Me and Mary Jane A pot newbie's clumsy foray into the world of medical marijuana
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    August 13th, 2012Mary JaneMedical Marijuana Dispensary

    Buzzzzzz! I rang the doorbell next to the little window on the back wall. A few moments later a young woman appeared at the window. She was probably around nineteen, smiling, neatly styled, and wearing a cute polo shirt with the store’s logo. At last, this is the kind of person I can relate to.

    I showed her my medical marijuana card and she pushed a clipboard with a form through the window. Just like a doctor’s office! I felt more official already. She took my form and card and disappeared into the back room to check out my legitimacy. Pretty soon, the door to my right opened and she beckoned me in.

    Wow, this was not what I was expecting. I walked into a pristine room with a beautiful counter and glass display case. There was another woman in a matching polo shirt uniform behind the counter. She looked to be in her late forties and was trim and attractive. My young chaperon introduced the woman as her mother.

    After hearing a little bit about my tale of woe, they told me how they got started in the pot business. “I have problems with anxiety,” the younger woman told me. “I get panic attacks like crazy and they totally mess me up in school. I’ve tried different medications, but the only thing that really helps is marijuana.” As she’s telling me this, her mom is looking lovingly at her and nodding.

    “And you were okay with this?” I asked her mother. “Absolutely,” she said. “I was concerned about her and when she told me that marijuana helped with her anxiety, I did a bunch of research into it. I read lots of stories of people like her and how much it helped. I didn’t want her to have to do it illegally, though. So once it became legal here in California, we got her a card and eventually decided to go into business together.”

    “That’s great!” I said. “How cool that you get to work together. And I really love this place. The last one I went to kind of freaked me out. It feels so professional here.”

    “Yes, we wanted to do it right,” explained the mother. “We are female-owned and all of our employees are women. We take it very seriously and only get our products from the best sources. You’ll see what high-quality plants we have here.”

    Okay, let’s back up a little. At this point, my thoughts were split in two. On the one hand, I was feeling great about the store and so happy that I found these people that I felt so comfortable with. It was exactly what I was looking for.

    But the other half of me had my B.S. detector blinking in full alert. This chick has got her mother wrapped around her little finger! Not only does she get the parental green light to smoke pot, her mom bought her an entire pot store! Panic attacks? Surrrrrrrrre. I know a upper-middle-class teen party girl when I see one. Man, this girl must be a hero to all her friends.  I can already picture the legally-supplied parties she’s throwing when her mom’s out of town. And I had to wonder if she had a side business going on the sly from her dorm room. I’m beginning to think I’m in the presence of slightly-evil genius.

    I think she might be my hero, too.

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    July 18th, 2012Mary JaneMedical Marijuana Dispensary

    So now I had learned that I needed to get some Sativa-style pot to keep me awake during my drug consumption sessions. But where to get it? You can imagine that I was a little wary to go back to the Rabbit Hole. Maybe this time I wouldn’t make it back out! I was hoping that there might be a store that was a little more my style. I’m thinking lab coats, sterile equipment, at least one staff member without dreadlocks (I swear, I have nothing against dreadlocks! It’s just…this is my health we’re talking about, people!).

    So where does one go when one needs to find a new drug dispensary? Let’s see. I need a map. To find weed. I google it, and, voila!! What a find. It’s like MapQuest except that it takes you to toke stores rather than Target. I (heart) the internet.

    But I don’t (heart) employee web tracking devices at work (Big Brother!). I wonder what will happen when Weed Maps shows up on the radar of my IT department? Any chance I can convince them I was looking for lawn care products? I decided to go do a little schmoozing with the network manager guy, just to be safe. A little oohing and ahhing over little Johnny’s latest school picture goes a long way.

    Anyway, it turns out that there is a marijuana dispensary right in my town. Sweet! I could do a drive-by to determine if it is more drug pharmacy or drug dungeon. So on my way home, I drove down the main street in my town. I live in a mostly 20-something beach-side party town, so I was trying to find a pot shop amidst bars, tattoo parlors, and bikini stores. Still, based on my earlier experience, I thought it would stand out in its Down-Low-ness, even in this company. I squinted between shops to catch a glimpse of a creepy door or hidden alley, or maybe an unmarked window with smoke wafting from it. After making two U-turns, I finally realized that the lovely, clean, crisp shop on the corner called Green Health was it! It looked more like a Rodeo Drive boutique than a weed shop.

    My confusion only deepened when I entered the store. I saw pretty displays of hemp clothing and organic skincare products. There was a well-dressed employee behind the counter. Where were the hippie staffers? Where was the snake? And more importantly, where was the weed??

    My feeling of awkwardness almost matched the day I went to the Rabbit Hole, but for a whole different reason. At least at the Hole, they knew what I wanted and I knew that they knew what I wanted (wink wink). What do I do at this boutique? Just go up to the counter and ask, “Uh, hey, where’s the good stuff?”

    I tentatively approached the counter and the woman asked if she could help me. After some hemming and hawing, I said, “Well, um, I have a medical marijuana card, and…”  She immediately smiled and let me know I was in the right place (whew!). She pointed to the very back of the store where there was a small windowed counter built into the wall. She told me to walk back there and ring the bell. Another doorbell? Well, at least this one wasn’t in an alley. I took a deep breath and wondered if I was ready for such high-style cannabis acquisition.

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    June 24th, 2012Mary JaneMedical Marijuana Dispensary

    So it turns out that the dispensary only takes cash.  Ugh, of course.  So I had to climb out of my rabbit hole, run across the street and hit up the ATM.  As I furtively glanced around, I was sure that everyone knew that I was withdrawing cash to buy drugs.  They will never let those stranded kids/kittens in my car now.  By the time I got back, the hippie chick girl from my pot doc’s office was there and had taken my place.  My awkwardness contrasted sharply against her confidence.  Ugh, I hated her.  She didn’t look constipated at all.

    Finally it was my turn and Dreadlock Alice escorted me through a separate door. In this room there was an equally-dreadlocked man behind a counter.  Under the counter there were jars filled with what I assumed was pot. The jars’ contents were poufy and soft and sort of colorful–nothing like the dried flakes that I’d seen my college neighbors roll into papers or put into their colorful (quite artistic!) water bongs.  There was also a large chalkboard with what appeared to be a menu, although I didn’t understand any of the words. They reminded me of the Indian words that my yoga instructor murmurs while I unsuccessfully try to put my body into unnatural positions.  I turned to the man behind the counter for help.  He asked me simply “What do you want?”  Well, clearly I wanted pot, but after looking at the cryptic menu and jars upon jars I knew that the answer wouldn’t be this simple.

    Sign LanguageI told him that I was a bit of a novice so I would need some guidance.  He was as confused by this (someone over the age of 15 who has never gotten high?) as I was by the fact that there was more than one type of pot.  What followed was a confusing dance similar to watching two people that cannot speak the same language trying to have a conversation.  Very polite, lots of smiling and hand gestures, but no real understanding of what the other person is trying to say.  I bet that stupid hippie chick girl could speak his language.

    Finally I saw some words on the menu that I understood: “Chocolate Chips.”  So I said that I would like “chocolate chips.”  We both smiled with relief, and frankly I was not shocked that chocolate would bring our two worlds together.

    And even better, cannabis candy comes in both chocolate and mint chips! So I got some of both. As he put them into little clear bags, I started looking around for the labels that would give me proper dosage and safety information for my new medicine. It quickly Chocolate Chips Marijuanabecame clear that such items did not exist, so I asked my new friend how many I should eat. This led to a similar conversation as the one I had with my pot doc (he can’t really tell me how much to eat, but don’t eat too much!), but included new information about how every batch of these chips was different depending on how generous the Bammy Baker decided to be while whipping up the latest batch. This got me thinking about who this baker might be, and whether he had a habit of washing his hands before his baking sessions. Sigh. I thanked Dreadlock Sales Guy, said goodbye to Dreadlock Alice, and hightailed it out of there before that damn snake snuck out of its cage.

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    December 3rd, 2009Mary JaneMedical Marijuana Dispensary

    When I pictured what a dispensary looked like, I thought that it would be kind of like a store.  There would be different flavors with maybe price tags and I would pick what I wanted.  Maybe there would be a sale.  Then they would ring me up, thank me for my pDetectiveOfficeatronage, and I would be on my way. 

    Instead, I found myself in what seemed to be a 1970’s detective office.  I had somehow made the jump from Alice in Wonderland to Columbo.  Man, what was life going to be like when I actually did start smoking pot?Perhaps this would all start making sense?  Doubtful. 

    Dreaded Alice asked for my pot packet so she could verify my identity (like I could have ever found this place on my own).  I handed her my packet across the table.  I casually looked down and realized that it wasn’t a table at all, but rather an aquarium with A GIANT BoaConstrictorSNAKE!!!  WTF? HOLY SHIT!  WHO LET THE SNAKE IN HERE?  Ok, breath…play it cool.  We don’t want Dreaded Alice to think we are uncool.  We’re casual, but not too casual remember.  So I tried to smile like it was no big deal.   Sure it’s a snake, this happens all the time. 

    I’m pretty sure my smile came across more as constipated than breezy.

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    November 8th, 2009Mary JaneMedical Marijuana Dispensary

    Ok, so before my pot doc shuffled me out the door, he did take the time to give me a recommendation to his favorite medical marijuana dispensary. He explained that some of them can be very shady and it’s important to find one that is trustworthy. His dispensary of choice was called Wizard. Odd name but I couldn’t be happier for the recommendation! You see, although I was very very nervous about coming to the pot doc, that paled in comparison to the severe panic I was feeling about actually picking up the goods. I almost wanted to hug him. Maybe he really was Captain Stubing.

    SAMPLE_MED-MARIJUANA_CARDNext I met with the nurse outside who gave me my official pot packet. This contained my official medical marijuana certificate (apparently the card comes in the mail later), the pocket-size version, the version to give to the police, the “how to talk to the police” / attorney phone number / jail hotline card…as well as coupons for my friends. What? Whatever, I’m outta here.

    I decided to ride this wave of confidence and go straight to Captain Stubing’s dispensary. I jumped in my car and tucked the pot packet under my seat. I mean, what if I got pulled over and the cops saw it? Or there was an emergency and I had to shuttle a pack of school children or kittens to safety? I can’t have any of these people / innocent animals thinking I’m a pot head.

    The address of the Captain’s dispensary was 1399B. I was relieved when I pulled up to the strip mall and it was all sorts of normal. No adult book stores or bars that opened at 6am (sorry Kerny Mesa, I’m working on Back_doormy stereotypes). I couldn’t see the exact address from the road so I parked and continued on foot. There was 1397, 1398, 1399A, then a big open lot and then 1400. Oh crap, please please please don’t let this place be in the alley.

    “Ok, Katie, it’s 10:15am in sunny San Diego. You can certainly go down the alley and check it out.” So I puffed up my chest and went down the alley in search of Wizard. In the middle of an alley there was a single creepy door with an ominous doorbell (yes, I’m serious). I thought for sure there would be a sign that said “Drink Me,” but it was more Anita Bell than Alice in Wonderland and it simply said “Ring my Bell.” So I did.

    aliceinwonderland8After what seemed like forever, a barefoot woman with long dreadlocks came to the door and said “I’m sorry it took me so long, I’m just soooo out of it today.” You’ve got to be kidding. Am I being punked? Or is this some new reality TV show hosted by Ashton’s sidekick Wilmer Valderrama called “Stereotypes”? But, in her defense, she was very sweet as lead me down her rabbit hole…I mean hallway…to the dispensary.