Bud-Tender at White Mountain counter
Nate Nichols
Bud-Tender at White Mountain counter

You want to get high? We're talking higher than SpaceX flies. You know, to take your mind off the pain? Book your flight with medicinal brownies by Amy & Al's. Affiliated with White Mountain Health Center, a dispensary in Sun City, Amy & Al's cooks up a range of tasty morsels infused with THC for qualified patients. There are different-flavored truffles, hard candies, chocolate-chip cookies that might knock out a Keebler elf, and, reigning supreme, their high-potency, 400-milligram brownies. They're not for beginners. If a 10-mg THC lemon drop makes you feel like you went past 420 to about 840, don't contemplate the 400-mg brownie unless you're not busy for a week. These mega-dose, yet surprisingly delicious, brownies are for frequent fliers or those naturally resistant to the effects of THC. If a nibble of this will do, all the better, because the 400-mg brownie can be found for $37. That's about 10 mg per dollar — one of the best values in edibles on the market.

Huxton is a local product to be proud of, like Raytheon missiles or the latest TGen drug. Remember when marijuana used to come in a baggie? Huxton's about as far from that era as it comes in 2018. They specialize in higher-grade cannabis that's cultivated, trimmed, and cured by people who care about the results — or, at least, care that consumers notice the difference. Yes, their strains Rise or Wonder Woman are potent, with high levels of THC that remind you this is medicinal-level stuff. It tastes as good as you'd expect boutique weed to taste — maybe better. But to be blunt, where Huxton really "rises" is in the presentation. This stuff simply looks fabulous. The buds are sparkling with crystals, and are compact and aroma-heavy. The new BLCK line unveiled this year takes three of its best-selling strains and cures the dried flower for a month in glass cases, later transferring the product to small glass jars topped with the Huxton label. Is medicine supposed to make your mouth water?

So long as you don't mind being stared down by a giant elk's head, this cozy mahogany-shelf-lined emporium of taxidermy and other exotica will make your day. Curious Nature calls itself a "fine science and natural history emporium," but we call it the only game in town for ethically sourced taxidermy, skulls, and bones. Museum-quality oddities found here include professionally cleaned skulls from chickens, squirrels, giraffes, and zebras. Nicely framed butterflies, grasshoppers, and moths can be yours, as can cool occult items like Ouija boards and post-mortem photography. Seriously, what are you waiting for? You won't find this stuff at Crate & Barrel.

American dollar stores are pretty much all the same — if you've seen one, you've seen them all. That's not the case at Cutie, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it storefront in north Phoenix. Full disclosure — the goods at Cutie are all $1.50, but don't let that extra half a buck deter you. You'll notice that most of the merchandise here is Daiso brand products; that's a Japanese discount store chain that's really popular overseas, yet only has a limited presence in the U.S. The selection here is weird and wonderful and usually pretty good quality for the money. They've got a little bit of everything, from lucky cat figurines, sheet masks, and socks to cleaning products, art supplies, and kitchen knives. There's also a fantastic selection of snacks, beverages, and other consumables (including some great ramen). New items arrive on a regular basis, so we recommend repeat visits to check out all Cutie has to offer.

True crime is having a moment. From My Favorite Murder to Forensic Files to The Staircase, it seems like the public can't get enough of unlawful acts and the people who bring the culprits to justice. If you're ready to take your love of cracking cases to the next level, we suggest a visit to Crime Scene, a central Phoenix shop whose inventory is a blend of legit forensic supplies and crime-themed gifts. Luminol tablets to detect traces of blood? Check. Evidence markers and fingerprint kits? Absolutely. A Crime Scene Gift Bundle that includes caution tape, a UV light keychain, assorted evidence labels, and a coffee mug that says "Detective"? We can think of several people who'd be delighted to receive it. Now, we'd be remiss if we didn't say it: Please leave the actual crime-solving to the law-enforcement professionals. But Crime Scene is the best place in town to find some cool stuff to release your inner Gil Grissom.

Chalkboard Nails is a nail-art blog and website based in Phoenix and packed with DIY tutorials and impressive shots of nail art. Phoenix native Sarah Waite, a licensed nail technician, is the editor and creator of Chalkboard Nails. You could spend hours on Chalkboard Nails checking out pictorials, video tutorials, reviews, and posts allowing beginner to advanced nail artists to try their own designs at home or wherever. Think nails with ice cream cones, cactuses, pineapples, stars, stripes, Star Wars characters, and even Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Waite is also a contributor to NAILS Magazine and even co-authored a collection of tutorials called Pretty Hands & Sweet Feet. Her work has been featured on the Today show, Nail'd It on Oxygen, and in Redbook magazine.

Zines may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Phoenix, but we're a city that boasts a pretty vibrant DIY publishing scene. Scan the shelves of record stores and coffee shops over the years and you'll have seen stapled, folded, and hand-bound zines with evocative titles like Hoozdo, AZ Kaos, B-Sides, The Paper Plane, and Pages Per Content. The downside to this literary underground was not having a dedicated place to find all these amazing indie pubs. But over time, fests like the Underground Publishers Convention and Phoenix Zine Fest came around, along with businesses like Lawn Gnome Books, to help spread the gospel of zines. But nobody is doing it as well as the folks at Wasted Ink Zine Distro. Run by Charissa Lucille, WIZD is a home for chapbooks, photo zines, memoirs, how-to books, and a wealth of other DIY publications. Lucille also offers WIZD as a venue for open mics, skillshares, workshops, and even shows by touring performers like multimedia puppeteer Rae Red.

Arizona Art Supply

Yeah, their website has over 30,000 artist products, which is great, but the real treat is visiting one of the three Valley locations of Arizona Art Supply. The extensive independent Arizona Art Supply network has been around since 1951. This expansive store has everything from brand-name art supplies to artist materials storage, studio furniture, and art and tutorial books. The colorful aisles are stocked with paper, pads, pens, and paints, plus gift sets and your typical office supplies.

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