Northwest Medical Marijuana Guide

A Good Dispensary Is Hard to Find

In Search of a Place That Knows Their Shit

A Good Dispensary 
Is Hard to Find

REAGAN AND KAUFMAN Glorious pot nerds.

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Northwest Medical Marijuana Guide

In the last year, I went from someone prone to little stomachaches to someone who longs more than anything to go back to the days of little stomachaches. Exploding guts are cool in a sci-fi way—what's happening in there?—but they can make it pretty hard to do other things, like be functional. Short version: Four months of antibiotics (for a dental problem) had damaged my guts. I tried gulping acidophilus, I tried probiotics, I got a colonoscopy, I got an endoscopy, I experienced the magic of having my stool sampled, and in the end I got a letter from a gastroenterologist ruling out cancer, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and saying, basically, "Beats me." Then came a bill for more than $1,000.

As a bong owner, I knew that pot helped with stomachaches, but it wasn't until I visited a naturopath that I learned different strains could help more than others. I needed a strain that calls a ceasefire in my guts while not inhibiting my ability to write, because most weed I've smoked replaces my brain with a bouncy ball, and bouncy balls have the worst ideas. She explained the difference between sativa and indica strains: Sativa's the bouncing-balls-in-your-brain stuff; indica's a nice sedative for the whole body; a hybrid is a combo. She said to get an indica strain with "low THC and high CBD," which I wrote down because I had no idea what those words mean.

State law prevents health-care providers from recommending any particular dispensary, and the guy behind the counter at the dispensary closest to home seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. He immediately recommended a weed that was really super-awesome because it had so much THC in it. I tried another dispensary, where the woman's medical knowledge consisted of nothing more than pointing out which one her roommate likes to smoke while cleaning. A "budtender" at a third dispensary simply said, "I do smoke a lot of pot but I'm not, like, a scientist." All three offered baked goods with no labeling of the cannabis inside.

What I'm saying is: For all their talk of pot as medicine—not a recreational indulgence—many dispensary operators don't know one medication from another.

Then I ended up at the Center for Palliative Care.

CPC in Georgetown curates certain strains of cannabis to help specific conditions. If you buy a candy packed with cannabis at CPC—unlike every other candy packed with cannabis I've ever bought—it will be labeled with the CPC logo, the strain of cannabis (sativa or indica), how many grams of weed are in it, and what medical conditions it's useful for. Amazing!

CPC was founded two years ago by Jeremy Kaufman and Ben Reagan. When Kaufman was a 24-year-old snowboarder, he careened into a tree and broke his neck. After that, he had to take eight OxyContin a day just to move. Sitting behind his desk, he pulled out the pills he takes now instead—little capsules filled with brown goo. "It's basically the blood of the plant," he explained. They extract the essential oils from plants in a variety of ways, and make a variety of clearly labeled things with it—caramels, gummies, etc.

For sleep, Kaufman gave me four indica pills clearly labeled for quantity (.25 grams each) and purpose ("sedative, chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, nausea"). He also gave me some dark-purple cannabis said to be good for digestive issues (science is still out on why) and some sativa pills for daytime/writing (still don't have the nerve to take one before work, because they make me totally giddy on the weekends). For now, I'm obsessed with those indica pills. They work. They put me to sleep.

Meanwhile, ever since getting my medical marijuana authorization, my stomach has gotten markedly better.

When I shared my experiences at other dispensaries, and Kaufman wasn't surprised. Asked to name how many medically reliable dispensaries there are in this city, he guessed roughly five. When I called one of them in Shoreline, the woman who answered the phone said their edibles are labeled sativa or indica but are not labeled for the quantity of cannabis in them. "It's too complicated to label it like that because everyone has a different recipe," she says. But it's not too complicated if you make your edibles, like CPC does. A man who answered the phone at a respected dispensary in West Seattle said he couldn't be sure of the quantity of cannabis in their edibles because they use lots of different vendors who all label things differently, and that he couldn't think of any place except CPC that makes their edibles in-house. A man who answered the phone at another place Kaufman suggested, also in West Seattle, said most but not all of their edibles are labeled by strain but they're not labeled by quantity of cannabis in them. At a co-op in the U-District, which I visited because Kaufman told me he'd heard good things about it, most of the edibles aren't even labeled sativa or indica, much less how much sativa or indica.

And by the way: Kaufman's self-taught. In other words: You don't need years of school to be an expert. You just have to take the medicine—and your patients—seriously.

Dear other dispensaries: Can you go to CPC and take notes? And be more like that? Your patients would love you. recommended


Comments (10) RSS

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These guys are great!
Posted by clint on April 11, 2012 at 9:21 PM · Report this
Christopher, have you been checked for c-diff? All those antibiotics can create this disease.
Posted by jesse12345 on April 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
These are the hero's of today...and tomorrow!
Posted by Roberoo on April 13, 2012 at 10:47 PM · Report this
Jesus. I'm glad CPC is doing it correctly--or at least closer to correctly--but dismayed at the ignorant nonchalance of everybody else.

This is an industry that badly needs to introduce some minimum standards of professionalism and self-regulation, or sure as hell, the laws will be reversed or the state will otherwise intervene in a clumsy and/or expensive manner. At least an attempt at describing dosage and recommended usage strikes me as simple common sense for an ostensible 'medicine'--common sense that virtually no one in the industry appears to possess.
Posted by Functional Atheist on April 14, 2012 at 5:59 PM · Report this
When you've said "budtender," you've said it all.
Posted by Mister G on April 15, 2012 at 10:38 PM · Report this
This is an embarrassment. It's a tragedy, honestly, that recreational marijuana has to masquerade under the guise of medical marijuana. The entire thing harms pretty much everyone involved. Legitimate medical patients who could benefit from cannabis have to find out who's honest about providing medical care and who's in it because again, pot is awesome. Non-legitimate patients who just want the ability to go pick up some weed from a vendor like a regular human being ought to be able to do are forced to fabricate a condition, which ultimately chips away at the claims of legitimate patients, and only a real dick would take pleasure in that. I'm still waiting on the day when the government will just go "Oh, fine, just fucking take your pot and go home already," but it's still such a challenge to cut through the bullshit. Come on, is it really so hard to let people govern their own bodies?
Posted by Enatai on April 17, 2012 at 8:34 PM · Report this
It's true that there are probably only about five legit COLLECTIVES/CO-OP, say it with me people COLLECTIVE, or even CO-OP. Dispensaries are illegal here in washington. I think you should dig a little deeper before pumping out a half assed article that makes it look like you got paid off, or are just fan-boying, which is understandable because this issue is out of hand.

A HUGE Problem is that most places aren't pushing for the growers to have their products tested, which can get expensive. Especially if you have 20 to 30 strains because people are screaming for variety so they can cocktail to tailor the medicine for their specific needs because a good half of the patients out there are trying to treat multiple ailments with marijuana.
Posted by keep it Legit on April 20, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
This is sad but true story ... With out all the above problems being solved all of us truely sick patients will soon be stupid stoners with a meaningless card in our wallet...
Posted by DVS2001 on May 17, 2012 at 6:07 AM · Report this
I am owner of a dispensary in Tacoma called the Red emperor collective. I am aware of this problem and am in the process of developing a new database that can be used by all bud tenders for free. This database will tell patients what strains are related to what type illnesses based from other patients with that same type of illnesses recommendation. I am looking for patients with serious medical conditions to email us at who would like to volunteer with giving strain reviews. Free medication will be donated to those who volunteer.
Posted by theredemperor on April 28, 2013 at 8:38 PM · Report this
this is a bit off-subject, but you might read the chapter in the book 'Gulp', which pertains to gut issues (like yours perhaps...) and discusses 'probiotics'. the general idea is that, if you lack the 'good' bacteria - often a result of too many antibiotics, which have killed the good ones - taking 'probiotics' won't do anything, because those 'good' stomach bacteria are anaerobic, meaning they can't survive oxygen (i.e. 'probiotics' are an iffy product at best). what does work, bizarrely enough, is transplanting good bacteria from a healthy person to someone who lacks enough good stuff. yes: poop transfers, although it's not quite that simple (they separate out the bacteria, freeze it, etc.). it might help.
Posted by musicslug on June 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM · Report this

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