jack Herer, which was very unique in its pineapple flavor and aroma. We had 4 main types going around California at the time, and by now there could be 10 more, but this one was special! This little plant was an absolute wreck to grow and a nightmare to even find. It had tiny buds, took a long time to grow, was sensitive to minor fluctuations in the pH and growing process, yet despite these shortcomings, the flavor was out of this world. The effects were too. It’s the whole package that made it exceptional. But while the effects were great, and the energy high, the flavor that lingered was what made this memorable.
That Jack Herer represents a fine and very expensive wine to savor but did little for pain; that’s where Granddaddy Purple comes in. I know you’re probably thinking to yourself, “hey, that’s old and there are newer and stronger strains”. You’d be right. It’s old, having been around for almost 20 years and there are indeed stronger strains with THC levels over 30%. For me it’s important to define potency as it refers to the desired effects. If I’m in pain, I don’t actually need the THC. I’ll opt for CBD and other cannabinoid compounds and terpenes found in Granddaddy Purps over other strains, because of its overall effect and possible entourage effects.
Cannabis for Gluttony and Self Loathing
We all have those days we want to end early, where everything was terrible, the sky fell, your feet hurt, and you want to release your sorrows for a bit; here comes Trainwreck. Sure, the last time this happened I woke up next to the remains of a medium pizza, 3 cinnabons, and a pint of ice-cream, but who says that’s a bad thing?! It’s like taking a sledgehammer to the face; it’s unwelcomed but it gets the job done. Thinking about it now, I can almost feel the terpenes emanating off of the buds. It’s potent in THC, in terpenes, and often when harvested a little later, CBD and CBN. The flavor is also like a train wreck but no strain is perfect.
Party Time Cannabis Strains
Verde has an incredible Super Lemon Haze that nails almost every category at once; incredible flavor, citrus aroma, dense buds, potency that gets my head swimming but still allows me to function and at only $10 a gram, it’s a great deal. At social events, it keeps my energy stays high and allows me to function. In high doses the heady stone seeps into the room, but can also provide laser focus when you end up inadvertently grilling chicken for 25 people. Most of the purple Indicas would put me to sleep, Jack Herer would turn me into mush, and Trainwreck: well I’d probably try to eat all 25 pieces of chicken.
These are only a few of the limitless characteristics and strains I enjoy; and those same strains are going to differ further when they hop from a bong, to a pipe, to a vape. The possibilities are endless. Next time you pick out your next bud, maybe ask yourself, what it is that you’re actually hoping for.
Every time I harvest cannabis, I make a conscious choice; do I want to harvest a heady, clean buzz that borders on psychedelic, or a descent into the depths of my couch, with my eyelids growing heavier by the second, and the room slowly falling dark? Harvest timing (among other things) has an enormous effect on the properties of any strain you’re growing. At it’s extremes, it can make even the best Sativas act like an Indicas or vice versa.
It’s About the Trichomes
At the simplest level (it’s still very complicated), it comes down to trichome development. To understand this we need to understand what a trichome is and why we should care.
Photo: Royal Seed Company
Trichomes are small glandular hairs found on Cannabis plants, which probably first developed as a protection mechanism for our favorite plant. If you’ve ever looked at a poster of a big juicy bud while waiting in your favorite dispensary, you’ve certainly seen trichomes. They function to keep away insects just like the way capsaicin in hot peppers exists to stop animals from eating them. The irony is that these same compounds such as THC, CBD, and terpenes, are the ones we’re interested in. As the plants develop, the trichomes start out clear, progressing through cloudy into amber. Each phase has very different qualities.
Earlier Cannabis Harvest
When I talk about an early harvest, it means most of the trichomes are cloudy. When trichomes are cloudy but still whitish, their mix of chemistry provides an extremely clean sort of psychedelic experience. On a haze, it allows my consumers to toke as much as they desire, boosting the psychedelic qualities while simultaneously bringing “couch lock” down to almost zero. It’s very energetic and energizing. You won’t become sedated, and the effect can mimic narcotics or other compounds. Many may doubt me, but I’ve absolutely hallucinated on weed harvested in this way.
Later Cannabis Harvest
I’ve taken those same strains and harvested later (some trichomes are amber and some are cloudy) and produced something reminiscent of a hybrid. Lemon Haze is a favorite for this since later harvesting boosts its flavor. Feelings of couchlock are reintroduced, with higher levels of CBD forming in the amber trichomes as they oxidize and degrade. Harvest timing is a tool I use to customize different strains. There are drawbacks for either earlier or later harvest.
Earlier vs Later Cannabis Harvest
The more time I allow for my plants to flower, the easier it is to pack on more weight. It’s in my best interest to make my buds heavy, compact, and potent, for both my bottom line and my consumers experience. No one wants fluffy buds but I’ll talk about what I look for when purchasing fresh flower later. It’s all a balancing act, where a day or two can tip the scales. The longer I wait, the more amber trichomes I have, the more THC breaks down and forms CBD (and other compounds), and eventually flavor suffers. However, if I’m too early those same compounds have yet to peak. In some cases, this may be what I want.
Harvesting Time for Medicinal Cannabis
When growing strains for medicinal purposes, I usually harvest late. They wouldn’t be considered recreational by most consumers due to their highly sedative effects, which is why demand is generally lower (less demand means less profitability). Most have massive CBD contents and very little THC, which was aided by a late harvest. Cancer patients don’t care about getting high, they just want to be able to eat and sleep. This accomplishes that goal (in conjunction with good breeding).
On the flip side, the last time I grew Trainwreck I harvested a portion early for a more recreational feel and it blew my mind. I sacrificed a small amount of weight, which would have gained back by letting it continue to grow. The earlier harvest created a product on another level of high. The trichomes were mostly milky, and lent to an incredibly clean buzz. Early harvests also cause diminished terpenes such as Myrcene which are notorious for couchlock, helping drive a mind-altering experience. For some, it’s a bit too strong and may not be a pleasant experience so choose wisely.
The Typical Harvest Time
When in doubt, a normal harvest where 25% of the trichomes are amber and the rest are milky is fine. It’s (fairly) standard and will still give you amazing products. For those of us in the industry wanting to tweak strains a bit further, timing is one of many tools available. Next time you’re curious, grab a magnifying glass and take a look for yourself.
About the Author
Joey d’Artagnan holds a multiple degrees from top institutions including a bachelors in chemistry. He also has comprehensive education in botany and horticulture, and has spent over 10 years consulting extensively for both the craft beer and cannabis industries. His experience includes both indoor and outdoor production-scale grows, encompassing soil, hydroponic, and aeroponic methods. Additionally, Joey has developed cloning, breeding, and edible programs for a variety of top-tier cannabis and hemp operations spanning both coasts. Joey currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.
NOTE: If you have a valid medical marijuana card from any legal state, you can purchase at Michigan dispensaries. Michigan has reciprocity with any state that has legalized medical cannabis.
Ann Arbor Medical Cannabis Dispensaries: Review
Cannabis in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI is ground zero for the cannabis legalization movement. Way back in 1972 Ann Arbor decriminalized marijuana. The city council overwhelmingly voted to make possession a $5 fine as a misdemeanor. Inflation has ravaged the fine and now it’s $25, but … WAIT!!! Cannabis is legal in Michigan. As of the Nov 2018 election, there are no fines or arrests for having cannabis in your possession. While it is legal to possess, it is not legal to smoke in public. Nor can you buy it yet without a valid medical marijuana card. In 1972, Ann Arbor was the first city in the U.S. to recognize that people were consuming cannabis and the police were spending too much time ‘busting’ people with cannabis. These people were mostly students at the little university in town; Michigan. Fast forward. In 2008 Michigan legalized medical marihuana (the state’s retro spelling for some reason), and Ann Arbor was at the forefront again with dispensaries, called provisioning centers in Michigan legalese.
There are lots of dispensaries in Ann Arbor. How are they run? Do any stand out from the pack? Yes.
As on now in 2019, there are only medical marijuana shops in Michigan. Adult use cannabis shops will open in 2020. The current crop of dispensaries in Ann Arbor are a microcosm of dispensaries all over the country. While cannabis is legal in many places, is not normalized anywhere yet. If you have any doubts, you need only look as far as Colorado where the dispensaries mostly have a sameness to them. Little (or big) anteroom at the front where you can sit while you wait to go into the sanctum sanctorum where the ‘stuff’ is kept and sold. And only one person is allowed in at a time…usually. Michigan dispensaries are built on that model. At the end of the day, these are all retail stores. They have retail design that makes people feel comfortable or not. They treat customers as if they really wanted them back. Or not. It’s retail. The same as a liquor store. There are too many dispensaries in Ann Arbor to review for this story and if I left you out, I apologize.
Almost all dispensaries in Ann Arbor offer a ‘deal’ the first time you sign up to purchase their products. And all will be happy to send you a daily text about “Medible Mondays” or “WOWIE Wednesdays.” Rather than a daily deal which is designed to bring people into the dispensaries frequently, I’d rather have good, stable prices. Prices that reflect the buzz and not the percent of THC in the flower. But that’s my own axe to grind. Currently, almost all prices are reflected in the quantity of THC and not the quality of the whole flower.
What Was Reviewed and how?
This analysis consists of my thoughts on each of the dispensaries reviewed. I considered the ambiance, as in “How does it feel inside? The selection of products How balanced is the selection? Is there ‘something for me? The knowledge of the budtenders. Do the budtenders know and understand the medical uses for each strain along with the terpene profile? And finally, price. I won’t say too much about that, because mostly they’re in line with one another and sadly the prices seem to be wholly dependent of percentages. The percent of THC certainly doesn’t have a real bearing on the quality of the cannabis. That depends on a more holistic view of the plant; THC, CBD terpenes and other cannabinol compounds present in the mix.
A word about packaging. Most dispensaries pre-weigh their cannabis flower. I don’t mind that so much although I don’t get any choice about which particular buds I might want to buy. Most (but not all) dispensaries sell their single grams in a teensy plastic zip lock bag. Personally, I dislike (dislike might not be a strong enough word) the “zip-lock” packaging. It’s prone to delivering dried and/or crushed bud and that’s not good. Larger quantities usually come in jars which are much better than the little plastic bags, but again, no choice of buds. The most common packaging I’ve seen in several states is a “pill jar” package which has the advantage of coming in several sizes, is almost, but not quite water proof for keeping your bud fresh. The very best packaging I’ve ever seen is a metal and cardboard tin where While I don’t necessarily want the biggest buds, I do photograph them a lot so a bigger bud is sometimes what I need. At home, I store my bud in small mason jars with a 62% humidity pouch. It keeps it fresh that way.
Ann Arbor, MI Medical Dispensaries
Om of Medicine (112 S. Main St.) – One of the older shops in Ann Arbor. They used to be on the third floor of a building on Main Street, but recently moved into a Main Street storefront that gives them far easier access. I really enjoy their friendliness and selection. Always a smile. And a lot of good usable knowledge. Once you’ve shown your card and ID, you can walk into their very large lobby with lots of green plants on one of the walls along with a whole bunch of art. When It’s your turn, someone comes to get you and you’re ushered into a small room where you can make your purchases. If you have a specific effect you’re looking for, they will fill the bill.
Bloom City Club (423 Miller Ave.) – Operated by women, this dispensary has a nice homey and relaxed feeling that just makes you feel good. At Bloom, everything you buy is weighed individually. This is only one of two dispensaries that I’ve seen in Ann Arbor that does this. Maybe this will disappear, but I hope not. It’s a kind of personalization that customers like and maybe why the store is almost always crowded. As long as they keep doing it, there is a selection of flower kept in individual humidified containers and you can pick out the buds you want, if you’d like. Their flower selection is wide and deep and their various concentrates and edibles they sell is also pretty vast. Bloom certainly goes out of their way to make you feel good about what you’re purchasing. An interesting note about Bloom is they seem to have high turnover in staff. The last time I was in (this week) there wasn’t anyone I recognized.
LiV Wellness & Cafe, 603 E. William St.— Not easy to find even though right downtown by the UofM campus. A tiny door wedged between parts of a popular pizza shop on William and Maynard and upstairs. When you do find it, Liv is worth the search. They probably has the best selection of cannabis in the city. It might not be the fanciest, but it’s a huge selection. Besides Bloom City Club, Liv is the only store that weighs the bud right in front of your eyes. While I do enjoy kief and water wash bubble, their selections of concentrates and edibles is large. The budtenders are friendly and generally possess good knowledge of different cannabis strains.
Greenstone Society, 338 S. Ashley St. – This dispensary is less than a block from where I live, so it’s a natural for me. I’ve had different experiences here. Once I went there and the budtender was very um, clipped. It was as though she couldn’t wait to get me out of her hair. Certainly didn’t make me feel good. I’d have to say retail was not her calling. However, every other time I’ve been there, I’ve had incredibly nice experiences. Their selection might not be the largest, but it’s certainly good quality in everything.
Treecity Health Collective, 2730 Jackson Ave. – This dispensary is right next to I-94 at Jackson Road. It’s not easy to find, situated in a corner of a little strip center. Pleasant entry area where you show your ID and sing the crazy stuff they, and every other dispensary in Michigan, make you sign every time you go in. Inside the shop part has lots of glass cases, The selection is usually small, but high quality. The budtenders here are generally quite knowledgeable and the packaging for anything over a gram is sealed glass. I kind of like that.
Medicine Man of Ann Arbor, 2793 Plymouth Road – Out in the ‘burbs of East Ann Arbor, Medicina Man is a bit different. It’s on the 2nd floor of a small office space on Plymouth Rd. You have to drive into the lot and find it on the east side of the building, then walk up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, you essentially walk into the retail part of the shop. Their selection is pretty well curated, but I will say I got some dried out and not very good bud there once. Budtenders were modestly knowledgeable, but enough for an experienced user. Some of the other dispensaries might be a better choice for a newer consumer.
Arbors Wellness, 321 E. Liberty – Located in an old house in the center of town, Arbor’s Wellness does a good job with product and budtenders with product knowledge. The packaging is standard with grams in zip bags. One thing I’ve found; If you’re walking on Liberty, you’ll be able to see the little sign, but where do you go in. You have to go to a side door through a path that feels a slight bit like a maze. When you go in, it can be a bit disconcerting as to where to check in with your medical ID and driver’s license, then when you leave, there’s more of a maze to get out. Maybe it’s a test?
Exclusive Provisioners – In an industrial Park on the far south side of Ann Arbor. Walk in and a little window (which I missed) was on the right. That’s it. Bare lobby nothing at all in there. No place to sit. Fellow at the front window was a bit gruff, but that was OK, no harm done. This company used to be called Canniseur (yep, close to our name) and were located closer to downtown. I don’t know when or why they moved. I’d been in there a long time ago, and I do recall it being operated by hippie types. The same people are there. They are sweet, but a bit of a throwback. Their knowledge was OK, but one of the budtenders didn’t even know what a terpene is. There wasn’t a ton of thought put into the design of the interior. Just some old store counter (probably from an auction) along three walls and that’s it. There might have been a poster on the wall, but it was innocuous. Selection was just OK and the quality was good. The prices seemed about the same or a dollar or so higher than almost all the other shops.
Arborside, 1818 Packard St. – Packard is one of the main streets in Ann Arbor. This store only has a store number on it and the numbers are big, but as long as you know the number, you’re good. A bit strange inside, but nice. After you check in, there are lots of places you can sit. When you’re called inside, the budtenders are quite nice and knowledgeable. I can’t really say it’s decorated inside. There were posters, but that’s about it. The selection, while not vast proved to be of better than average quality. I liked that.
Peoples Choice, 2245 W. Liberty St. – I visited this place once. It’s in a little light industrial strip center, so you have to look for them. Apparently they did not reopen after the Michigan craziness of January and February, even though the storefront is there. They do have a business in Jackson about 30 miles west of Ann Arbor. For now, even though they say they’re going to reopen, they are out of business.
Adult use of cannabis is legal in Colorado. So why do some dispensaries make me feel like it’s criminal act to purchase weed?
On a recent trip to Colorado, I visited four “dispensaries”. Previous to my Colorado trip, I had spent a considerable amount of time in Michigan dispensaries. I’ve never felt like a criminal in Michigan. In Colorado, just like in both Michigan and Washington, you have to show identification proving you’re of age. Then you can walk into the store and purchase your cannabis.
In Michigan, where medical sales are legal, salesperson relationships seem the same as buying clothes or food or anything else. However, I walked away from three of the four Colorado “dispensaries” I visited with an unshakable feeling that I was doing something that was still illegal. It started the moment I walked in the door at one of the dispensaries. Two of the other three were ‘easier’, but they weren’t exactly consumer friendly. Perhaps it’s Colorado’s laws that dictate the method of allowing customers in the door. It’s also the fault of those three unfriendly shops I went into. The fourth was more like Michigan.
My Denver Colorado Cannabis Shopping Experiences
The first dispensary I walked into was Native Roots in downtown Denver. Before I could even walk into the shop I had to slip my drivers license through a little bank teller window slot. The person in the small booth checked out my license…thoroughly. It felt kind of creepy. There were six of us crowded into a small anteroom. We had to pass this ‘scrutiny’ before we could walk into the shop. After about a minute of checking the computer, then waving a little ultraviolet lamp and doing other sundry things, the ID “checker” allowed me into the showroom. The other 5 people were still behind me.
When I got in the store, it was pleasantly nice and well decorated, yet the store gave me a kind of itchy feeling. The salesperson conjured up old images of dealing with a slick, used car salesperson. Not exactly warm and welcoming, and I had a feeling I was being both watched and duped at the same time.
It also seemed like the salesperson wanted me to buy something and get out as quickly as they could make me decide. HIs entire body language and verbiage said as much. He just wanted to sell me the product and hustle me out the door. Why? So, the police wouldn’t find out I was in there buying legitimate goods? Did I smell bad? I guess I’ll never know.
The combination of the entry and the sales approach would have me never walking into one of their shops again. Native Roots has many locations in Colorado. Don’t walk into any of them if you want to feel like a criminal. None the other dispensaries were quite as bad as Native Roots. Native Roots made me feel like a criminal.
In Aspen, I shopped at a dispensary named Silverpeak Apothecary. Silverpeak is a vertically integrated company, which makes them different from most operations. Seed to weed is what I call it. They were growers and retailers.
After the perfunctory checking of the ID, the first person I met was so overbearing with his ‘knowledge’ that I almost walked out. I may have become a little tart toward him, but he did the one thing a salesperson should never do: Tell me what I already know without first ascertaining what I might know. Not fun and not nice. And I know why – he was never trained in sales.
The driver’s license approach was much less invasive feeling as our IDs were only checked before we walked in. Other than the overbearing sales pitch, it was a better experience but still one where I felt a bit like I was doing something not quite legal. Silverpeak also wanted me in and out as quickly as they could sell me something. The worst part was the ‘magic’. I placed an order and it came out from the ‘back room’ on a silver tray, where it was put in containers. Mysterious. Was I getting what I ordered? I’ll never know.
Telluride was a different scene. More laid back and far more open than Aspen. The first shop I went into was a chain store; Green Dragon. Quite nice to talk to, but the manager had to give the ‘canned’ talk to newbie visitors to the shop. He had to outline about the dangers of marijuana and the legal aspects of having it on their person. It was a draconian speech and one he was required to give in the chain I was in. This made my experience feel quasi-legal. It was tedious to listen to, even if I knew he had to give it.
Then there was a little stand-alone shop; The Green Room. Not a chain, not vertically integrated. Just a store and manager that could not have been any nicer. Asked to see my ID and after he saw I was over 21, we had a lovely chat and I wound up buying something from him.
Why couldn’t all the Colorado stores be like The Green Room?
The Green Room is an independent shop. The manager DOES NOT like the chains. After seeing how the chain’s operate and treat their customers, I can understand why. If the chains continue to treat customers the way I experienced it, the small independent shops don’t have a lot to worry about.
Colorado was an interesting, fascinating experience. Personally, I’ll shop with the independent stores, especially if they have relationships with sustainable and reputable growers. It’s fascinating to see how different stores have reacted to legal cannabis and how differently they operate their shops.