|All photos by Sharon Letts|
She’s The Brains, He’s The Strains: On The Road With Craig & Sharon
Story and Photos by Sharon Letts
Strain Review by Craig Carroll
Introduction: Changing the Way People Think About Cannabis, One Bud at a Time
By Sharon Letts
Craig and I came of age in the 70s. He surfed and played guitar in rock bands, while I rode the waves on a Boogie Board and gardened.
Both of us reaped the benefits of cannabis: Craig for anxiety and undiagnosed autism; me for menstrual cramps and depression. I can’t speak for the boys, but we girls knew what worked each month, and pitied the girl relying solely on Midol and a heating pad.
Both of us watched as cannabis grew up to be good medicine, then was legalized in California in 1996. Neither of us rushed out to get a “Prop. 215 card.” I was busy raising my daughter; he was teaching high school and starting a family. Both of us stopped smoking for long periods of time.Â
Surprisingly, it was age and health issues that brought the herb back into our lives.Â
Heading into menopause, already suffering from digestive issues and weight gain caused by Thyroid Disease, I began using cannabis to relax my stomach where I hold my stress.Â
Sleeplessness with menopause has become a huge issue for me, and a honey tincture provides at least six good hours of sleep a night, allowing me to write.Â
While others may go the pharmaceutical route, we’ll stick to this simple herb. Our travels will have Craig looking for a pick-me-up for his chronic fatigue and relief for his chronic pain. I’ll be perusing the edible isles for sleep-aids and help with my flucuating mood swings.
Each trip will include a review of the top five collectives from the town we are visiting, while Craig reviews its top strains, deciphering aesthetics of the bud, and potential medicinal benefits.
We’ll also find a canna mover and shaker from that town and have a hang-out, chatting about what’s going on with the medicine in their world.
If your personal favorite club isn’t listed, not to worry, we’ll pass through town again! Send in your favorites and who knows, maybe your friendly neighborhood collective will make our list during our next trip.
So, sit back, relax, roll-up a fatty, and enjoy the ride!
|We asked Sac Town resident and Canna Comic Ngaio Bealum to name his top five collectives.|
Our search for good medicine in California begins in the State Capitol of Sacramento.
The smoky hang-out rooms in the dispensaries of the past are fading, now replaced by new, modern facilities more resembling a cross between an apothecary and a disco.
The Hang Out
We asked Sac Town resident and Canna Comic Ngaio Bealum to name his top five collectives.
Though more have opened and closed since we first reviewed, these five remain favorites until we visit the area again.
It was a good hang-out, and I thought we parted on good terms, but dude, did you have to leave with both our lighters in your pocket?
All About Wellness
1900 19th St., Corner of 19th and S streets
Contact: Phillip and Debbie Smith
Entering All About Wellness in Old Sac, the first thing noticed are two gold records framed on the wall above the intake counter. “Who are these people?” we wondered. MediCann’s “Typical Stoner” ad campaign comes to mind, for you can’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to medicinal cannabis. Why would a collective have original Elton John memorabilia on its walls?
Co-founders and owners Phillip and Debbie Smith began growing cannabis as newlywed back-to-the-landers on 13 acres in the hills in Northern California in 1975. Their first home was a 17 foot camper trailer and an outhouse. They tell stories of living off the grid, using generators to bring water up to a six foot trough, then filling five gallon containers and carrying them down through the property to water the plants.Â
Craig and I listen, knowingly, as we know this story. It’s a Southern Humboldt story. It’s the story of pioneers in a booming industry that just may save the world and its economy.
How growing pot in the hills turned into a career in the music industry, we just can’t say. But during the early 1980s Phillip was managing Sir Elton John himself, hence the collage of memorabilia.Â
The business is family run, opened in 2009 with the Smith’s daughter and son-in-law. Their son has a metal fabricating shop and his work is prominent, including the entire bud counter and a bike rack out front.
The stories of growing in the early days stay with us. We can’t imagine what it’s like being afraid every time a plane flies overhead, or starting everything from seed, watching and learning when to pull the males.
We can’t thank them enough, and welcome them into the new age of providing good medicine to deserving patients.
Delta Health & Wellness
2418 17th St., corner of 17th and X streets
Contact: Dan Moulton, owner
No Web site. Find them on Facebook: Delta Health & Wellness
Past comments on WeedMaps.com show a dismal beginning for this little dispensary located in a rambling Craftsman house in Old Sacramento. New owner Don Moulton had his work cut out for him when he took over the wellness center in 2007. His attitude is strictly business, as he matter-of-factly stated, “I’m just trying to run a business ethically and morally in an industry that has stereotype issues and is basically misunderstood.”
|Delta Health & Wellness co-owner Dan Moulton shows off a fine specimen of its pride and joy, Warlock.Â |
The smiling face at the door on this day was Jenny Davis, a sociology/English major attending not one, but four community and city colleges while working part-time at intake for Delta. Davis suffers from extreme menstrual cramps, and medicates herself, therefore making her a good first-chat on strains.
Like any good businessman Moulton has his fingers in the pie of many a canna start-up, including sister company “Bhang,” makers of fine medicinal chocolates. The “Toffee Chocolate” made from “hybrid strains” and “smoked sea salt,” by the way, helped this writer sleep through the night away from home.
A contractor by trade, his background includes building high-end, custom greenhouses and nurseries. Subsequently, today he’s co-owner of a company manufacturing and distributing portable grow rooms housed in self-contained, 40 foot commercial containers.
His skill sets combined, Moulton found his niche in a world where indoor gardening rules and supply and demand is high. He prides himself on hybrid strains, quality merchandise and knowledgeable staff.Â
El Camino Wellness Center
2511 Connie Dr., corner of El Camino Ave. and Connie Dr.
Contact: Â Alan Blount, Manager
If its true location is everything, then the El Camino Wellness Center lucked out big time, sitting smack dab next to a garden statuary shop. The perk: a well landscaped entry with a soothing water element. Â Don’t let the security guard at the gate frighten you away, inside the garden theme continues with a proverbial wall of bamboo greeting you at intake.
An equally proverbial, smiling Manager, Alan Blount, gives us the grand tour, and we soon find ourselves in another soothing space set up specifically for massage.
In fact, despite a negative cash flow in the outreach department, El Camino prides itself on its in-house care with Acupressure, music therapy and ASA (Americans for Safe Access) peer counseling on the Calendar each month, giving the holistic properties of cannabis a realistic boost.
Inside, what I like to call the Apothecary element of the business, brightly lit boards list the day’s pantry items and samples are lined up behind glass display cases for easy viewing. It’s a clean and orderly approach to good medicine.
Principals Sunny Kumar and Nicholas Street say they are dedicated to all the points noted in the American’s for Safe Access guidelines, including providing a feeling of community, belonging and wellness that begins in the parking lot, bordering a residential neighborhood. Thankfully, Blount notes everyone gets along, pointing to the “safety staff” in the parking lot and its “good neighbor policy.”
The high-tech atmosphere of this club intensifies on Friday night when DJs spin, but come morning patients can be found out in the organic garden or in the kitchen learning to grow and cook with their medicine.
Aside from the hoopla, patient’s needs are primary, and Blount shares, “Two patients stand-out in my mind. Both have seizures on a regular basis and used to medicate with our high CBD hash. Now, with the influx of high CBD strains on the menu, I’m able to provide the types of cannabis that really help these two guys out. It’s powerful stuff!”
J St. Wellness
2321 J St., corner of J and 24th streets
Contact: Ron Mullins, Director
J St. Wellness is a collective with a cause. While other clubs set-up shop on the outskirts of town, J St. is located in the middle of a busy, mixed residential and commercial use area, in a trendy part of Old Sac. Director Ron Mullins said locals refer to the area as the “Gayborhood,” located just a few blocks from the LGBT hub of Twentieth and K streets.
A Volunteer hangs art for a monthly show, while Mullins takes identification from a young man visiting for the first time. Everyone is welcome and the clientele reflects the neighborhood.
“As a gay man myself I saw a need for a place patients in our community could come and feel comfortable,” Mullins explained. “Sometimes hetero-centric security guards and staff can make for an uncomfortable and sometimes frightening experience in some clubs. Patients have told me stories about dressing differently, trying not to appear too gay, behaving differently from their norm, because the environment didn’t feel safe to come out of the closet.”
J Street Wellness is just one big, open closet and is especially sensitive to transitioning transgenders.
“With gender reassignment, transsexual patients lose access during the time they are transitioning,” he explained. “Most security and staff in other clubs don’t understand why a person who is one gender on their ID is now dressed as the opposite gender. One club refused to file new paperwork after the patient had their ID updated to reflect the transition, but that will never happen here - we understand.
Outreach, education, and helping each other is what J St. is all about. And this is how it began, I thought, with AIDS in San Francisco. The gay population aced the care of its own and birthed a hospice and cooperative protocol that is J St. Wellness today.
5207 Madison Ave., Suite H, corner of Madison Ave. and Auburn Blvd.
Contact: Becky Carps, Floor Manager
No Web site. Find them on Facebook: One Solution
Just off Highway 80, set back from the street, is a non-descript storefront where One Solution makes its home. If you are having trouble finding the little strip mall amid all the strip malls and fast food franchises on this busy street, not to worry, “Just look for the Adventist Book Center on the corner,” she said with a wink.
|A chef employed by vendor, Stroop, found this gooey treat in an Amsterdam coffee house. When set on top of a hot beverage the canna-infused caramel inside melts.|
Ever-friendly, Floor Manager, Becky Carps said the Christians on the corner are nothing but nice and are happy to have them there. Other neighbors, she said, aren’t so kind.
Could be they haven’t ventured into this highly organized, ever-professional collective. If they did they would find themselves in the cushiest lobby (no pun intended), watching an informative documentary on a good-sized, flat-screen TV. After filling out the proper paperwork, they would be greeted at the secure door to the medicine room by a knowledgeable “Patient Assistants,” happy to help them with their every need.
Its monthly calendar boasts an array of savings opportunities alongside free massage, but it was the edibles counter that had this sleep disorder sufferer’s eye, as I filled my shopping basket with chocolate truffles, thick dipping cookies, and a caramel-filled waffle cookie with a back-story.
“The chef of a local edibles vendor found them on a recipe seeking mission in Amsterdam,” Carps said. ‘They are a coffee/tea treat with a caramel filling infused with cannabis from Mendocino. You put the cookie on top of a hot beverage and the caramel melts inside.”
Carps said the waffle, traditionally made from leftover crumbs, was developed in the Netherlands in 1784, and is enjoyed in cannabis coffee houses all over Amsterdam today.
The mission of this club is to provide a welcoming feeling for anyone stepping through its doors and we think they nailed it. If community spirit is a good gauge, Carps said last holiday season One Solution raised the largest amount in clothing donations for the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, bringing in a whopping 15,000 pounds of clothes, and came in second for its canned food drive.
As we left this last club and headed home to Humboldt, Carps handed me my bag of medicine, “You are going to love the chocolate truffle!” she said with a smile. And I did, it was delicious and helped me sleep through the night with dreams of Sac Town dancing in my head.
By Craig Carroll
All About Wellness
“That was nice,” Sharon obliquely replied as I used her as a guinea pig for our sample of The Cure from All About Wellness. Ten minutes later, she found herself trying to push the inertia of the THC assaulting her brain, yet, almost instantly relieving her headache.
|A double handful of All About Wellness’s pride and joy, “The Cure.”|
The Cure is All About Wellness’ house blend, and its “flagship” strain. A hybrid of mostly high octane indica, it crosses Monkey Paw and Afghan Goo with Bubba Kush. Coming in at 18 percent THC, this is strong medicine.
Resembling a bulbous peanut, yet thicker, this fruity cannabis carried a distinct dank hint of pine-cone lemon. The pure, dense mass of matted buds was candy-coated with an abundance of pasty, white THC crystals, starkly set against the green and purple chunk. Almost indistinguishable from the bud mass, maroon hairs were pasted with a glue-like THC, creating an elusive, otherworldly color.
Out of an icy bong, The Cure washes over one like Robert Smith’s eerie vocals. For me, reminiscent of Blue Dream, this herb had a heady, earthy taste, and was not a lung buster. I did feel an instant body rush, and felt my rambling thoughts subdued—cement snowshoes on anxious neurons causing a delightfully quick-bent reality.
‘My second visit to the chalice was where the euphoria kicked in. For as potent as this cannabis is, the high leveled off quickly and clarity set in. I felt the long, even high assimilated in mind and body well, wearing off evenly, leaving me feeling clear and refreshed.
For chronic pain, stress headaches, upset stomach (I became a veritable eating machine), The Cure is truly a panacea to enjoy!
Delta Health & Wellness
Delta Health and Wellness Center sent us home with their pride and joy, knowing full well the breadth and scope of its bewitching properties. Warlock is their own house brand, a very potent indica with some sativa characteristics. Both Seedfinder.com and Dope-Seeds.com show Warlock as a cross between Skunk No.1 and Afghani, and high in THC. Illinois state troopers reportedly measured it at a staggering 29 percent THC!
|Craig said Delta Health & Wellness’s pride and joy, “Warlock,” is a bewitching indica, selling for $45 an eighth at the time of our visit|
Warlock displays the classic Christmas tree shape - a tight, conical nose with the dark green, solid bud fanning out evenly on all sides. Intermixed among the crusty, purple trichomes, an army of thick, stout, fuzzy brownish-red hairs invade. Breaking off a chunk of this large bud, I found the deep purple of the underside bejeweled with pasty, white THC crystals.
I found Warlock‘s aroma to be deceivingly light considering the high THC content - aromatic, it had an exotic, heady Afghani sandalwood flavor, with a light hint of that oh-so-familiar Skunk.
Smooth on the lungs, this herb produced a memorable, exotic flavor on the exhale, and was instantly warming, bringing quick relief. Very aggressive on pain centers, and one’s general senses, it lays one out, locked in a comfy couch with your favorite book, show, or view out the window.
With Warlock, be prepared to set back and be unfettered for a spell. This cannabis is definitely for the experienced ingester that well knows their tolerance, and enjoys immense, fast and full relief.
El Camino Wellness Center
Sitting on the cutting edge of cannabis connoisseurship, El Camino utilizes the high-tech skills of Pure Analytics cannabis testing facility, rating its strains on THC percentages. For example, their indoor Romulan tested at 22.69 percent THC, and the chunky shaped bud produced a clear effect in the brain as impressive as on paper. Coming in at 23.55 percent THC, their Herijuana OG medicates in a manner similar to the root of its name, but in a more user friendly, natural, and safe package.
|El Camino’s top three strains are “Bog Sour Bubble,” “Herojuana,” and “Romulan.”|
However, when it came time for their pride and joy, clerk Alan Blount, proud, and grinning, handed me a nug of its “sure thing,” its Bog Sour Bubble.
Grown by legendary cannabis strain magician Bog himself, this cannabis is a very unusual bubblegum strain derived from the Bog Bubble gene pool, crossed with an unknown, probably indica, strain. According to Seedfinder.com he concocted this gem by backcrossing males from previous generations, pollinating the clone mother again, while not confusing Freud or us too much!
The thumb sized bud, with pronounced, rich, crystally teardrop trichomes, had beautiful, small, deep maroon hairs nestled in the mass. Dense, but not rock hard, the bud had a nice uniform roundness to it.
I noticed a more sour smell to Bog Sour Bubble rather than a bubble gum smell. Coming out of the grinder nice and fluffy, this cannabis fired up and was a real lung-bursting, strong! Not yet back from Pure Analytics but with a no doubt high THC percentage, Bog was quoted as saying, “This my most potent strain.” To concur, it sent me way back into my head like a thrill ride, then causing that detached “TV camera in your head” vision. Once acclimated, the euphoria settled my ever-racing thoughts, and this strong medicine transported me far, far away from the day’s stress. Good job, Mr. Bog!
J St. Wellness
In our search for good medicine, we get to see many classic strains of cannabis, as well as a mix of the magic new. J St. Wellness is a good example of this, with indica classics like its Grandaddy Purple, a tight bud Kush with bold red hairs against purple mass and highly resinous crystals underneath.
Their 75 percent indica/25 percent sativa LA Kush, with its sweet Girl Scout cookie chocolate and mint aftertaste would be excellent dessert cannabis. I was impressed with its outdoor 60 percent indica/40 percent sativa hybrid, Voodoo, especially in a cannabis world dominated by indoor products, reminiscent of my favorite old school, stick-less Thai. And, speaking of Thai, J St.‘s was the bomb!
Straight down the indica highway, All About Wellness’ Blueberry Thai was about as close to that classic stick-less as I’ve seen, in that most Thai I’ve encountered has been in the form of hybrids that displayed more of their bred partner’s characteristics than those of Thai. This large, strawberry shaped bud (about the size of one’s big toe) was very full and dense, hard, but not rock hard, as it had a nice, spongy feel to a light finger squish.
This was beautiful cannabis to gaze at - camo-green with dark maroon hairs matted in the bud with THC crystals abounding. Not perfumey, this Blueberry Thai had that meaty Bubba Kush smell, and for some strange reason made me think of smokey jazz music!
At first very smooth in the lungs, with a fruity aftertaste juxtaposing its aroma, subsequent further hits revealed a rather potent strain here. And like its close cousin, this is couch-lock herb straight down the pipe! Well timed ingestion will lead to relaxation, increased appetite, moon-walking euphoria, and increased creativity, though those creative ideas may have to wait a few hours to be actualized in the physical world.
It was difficult for me to showcase a pride and joy for One Solution, as they had so many wonderful strains to peruse. Their O Geisel, a 50/50 hybrid, OG Kush crossed with Sour Diesel, with its fat, fuzzy buds was yummy. The Athena’s Bubba, a 90 percent indica/10 percent sativa, brought a “classic” cerebral high - immediate, fast, with a flowing warm body rush. A cross between Afghani and Purple Kush, their Afghani Purple marble-sized buds, overwhelmed with dense, maroon hairs, were not only strong in aroma and distinct, but delivered a punch guaranteed to transport one at light speed into instant euphoria.
|One Solution’s top three strains at the time of our visit: “The Flav,” “Afghani Purple,” and “OGiesel.” “CannaGold, in front, otherwise known as “Canna Rocks,” are buds soaked in hash oil, then rolled in kief.|
But, for me, it was all about… The Flav! Ex-Public Enemy side man and reality TV star, bewilderer Flava-Flav has no connection to this strain that I know of, but he would probably love it! This cross between Romulan and Space Queen would have the Enterprise and the rest of the fleet heading for the neutral zone (and we all know who scores with the queen, this time with herb not ale!).
A 60 percent sativa/40 percent indica showcases the heavy Romulan head buzz with the Space Queen sativa boost driving the Romulan. The flowers reminded me of primo late 80’s Hawaiian, a rarity for us Southern Californians at the time, with their bright, light green color, airy and fluffy trichomes packed with thickly protruding, full orange hairs. The THC crystals were beautiful - fuzzy, silver and gold against the verdant backdrop. I noticed a distinct papier-mÃ¢chÃ© texture when breaking down the bud, and found it to be super fluffy out of the grinder, with the thick, orange hairs prominent.
The Flav was easy on my lungs, with a piney, yet fruity, savory, sweet flavor - really, really yummy, like dessert cannabis. With a lingering piney aftertaste, The Flav is delightfully user-friendly, and a very social cannabis, indeed! Great for those of us who suffer from anxiety, as I sometimes do, especially in social situations.