Cannabis Club Guide - Page 4

Cannabis Issue: Testing the tokes at Bay Area dispensaries

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Below the surface, SPARC is also setting a standard. Founder Erich Pearson and others involved with the club have been movement leaders for many years and they have deep connections with growers, patient groups, and the progressive political community. So they offer everything from free acupuncture and other services to generous compassionate giving programs to strong support for all aspects of the vertically-integrated collective.

But it is the experience of visiting that is most striking. Get expert advice on choosing from a huge range on indoor and outdoor strains and then settle into one of the tables, load a bowl into the high-end Volcano vaporizer, and taste the fruits of SPARC's expertise.

There are always lots of great deals to choose from, from one-pound bags for baking for $300 to eighths of the finest outdoor weed for as low as $28.

SPARC is truly an industry leader, setting a high bar for what dispensaries can be.

Prepackaged buds

Opened in 2010

Price: Wide range

Selection: Huge!

Ambiance: Warm, comfortable, hip

Smoke on site: Vaporizing only

Sketch factor: Low

Access/security: Tight but welcoming

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IGZACTLY HEALTH CENTER

Opening in late 2010, Igzactly (527 Howard, SF) is the new kid of the block — but it's already establishing itself as one of the best cannabis clubs around. With a rotating supply of almost 40 varieties of buds to choose from at a full range of prices, it has the biggest selection in town. I asked the bud tender how the club is able to offer such a wide array of high-quality buds, and he said it's because they're using a different model than most clubs. Rather than buying the buds from growers, Igzactly uses a consignment system, splitting the proceeds with the growers.

Complementing the huge stock of dried buds, Igzactly also has a large selection of cannabis-infused edibles, concentrates, tinctures, ointments, and just about anything you can get weed into. On top of that, Igzactly has a comfortable lounge and is one of just a handful of clubs that allows vaporizing on site, giving clients a choice of using the top-end Volcano or the Zephyr (my personal favorite) vaporizer models. They even offer complimentary teas and coffee.

The staff there is friendly and customer-oriented. For example, when the club opened, it offered prepackaged buds like most clubs, but it heeded customer input and quickly switched to displaying all their buds in huge jars and weighing them out on purchase, which many patients prefer. And he said the club plans to expand the lounge soon and to add on-site laboratory services by year's end.

If Igzactly is a sign of where the industry's headed, the future looks bright and verdant.

Buds weighed on purchase

Opened in 2010

Price: From cheap to average

Selection: Huge!

Ambiance: Green, friendly, inviting

Smoke on site: Vaporizing only

Sketch factor: Low

Access/security: Secure but easy access

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SHAMBHALA

I visited Shambhala (2441 Mission, SF) on its second day open, when the smell of paint was stronger than that of weed, so it's hard to judge it fairly. Check-in for new patients was maddening slow to an almost comical degree, they weren't yet taking credit cards and had no ATM on site, and they offered a bigger selection of rolling papers than bud varieties.

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