Elevate Takoma Park


Elevate 9/11

A hurricane approaches the eastern seaboard. The authorities recommend stocking up on water, batteries and cash. In a galaxy far, far away I find a great deal on some great pot. Rain is like snow, just wetter. I know what to do in a snow storm, stay warm, stay high and cook slow. I drive over to the dispensary happy to just be concerned about getting there before it closes. I shed the other worries weighing on my mind just focused on 14 grams for 125 dollars with a 10% discount for first time buyers.

Takoma Park, nuclear free and grimy in every direction. NW, NE, PG and grittiest of all Montgomery county, the bastion of gridlocked liberalism. When I lived on the PG side of New Hampshire Ave I wasn’t worried about security, people crossed the street for robberies. Saturday night was Afro-Caribbean night. If you didn’t want to lose your parking spot at least you could go to the neighbors for authentic African catering. The upper middle class of the Montgomery County Takoma Park area don’t get buried, they just turn into compost. Takoma Wellness embraces that diversity with premium $75 eights and pre-rolled dime bags they will sell all day, every day except for Jewish holidays. Elevate Takoma will have to find its own place at these crossroads.

That strip of New Hampshire avenue looks like one side of a demilitarized zone. Armed guards in front of the bank, liquor store, and now the pot dispensary. Mercenaries of mercantilism. I am waiting for the McDonalds next door to have a guard outside the drive-through with an assault weapon wearing a Ronald McDonald costume. “I’m loving it” he says cheerfully until trouble arises at which point he exclaims “alright motherf*&%$er ‘Have it your way’.

I parked in the lot out front and was let into the store by a militant looking female armed guard. The woman sitting at the desk was not the receptionist, but she was an interior decorator. The wall paper behind her had a cool gilded chemistry vibe with atomic compounds. It was a wall covering that would have only fit in this circumstance and the movie set for “Gattaca.” I commented while she helped me register. We joked that first she found the wallpaper and that was the inspiration to open the dispensary. She struggled through the paperwork process, exclamations about the wrong buttons and scanners. She was definitely not the receptionist. As she cursed technology I told her I prefer a typewriter. She informed me that she was looking for an olive-green rotary phone. I said, “I got you.” The waiting room was comfortable and exhibited an excellent view of the decaying AutoZone across the street. They may want to consider a curtain with a tropical scene. It could just be me, but I think it may set a better tone. She finished the registration process and I entered.

I was impressed by the presentation of the marijuana and the space. The ever-present glass sliding drawers normally filled with swag and vape cartridges are finally being used appropriately. Each drawer exhibiting 6-8 strains in the viewing dishes and a few of the tubes in the back. All labeled effectively with different colored leaves representing Indica, hybrid and sativa. Active chemicals measured and detailed. Organized generally by grower and strains. The variety was appropriate, the online and digital menu up to date.

There was one point in our exchange where he got this crazy look on his face, staring out the front window. We good? I joke. He stays with his look. I don’t know if he is conscious of where he is, but I know where I am and from the look on his face I’m thinking “beam me up Scotty, but don’t tell the captain I was at the pot store. He might Kirk.”

“We good?” I say again with a bit more emphasis. He refocuses and nods, stating that he saw a car just go over the side walk. I thought to myself, damn, I wonder what his “Oh shit, its going down” look is like. He was a sharp dude. He knows where all the exits are. Nobody is ever going to see that look because he will already be gone.

We discussed the prices and stock and the competition. He emphasized the contrast between the larger mega dispensary conglomerates with prime real estate and outlets in all the states with medical access. He positioned their establishment as a “mom and pop” shop working to meet the desires of their clients “I’m listening!” It was helpful to gain a perspective on the spectrum of business models in the industry. He was careful not to trash talk some of the more established corporate players. I can appreciate buying local in the context of the outlet along with the sourcing of the product. I highlighted certain strains such as the painkiller Xl which I would love to see on sale sometime. Commenting that it can be a hard choice to pay full price for pot that essentially doesn’t get you high.

I perused the drawers and asked to view the East Coast Sour diesel. He removed the display jar and I viewed the bud through the magnifying glass. As I smelled the sample I made the appropriate grimace at the acidity of the odor. I commented “that smells about right and looks spindly enough to be a true sour diesel genetic.”

Let’s pause for a quick pot genealogy lesson, the Sour Diesel strain being a good example.

  1. A plant developed from a clone of a “mother” plant is a genetic copy of the original strain. These copies can be copied from copies without genetic variation
  2. A seed is a product of a male plant inseminating a female plant. It is a genetic amalgam of these two original plants and nature will decide what happens. There can be a variety of strains with similar physical and chemical characteristics. These will often be referred to as the same strain or some variation thereof. Normally grown from seeds obtained from a seed bank.
  3. If you breed a strain into itself to emphasize certain characteristics, then it will eventually become so inbred it looks like English royalty.


The article above outlines the challenge of starting the growing operations in MD and establishes the assumption that the plants that are available for purchase have been developed from seed. Both fortunately and unfortunately pot growers are not usually geneticists but they get the gist. How can all these different strains have the same name or a variation thereof? At one point in their genealogical timeline they must have crossed paths with a “true” mother. We are all children of Adam and Eve.

The east coast sour diesel looked and smelled authentic which I was impressed by. I was there for the Amherst sour diesel and the most famous is the New York Sour Diesel. As I perused I made sure there was no one waiting to purchase. I never want to be the guy holding up the line with my “market research” while other people are waiting to pick up their medicine and get home. The Cannabis Consultant made me feel comfortable with no pressure on time. Eventually I glance into the waiting room and notice other patients. At which point I let him know to lock in the order and make my deal with the ATM.

I perceived a strong client feedback focused intention from the repeated emphasis on the being open to my thoughts. On anything. It was the driving question and consistent answer. The dialogue went something like this.

How are you still selling this strain that I thought was gone from the market?

“I listen to our customers input”

Why is it such a great price?

“I listen”

As I depart the dispensary area, he asks me to do him one favor. “What’s that?” I say.

“Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see or be improved. Facebook, Instagram, twitter, whatever. I’m Listening!”

I thought to myself, careful player. So are they.

I had a very positive experience at this dispensary. They have only been open for about a month and appear to be hitting the ground running or at least grounding the running hitter. I would definitely shop here again, and I will keep an eye on the sales. I don’t really understand how to communicate through any social media outlets, so I may just have to type write a letter and mail it over. The variety and presentation were well suited to their scale of operation. I didn’t feel like anything was missing. The gentleman that assisted me was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. More than anything he seemed to care. I could see that he was striving to meet his potential. Responsibly engaging with a medicinal plant while exhibiting compassion for all sentient beings. I have been looking for a pot guru, a mystical shaman, but perhaps I have been searching in the wrong way. That awareness must be a personal journey. I reflect on an experience where he had as many questions as I did. Being open to knowledge and working to understand each patient’s needs may be better than an “expert” who thinks they know everything under the sun.

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