Our First Visit To The SF Valley’s Legal Weed Shops

Just some stuff I picked up at the store on the way home, January 2, 2018. Photo by Mr. Ubetchakoff for the Los Angeles Beat.

I can hardly express the joy it just gave me to write that headline.

I get it, I know that Californians have had it easier than most where weed is concerned, for decades now. I lived in the eastern US in the mid 1980s, and I personally knew at least half a dozen young men and women whose lives had been irreparably damaged by pot busts when they were teenagers. And, there but for the grace of God went I.

It was sheer luck that I’d moved away to attend college right at the time that a genuine undercover narc embedded himself in my town, and quickly became the go-to guy for herb, with the help of one treasonous local asshole. This Pig/ Scumbag buddy team proceeded to entrap many of my friends in an operation that spanned multiple townships and police departments.

I don’t believe they ever got close to a grower, or a supplier. The people I knew who had their lives fucked over by it were all people like me, who might have wanted to buy twenty bucks’ worth, and went to that guy when everybody else was out.

One person I know was just around at the time someone else’s deal was going down, hoping somebody would light a joint and pass it his way. He simply picked up a bag of weed and handed it to someone else, at their request. “Hey, give him this.” “Oh sure, here you go.” And with that, he got himself hauled out of bed by the cops at six in the morning and thrown into the justice system. “Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor?” became a sweaty question for him until the end of time. The amount of sheer effort, and money wasted, and lives ruined in an attempt to, what? Teach kids a lesson about the evils of smoking pot? It still galls me to this day.

So, the idea that this is never going to happen to anybody in California, just for wishing some fucking body might pass a joint their way, is reason for me to celebrate tonight. And instead of getting a bottle of champagne, I decided to hit the newly-opened weed shops. 

Oh man… WEED SHOPS. How far we have come, you know? Even though as a Californian, I knew I wasn’t that scared of getting busted with a small amount on me, it was still sometimes hard to get a hold of. Remember the Drought Of 86? Now, it’s as easy as picking up a bottle of wine on the way to the picnic.

Only thing is, I read in the paper that certain cities had not gotten their shit together to actually open on January 1. And what great news, LA is one. Other cities had big lines at their grand openings yesterday. We, reportedly, got nothing. Our chance as Angelenos to wait in big lines for bags of weed will just have to wait.

But hey, aren’t there ALREADY pot dispensaries operating for medical users? I wondered if I still needed a medical recommendation card to go into one of those places.

From my unscientific survey of two places in the North Valley – no, you no longer need a med card to enter a pot shop. And as of today, there were no lines to speak of. (Edit – As of January 12, this appears not to be the case anymore, if it ever was, see our addendum at the end of the page.)

The two spots I visited were literally right around the corner from each other, and I got served at both with only an ID. What’s more, “first time buyer” incentives from medical-use days were still being applied. I was offered a discount price on my first eighth of anything at Spot A and the same deal at Spot B. The two shops are so close to each other, so if you’re interested in picking up more than a few grams, I’d encourage you to go into both without moving your car.

Of the two, Spot A was the bigger and better-stocked, especially if you’re looking for concentrates. The budtenders are friendly and helpful, and made good suggestions. I found my preference for Storch Labs products is shared by the folks here, but they were out of my favorite crumble wax. So I took the plunge on a few homemade Moonrocks.

Moonrocks are buds that have been drenched with hash oil, then rolled in kief. I got some of the official/ branded stuff, as produced by hip-hop artists Kurupt and Dr. Zodiak, last year and thought it was fun, and certainly potent. But it seemed quite expensive for the weight. I thought the kief coating was a bit wasteful, in that it starts falling apart the minute you take it home, and I didn’t like that they put candy flavoring in it, like the stuff they put in peach-flavored cigars.

This place’s variation was priced considerably lower, had just enough kief on top to turn the oil glaze a semi-solid consistency, and no flavor additives. It smokes up nicely in a pipe with a lighter, so for those who like a taste of something potent once in a while but don’t go in for dabs, this is a nice alternative to hash. I’m enjoying this homemade version more than I did the real thing, especially now that I have twice as much of it.

It’s fun to stare at multiple jars of big old dank buds and ask yourself, “what shall it be today? Maybe – a little bit of this and a little bit of that!” Ask your budtender! What’s fresh? What will keep me alert and creative, as opposed to, what will make me zone out on the couch? What will improve my Mario Kart scores?

I ended up splitting with the Moonrock and a house pre-roll, which was a bit dry tasting but pretty nice on the head, I must say.

Spot B is a bit smaller of an operation, but their jar stash is quality, and I was quite happy with the eighth of Purple Kush I brought home. I also encountered a new brand of crumble wax called Vader, which had a promising debut tonight, with more adventures to be noted in future days. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the realm of concentrates, and even if I’m in no hurry to keep pace with all the blinding science, I say, Godspeed you crazy kids.

(Ed. note, although I enjoyed the Vader stuff at first, I found it did have a more noticeable chemical taste than some others. Although it’s priced a little lower than the competition, I’d probably stick to the high end where concentrates are concerned. So far I’m happy with Storch Labs and Nameless Genetics and would try anything new they came up with.)

It was interesting to note that the brands offered from place to place were considerably different, so if you’re looking for a particular kind, you might want to call ahead.

So, there’s no grand openings in LA, and no big lines, but yes, Virginia, you can buy weed. Unbelievably for this town, it’s a soft launch with no fanfare, but it’s for real.

I would encourage anyone who smokes pot, and knows where one of those medical pads is near their house, to go into it this week. Need help finding one? Get the Weedmaps app or just type “Marijuana” into Yelp and check out reviews of the relative dankness of the buds, and relative chill nature of the budtenders, at all the places in your neighborhood. When you find something you like, consider stocking up now, while the prices are still relatively consistent with 2017. Check out the different kinds of edibles – just dose yourself sensibly, see our tips from Tomer at The Art Of Edibles for guidance. Take home a gram or two each of five different kinds, and set yourself up a “flight” of bonghits. Glaze yourself in honey oil and roll around in a bed of kief if you feel like it. As long as you can pay in cash, you can do whatever you want.

It feels a little bit freer today in California, and the list of things a million people are worried about just got a little shorter. Your first trip buy weed at a store in America is something you will remember, no matter how high you get afterward.

EDIT JANUARY 12, 2018 – My enthusiasm on day two of prohibition’s end seems to have been overstated. Since then, I have tried to get served at a few new places in Silver Lake and the Valley, and been refused service without a medical card. The Brave New World is not totally here, all the way.

With that said, should you find yourself at a pot shop with no med card, you might just try walking in and seeing what happens. Whatever happens, no one is likely to bust down your door. Good luck.


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