More than a decade ago, a grower in Humboldt county, California, said, “as marijuana becomes legal, there’s this phenomenon where people just stop smoking. Some wait so long, then go so overboard that they have more than they could ever smoke. Take away the forbidden fruit factor, and after a while of having so much, it’s almost like they get bored with it and just try to make money.”
The term “Walmart weed” has been tossed around more and more frequently. Was it just a catchy phrase, or was there more behind it? A group of undercover reporters went to dispensaries in five states looking for answers, only to uncover money making schemes becoming more common.
A tad more than a decade ago, when dispensaries were only allowed in California, they were like the unicorns of the weed world: some magical thing found near a rainbow that only a fabled few were allowed into if they were lucky enough to be a resident of the state, have the right paperwork of a legit reason to need the help of a magical healing plant, and, of course, pay money to those that be. If so honored to be able to go inside, it was an amazing array of things that blew most people’s minds. Nowadays, as more and more states legalize marijuana, the quality has slipped in a few key areas.
First, let’s take a flash back in history to a time known as Prohibition, when people tried to make alcohol illegal. Not only did it fail miserably, resulting in gangsters being trusted more than the President – especially when Calvin Coolidge had denaturing formulas added to things containing alcohol, which resulted in tens of thousands of people dying – but there was a reason alcohol was made legal again. Mostly, it had to do with money, as the country needed a source of cash to pull it out of the Depression, and now flash back to the present, after the economy took a dive, now weed’s legal.
It’s not a coincidence. Vices are a great source to tax. Some even tax sugary sweets.
There’s money to be made regardless, and in an industry where people don’t know as much as they like to pretend they know, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that there’s some shady stuff going on. There’s flashy numbers on packaging to make people think that there’s big testing being done in fancy laboratories, and they get some great image in their mind, but how hard is it to print a label and stick it?
Sure, there are ways to test the content. That’s not a myth. But how many are honest about it?
How many really bother? Of course, there are model dispensaries out there that try to follow the rules, but it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch. One great sample could be sent to get the okay to label a whole batch of some hogwash, and who would be the wiser to know for sure?
Packaging can hide a variety of sins, especially when it cannot be seen through. From disappointing portions, like when opening a big bag of chips to find it’s mostly air, to quality issues, such as expecting the pretty sample you gazed at under the microscope, only to find some hogwash inside. Even with medibles, when the picture makes it look huge, then you get half of a sniff of a bite instead.
Pre-rolls are probably the biggest disappointment nowadays. Some of the prices are truly getting outrageous, as one pre-roll came in at more than $100 in California last month, but what’s the quality? The undercover reporters wanted to judge by what the real medical patient would likely be able to afford, which is probably not the $100 joint if they can barely afford chemotherapy, so they opted to try the lowest priced pre-rolls to judge the quality across the country…only to be disappointed.
“I think I’d rather slurp stripper starfish,” one man said. “It’s kind of a heavy cigar, leafy, dirt taste that makes you cough from the harshness, without giving you the buzz. I may hack out a lung, but it’s not from some amazing quality, so much as a bonfire full of leaf smoke that chokes you out.”
Without even hearing that comment, another guy takes two hits, puts it down and cries, “I can’t smoke this. Where the hell did you get this, and how much of this would someone have to smoke to get any sort of a high?” Others had the same reaction, trying a puff or two, and putting it down in disgust.
Unfortunately, it was not just one kind from one dispensary in one state, but time after time, state after state, the pre-rolls were getting that reaction. So, what are they putting into the pre-rolls? More commonly, it does not even seem to be ground, so much as shake left over from trimmings.
Thus, it’s not the quality buds. It’s more leaf than anything. Grind it up, and who can be sure?
So, problem solved by just buying buds, right? Wrong. That has a whole different set of games.
First, there’s the sticky icky, and to the average person, it’s super exciting, because it’s sticky. The question is what’s making it sticky? What makes the crystals shimmer, and what’s that perfume?
From sugar water spritzes to make it moist and shimmery, to perfume that leaves a nasty chemical aftertaste, there were buds that looked amazing and left people wondering when it’d kick in. When everybody goes from super excited to questioningly glancing at each other, it kills the mood. From funky tastes that left people wondering what they did to flush the weed, to twitches that made the lip curl from just general nastiness, there were not many willing to jump up and go get some more.
It begs the question of why there’s not more organic weed being served in dispensaries, especially if they are there to help sick people. What chemicals are used in the growing process, and what are the plants sucking up from the soil that might not be up to par? What if a crop had mites, and the grower sprayed to try to save the plants, leaving all those chemicals there to be ingested by people?
Molds are just nasty. All it takes is someone not burping a jar, and boom. How much moldy stuff is simply served up in other ways, such as topicals and even those yummy medibles we love?
When it comes to medibles, even if a sample of a product has been tested, how does that ensure that the rest of the batch is up to par? It’s very hard to get the exact same ratio of ingredients in every portion served – just ask the restaurants who get busted for their calorie counts being way off. Food labels can be deceiving, so we put them to the group test by getting a variety of medibles with the exact same label potency, just to see if people reacted the same way to the same strengths advertised.
Is it shocking to learn that there’s not a consistency across the board? There were a few that actually did reach a similar balance between different users, but there were many with only fancy, misleading packaging that left people wondering if they had really eaten a medible at all. Some had the taste of weed, and that’s it, while others just tasted like candy from a shelf at the grocery store.
Gummies seemed to consistently be the most unreliable. Some were labeled as super potent, only to be rather lame. Of course, there were other let downs, from peanut butter fudge to chocolates.
Is there a peanut butter cup crisis that someone forgot to mention? Out of more than twenty random dispensaries in five states, not one had a peanut butter cup. Some just sold out, none in stock.
Just saying, as a heads up to the bakers out there, there is apparently a need for peanut butter cups. Sure, there may be a few random people with peanut allergies, which is why it’s so much more common to find those low-fat gummies, but chocolate and peanut butter is a great combination. That’s the one thing that was continuously sought and never found, to the disappointment of many, and the reason it was specifically searched for was because a decade ago, those were some of the best offered.
A dispensary in Oakland had previously held the best medible ever found award by this same group of undisclosed, undercover investigators. Of course, that was back when pre-rolls were actually buds, and most dispensaries had standards as to what they would accept to sell. This same dispensary was now home to the joint that cost more than $100 (and yes, it was just a standard size, not a big’un), as well as now the most disappointing medible, an overpriced bag of lychee gummies that did not taste or smell like weed, and did not seem to have any noticeable effects amongst various testers.
California, Washington, Michigan, and Oregon are all legal states now. What that means for medical patients depends on the state, as some allow medical patients to buy more potent weed, putting a limit on the amount of THC sold to the general public, while other states simply give a discount to medical patients. Of course, that discount can be as little as saving a dollar or nothing at all.
Florida has not approved recreational, only medical, but it created monopolies. Florida wins the longest wait award, as the dispensaries are allowed to deliver weed, and if patients don’t want to wait more than two hours on any given day, then they are told to pony up the extra cash to have it delivered. They also win the “we only have top shelf available” award, as most dispensaries like to play that game.
Oregon had the least amount of wait time per dispensary visit, followed by Washington and Michigan, with California coming in after. Still, Florida takes top prize in the games that they play. How does it take two hours of wait, when the order was either called in or placed online ahead of time, and the order is sitting right there in a bag, when all someone has to do is take the money already?
There’s only a handful of monopolies that are running the dispensaries throughout the whole state, and they even try to brand their own product names without disclosing what strains are actually used. Of course, out west, there seems to be some of that with product in the states there. The same products are found throughout the state in each state, and it’s not the quality stuff people actually like.
Yes, there’s individuals producing good stuff in the mix, just to be clear. It just might cost a lot more than the lowest grade dirt crap that they pawn off on most people. Then again, not always, as we did find some high-quality products at decent prices, with Plane Jane’s in Portland winning best medible.
Laurie MaryJane’s Fudgy Brownie Bites were recommended by the bud tender at Plane Jane’s. This Dope Cup Winner offers five brownies with an advertised 9 mg of THC each, a total of 45 mg THC for $23. Though the label claims a 45-minute activation time, testers reported effects sooner than advertised, and many swore that one brownie was more potent than advertised, comparing it to the runner-up product, a 50 mg THC chocolate chip cookie purchased for $6 at a nearby dispensary.
Some of the best displayed glasswork available for purchase was in Washington, believe it or not. California comes in at a close second, depending on the location in the state. Meanwhile, Michigan’s bringing its A-game at having some of the tastiest bud available at dispensaries like Dispo in Bay City, making a name for itself on the map with some decent product at decent prices with deals.
Cheapest prices were found in Oregon, followed by Washington, California and Michigan, with Florida winning the highest prices award. Of course, Florida is not recreational, so maybe that’s why they think they can get away with charging for an eighth what other states charge for an ounce? Florida also wins the nastiest vape products award, with vape pens that instantly choked up all product testers.
A local medical marijuana doctor in Florida was asked what is in the Florida vape pens that are making users cough so much. He was quick to respond. “Many are using oils that are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs, such as coconut oil, which coats the lungs and irritates, resulting in coughing.”
So, doctors are aware that dispensaries are doing things they are not supposed to, often using chemicals they’re not supposed to, which results in not help but harm to trusting medical patients. It is potentially making sick people more ill, all in the name of making a quick buck. Just like in the other states that have legalized recreationally, dispensaries know there is a limited time before the bubble bursts, as when the laws get looser, more people get into the game, so try to scam as many as possible.
Marijuana is blowing up into this magical cure-all for everything from glaucoma to weight. This test of dispensary products was brought about by some of the testers visiting a store that sold CBD products. The medical patients looked at something called a joint of CBD that was full of some sort of vivid purple material that the clerk said, “it’s more of a flavored tobacco than any sort of weed at all.”
It begs the question, what is being passed off as weed these days? Walmart weed is not just a phrase, but a reality. That’s why some people have reported a resurgence of the underground market.
It’s just like when eating food. If you really want to know what’s in it, you’re best growing it and preparing it yourself. However, when the market gets flooded, and the prices get driven ridiculously low, here’s some proof that more games can happen to make a buck, so caveat emptor: buyer beware.