Vallejo's medical-marijuana industry has weathered yet another crackdown and is in full bloom this year.
Thanks in part to state-level regulations, medical-marijuana patients throughout the north and east bays can obtain some of the best regionally grown cannabis flowers, and hence the world — all from a sleepy, bedroom community just across the Carquinez Bridge.
Thirty minutes north of Berkeley by freeway, Vallejo Holistic Health Center had a line nine-people deep on a recent Tuesday afternoon. The huge, community center-like club was stocked with eighth ounces of elite cuts of trendy Wedding Cake, Alien OG, Sherbet and Gelato, as well as Bay Area staples such as Jack Herer and Grand Daddy Purple. VHHC has seven sales stations and a veritable Target aisle worth of starter marijuana plants, or clones; edibles such as Yummi Karma medicated sriracha potato chips; and hyper-potent extracts like "The Clear" vape pen cartridges.
It could have been much different. In 2015, Mayor Osby Davis promised a renewed crusade against pot clubs, proposing they all shut down. After a voter backlash, the city has since "immunized" at least eleven clubs from prosecution. That means the dispensaries are not legal, but as long as they pay their taxes, stay away from schools, and play by some other rules, the clubs are not illegal, either.
A quick review of online directory WeedMaps.com shows a fleet of non-immunized weed delivery outfits, as well.
The city is now at work on regulating the local industry from seed to sale, through a large advisory committee and paid consultants.
A bloom is beginning, and residents of the once-bankrupt city enjoy access to some of the most elite, trending cannabis strains on the planet.
Cannabis regulatory expert and attorney James Anthony commended Vallejo's progress.
"The local dispensaries are improving and diversifying their product lines — and their prices remain highly competitive despite a ten percent gross receipts tax," he explained in an email.
The menus are a testament to this growth and success. Highway 29 Healthcare has a never-before-seen cannabis strain, a cross of Gorilla Glue and Girl Scout Cookies called Gorilla Scouts. They also report having supplies of Mochi, which is the newest "it" strain from ranking breeder Mr. Sherbinski.
Mr. Sherbinki and a San Francisco group created the hit strain Girl Scout Cookies, which has since colonized the world. Today, Vallejoans are first in line for new Cookies crosses at H2C Cookies 707, which carries official Cookie Fam Gelato 45 and 41, and the award-winning Do-si-do, Zkittlez, Berner's Cookies and Hi-Tech.
We spotted Mr. Sherbinski's equally coveted Gello at HTP Group. U.S. Bloom Collective has the cross Blue Cookies, Black Diamond Sherbet, Tangie and Jahgoo.
For chronnoisseurs, this is like being able to do your most elite wine shopping not in Napa, but in Tracy.
Valley Holistic Health Care remains among city residents' favorite spots, though. It's clean, professional, fully stocked, and is one of the rare union shops — expertly staffed by friendly, trained UFCW Local 5 members.
Inside, VHHC is as simple and unadorned as it is massive. Each sales station is stocked with both low-cost outdoor flowers and also top-shelf offerings, plus wall-and-wall edibles, extracts, topicals, clones, and even THC skin patches and asthma inhalers.
Patients looking for cannabidiol-rich, or CBD, flowers will be rewarded, as well as top-shelf strain hunters.
After learning about my love of Sherbet and Blue Cookies, the budtender brought out some off-menu Wedding Cake and Alien OG. Wedding Cake is so named for its frostiness, and because it's physically caked in white resin. A cross of Girl Scout Cookies with Cherry Pie, it gives off a complex smell and a rich, sweet, indica-hybrid smoke that works best as a nightcap.
Similarly, Alien OG is the famed Tahoe OG crossed to Alien Kush — which carries some extremely heavy indica genetics that go back to Afghanistan. This is piney, astringent, potent, pain-relieving, insomnia-zapper in a bottle.
For the best flowers today, look farther. Make time to for a quick pit stop in Vallejo.