Acceptable Green

A brand-new collective shows promise—but the prices and selection could be better

The Green Halo Caregiver Collective is a bit of a half-baked operation for now, but it's a viable if somewhat inconvenient and expensive spot to get medical marijuana.

The space was still being worked on when I went there during the first week of operation, so there were bits and pieces of construction material lying around. The decor is kind of light industrial warehouse, but nice enough for the purpose.

The collective, which owner Ken Sobel eventually wants to turn into a dispensary, is in a warehouse on North Freeway, in front of Sobel RV Storage on the west side of Interstate 10. Getting there is a bit of a pain if you come up westbound I-10, which makes leaving a pain if you are westbound. Either way, exit at Prince Road, and head south on the west I-10 access road. It's about a half-mile south of Prince.

The tanned, shorts-and-flip-flops-clad attendant was waiting outside the door when I walked up. He was cheerful and helpful, though he seemed a little unfamiliar with the strain list and cash register. The arrangements are a bit in disorder—they had no table to fill out the five or six standard forms. (I got a chair and a clipboard.) Technically, the forms call for members to contribute to the collective with volunteer time, meds or other services, but they had plenty of spare meds for drop-in patients.

They had 12 strains available, vacuum-packed in plastic and all locally grown. They ranged from heavily indica to heavily sativa, including Granddaddy Purple (anxiety, pain, cancer and chemo side effects, depression), Sour Diesel (pain, depression, nausea), and Bubba Kush (anxiety, wasting syndrome, pain, glaucoma). For now, Green Halo has only meds that one can smoke, but the people there promise tinctures, drinks and other edibles soon.

For a $20 annual membership fee, Green Halo gives new patients 2 grams of what they called "mid-grade meds." I picked Purple Haze, a sativa-dominant strain that the menu says relieves pain, anxiety and migraines. For another $60 donation, I got 4 grams of L.A. Confidential, a higher-grade indica medication that Green Halo says helps anxiety and insomnia, but which I know is also good for pain relief. I was not disappointed. The L.A. Confidential virtually erased my neck pain, which has been flaring up lately, possibly because of anxiety, which it also smoothed. Generally, Green Halo asks a $15 to $20 donation for a gram, $40 to $60 for 4 grams, $70 to $110 for a quarter-ounce, and $130 to $200 for an ounce.

Green Halo is planning at least three dispensaries around town, according to Sobel. One will be near 29th Street and Craycroft Road, which would eliminate the cross-town trek for eastside patients. The collective membership card will be good at any of the dispensaries. Sobel, a lawyer who is vice president of the emerging Arizona Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, plans to apply for a dispensary license when the state Department of Health Services starts taking applications in April.

In the meantime, the collective seems like a viable option, although I was disappointed by the prices, especially since I had to drive across town. I hope that once dispensaries open, there will be a price drop—unless MMJ dispensaries manage prices the way gas stations do. It remains to be seen whether competition will drive prices down, or collusion will keep them up.

Overall, I was satisfied by Green Halo. The folks on hand were friendly, and they offer medical information about their strains. The warehouse location—which, again, had been open just a couple of days when I went—makes the place seem industrial. But as I said about the last collective I visited, I didn't go there to hang out. I went for meds, and they had what I needed. The biggest downsides were prices and a lack of edibles (which they promise are coming).

Mr. Smith approves, but just barely.

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