So, my fellow District resident and cannabis enthusiast, you've decided that becoming a medical marijuana patient is the best way to ensure you never run out of that sweet, sweet Kush again. You've seen a canna-friendly sawbones and your fancy-dandy E-lec-tronik recommendation is racing through the interwebs as we speak to the District Department of Health. Kudos to you!
Cannot find the shortcode for Caption...Nevermind. Good grief.[/caption] As I've mentioned before, you can only choose one dispensary to work with in DC. It's fairly easy to transfer, but costs nearly as much as getting the card did ($100 for the card vs $90 transfer fee). Clearly, DOH didn't want to process a ton of transfers when they set this up, but these days, several dispensaries are willing to pay for your transfer cost up front or credit you for what it cost. So don't worry, you're not completely locked in to a particular facility if you really don't like it. You're a busy person, though, and want to get this decision right the first time. So which dispensary is the best one? The answer depends on what's important to you.
So where do I go?
I go to Herbal Alternatives. I chose that dispensary for five main reasons. First and foremost, they do not pre-pack their cannabis (unless you pre-order, of course). That's important to me. The first dispensary I went to was in Denver and all their flowers came out of a jar, weighed out in front of me, available for me to see and smell before agreeing to purchase. As far as I'm concerned, this is the way it should be- all in the open and completely transparent. If I see a particularly pretty bud, I can ask for it specifically. They deliver the boutique experience I enjoy. They also have a library. Unlike some other dispensaries, patients here can simply borrow the books on the science of marijuana, cooking with cannabis, and so on- these books aren't cheap so it's an invaluable resource for anyone trying to further their knowledge base on our favorite flower. The other reasons are more mundane- location, schedule, and cost. They're close to home, which has got to be an important factor in your decision, too, given the current, abysmal state of the Metro while Safe-Track work is conducted and the ho-hum, everyday abomination that is trying to find parking in this city. They're open both Saturday and Sunday, so I have some flexibility in which weekend day I shop. Herbal Alternatives will outright pay the $100 fee to DOH for you to get your medical card or the $90 fee to transfer, so make sure you bring them your paperwork instead of submitting it directly yourself! According to my Price Index, which is formulated based on the advertised prices of every flower available at each dispensary on StickyGuide, they are within a very reasonable range of the lowest-price dispensary and easily the cheapest that does not pre-pack! Since there's no pre-packing, you also aren't locked into buying the usual amounts. Want just a half-gram so you can try a joint of that new strain? Ok. Exactly $50 worth? No problem. Want one-and-one-sixteenth ounce? If they've got it, sure. Another attractive, financially-attractive reason to go here is that they accept actual credit cards, not just debit cards. I get such a lovely little thrill racking up airline miles and hotel stays buying weed you'd think it's a sin.
Ok, but who's got the cheapest cheapest prices, GT?
I think it's cool that you called me that, by the way. Feel free to continue.
National Holistic Healing Center has the lowest prices according to the Price Index. The folks there are very friendly and enthusiastic. The first time I called them and heard them joyfully answer the phone "Thanks for calling National Holistic, Where We Help You Treat Yourself With Nature!" I was impressed. I think these folks are poised to do very well whenever recreational sales are implemented. These guys don't pay the new patient/transfer patient fees outright but they do offer credits for the same amount, which is almost as good! They're open everyday from 11am-7:30pm and they often have free classes for medical patients. I believe some of these classes are open to the general public, as well, but not always for free. NHHC is conveniently located just north of Dupont Circle. This dispensary pre-packs but you are not limited in the amount you purchase of a particular strain.
I need CBD oil, where do I get that?
The only dispensary that currently offers the real-deal, whole-plant CBD oil is Takoma Wellness (Jackson's Courage, which is made by Holistic Remedies). The other dispensaries only sell high-CBD tinctures. Minors enrolled in the medical marijuana program get this CBD oil for free. For this reason alone, Takoma Wellness is worth supporting. They're also the only one with their own parking lot, but it's really tight and awkward so that's a mixed blessing- awesome if they aren't busy, horrible if they are. They also boast the largest concentrate menu. The folks at Takoma are really sweet people. I'm indebted for their kindness during a really rough time in my life. You may have heard (or read in TIME magazine) that one of the DC dispensaries is owned by a rabbi, this is it. For this reason, they are not open on Saturdays. They're only open until 7pm most weekdays (5pm on Friday), so this was not a convenient option for me. They pre-pack the cannabis and their prices are competitive, but not the best according to the Price Index (I don't count ounce pricing since most dispensaries don't advertise above half-ounces currently). They also limit how much each patient can purchase of a particular strain, to ensure enough of popular flowers to go around. Location may be better for you than it was for me, as they're the only game serving NW next to the Maryland line. So close, in fact, they warn you not to accidentally wander across the border with your purchase.
What about the other two, GT?
Well...errrm...okay. Look. Cap City Care is technically the most popular dispensary according to some Washington City Paper poll. The knock on them is their menu. It is very limited. Since they also operate as a cultivation center, the only dispensary with that distinction, they feature mainly their own products. The cultivator Apelles is also related to Cap City Care in some fashion. I've only occasionally seen other cultivator's products on the CCC menu. Despite their claims to the lowest pricing, the Price Index does not bear that out, which is really surprising considering they grow their own product! Let's talk about that product. The CCC stuff is alright. I gave the Silver Kush a spin through the strain rotation and the Jack Herer was nice. I didn't care as much for their Master Kush or Fire OG. The Apelles stuff I've seen thus far has been stringy and stemmy, not product I'd recommend at all. That division is new, though, so perhaps in another six months I'll be singing a different tune. If you are a big fan of their stuff, perhaps this is the place for you. On the plus side, current patients can enter a contest to win a free ounce every month for a year (that ends 7/31, but maybe they'll run another). So, damn, that would be nice. They pay for the patient transfer fee and give you a free quarter-ounce of a house strain plus a pipe and papers if you're a new patient. Do NOT go to Metropolitan Wellness Center. If you find yourself at MWC, read this article again, because you messed up. That's just facts. The menu is limited and the pricing is OUTRAGEOUS. Okay, they're the only other dispensary that doesn't pre-pack and they're the only one in Southeast. I really think the other dispensary owners (snicker) should get together with the MWC folks and tell them to lower their pricing, because GANKING FOLKS FOR SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS A MOTHERFUCKING OUNCE, ahem!, especially as the only facility operating in this historically impoverished quadrant of the District, reflects badly on the entire MMJ community.
Cannot find the shortcode for CaptionGet the one for $680 and $$$AVE![/caption] I'll wrap up with my disclosure bit. Every dispensary has a patient referral program, where you get some small credit (generally $25-$50) for every patient that signs up and mentions your name. Me, too! I highly recommend joining DC's medical marijuana program no matter which of the four VALID choices you choose. Please do tell them I sent you- I only get something tangible out of you joining Herbal Alternatives, but if enough folks mention me at the others, perhaps they'll reconsider featuring my print newsletter. Hell, I'd go all atwitter if they'd just return my calls.