The ranks of Tucson dispensaries continue to grow with the opening two weeks ago of Purple Med Healing Center just south of downtown near Interstate 10.
The dispensary—tucked into a former bar at the rear of the Howard Johnson's hotel on the Interstate 10 frontage road —offers a couple of perks other dispensaries don't. If you don't have transportation, they'll get you there free, and it's the first dispensary to be a part of the Patient Compassion Program, which offers reduced prices to indigent patients.
The dispensary is easy to find and fairly easy to get to, despite having to take I-10 to 22nd Street, then head north on the frontage road on the west side of the interstate. The sign on the front of the building might tempt you to head into the hotel lobby, but you have to swing around back to get inside (nice for folks who'd rather not be seen going in).
The door is buzzer-equipped, and you won't get in without telling them you have a medical card. They don't make you show it to get in, but they ask. I went on a weekday afternoon, and I saw no other patients. This is becoming a pattern. It seems we are unlikely to see lines at dispensaries in Tucson ;)
The spacious Purple Med waiting room is outfitted with a puffy leather couch and stainless steel walls. There is reading material (cannabis related, of course) on the tables and a computer available if you want to look something up. The friendly dispensary agent, Red, met me at the now-familiar pharmacy-type window and took my card. The paperwork at Purple Med is abbreviated—just one page. I appreciate this. It seems like there are an awful lot of disclaimers to check off at other dispensaries. At Purple Med, it took just a couple of minutes to complete.
After Red checked my card against the state database, he buzzed me into the back room for meds. The medication room has two large glass cases and custom cannabis-leaf tile on the floor—nice touch, Red ;)
The day I went, Purple Med had 10 strains available—a range from indica to sativa. Some names are familiar, such as Blue Dream, but some are custom, like the Tropical Haze I bought. According to Red, Purple Med carries mostly hybrid strains it has developed with growers. Of the 10 strains available the day I went, seven are available nowhere else. I like this touch, but some folks might be disappointed that their favorite strains aren't available.
There are two price tiers: $50/$100/$200 and $70/$140/$280. The prices (taxes included) are a downside. It's becoming the norm to charge less per gram for more than an eighth-ounce. I think Purple Med should give me a discount if I buy more than an eighth. And until the dispensary's grow operation is up to full speed, quantities larger than a half-ounce are not available. Boo that. They sell only buds—there are no edibles or tinctures.
I was disappointed with the new-patient free gram I got. It seemed like a feeble trim mixed with spindly buds. C'mon, guys. Give away the good stuff to new patients—one of your custom strains. The gram you gave me left a bad taste in my mouth, literally and figuratively.
Overall, though, Purple Med gets the job done with minimal barriers to a good experience. It's a comfy, upscale, convenient place to get meds. I loved the sativa strain I bought. Kudos to their grower.
Mr. Smith approves.