Getting it Right

Mr. Smith finds that a stop at Arizona's oldest cannabis dispensary—in Glendale—is well worth the time

There will always be debate over which medical cannabis dispensary in Arizona is the best, but there can only ever be a first one—Arizona Organix in Glendale, which opened in December.

Since I was passing through Phoenix last week, I decided to stop by and take a look at what the West Valley shop has to offer. I was not disappointed.

Arizona Organix is super-easy to find. It's in a storefront at 5301 W. Glendale Ave., about three miles west of Interstate 17 on the south side of the street. Parking was a breeze because I lucked into one of a handful of spots on the street in front. More parking is available behind the building, in case you don't want your mom (or your wife, hehe) to see your car out front.

The roomy, sparsely furnished waiting room is somewhere between upscale and downscale—maybe eye-level-scale. There is a large coffee table in the middle of the room and about 15 simple upholstered, wood-framed chairs line the walls. A television was showing cable news—a refreshing break from the cannabis videos that many other dispensaries play. There was a delicious aroma of fresh marijuana, as if the ventilation system were piping in air from a storage room. Yum.

The receptionist greeted me from behind typical security glass and took my card through a bank-style sliding drawer. Arizona Organix is the first dispensary I have been to that didn't ask me to fill out paperwork. They simply took my card, which they presumably checked against the state database to make sure I'm not a cannabis hoarder, then buzzed me into the back room. It was so nice having no forms to fill out—a small but appreciated gesture. I hope their lawyers don't make them start doing it.

The large back room has an ATM against the back wall and a service counter and glass medication case along another wall. The day I was there, the case contained about a dozen strains, which seems to be emerging as a standard. Arizona Organix also sells edibles, which, interestingly, are made in the commercial kitchen at Tucson's Green Halo. I bought a brownie ($10), and it tasted interestingly better than a Green Halo brownie I bought at a Tucson dispensary. The trip to Phoenix apparently didn't hurt, because the brownie was fresh, fluffy and yummy. Kudos to Green Halo for making edibles widely available. :)

Unlike other dispensaries, the glass case at Arizona Organix contains only samples. A clerk writes down your shopping list, then you pass a slip of paper through one of two glass windows like the one in the waiting room. Clerks then fetch your goods and send them out through a sliding drawer. I like this arrangement. It seems likely to discourage all but the stupidest of robbers.

I have a tiny complaint about Arizona Organix and it isn't the only dispensary sticking in my craw over it. The logo for this dispensary includes a medical Rx symbol, as do the bags they put meds in. I understand they want to give a medical impression, but cannabis is not available by prescription in any state. That's federal law. So I wish dispensaries would stop using the Rx—it contributes to the misguided belief that MMJ patients have prescriptions.

That's a pretty small complaint in the scheme of things. The First Dispensary In Arizona has a decent selection and a convenient storefront (if you're in Glendale, obviously). The prices are good—meds top out at $60/$110/$200 per eighth/quarter/half—and the staff was friendly and courteous. On the downside, the hours are a little restrictive. They're open only from noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Ultimately, Mr. Smith Approves.