Supplies Down South

Mr. Smith reports from Sierra Vista, checking in on one of two area dispensaries

I can see Mexico from my backyard these days, which seems like a Sarah Palin reference but is actually just simple truth.

Mr. Smith has gone on the road for a few months, landing for now on 24 empty acres near Coronado National Monument with high-desert grassland sloping gently down about five miles south to Mexico. I can see the wall. It's an ugly brown line stretching arrow-straight east and west.

Being here brings to mind all kinds of cannabis thoughts—about the cartels that hold sway just a few miles from me and about the Border Patrol agents I see cruising up and down the highway near my house daily. Sometimes they just sit alongside the road, spending your tax dollars to stop drugs mostly, since there aren't very many immigrants crossing the border lately.

Cannabis patients down here between Bisbee and Sierra Vista have two nearby dispensary choices to avoid supporting the cartels. I decided to check out Sierra Vista Phytotherapeutics because I met owner Lisa Landy once, and she seemed interesting. She's a former gynecologist from Tucson who now splits her time between Sierra Vista and Tucson. She ended her medical practice in 2000 after a back injury, and since 2010 has taken an interest in medical cannabis. She opened Phytotherapeutics in May.

The dispensary, tucked into a nondescript commercial building off state Highway 92 on the south edge of town, gets an immediate strike for limited hours. They don't open until 11 a.m.—far too late for a wake-and-bake-supply trip - and they aren't open at all on Sunday and Monday. That's not a huge problem in Tucson, where there are choices. Here, you're left Jonesin' unless you want to drive more than half an hour to the Green Farmacy in Bisbee, which is at least open daily, although not until noon most days.

The Phytotherapeutics front door leads to a tiny waiting area with a bank-style window where the receptionist takes your info and a photo for their files. This photo is a security touch that they claim ensures I don't give my card to someone else to use. I'm not sure how it helps, since my card already has my picture on it. All they have to do is look at the card to see if it's me, no?

Anyway, a buzzer leads to another tiny waiting room with a TV and a small library of cannabis materials. There are two tiny medication rooms off this waiting area—one for flowers and one for edibles.

They had a typical selection of about 15 strains when I went, with a full range of indicas and sativas. All their strains are the same price—$20 per gram and $60 per eighth. They aren't selling quantities yet, but their website allows preordering, which helps shorten your time at the dispensary. Only a handful of strains had lab results showing. The dispensary is still ramping up its grow site, so until that steady inventory chain is in place, expect limited lab testing. The dispensary's own first harvest should be in the next couple of months, Landy said.

Phytotherapeutics gets a thumbs up for edibles. They have several varieties of hard candies, chocolates, cookies and brownies from Tucson and Bisbee. In addition, the dispensary has alcohol and glycerine tinctures, which very few dispensaries are selling. Tinctures are maybe the purest way to get cannabinoids. You can drip them in coffee or tea or water or drop them under your tongue. Very handy.

All in all, I'd say Sierra Vista Phytotherapeutics hits the mark, if just barely. The hours are a bummer, but I like the pre-ordering and I like their selection of edibles and tinctures.