Quite a while ago, I realized I would be visiting Washington State in July 2016, just soon after the changes that Washington's legislature was enacting in regards to cannabis. These changes were the very reason that many medical marijuana activists voted against recreational cannabis.
Back in 1998, Washington voters legalized cannabis for medical use. However, there were no "dispensaries" or "safe access points" that I knew about. Some farms were cultivating and supplying patients, but only on a small-scale and it was difficult to understand the system.
In 2011-2012 a plethora of "safe access points" using a law that allowed "collective gardens" began appearing in many communities and cities especially on the west side of the Cascade mountains. The Eastern side being a bit more conservative, and slower to recognize the changing laws.
I had become a legal patient for the first time in 2008, and I have had a front-row seat to all of the changes. I even voted "no" on I-502 which ended up passing, legalizing the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes.
I have been with my husband in Arizona during much of the enacting of I-502 for the past 9 months, and I was anxious to see the changes that would come about with the forced closure of the collective garden "safe access points" and the virtual elimination of all medical access points for cannabis all together.
I will insert a few disclaimers here: The few shops that I have visited so far have also had flower of several types, but on these trips I have not been looking for flower, only concentrates. Also, I have only visited a handful of shops in some rural areas so far. I will be continuing to write about my experiences in Washington as they occur.
Soon after I entered Washington, I pulled over looking for a gas station. After getting gas, I happen to see a vape store and thought I'd attempt to get a replacement battery for my vape pen which hadn't worked since Arizona due to my failure to charge the batteries.
After purchasing a pre-charged replacement battery, I struck up a conversation with the cashier and older male customer in a wheelchair about the current state of cannabis in Washington. The gentleman was quick to let me know he had a buddy who was selling solventless dab oil that had essential oils added for taste, for only $20 per gram.
I was quick to let the gentleman know that I had no time or money to purchase medicine from this particular source and I had granddaughters waiting for me, then I left.
After my visit with my granddaughters, I decided to check out what the recreational shop in Tenino was offering. There were many bright packages, but most of the "dabable" oil that would work in my vape pen (my only current personal medication device) was priced far out of my price range. There were 3 different types, sourced from one particular breed of plant each. They were all priced between $35-$50 per gram.
There were also 2 different types of "RSO-type oil" for sale at the Tenino shop. These were $45-55 per gram.
When my needs were not met in Tenino, I decided that my former favorite safe access point just north of the Lewis/Thurston county line was close enough to check out. I didn't know if they had turned "recreational" or not, but I figured it was worth a check.
The company that currently is housed in the building took it over after the people who I was working for were evicted by the owner. It is the closest safe access point to Centralia, and is in a high-traffic area.
When I approached the building, I wasn't sure they were even open. All the signage had been removed, the "green cross" that had always been out at the road was gone, and the "open" sign was off. There was a "no trespassing " sign in the window regarding law enforcement.
But, the door was open. So, I went in.
There was a gentleman at the reception desk who asked me if I was in their patient database, I said that they did have my paperwork from last October and it was still valid. He informed me that they had transitioned into a "private club" and only saw patients that had previously registered their paperwork with them.
When he brought me back, I saw that the only thing that had changed was the absence of "name brand" edibles. There were still multiple jars of flower in both Sativas and Indicas. And there were a generous shelf of concentrates below.
The "crumble" from a Cherry Kush was my choice. Since it was Monday, the special was 5 dollars off any "dab oil," so my selection was $20. There were also platinum selections of different types of C02 oil and other methods of extraction, like Rosin, for $35-60 per gram.
I wasn't satisfied completely with the dab oil, however. I happen to see that they had some Pre-98 Bubba Kush flower, and treated myself to a gram of that (at $10) just to smell (and eat).
The Cherry Kush Crumble was quite effective medicine for my needs. I still had capsules of hemp oil and RSO for the rest of the month, but needed something to vape to stave off my nausea, PTSD and anxiety. When I realized that the Crumble was going to get low before the end of the month, I figured I needed to find out what I could purchase more local to where I was staying.
I came across a recreational store that just happened to be affiliated with a previous Safe Access Point that I had known about. I was familiar with the family and have respected them for some time for their work with patients through the years. It was a "rec shop" that I wasn't too offended to spend my money at, to be frank.
As I entered BatStone Buds, I noticed that they were a very classy looking shop, with a clearly marked "medical" counter. When I asked about concentrates, and medical cannabis, the young cashier lead me over to tinctures.
After clarifying that I wanted to see what they had in "dabable" concentrates (she did also show me several syringes of RSO-type oil for sale, but I didn't inquire about the cost at that time), she lead me back to the recreational counter and directed my attention to a case with 4-5 different brands, each having several types.
I chose the "Uncle Rudi's" frankly due to the price. There were two strains available, "Afgooy" and "Indica hybrid." I chose the Indica hybrid for personal reasons. The young lady said it was "$20 per gram," and gladly took my $20 bill.
When I got the reciept out, I did notice that it wasn't, in fact, $20 per gram, but instead it was listed as $13.72 per gram with $5.08 state tax and another $1.20 going to the local government.
As for the medicinal product bought at a recreational outlet, I found it comparable to the "shatter" medicine that I had procured in Arizona frequently. And also, equivalent to the Crumble I had purchased at the access point turned "private" club.
I have plans to spend the next few months up here in my home state before returning to Arizona. During this time it will be interesting to observe how the state of cannabis evolves in Washington State. For now, the biggest loss appears to be the Cannabis Farmer's Markets which were an opportunity for the patients to meet the farmers and to purchase medicine frequently at a much discounted price.
Currently, any discounts or "farmer's markets" will be strictly black market with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in control.