Herbal Alternatives is one of DC’s original four medical marijuana retail locations that opened to serve patients after voters approved legalizing medical cannabis in 2012. For those of you who are relatively new patients, back in the early days, patients had to select a home dispensary as their one-and-only provider, and Herbal Alternatives was the first DC dispensary for many.
About Herbal Alternatives
As one of the District’s pioneer dispensaries, Herbal Alternatives has placed education and advocacy at the forefront of its mission. The store features a cannabis library, from which patients are welcome to borrow from or browse while they wait in the comfy lobby. Herbal Alternatives also has educational articles on its website, covering everything from the basics of becoming a medical marijuana patient in DC, to what to expect from your first experience at a dispensary.
I caught up with Tiffany, who’s been a patient application specialist at Herbal Alternatives for four years, to ask a few questions about what it’s like to work in the medical marijuana scene in our nation’s capital.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the cannabis industry, and at Herbal Alternatives in particular?
Working in the medical cannabis industry gives you the chance to meet people who you [otherwise] may have never met, and see their lives transform. Before working at Herbal Alternatives, I was a patient. Using cannabis helped me tremendously after my MS diagnosis in 2016. I have the privilege of helping others discover how beneficial cannabis can be in their lives.
What’s your favorite strain you’ve sampled while working here, and who grew it?
Panama Red for a busy non-work day, Royal Medic for a busy work day and Viper Cookies for a relaxing evening. Right now I’m smoking Royal Medic. All are grown by Alternative Solutions.
You offer “deli style” service at the dispensary. As a budtender, what do you like about this style of service? What do patients like about it?
One of the reasons Herbal Alternatives is unique is because of its deli-style service. It allows the patient to be in control of not only their budget, but also how much they want. If you have $20 in your pocket, you can get something you’ll like. If you want to sample a new strain, but don’t want to get a full 3.5 grams? Get a gram. The patient is allowed a sensory experience of smelling and seeing the bud.
What else sets you apart from our city’s other medical dispensaries?
We have the best prices, products and people!
Anything you want to say to patients visiting from other states?
I’d like your readers to know they should bring their medical card and photo ID to Herbal Alternatives the next time they’re in DC and the greater DMV area. Herbal Alternatives is a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, and we accept medical licenses from all states with MMJ programs.
Shopping at Herbal Alternatives
If you’ve never been before, Herbal Alternatives Rhode Island Avenue location can be a little tricky to find. It’s on the third floor of an unremarkable office building on a quiet block just north of downtown DC, between Dupont and Logan Circles. Look for St. Matthew’s Cathedral (a.k.a. Joe Biden’s church) — Herbal Alternatives is right across from it.
Once you make it inside, the usual intake process takes a couple of minutes for new patients, and then you will be invited to sit in their cool lobby while you wait for a dispensary agent.
The service area is nice and spacious, where employees show patients products and tenderly weigh out flower onto digital scales from large air-tight containers. Like most of DC’s medical dispensaries, Herbal Alternatives currently only accepts cash, but they do have an ATM on site if you are willing to pay a small fee.
If you’d like to pre-order, you can do so on Herbal Alternative’s website. You can also email them your order, or give them a call and place it over the phone. If you placed your order online or via email, you’ll get a text confirmation when your order has been received. Just be sure to give them a good 30 minutes before you plan on picking up, and PLEASE don’t be one of those patients who places an order and doesn’t come through. Budtenders curse you as they unpack that $800 bag you dialed up before you started binging Euphoria.
Deli Style Service
What’s this “deli style” service Tiffany mentioned in our interview? Rather than bagging up pre-packed flower to fulfill your order, Herbal Alternatives offers patients a look at bulk quantities of their beautiful flower selections before tweezing out gorgeous nugs with chopsticks, weighing them in front of you, then sealing them up in HA’s house bags. Why is this so great? Well, there’s the transparency of the entire process—unlike at other dispensaries, you get to view and even smell a new strain before you take it home for a first-time smoke. Even cooler, this allows Herbal Alternatives to sell in odd quantities, going as low as half-a-gram on most of their flower offerings, allowing new patients to slowly ease into their new medicating regimen, and seasoned smokers to mix-and-match, building themselves a nice variety bag to take home.
What’s on the Menu at Herbal Alternatives?
That deli style service I’ve been raving about wouldn’t be so cool if Herbal Alternatives didn’t have a killer flower selection to pick from. They carry all the current popular strains from our favorite cultivators over at AltSol, as well as the exciting staples and new strains from District Cannabis. You’ll also find flower from Columbia Care, Abatin Wellness, Capital City Cultivation and a few others. Herbal Alternatives is usually a good bet if you have a favorite strain that all the other dispensaries are fresh out of—more than once, I’ve rushed over there for one last bag of Panama Red before it disappeared, and I have never been disappointed. They also always have flower I never find anywhere else. (If you pop by not long after reading this, grab a gram of AltSol’s Pineapple for the afternoon and Blue Cheese for the evening. You’ll thank me.)
If you prefer prerolls, Herbal Alternatives carries all of our DC favorites. Herbal Alternatives also has a solid selection of edibles, from chocolates and lozenges to tinctures and capsules. My one enduring yet small complaint as a concentrate fiend is that Herbal Alternatives hasn’t really stocked some of the few but precious local rosins that we enjoy here from Liberty/Strane and most recently from Bunji Bros in partnership with AltSol. If you’re a dab-head, you might want to look elsewhere. They do have all of the distillate cartridges you’ll find anywhere from District Cannabis and Bunji, plus carts I personally have never seen elsewhere from Abatin Wellness and Apelles Cultivation.
The Last Nug
Herbal Alternatives is conveniently located in the center of DC. Their customer care has a personal touch that is hard to find at other busy dispensaries—I cannot stress how patient and helpful they are over the phone. Their broad menu and deli style service have kept them in my regular rotation of dispensaries that I visit weekly, and I am always excited to hop on the Herbal Alternatives website and see what’s new on the menu.
If you are a medical patient in Washington, DC, or a medical patient visiting from out-of-state, bring your card and go pay the folks over at Herbal Alternatives a visit! Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Mondays.