PA MMJ Program: The State of Our Shortage – 4/20/2020

Dearest Readers,

The last few months have been a wild ride, to say the least. I never would have believed that I would have the privilege of indulging my agoraphobic tendencies to never leave the house except to visit dispensaries. Then, to have the privilege to say this is my work (in addition to medical necessity.) Then, after hours of preparing to be social in a large, but well distanced crowd- I discovered 4/20 during Quarantine meant that both Harvest, Lancaster Avenue (Reading) and Apothecarium, Lancaster ( actually Lancaster!) were ghost towns: I saw maybe two other customers at each at most. Pennsylvania, great job at the social isolation: it made my drive easier and my time through the dispensaries on this 4/20 actually much faster than any non-quarantine day.

Regarding the state of our shortages:

The Pennsylvania cannabis supply and availability, although much improved from when I began this website last October, still has an incredibly long way to go to reach parity with other medically legal states in both price and inventory. Prices have improved slightly, and with the 4/20 promotions was able to afford my full prescription for under $250.

We now have an abundance of flower of multiple varieties, however, the recreational market undercutting the medicinal product has made CBD flower scarce. I understand does not sell nearly as well as THC bombshells such as Rocketfuel or Cherry Diesel, however for patients that have meticulously tracked how strains positively or negatively effect various medical conditions, most of us have discovered that we need the full spectrum concert effect to obtain get the most benefit out of our medicines.

Pennsylvania patients would be best served with the full range: Nightingale, The Wife, Lemon G, Super Sour Savers, Harlequin…etc. We are considered fortunate if we can find three named CBD strains on any one menu to choose from.

As a result, I have started experimenting with formulations in tinctures, pills, or disposables- except the price points on these products are even more inflated. In most states, CBD heavy products are sold at a price point significantly under the the average for cannabis. The reasoning it both economical as well as compassionate: few people using marijuana recreationally are interested in CBD: the common theme of it being “Diet Weed” is part of it, the other is that CBD offers pain relief instead of intoxication.

That brings me to the other part of the shortage: although flower is plentiful in Indica, Sativa, and Hybrids- it still may take some time for concentrate products to catch up in availability and at stable, affordable price point. Concentrates have risen from under $50 a gram to over $80 on average- $100 average for Moxy. This is unacceptable, and I now literally travel not for affordable flower, but affordable concentrates. Flower prices are coming down significantly at last, however, we are still incredibly high priced on all categories in comparison to most other legal states with their $5 grams and $20 concentrates.

I chose to wait until today to make my dispensary run to take advantage of great discounts and the inevitable large, morning shipment drops of all the extra product in anticipation of 4/20 celebrants.

After over a year in the program, my prescription is now much more routine:
1. 1g Indica concentrate
2. 1g Sativa Concentrate
3. 3.5g Flower (I now choose strains I know work well for me, I purchase single grams as ‘tests’)
4. A cheap pen or cart, preferably something good for nausea with CBD.
5. A heavy CBD tincture or oral solution to knock me out at night
6. Muscle Cream (which I still have at home, so I did not pick any up this trip)

Then, if I have extra cash I’ll pick up a gram of new flower.

This is what I purchased (after 4/20 discounts):
1. 1g Cresco Bio Jesus Shatter $65 (Apothecarium Lancaster)
2. 1g Terrapin Double Bear Sour Tangie Wax $50 (Harvest, Lancaster Ave)
3. 3.5g of Ilera Untrimmed Blue Dream Flower $38 (Apothecarium, Lancaster)
4. Ilera Breathe Disposable. $29 (Apothecarium, Lancaster)
5. Vireo Indigo Oral Solution $75 (Harvest, Lancaster Ave)
I could have gotten this item cheaper at Apothecarium- I thought I was buying the tincture rather than oral solution at Harvest and didn’t check the label. I was frazzled from driving all morning, tired, hungry, etc. 100% my error)

Menus I checked before making my decision: Apothecarium Lancaster, Cure Lancaster, Harvest Reading 5th, Harvest Reading Lancaster Avenue, Keystone King of Prussia (briefly), and TerraVida Sellersville.

Here is how I made my decision which dispensary to choose on 420:

I ideally wished to stay under $200 dollars for my entire purchase- it took a great deal of time to figure out how, exactly, to manage this. Also, I wanted to travel to as few places as possible. (I ended up spending just under $250)

Keystone prices and selection were great- however, not enough of a discount to brave driving through the asphalt and concrete labyrinth of King of Prussia.

TerraVida lacked concentrates: If I am going to drive to TerraVida it will be if I can obtain my entire prescription at once since it is literally the opposite direction from my home as every other dispensary. Their prices overall are far lower than most.

I had high hopes for Cure, Lancaster- however, they too lacked selection of concentrates which made their special of $40 of a $200 purchase untenable for my needs, sadly. If they offered a flat discount without a purchase minimum, I would have absolutely stopped by- If they had my full prescription, I would have chosen them for the 4/20 special, but today Cure and I are once again star-crossed: of all the dispensaries I have visited I always learn the most about the latest advances of medical cannabis from Cure. (I miss you, Kat.)

Harvest impressed me with both prices and selection- however, both Harvest locations are in incredibly high traffic areas on opposite sides of Reading city. I figured, incorrectly, that both locations would be swamped. I chose Lancaster Avenue over 5th Street for the Sour Tangie wax. As much as I love Blueberry Space cake concentrate, the Sour Tangie was $10 more affordable.

Vote with your dollars where you can, my friends, and do so as vocally as possible to encourage and reward better pricing behaviors. I actually placed my two item order at Harvest from the parking lot of Apothecarium.

Apothecarium, Lancaster just opened a little over a week ago- the newest location of the newly re-branded Ilera line of dispensaries and I was excited to check them out. Further, I have found Ilera products to be 100% reliable so long as I purchase them directly from Ilera. I have been less than satisfied picking up Ilera flower, carts, or pens at non-Ilera dispensaries. It may be a coincidence, it may have been just bad luck, but it doesn’t bother me now that I am not required to navigate the King of Prussia concrete labyrinth to visit.

Plus, they offered free masks. It will likely be a few more days before the fabric masks from my friend arrives in the mail so my husband and I have been pretty much trapped without masks since the new mandatory mask requirement was implemented this weekend. I wore my green scarf over my face as I left the house this morning. I picked a mask up for myself on the way into Apothecarium, then one for my husband on the way out.

Thank you, Apothecarium- the masks really help.

I was hoping to utilize the online ordering, however- since the full menu was not available online- I was concerned that I wouldn’t get the full discount splitting my order between online/in person. It was a mistake on my part; I just cavalierly drove to Lancaster and hoped for the best only to find my tincture was sold out, the Ecto Cooler was sold out and the replacement strain was one I did not have a great experience with in the past.

The dispensary staff at Apothecarium was wonderful- it was literally staff I met at Plymouth Meeting. I also really dig the David Lynchian hall of doors aesthetic of the entry room.

Next time I will definitely reserve what I can online and not be afraid of splitting my order between online and counter. As much as I hope that every dispensary will offer live-to-the-minute updates from Point of Sale to Online menu and full selection from this point out- it’s still going to take a few months to a year to get to that point- in the meantime, getting the hang of online ordering has had a bit of a learning curve for me.

Thankfully, although most concentrates are sky-high at $80 per full gram, I was incredibly happy to find entire grams of concentrate far more reasonably. It was worth the inconvenience.

All total, I spent approximately $245 total

I was hoping I could purchase everything I needed at the absolute best price point from a single location, however, our supply in Pennsylvania has not *quite* reached that wonderful plateau yet. I predict we will reach this point by early June- perhaps sooner since our population has been doing a great job of self isolating meaning more product on the shelves for those desperate and brave enough to risk venturing outside.

Of the products I purchased, here are first impressions:
1. 1g Cresco Bio Jesus Shatter: Bio Jesus is the only Diesel that works well for me. A strong Indica. 1 gram of shatter is a depressingly tiny looking amount. Bio Jesus can snap me out of a PTSD flashback as fast as Jack Herer.
2. 1g Terrapin Double Bear Sour Tangie Wax- This made up for the lack of volume of the shatter. Sour Tangie/Clementine are my favorite Sativa strains- they are virtually the same to me. I pick up some version of this every refill if I can. Tangie gives me great energy and helps with focus. It’s also the absolute best tasting, (in my opinion.)
3. 3.5g of Ilera Untrimmed Blue Dream Flower: Blue Dream was the strain I was on in California for years as my official prescription; it’s unusual to see it listed as a Sativa-dominant hybrid where history has usually listed this strain as Indica-leaning. I won the lottery on my first experience with untrimmed product: This jar of Ilera Blue Dream is indistinguishable from how Terrapin trims their flower. For me, I am happy. There were no unusual stems, nor even many sugar leaves. I would purchase this again.
4. Ilera Breathe Disposable: This is a great THC/CBD pen. It tastes very minty if you hate the typical taste of cannabis.
5. Vireo Indigo Oral Solution $75- I meant to purchase the tincture. I haven’t tried this yet, but thankfully I got a rundown of how to use this in Lancaster. $75 for a CBD tincture is highway robbery anywhere. I really meant to purchase the $40 tincture- which is still twice as expensive as the rest of the US. (Vireo: If you are reading this, do better!)

In conclusion, On this day, the most bizarre 420 conditions ever experienced in Pennsylvania: Purchasing Cannabis at a dispensary is currently more legal and safer than going to the grocery store. Although the quarantine is absolutely traumatic for entire world, COVID-19 has fast-tracked Pennsylvania cannabis towards greater acceptance and legality than ever before, and that in itself is worthy of celebrating, even if celebration this year looks like an oil pen full of Sour Tangie while replaying Skyrim.

Thank you to both Harvest, Lancaster Avenue (Reading) and Apothecarium Lancaster (Actually Lancaster) for their help today- both of them made 420 far easier than I anticipated.

A Very Happy 4/20/2020 to you all, and may the odds ever be in your favor with that 3.5g untrimmed!

Editor in Kief.

Shutterstock image I enlarged in Paint 3D. You Have full permission to steal this picture

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