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? It was getting near closing time on the recent Sunday I visited Pacific Northwest Medical, a marijuana dispensary which opened eight weeks ago in

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Pacific NW Medical: The Best ($4) Pot In Town

The bargain strain, "Acapulco Gold," appeared to have been harvested a good two weeks, maybe even three, before peak trichome development. The flowers weren't gold at all, but olive green with abundant red hairs and underformed calyxes. They smelled like a barn full of hay, if that barn was on your cool uncle's farm and it was harvest time.

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?It was getting near closing time on the recent Sunday I visited Pacific Northwest Medical, a marijuana dispensary which opened eight weeks ago in Shoreline. The employees were just about ready to close up shop and watch some football. But they didn't show any trace of impatience when I walked in--instead they seemed glad to serve me.

I'd stopped in on an impulse after happening to notice the big green cross on their sign while driving on Aurora Avenue just north of Seattle.

Budtender Jonathan, an auto mechanic before physical issues made that impossible, described himself as "not a people person," but his easy rapport and disarming casualness immediately put me at ease. If you're looking for a stuffy pharmacist in a white lab coat, Jonathan's not your guy. But if you like to get your meds from someone around whom you can relax, he's got you covered.

Don't go to Pacific Northwest Medical if it's a big selection of medibles you want. The only choices available were cannabis suckers at $5 a pop (I got one free for being a new collective member, and it worked quite well), and Green Dragon Infused Honey, $20 for a small container--and well worth it, as only a little is needed.

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$4 a gram? The toke test revealed this "Acapulco Gold" to be a surprisingly good buy.
?Most of the dozen or so cannabis strains available are $10 a gram, with three or four top-shelf varieties available for $12 to $14. I tried some $12 Purple OG, which Pacific Northwest has listed as a sativa, and some $10 Purple Kush, an indica.

Always the bargain hunter (and a fan of weird, off-kilter strains), I also got a few grams of something being sold as Acapulco Gold for just $4 a gram. In a refreshing bit of honesty, when I asked why the price was so low, Jonathan told me it was because "the quality just isn't up to the other strains."

Both the Purples were effective, but I preferred the OG for both medicinal and cosmetic reasons, as its flowers had definitely never been kiefed (a process through which excess trichomes are agitated off the flowers, somewhat lowering the buds' potency; the trichomes are then sold separately as "kief.") The Kush, on the other hand, had some attractively shiny nuggets, but they had that worn look about them that to my mind suggested they may have spent a little time in a kief box somewhere between me and the grower.

Despite their slightly road-worn appearance, though, the Kush flowers had the superior bouquet of the two Purples, their pungent terpenes falling somewhere on the scale between a subtle skunkiness and stale gym socks--if those were things you wanted to smoke. (Oh, trust me, it's waaay better than it sounds.)

The bargain strain, "Acapulco Gold," appeared to have been harvested a good two weeks, maybe even three, before peak trichome development. The flowers weren't gold at all, but olive green with abundant red hairs and underformed calyxes. They smelled like a barn full of hay, if that barn was on your cool uncle's farm and it was harvest time. Although it won't be winning any taste awards, the humble $4 strain did in fact work surprisingly well, with a nice, sizzly sativa high.

Pacific Northwest Medical is at 19926 Aurora Ave. N. in Shoreline (425-231-1971, pcnmedical@yahoo.com). The dispensary is open Monday through Friday noon to 8 p.m., noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Steve Elliott edits Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media's site of cannabis

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