Finally—someone reached out and offered to let me tour their cannabis production facility. I interviewed Everest Apothecary’s extraction specialist awhile ago for Weekly Alibi's Cannabis Manual and was invited to follow up with a tour of the dispensary's growing facility.
I meet up with hydroponic cultivator Darren DeSimone and shoot the shit for a bit while we wait to enter the building. Everest has an indoor hydroponic operation alongside its outdoor greenhouses. To reduce the risk of contamination, the tour of the outdoor grow—with its own active ecosystems—will have to wait until DeSimone and I have gone through the pristine indoor facility.
I ask him about the differences between the two operations. “The greenhouses are where we do the all-natural growing—using all-natural living soil. It's a no-till soil, so they just keep reusing the soil all the time. They pull the core of the plant out and just replant, replant. That's a whole different beast from this.” He opens the door with perfect timing. Inside it looks like a house-sized industrial freezer with doors and stairs all over the place. It's humid and warm, though. And it smells like flower.
“This is all hydroponics. We use salt-based nutrients—that's all 'synthetic nutrients' means. Salt.” He walked me through the building, showing me rooms packed with plants at various stages of growth. In the background, I could hear soft music playing. On the way out, he explains why he likes hydroponic growing.
“Once you nail it with the hydroponics, you can recreate it nearly perfectly from then on—forever. I like having control over every aspect.”
“So why not just do it all hydroponically?” I ask.
“Well different people have different tastes. I like both.” The idea is that patients get to have a choice, depending on their preference. (I think I'd choose the reliability of hydroponics, but I've also been getting the same haircut for five years.)
On our way to the greenhouses, DeSimone introduces me to the outdoor cultivator. “This is Josh. He's from the Alibi. He's here to tell on us,” he says. We shake hands and I'm shown the door of the first greenhouse. Inside, the air is humid. The plants stand stalwart in the quiet air. They don't sway.
DeSimone points to a patch of small plants (of the non-cannabis variety) sprouting around the stalks of the plants. “See that?” he asks. “That's called a cover crop. It helps enrich the soil. There's a whole ecosystem in there. Everything in there is alive. It's a living soil. There's millions and millions of little creatures in there eating each other and shitting each other out. And eating and shitting, and eating and shitting. And that impacts the rhizosphere. It's an amazing process.” I guess I can see how it's more romantic than hydroponics, anyway.
We've reached the end and I thank DeSimone before heading back to the shop. There's no way I'm leaving without some sort of prize.
I'm curious about the new concentrates at Everest, which incorporate as much of the original plant profiles in the final product as they can. I pick up a dollop of Super Lemon OG Hoodoo live resin (THC: 66.71%—$35) which also lists the terpenes limonene (0.22%), farnesene (0.26%) and caryophyllene (0.32%). I also pick up a Heyday Clementine cartridge (THC: 59%—$35) which also lists the terpenes myrcene (1.4%), limonene (1.8%) and caryophyllene (1.4%).
Phew. Despite the pain of reading and typing all those numbers, I am incredibly pleased to see so much attention paid to the details. I've been begging for terpene profiles from sellers as a standard for years now.
I drive home in a hurry and strap the cartridge in first. Clementine has been a favorite strain of mine, mostly due to the flavor. I'm a sucker for citrus stuff. The cartridge hits smoothly, if a little tight, and on the exhale I taste orange candy.
I stupidly take about four or five pulls, one after the other, smacking my lips each time. It tastes amazing. I stand up to put the pen away and a small black hole opens between my ears. I hear the drumming of my pulse and my vision breaks apart like a video effect. Not to worry, dear reader. This isn't my first rodeo. I immediately sit down on the ground and begin chanting, “I got got. Oh, I got got,” between giggles.
After a few seconds, the dizziness passes and I return to my station on the couch. This level (which I've come by so quickly) is tough to describe in similar terms to other highs. I'm a little disassociated from my body for a while before feeling the urge to get up and move around. I feel elated and angelic for 15 minutes before coming back to baseline.
I then whip out a special vape pen I bought just for this occasion (it's wrapped in a graphic depicting piles of eyeballs on a stark white background—a perfectly garish artifact) and snag a dab of resin. As it sizzles on the pens coils, I taste lemons and grass. I ease off this time with just two back-to-back hits. The effects are pleasant, but powerful. Again I'm overcome with a feeling of well-being and the sense that I need to get up and stretch—move around.
I spend the next two hours flipping back and forth between pens, with breaks for pacing and cartwheels. Not terrible.