Brian asked if I had been in before (I hadn’t) and ran through the usual price and selection discussion, again showing the printed strain menu and telling me I could see whichever ones I wanted, all in their smallish sample jars stored behind the counter.
Now this is another area that dampens the dispensary experience for me: unless the sample jars are done very well (meaning fresh, fragrant, well-preserved buds are rotated in regularly), the one to two grams of nugs used for this purpose normally lose their smell, get shaken around by overzealous customers, and generally get beaten up to the point of being almost unrecognizable. That turned out to be the case here, as only a couple of the samples that I asked to see did not have a small blizzard of kief and shake in the bottom of the jars. The buds had clearly seen better days and the sample jars left me longing to know what the product smelled and looked like when it was fresh.
As I again read over the strain menu (comprised of about 20 varieties), I recognized several selections on the menu that originated with a local grower known as Tierra Rojo, who has done quite a lot of breeding and seed-spreading in this area over the last few years. I opted to check out the “Daywalker x Tang Tang” (the strain is actually called Headwrecker, which is Daywrecker x Tang Tang according to the grower’s past promotional materials), which seemed immature and looked and smelled rather underwhelming; the Pootie Tang (LA Kush x Tang Tang) (Patient’s Choice goes with spelling of “Pooty,” by the way), which was better than the first choice and had a clear, strong piney-floral scent; and eventually, my pick of the litter, the heavily indica Phantom Cookies ([Cherry Pie x Grandaddy Purple] x [Platinum Cookies x Bay 11]), which had a very creamy, musky smell and looked to be the most well-preserved of all.
The recreational prices at Patient’s Choice are on the high side, like most stores, at $27.50 per 1.5 grams, $55 per eighth, up to $340 per ounce (out-of-state residents are limited to a quarter-ounce). I am simply not used to paying $60 or more for an eighth including tax, so I was on the lookout for a cheaper option yet again. I asked Brian about the pre-rolled joints, because I do think it’s a good way to judge the overall quality and scruples of a shop (as you can see in my last review). Disappointingly, the Phantom Cookies strain was not available in joint form, so I settled for the solid, yet not overly impressive Pooty Tang. My total was $12.17 after tax (joints are $10 pre-tax), which isn’t terrible, but certainly had me hoping the joint was of the “at least 0.8 gram” variety at that price. Brian grabbed one of the now-familiar silver mylar bags and loaded it with a green “Doob Tube”-style joint container, sealing it with a countertop heat sealer as I waited. The shiny silver of the bag and lack of an exterior label made me feel like I was holding the inner packaging of a printer ink cartridge rather than a cone joint filled with something called “Pootie Tang.”
Patient’s Choice doesn’t accept credit cards, but they do have the absolute cheapest ATM machine I have ever encountered, which only has a $0.25 convenience fee. The marijuana industry deals with a lot of banking issues; speaking as a customer, this was one of the best ways to handle those problems, especially for those of us who don’t carry cash around on a daily basis. Before I left, I asked about their concentrate selection, and Brian indicated that they carry a wide variety retailing for $50 per gram and up, showing me a couple shatters made by The Lab Infused Products (a division of The Clinic) and wax made by Mahatma, all of which were already sealed up in the manufacturer’s packaging and thus unable to be smelled. Again I was left wanting by the lack of sensory experience and crossed my fingers that the joint was decent, thanked Brian and left through the door I came in.
Later that night, I opted to smoke the joint al fresco (a.k.a. behind my garage). When I opened the package I was genuinely impressed by the overall construction of the slim, cone-style joint. I couldn’t tell if it was machine or hand-rolled, but it wasn’t too densely packed (a common problem with machine-rolled) yet still had an entirely smooth surface and a perfectly-spiraled “crutch” at the tip.
It held the flame and smoked well enough when I sparked it up, though the final ash was on the dark gray/black side, indicating the plant may not have been flushed fully. The Pooty Tang’s flavor was similar to the smell, eucalyptus-like and slightly sweet floral-pine. I’d rate the flavor and burn quality as average; it didn’t hurt my throat or make me cough, but it lost its flavor after a few pulls and generally wasn’t all that enjoyable for my snobby, concentrate-loving palate.
Fortunately, the effects of the joint were better than the smoking process, and it provided me with a mellow yet sativa-dominant experience that lasted several hours. It was clear-headed and calming, good for unwinding after a day at work when there’s still stuff to do, or maybe on a moderately active weekend. The product was solid if not spectacular, but I didn’t feel ripped off with the purchase, even considering my general distaste for the high recreational prices.
My experience with Patient’s Choice overall was a positive one, and I would like to go back for some of the Phantom Cookies to see if another strain choice might leave me feeling more impressed with their quality than the Pootie Tang did. The professional and friendly staff was probably the highlight of my visit, aside from the 25-cent ATM; based on this limited experience, I’d rank the product as distinctly average and the prices as average-to-good.
If you live near this area, you can definitely do worse than paying a visit to Patient’s Choice (especially if you despise waiting in lines, like myself), but if you’re looking for the absolute top quality, connoisseur-level cannabis, I would probably look elsewhere.
Sketchy neighborhood and odd storefront, but solid prices, decent product and a friendly staff redeem it.
The must-try: Aside from the $0.25 ATM(!), the Phantom Cookies seemed heads-and-shoulders above the rest of the selections.
The lasting impression: This shop displays all the hallmarks of a very average dispensary. Everything was OK.