There was a terrible moment as I entered High Desert Relief and spotted the restroom sign—like catching the scent of fresh-baked pie on an empty stomach, or standing at the edge of cliff and reminding yourself not to jump. The tension of my bladder pressing against the seat belt had plateaued, and I was reaching an altered state in which I'd convinced myself that I was done with the peeing phase of my life.
The bathroom sign dashed that fantasy against the rocks and I suddenly had to piss so bad. A part of my mind was becoming populated with bad puns and lazy wordplay that could be used for this review's title, but I hardly cared. (“Relieved in the Desert,” “Number One Medicine,” “Hold It In.”) There was a palpable sense of impending failure. I gulped and tumbled into the restroom.
(“Pressure and Relief,” “The Pees and Qs of Cannabis,” “High Desert Release.”)
With a sigh I emerged and looked around in earnest. Last month, during the Second Annual Baked Goods Award Ceremony, I handed them the illustrious title of “Best in Price.” You can almost always find a nicely priced gram there, and I used to frequently stop by between point A and B to stand in their crazy long line and pick up $7 grams of at least average flower—often better.
It had been a while since I'd last been to High Desert. They'd moved to a new location off I-25 last year and I still hadn't been by to see the new place. It wasn't their fault, of course. I just live on the Westside and we … grew apart, I guess.
I'd met a few people who were leery about the old location. It was in a cramped corner of the parking lot by Nexus Brewery on the interstate. I'd heard the word “sketchy” thrown around a few times, but it was clear (to me, at least) that the owners chose to pass up the high polish and trendy glitz sported by the newer places in favor of lower price points. But human beings are suckers for color and lights. We like shiny things.
So I was happy to see the shiny bright new showroom—the dazzling chrome, the glittering glass. The new store looked great, and I was delighted to find the same crew from my previous visits manning the counter. The atmosphere was welcoming and the prices were pleasantly affordable. I sniffed a few jars and walked away glad that the place was doing so well.
(“If You're In, Then Urine.”)
The warm feeling left me once I was home and breaking buds up. My first bowl was filled with Raspberry Diesel (THC: 21.9%, CBD: Unlisted—$10/gram), a hybrid of Sweet Cherry Afghan and Sour Diesel #2. It tasted sweet and pungent and stirred up some rough coughing fits. I was happy enough with the taste and smell, but the bud was bone dry. Breaking it up left a brittle dust pile on the tray and ashy fingertips. The strain is supposedly sativa-dominant, but it left me feeling spacey and sluggish. (I'll get to why I suspect that happened in a moment.)
The second bowl I packed was the ever popular Agent Orange (THC: 22.16%, CBD: Unlisted—$10/gram). I'm a big fan of citrusy sativa strains, and this one was bright and uplifting. I had a much better time with Agent Orange, and the distinct sense of well-being that came with smoking this strain was solid enough to shake off my blues about the Raspberry Diesel. Unfortunately, this gram was fairly dry, too.
Crossing my fingers an hour later, I rolled out the last gram: Afghan Kush (THC: 25.78%, CBD: Unlisted—$10/gram). Like it's brethren, it too was dusty and old. This one was so bad that I barely registered a flavor and felt no real effects outside of oncoming drowsiness.
Which is where my biggest complaint about dry flower comes from. It's not the fact that it tastes less pleasant or burns up faster. (I usually smoke about a gram a day, and I managed to smoke all three grams I purchased in around 15 hours. They burned up in just a few puffs and never seemed to scratch the itch. It causes sleepiness.) The real problem with dry cannabis is it puts you to sleep.
As a patient who medicates every 30 minutes to an hour, I need bud that will keep me up and functioning, and although not many people in the industry seem aware of it, THCA (which converts to THC when smoked) turns into cannabinol acid (CBNA) over time as it's exposed to air. When smoked, CBNA converts to cannabinol (CBN), a highly potent sedative.
So whenever a budtender unscrews the lid off a jar of cannabis and lets you smell it (I've seen this at a number of places), they are literally changing the chemical makeup of the flower and potentially giving a patient something fairly different than what they think they're getting.
Which basically makes the low price not worth it. And High Desert will have trouble coasting on those prices as it is, considering the price drops happening all over town at the moment. Earlier this week, I went by CG and Everest Apothecary—two of the highest quality producers in the state—and discovered high shelf bud selling at $10 a gram and $11 a gram, respectively.
The game is changing fast. Better move those feet.