So, my fellow District resident and cannabis enthusiast, you’ve decided that becoming a medical marijuana patient is the best way to ensure you never run out of that sweet, sweet Kush again. You’ve seen a canna-friendly sawbones and your fancy-dandy E-lec-tronik recommendation is racing through the interwebs as we speak to the District Department of Health. Kudos to you!
You can only choose one dispensary to work with in DC. It’s fairly easy to transfer, but costs nearly as much as getting the card did ($100 for the card vs $90 transfer fee). Clearly, DOH didn’t want to process a ton of transfers when they set this up, but these days, several dispensaries are willing to pay for your transfer cost up front or credit you for what it cost. So don’t worry, you’re not completely locked in to a particular facility if you really don’t like it. You’re a busy person, though, and want to get this decision right the first time. So which dispensary is the best one? The answer depends on what’s important to you.
So where do you go, GT?
I think it’s cool that you called me that, by the way. Feel free to continue.
I used to go to Herbal Alternatives. I chose that dispensary for several reasons. First and foremost, they do not pre-pack their cannabis (unless you pre-order, of course). That’s important to me. The first dispensary I went to was in Denver and all their flowers came out of a jar, weighed out in front of me, available for me to see and smell before agreeing to purchase. As far as I’m concerned, this is the way it should be- all in the open and completely transparent. If I see a particularly pretty bud, I can ask for it specifically. They deliver the boutique experience I enjoy. You also aren’t locked into buying the usual amounts. Want just a half-gram so you can try a joint of that new strain? Ok. Exactly $50 worth? No problem. Want one-and-one-sixteenth ounce? If they’ve got it, sure thing, weirdo.
They also have a library. Unlike some other dispensaries, patients here can simply borrow the books on the science of marijuana, cooking with cannabis, and so on- these books aren’t cheap so it’s an invaluable resource for anyone trying to further their knowledge base on our favorite flower.
The other reasons are more mundane- location, schedule, and cost. They’re close to home, which has got to be an important factor in your decision, too, given the current, abysmal state of the Metro while Safe-Track work is conducted and the ho-hum, everyday abomination that is trying to find parking in this city. They’re open both Saturday and Sunday, so I have some flexibility in which weekend day I shop.
Herbal Alternatives will outright pay the $100 fee to DOH for you to get your medical card or the $90 fee to transfer, so make sure you bring them your paperwork instead of submitting it directly yourself!
Ok, so what about the others?
National Holistic Healing Center has a very friendly and enthusiastic staff. The first time I called them and heard them jubilantly answer the phone “Thanks for calling National Holistic, Where We Help You Treat Yourself With Nature!” I was impressed. I think these folks are poised to do very well whenever recreational sales are implemented.
These guys don’t pay the new patient/transfer patient fees outright but they do offer credits for the same amount, which is almost as good! They’re open everyday from 11am-7:30pm and they often have free classes for medical patients. I believe some of these classes are open to the general public, as well, but not always for free. NHHC is conveniently located just north of Dupont Circle. This dispensary pre-packs but you are not limited in the amount you purchase of a particular strain.
Takoma Wellness Center is the only dispensary with their own parking lot, but it’s really tight and awkward so that’s a mixed blessing- awesome if they aren’t busy, horrible if they are. They usually boast the largest concentrate menu.
You may have heard (or read in TIME magazine) that one of the DC dispensaries is owned by a rabbi, this is it. For this reason, they are not open on Saturdays. They’re only open until 7pm most weekdays (5pm on Friday), so overall, this was not a convenient option for me. They pre-pack the cannabis and their prices are competitive, but a little higher than Herbal Alternatives and NHHC, on average. They also limit how much each patient can purchase of a particular strain, to ensure enough of popular flowers to go around. Location may be better for you than it was for me, as they’re the only game serving NW next to the Maryland line. So close, in fact, they warn you not to accidentally wander across the border with your purchase.
From there, your choices get decidedly bleak. Capital City Care’s knock against is their limited menu. Since they also operate a cultivation center, the only dispensary with that distinction, they feature mainly their own products. The cultivator Apelles is also related to Cap City Care in some fashion. I’ve only occasionally seen other cultivator’s products on the CCC menu and I’ve actually found their flowers for slightly cheaper prices at other dispensaries, which is wackadoo.
On the plus side, I’ve seen CCC run contest to win a free ounce every month for a year and stuff like that. So, damn, that would be nice. They pay for the patient transfer fee and give you a free quarter-ounce of a house strain plus a pipe and papers if you’re a new patient.
Do NOT go to Metropolitan Wellness Center. If you find yourself at MWC, read this article again, because you messed up. That’s just facts. The menu is limited and the pricing is OUTRAGEOUS. Okay, they’re the only other dispensary that doesn’t pre-pack, they’re open the latest, and they’re the only one in Southeast. I really think the other dispensary owners should get together with the MWC folks and tell them to lower their pricing, because GANKING FOLKS FOR SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS A MOTHERFUCKING OUNCE, ahem!, especially as the only facility operating in this historically impoverished quadrant of the District, reflects badly on the entire MMJ community. For the record- and again, it’s difficult to pinpoint since it’s not usually advertised- the average price of an ounce of medical flowers is around $400.
I’ll wrap up with my disclosure bit. Every dispensary has a patient referral program, where you get some small credit (generally $25-$50) for every patient that signs up and mentions your name. NOT ME! Since I’m no longer a patient, I don’t care what you do, baby!
I highly recommend joining DC’s medical marijuana program no matter which of the four VALID choices you choose if you want access to great quality flowers.