A warm Sunday afternoon has us stepping into a place we think is a dispensary but is not. The chairs in the waiting room are full. A “Nirvana Clinic” sounds like a place where you might actually purchase marijuana, but we are in fact pointed to a storefront around the corner. We walk through the parking lot of a music shop and recording studio that’s blasting old R&B music out into the street. A police car happens by, going east. A woman walking towards us on the sidewalk holds the telltale prescription medicine bag—white, folded over, stapled—so I know the storefront with very few identifiers must be the place.
We step onto a welcome mat and into a foyer that has a couple of chairs. A neutral sort of camel color dominates the selection of random art pieces. “Live Laugh Love” one figure encourages us. A “Tree of Life” sits near randomly placed business cards on a table. The walls are mostly bare and dingy. A young woman with thick streaks of green in her hair takes our information from behind the receptionist window.
Once we’re finished with the one-page paperwork we enter the buy room of the twelfth dispensary on this trail. It’s rather unremarkable, with just two weed-related banners pinned up high in one corner of the room. There is no refrigerator, no LCD screen. In fact, there are no price lists anywhere. A second young woman with heavy mascara sits on a stool behind the glass counters displaying the jars of buds. She never gets off her stool throughout our visit. She leans in to get jars out and offer us smells of the wares but never completely comes off her stool. I notice that she uses her fingers to pluck buds from the jars—no fancy chopsticks or tweezers as other dispensaries use. The counters are messy with shake. On the counter furthest from us, a wallet and a set of keys lie despondently, looking like they’ve been forgotten. Beyond that counter I can see the receptionist’s area, and realize it’s completely open to the buy room, which is a strange sight in dispensaries where there is typically a barrier between the two. Behind the glass counters is an open room with piles of boxes inside. Wicker baskets lie around on the floor near the budtender’s stool, also containing boxes.
“How long have you been open?” my companion asks the budtender, adding that we’d walked into the wrong place prior to coming in because of a faulty Yelp address.
“About six months,” she answers. When I later go back to Yelp and view photos of the interior of the dispensary, the walls look cleaner and there’s an LCD screen up on the wall. A dispensary that has just opened in the last six months is suspicious in light of L.A.’s Proposition D; a dispensary that just under six months ago looked cleaner and sported an LCD screen price list when now it does not also seems suspicious.
When we leave, after not getting anywhere in any sort of conversation with the budtender on the stool, we walk out and I remark that I’ve also never seen a dispensary fully staffed by women only.
Police cars roll by as we step out onto the sidewalk again. For the twelfth dispensary visited, this spot seems rather anti-climactic but for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “You Really Got A Hold on Me” blasting from the music shop as we walk away, here in this strange little vortex of where Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard meet.