Welcome once again dear readers to another review of the results from my recent trawls through the licensed dispensaries of the San Fernando Valley, trying to find that sweet, sweet Mary Jane hookup while not spending more than $30 pre-tax for an eighth-ounce bag. I picked that price point based on Leafly’s research which showed California residents paid an average of $34 for this amount of pot in 2019. I’m not afraid to admit to being cheap-but-adventurous, and always hoping to do better than average through diligent research.
My criteria is pretty straightforward – I’m in the shop asking for the best herb that can be had based on a combination of taste, smell, appearance and potency, not necessarily in that order, without going over $30. I’m looking for a THC rating around 20% or preferably higher, because while the lab-tested THC content is not the only barometer of a batch’s strength and enjoyability, it’s a reasonable place to start. I also trusted my eyes and nose to guide me to the best option. None of this stuff was comped to me, just my own purchases based on research, instinct and budtender advice during January and February 2020.
What’s been in the bag this month? All good things, all in the $25 to $30 range. I can recommend every one of these companies’ products as good value for the money, based on the strain(s) sampled, though I do end up naming a favorite at the end of the day – actually hedging my choice and offering a tie for first. Either way, you win. Let’s get high.
Pacific Stone – 805 Glue
Purchased from Herbal Pain Relief Center, Mission Hills, $25.
Pacific Stone from Santa Barbara has started to make waves as a ubiquitous bargain offering at dispensaries around the Valley. It’s easy to see why. Routinely offered at a price point around $20 an eighth pre-tax, which tends to make it one if the most affordable options in any store, it’s certifiably good shit.
This 805 Glue hybrid came in the form of smallish, trichome-coated nuggets, cured well and slightly on the dry side. Though not physically sticky, it did have the classic Gluey attributes once ground up and smoked – gas, grass and just the slightest hint of ass. We’re talking a nice, clean ass, fresh and a little bit pungent.
Lab-tested at 21.03% THC, the creeper high was initially slow to come on, but lasted a good long time once established. This pot reminded me of getting tacos at my favorite truck, Flamin, found at the car wash on Sunset and Alvarado after dark – a tasty and completely satisfying experience that leaves you some pocket change as compared to having virtually the same thing from a fancy-shmancier down the street.
There’s really not a lot separating this from the bud that costs $10 more, once it’s in your pipe. There are prettier and fancier plants to be had, but even gourmets would agree, this is a very acceptable choice. And that price goes down if you buy in quarter ounce or full ounce increments. I like this model and wish them success.
Autumn Brands – Wedding Cake
Purchased from MMD, North Hollywood $30
This was my first purchase of the new year, a favorite Indica-dominant hybrid strain, grown by this woman-owned family farm based in coastal Santa Barbara County. According to their website, the owners’ families have been in the tulip-farming business for over a hundred years in Holland, which is fine if your primary main objective is to tiptoe through the tulips. But how does that experience translate when it’s time to roll up some of their weed?
The weed is righteous. Their jar contained some of the most symmetrical, perfectly trimmed nugs I have ever encountered. I remember working at a food warehouse when I was a teenager, we would occasionally get these bell peppers from Holland that were so shiny and flawless, like porcelain sculptures, that even beaten-down, jaded produce men would gaze upon them with childlike wonder. These nugs have that same attractive detail. Trichomes, those shimmery white crystals that indicate kind bud, are visible on close inspection.
The taste and odor are clean and pleasant, somewhat mild. The nugs are nicely cured and grind up easily, pliable but not especially gluey. Despite being a heavy indica rated at 24% THC, I didn’t find this stuff to be mentally or physically overwhelming. Instead of a knockout punch, it’s a soothing hand, a sensory experience that’s smooth and comfortable.
This would be your go-to if you were on your way to a PJ Harvey concert or a yoga talk, potent enough to take the edge off without making your third eye too heavy-lidded.
Elyon Farms – Glue and Sour Diesel
Purchased from Herbal Pain Relief Center, Mission Hills. $30.
Inside their elegant, expensive-looking packaging, Elyon Farms of Sonoma packages some rather attractive cannabis. My intro to them came from a 24.7% THC strain called Glue, that truly lives up to its name. It is bursting with an industrial-strength adhesive that not only leaves gluey residue on your fingers and grinder, it gets your brain walls all stuck together and secures your ass firmly to the couch, from the inside. The flavor and aroma are savory garlic, do I detect a hint of clam sauce or am I just getting the munchies?
Their across-the-board high ratings brought me back when I was in the mood for a sativa. I picked up some of their Sour Diesel, an old reliable pal, rated at 22.7% THC. Once again, the flavors were complex and luscious, reeking of gasoline, that signature diesel tug that makes the eyebrows twitch. If you ask your baby for water and she hands you this, your baby is worth a deuce. You got to make sure to keep em satisfied.
Adorably, Elyon labels their sativas for “Daytime”, and this did make Saturday morning a little more industrious and creative, as opposed to those indicas that can send me straight back to bed.
Just as carefully-selected Sonoma wines can go head-to-head on quality with their more prestigious and pricey Napa counterparts, Elyon is batting into the big leagues with this stuff, and it’s a pleasure to see the word “affordable” right there in the mission statement on their site. This is what I’m after in a craft weed business. The appearance, taste and smell all suggest a high-octane high, and the proof is in the puffing. This brand is a high performer on all counts, and tied with HPRC (reviewed below) for my personal favorite of this column.
HPRC House Weed – Wedding Cake and Tahoe OG
Purchased from Herbal Pain Relief Center, Mission Hills. $30.
I had to kick around this idea, whether the house weed grown by and sold at a specific shop qualifies as a reviewable brand. Since you’re reading this review, you can see how I came to a decision on that. I figure, this magazine does restaurant reviews, and if you want to sample the goods yourself, you have to get your ass over there. Mission Hills might be a hike for some folks, but you may like what you see here well enough to invest a few extra minutes in the journey. It’s certainly freeway-close, next to the 118 on-ramp on Sepulveda, immediately adjacent to Del Taco and Mike & Tony’s sub shop.
The owners of HPRC got into the medical business twenty years ago, growing indoors right here in the Valley, and their $25 to $30 house eighths are hands down some of the best stuff in their shop, not to mention some of the best deals I’ve found in town. Their version of Wedding Cake rated at 28.9% THC, which is about as high-test as a cheapskate like me ever gets to have. You get that classic under-the-skin massage of a nice terpy indica-dominant, without having to take much in. This is a lingerer, that will burrow in and take residence for a while, and it goes well with strong coffee and some good old fashioned mind-melt music like Negativland.
Their Tahoe OG indica bud is adorable, glazed in white crystals that are visible from an airplane, with long, unruly orange hairs studding a light green bud with dark highlights. The effect on the head is that of a pure, powerful indica – I found myself conked out before 9pm after trying to puff it up and entertain myself with the unbearable Cheech & Chong movie Still Smokin’. I’m not sure if that was the weed living up to its reputation as an excellent cure for insomnia, or my brain shutting itself off in protest while exposed to late period C&C, one of the great arguments in favor of the idea that “dope will rot your mind.”
The following night, in more moderate amounts, and with better entertainment choices, it proved highly effective and enjoyable. It’s been a long time since I made it all the way through this hour-plus behemoth in one go, but HPRC’s Tahoe had the hypnotic stuff to make it a reality.
Considering the quality and intensity of the two different samples, I would recommend the journey to Mission Hills. Their house grow consistently goes toe to toe with the best jars in this price range. They tie with Elyon for my person favorite farm of this month’s selection.