While visiting south Seattle medical-marijuana access point USC a couple weeks ago, I was surprised and pleased to note that the collective shares a duplex with another access point, Herbal Health Care Center. There may be other places in town where two dispensaries are in the same building, but this is the first time I've encountered such a delightful situation.
Delightful, you say? Definitely. The price pressure created by a healthy, competitive market is even more powerful in microcosm: two collectives battling side by side for patients. Both access points are spurred to excellence, the competition keeps a check on prices, and patients benefit.
My visit to HHCC got off to a slightly shaky start; through some odd quirk of floor planning, patients have to go past the dispensing window on their way to the waiting room, and I was uncertain whether I was supposed to just step up to the window. I quickly learned to keep walking past the window into the waiting room, but was slightly nonplussed by the confusion.
HHCC quickly redeemed themselves with their customer-service skills; a friendly face went a long way toward putting me back in a positive frame of mind, and I was ready to pick my flowers. Probably due to the somewhat sketchy neighborhood, this shop has bulletproof glass between you and the budtenders, but they are more than willing to slide buds through the slot at the bottom of the glass so that you can pinch and smell 'em.
Unlike their neighbors, HHCC doesn't have top-shelf $9 grams, but an across-the-board donation rate of $10 a gram (except for the "mixed greens" bottom-of-the-jar shake for $5 a gram). But where they step up to the plate and compete with USC is in the pricing of eighth-ounces: $20, $25, or $30 each, depending upon the strain.
With the help of budtender/proprietor Graeme Johns (and his younger brother Javis, who is being trained in the family business), I selected one strain at each of the eighth-ounce price points: a $20 eighth of the indica-dominant hybrid Kandy Kush, a $25 eighth of the indica-dominant hybrid Master Kush, and a $30 eighth of the 80-percent-sativa Blue Dream.
Unsurprisingly, given the price structure, the Blue Dream was the most potent; this stalwart sativa-dominant strain with its high THC offers plenty of cerebral fireworks to go with the pain relief afforded by its 20-percent-indica genetic heritage.
The Master Kush was a potently effective indica, but I'm convinced the Kandy Kush was somewhat stronger, despite being $5 cheaper. Adding to the Kandy's allure were its sweet taste and smell, true to its name. Either Kush, however, was effective for body pain, and both are more inexpensive than in most shops.