Marijuana goes mainstream - Page 4

Take a tour of the Bay Area's best cannabis clubs, which are proving that prohibition is the problem, not pot

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I combined that information with recommendations from a variety of sources I interviewed to develop my list, which is incomplete and entirely subjective, but nonetheless a good overview of the local industry and the differences among the clubs.

Also, like our restaurant reviewers, I didn't identify myself as a journalist on my visits, preferring to see how the average customer is treated — and frankly, I was amazed at the high level of friendly, knowledgeable customer service at just about every club. To comply with city law, all the clubs are fully accessible by those with disabilities.

So, with that business out of the way, please join me on my tour of local cannabis clubs, in the (random) order that I visited them:

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DIVINITY TREE

While the reviews on Yelp rave about Divinity Tree (958 Geary St.), giving it five stars, I found it a little intimidating and transactional (although it was the first club I visited, so that might be a factor). But if you're looking to just do your business in a no-frills environment and get out, this could be your place.

The staff and most of the clientele were young men, some a bit thuggish. One worker wore a "Stop Snitching" T-shirt and another had "Free the SF8." But they behaved professionally and were knowledgeable and easy to talk to. When I asked for a strain that would ease my anxiety but still allow me enough focus to write, my guy (patients wait along a bench until called to the counter) seemed to thoughtfully ponder the question for a moment, then said I wanted a "sativa-dominant hybrid" and recommended Neville's Haze.

I bought 1/16 for $25 and when I asked for a receipt, it seemed as though they don't get that question very often. But without missing a beat he said, "Sure, I'll give you a receipt," and gave me a hand-written one for "Meds."

Buds weighed on purchase

Open for: three years

Price: Fairly low

Selection: Moderate

Ambiance: A transactional hole in the wall

Smoke On Site: No

Thug factor: Moderate

Access/Security: Easy. Membership available but not required

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GRASS ROOTS

Located at 1077 Post St. right next to Fire Station #3, Grass Roots has the feel of a busy saloon. Indeed, as a worker named Justin told me, many of the employees are former bartenders who know and value customer service. With music, great lighting, and nice décor, this place feels comfortable and totally legit. Whereas most clubs are cash-only, Grass Roots allows credit card transactions and has an ATM on site.

The steady stream of customers are asked to wait along the back wall, perusing the menus (one for buds and another with pictures for a huge selection of edibles) until called to the bar. When asked, my guy gave me a knowledgeable breakdown of the difference between sativa and indica, but then Justin came over to relieve him for a lunch break with the BBQ they had ordered in and ate in the back.

Justin answered my writing-while-high inquiry by recommending Blue Dream ($17 for a 1.2-gram), and when I asked about edibles, he said he really likes the indica instant hot chocolate ($6), advising me to use milk rather than water because it bonds better with the cannabinoids to improve the high. Then he gave me a free pot brownie because I was a new customer. I was tempted to tip him, but we just said a warm goodbye instead.

Buds weighed on purchase

Open for: five years

Price: Moderate

Selection: High

Ambiance: A warm and welcoming weed bar

Smoke On Site: No

Thug factor: Low

Access/Security: Easy

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