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Dispensary Review: Encanto Green Cross in Phoenix

Chitral Hays -- not his real name -- is Jackalope Ranch's resident expert on medical marijuana in Arizona. In Perfectly Blunt, Hays delivers news, reviews, and must-know info.

The first word that comes to mind when describing Encanto Green Cross dispensary is "disorganized." The waiting room is crammed with magazines, free drinks, holiday decorations, and the table's scattered with menus. A new patient who arrived before me was accidentally handed forms that were already filled out. The bud room resembles a gift shop, with assortments of marijuana jewelry, stash boxes, and every wall jammed corner to corner with artwork for sale. It's all very nice, but you have to ask, who goes into a patient center and decides they want a painting of Van Gogh's Sunflowers redone as cannabis?

But if you can look past the mess, you may find that Encanto Green Cross has quite a lot to offer that other dispensaries don't.

See also: How to Get A Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona in 4 Easy Steps

Encanto Green Cross 2620 W. Encanto Blvd. Phoenix 1-888-MEDS-411 Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Medication price range: $17 per gram, $50 per eighth, $335 per ounce Other types of medicine: Pre-rolls, 180mg brownies, fudge, candy bars, gummy bears, pastries, glycerin tincture, ointment. Online menu? Yes. Handicap accessible? Yes. Offers delivery? Yes, for a quarter-ounce or more. No delivery fee.

Two things I keep forgetting each time I go here: First, if you're heading south on the I-17, don't get off at Thomas. You can't turn left on 35th Avenue, thanks to Grand, and doubling back is a bitch. Instead, get off at McDowell, come around to 35th Avenue and Encanto, and you're right there. It's across from the giant Shamrock Farms factory. Second, EGC doesn't take debit or credit cards. So unless you like ATM fees, bring cash.

Encanto grows its entire crop onsite, using both hydroponics and organic grow methods, but sadly, tours behind the big black door are forbidden. When they harvest, they're eager to tell you via their SMS services, which highlight new deals every day. They have such specials as "Sports Sunday Funday," which gets you 10 percent off your total if you wear a sports jersey. So yeah, it goes without saying, EGC is heavy on the kitsch, and sometimes this daily barrage of messages can be annoying.

The staff will also talk your ear off, which is quite nice compared to some of the more sterile "get in, get out" environments of other dispensaries. You can get so wrapped up in friendly conversation that you kind of forget you're there to buy marijuana. But because the cannabis is grown literally 15 feet behind them, the staff have a very intimate knowledge of how their plants were treated and their various applications. Apparently, their strain of Northern Lights comes from the original strain in California, raised in the 1960s by an aging hippy. I didn't try it, however.

I was looking to get something related to Blue Dream, a higher priced strain, but the guy behind the counter kept insisting on the Crackberry. Because it was priced lower, I really felt like my budtender actually cared about the medicinal benefits I was after and wasn't just steering me toward whatever was most expensive.

The biggest surprise came when I stepped into the checkout room, where a technician sat shielded behind bulletproof glass. The wall behind him was jumbled with giant jars of buds. Handing the guy my order, he took down my chosen strain and pressed the jar up to a small hole, letting me smell and examine the buds up close. Then, he weighed it out on a giant scale, the numbers facing me, snipping away the stems as he went.

I have yet to visit another dispensary that shows patients the weight. It's not that I don't trust dispensaries, but weighing product out shows a lot of respect for the patient, especially when a little over what I ordered was thrown in every time. It feels like you're getting something extra. And so I left with quite an amicable relationship with the staff, and that encouraged me to come back multiple times, especially after exploring what I ordered.

I started with a gram of their signature strain, the Durban Poison (sativa, $65/eighth), a highly praised, rare 100-percent sativa that kicks down the door and really announces itself. I recall being impressed by its piney occupation of my brain, but it was gone so quickly that I hardly noticed. I was much more keen on the Berry Kush by Green Crack mix Crackberry (sativa, $45/eighth), with its heavily frosted, dense little nugs of joy. The fruity smell was intoxicating and its balance of other cannabinoids gave it more than just a heady buzz. It was a genuinely satisfying euphoria with added pain relief as well. I was really impressed by this recommendation.

When I came back, I asked for another suggestion. The Crackberry was sold out, so my budtender described the Agent Orange (hybrid, $60/eighth) and its motivating effects, saying he liked to enjoy it before mowing his huge lawn.

Let's take a moment here and discuss weed strain names, because like it or not a rose by any other name isn't always so sweet. I don't know what Illuminati marketing team comes up with these monikers, but many attempts to be clever, cool, or edgy are just fucking idiotic. Equating medicine with the same Monsanto-bred pesticide responsible for 400,000 deaths, and 500,000 birth defects gives me the heebie-jeebies. Same with strains named things like MK-Ultra or bullshit like that. Poison, crack, c'mon. Someone really needs to rethink or relabel these things. Turns out, Agent Orange is such a nice strain that it deserves to be named something a little less genocide-y.

Like the guy said, this Agent Orange is an active weed (the "stoned on the couch loser" association with pot is hugely a myth) and I ended up getting tons of shit done on it before I had to leave town. Some strains relieve anxiety and some strains give it to you. Sometimes this can be a good thing, as you'll do the dishes, laundry, etc. But Agent Orange also has tinges of paranoia in its bushy, rind-smelling leaves, so keep that in mind. Some folks can handle it, others can't.

So yeah, maybe Encanto Green Cross is big on the frills, but it's clear they're au fait with what they offer. And their product has yet to disappoint. Their prices are a little above average compared to other dispensaries in the area, but there are often discounts and you'll truly know what you're paying for here. And weighing medication out in front of you really shows a good customer relationship I have yet to see elsewhere.

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Chitral Hays