Category: Service Journalism

CRUISING FOR CANNABIS

West Coast Boasts a Dozen Pot Ports of Call

High-end boutiques, pot-paired dinners, wine-and-weed and bud-and-beer pairings, CBD massages, CBD hotel mini-bars, decadent lounges and smoking excursions await cruise-ship travelers from Alaska to the Mexican border.

BY ED MURRIETA

Cruise-ship travelers are disembarking to legal cannabis on the West Coast of the United States and soon in Canada.

Major cruise lines docking in Juneau, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego today are just gangways away from legal ganja.

On Oct. 17, when legalization begin in Canada, Vancouver, BC, will become the West Coast’s 10th significant pot port and one of the rare places in all legal lands where tourists can smoke in cafes.

When Massachusetts’ recreational cannabis stores go online sometime this summer, there’ll be an international East Coast pot port enclave extending from Boston to Quebec City, Canada.

Today, you can pull into ports on many major cruise lines working the Pacific Ocean today and immerse yourself in the best cannabis stores, the best cannabis lounges, the best cannabis dinners and the best cannabis activities in legal cannabis states.

Depending on how long you’re in port — some cruises pull in for several hours, some for a day or two — you can book tours or DIY your own excursions.

But just don’t carry or use cannabis on board cruise ships. Here’s the bottom line from one major cruise line servicing North America’s Pacific Ocean coast:

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Weed Weekend: San Francisco

Legal cannabis is best enjoyed in social lounges, with gourmet food and in the hands of five-star hotel spa masseuses.

BY ED MURRIETA

SAN FRANCISCO — Like Amsterdam, this lusty city-state boasts picaresque history, edgy authenticity, mind-blowing art and Instagrammable sights,  and among inclined travelers is a cannabis bucket-list destination. From Barbary Coast Bohemians to Beat generation poets and the Sixties’ Summer of Love to today’s legalized renaissance, cannabis has enshrouded San Francisco in intoxicating fog, a heady come-hither whether you wear flowers in your hair or Kate Spades on your feet. Once, tourists scored baggies of pot from hygiene-challenged ragamuffins on hippie-haven Haight Street; modern visitors marvel at the commercialization and wide-spread availability of California’s top agricultural product now that it’s taxed and regulated by the state and innovated by artisans and entrepreneurs. So dive into world-class cannabis retailing; decadent social-consumption lounges; gourmet meals and five-star hotel spa massages incorporating the plant; and local craft beer and cocktails spiked with cannabis extracts, toasting San Francisco’s gay and high history.

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California State Capitol Smoking Spots Mapped — Even Under Moon Tree

Thanks to cigarettes, medicinal cannabis users can smoke cannabis at the California Capitol, atop a subterranean building resembling an abandoned Star Trek set, against a tree-shrouded stone waterwall and beneath the Moon Tree.

BY ED MURRIETA

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Twenty years before recreational cannabis was legalized in California and public consumption was explicitly prohibited, the state’s medicinal cannabis users were already allowed to smoke cannabis wherever it’s legal to smoke cigarettes. In the state capital, thanks to the tobacco lobby, cigarette smoking is allowed on state property and near some state buildings in downtown Sacramento.

That means qualified medicinal cannabis users can smoke on steps of the state Capitol, on park benches surrounding the Capitol’s grounds, atop a subterranean building, in a cool, shady bamboo thicket set against a waterwall near the state’s really cool, harlequin-esque power tower, and beneath the Moon Tree, a Sequoia Redwood grown from seed that went to space aboard NASA’s Apollo 14 in 1971.

Here are some of the best and most convenient locations for medicinal cannabis users walking, biking or commuting downtown Sacramento’s famous tree-lined streets.

Take a break.

Medicate.

It’s legal.  Nonetheless, carry valid ID and your current medicinal cannabis authorization.

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Cultivate Your Ultimate Las Vegas Cannabis Weekend

By me on the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState.com.

Read all of my cannabis news, culture and lifestyles journalism reports for Leafly.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, GreenState.com and other leading cannabis publications.

Follow Northstar to Top-Shelf Flowers and Budget Deals in Sacramento

BY ED MURRIETA

Prohibition-era zoning pushed many cannabis stores to cities’ industrial fringes. Northstar Holistic Collective, while technically in the heart of downtown Sacramento, is located in a neighborhood that was, just a generation ago, an industrial edge of the capital city, where Victorian homes, leafy trees and tired warehouses comfortably coexist today.

It’s here on a quiet corner near a light-rail station, a historic highway and a Quonset hut that one of Sacramento’s oldest shops consistently proves why it’s one of the city’s best: fine flowers, concentrates galore, across-the-board prices, smart budtenders, easy parking and no pretense.

Check-in is no-fuss and high-tech. Get buzzed in, hand your ID to the receptionist and look into a camera connected to software that’ll digitally compare your facial features to the photo on your ID, one of the ways cannabis stores are trying to prevent ID fraud and over-visiting.

Easy-to-read flat-panel menus on the waiting room wall are helpful and convenient — not just because you’ll be sitting in a comfortable chair in a spacious room for 10 to 15 minutes at peak times but because Northstar’s old-school glass retail cabinets aren’t much to look at and pretty much serve as storage and counter space.

Northstar is my go-to store for bargain bud. While you’ll find many great top-shelf strains (Animal Cookies and Titan OG tempt me at $50 an eighth, pre-tax), you’ll also find incredible strains (recently: Mr. Nice Guy, Kalifa Kush) for $50 per half ounce (that’s four eighths), pre-tax.

House joints ($7 mid-grade, $10 top-shelf) are pleasurable and priced right. While I don’t buy concentrates, I recognized many of the resins and shatters I’ve sampled in the lounge at Urban Pharm, Northstar’s San Francisco cousin. Northstar has a good selection of edibles and topicals, too.

Northstar recently added a great new perk for its medicinal cannabis customers. Your printed-on-paper Prop. 215 recommendation — no need for the $100 county-issued card — will save you nearly half off the 23.75 percent combined state and local taxes Northstar charges adult-use customers.

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Slip These ‘Edibles’ Under Your Tongue for Fast-Acting, Great-Tasting Highs

Kin Slips are discreet, effective and flavorful cannabis-infused sublinguals

BY ED MURRIETA

There are many ways to get cannabis into your body — smoking, vaping, eating, drinking, even inserting anally — but only one method and one product have made me stick out my tongue and say, “Oh, that’s tasty-good.”

Like a Willy Wonka wallpaper fantasy, the 1-inch square of Kin Slips’ paper-thin pectin-derived material tasted like watermelon gazpacho — a sweet, cool start, followed by a lingering, licoricey finish.

Kin Slips are discrete, effective and flavorful, smartly dosed, attractively packaged and reasonably priced. The company was founded in 2016 and is based in Oakland.

Although lumped in with edibles, Kin Slips and other sublinguals are not to be eaten. Rather than chewing and digesting Kin Slips, you place them under your tongue and hold them in your mouth, letting them dissolve into your bloodstream in a fraction of time it takes your body to process cannabis-infused chocolate bars and gummy candies through your liver and stomach.

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Tokechella Is California’s Smoking-Hot Desert Cannabis Tourist Destination

Massive Cultivation, Most Dispensaries Per Capita
and Cannabis-Friendly Resorts and Rentals
Make Palm Springs, Cathedral City and
Desert Hot Springs a Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot World

BY ED MURRIETA

It’s high season in the Coachella Valley — for tourism and for pot.

Now’s the time to combine them both.

If you want to visit California next week for a taste of historic cannabis legalization in the Golden State, the Coachella Valley — in particular the resort-town cluster of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs —  is one of the best places to plan a cannabis getaway for Opening Day of legal pot sales, better than other California cannabis travel destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, all lagging behind the Jan. 1 start date.

A longtime playground for movie stars, mobsters, sunseekers and alternative lifestyles 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley has the key elements intrepid cannabis travelers need to ring in California’s new legal era:

  • massive local cultivation;
  • most dispensaries per capita set to sell flowers, edibles and concentrates to adults age 21 and over;
  • cannabis-friendly lodgings, including two cannabis-friendly (and clothing-optional) hot springs resorts and a colorful mountain hotel with a vape-friendly cabin and smoke-friendly grounds;
  • and cannabis-fueled stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park.

Tokechella’s a pot, pot, pot, pot world for sure.

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The Regs: Edibles’ Size and Potency Shrink

What’s happening with high-potency edibles?
Are they shoving micro-dosing down our throats? 

638253596BY ED MURRIETA

Shrinkage of edibles’ potency and portion size top The Regs:.

What’s happening with high-potency edibles?

— Sammy Quintana, Capitola

Are they shoving micro-dosing down our throats? 

— Barb Tandy, Berkeley

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The Regs: How to Save Bongloads on Cannabis Taxes and Carry a Half Pound of Pot

Is there some kind of tax break
for medicinal cannabis consumers? 

638253596BY ED MURRIETA

Once again, taxes top The Regs, this time in the context of a Medical Marijuana Identification Card that can save registered medicinal cannabis consumers bongloads of money in new taxes and allow you to carry eight times the amount of adult-use pot.

I’m a medicinal cannabis user. I heard about an official pot card that lets me avoid paying taxes. Is there some kind of tax break for medicinal cannabis consumers? 

— Randy Hollis, El Cerrito

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The Regs: Wild Wacky Tobaccy Taxes Explained in New Ask-and-Answer Column

What’s the deal with sky-high taxes
were going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?

638253596BY ED MURRIETA

Taxes top The Regs’ inaugural you-ask-the-questions-we-dig-up-the-answers column about California’s new cannabis regulations.

“What’s the deal with sky-high taxes we’re going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?

— Bobbi Zimmerman, San Francisco

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Reciprocity: Your Passport to Nevada Pot

One-of-a-kind program lets out-of-state visitors buy medical cannabis — but there’s a catch for Californians

BY ED MURRIETA

RENO — Here’s a new word for your cannabis lexicon, one that will serve you well if you’re a gambler, skier or business traveler seeking medical cannabis in Nevada:

Reciprocity.

In woo-woo terms, reciprocity is an exchange of mutual benefit. In potspeak, reciprocity means people from California and 26 other states and the District of Columbia can legally obtain and use medical cannabis in Nevada.

While dispensaries and the state attorney general haggle over the exact documentation California residents must provide, Nevada offers reciprocity to qualified medical cannabis patients from any state where medical cannabis is legal.

Medical cannabis users no longer need to transport their stash across state lines. They can buy it Nevada.

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Urban Pharm Review: Dispensary/Lounge Meets Steampunk Sex Club

BY ED MURRIETA

Since the 19th century, when robber barons’ wives insisted they spend their railroad riches in San Francisco, Sacramento Valley elites have aspired to the greater heights of the city.

Two San Francisco medical cannabis dispensaries match that migration. Cookies SF emerged from Sacramento’s Collective Efforts, which breeds and markets the hell out of Cookies strains. Urban Pharm has roots in Sacramento’s Northstar Holistic Collective, since 2010 my go-to dispensary in the state capital.

Opened in December 2015, Urban Pharm is among San Francisco’s new design-intensive gilded-age cannabis dispensaries.

Quality, selection and value of Urban Pharm’s flowers, extracts and edibles meet or beat other top pot shops in the city.

Urban Pharm outdoes them all, however, with an on-premises, open-flame consumption lounge where anything goes — smoking, dabbing, vaping, ediblizing, even stoner comic heckling and karaoke singing.

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Know Your Brownies Before You Add the Pot

EDITOR’S NOTE:  National Brownie Day is Dec. 8. This article originally published in 2004 in the Contra Costa Times and was distributed nationally by Knight Ridder. 

Simplicity isn’t always simple. Take brownies: A few pantry ingredients. A bowl or two. Some mixing. And into the oven. In less than an hour, you’re staring at a pan of deliciously humble baked chocolate.

But before you bite, wait.

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