Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jun 2016
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Legalization Nation
Copyright: 2016 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


A Getaway to Weed's Heartland, Mendocino County - Which Still Lacks 
Licensed Dispensaries.

About three hours north of the Bay Area, tucked behind curtains of 
redwoods, the rugged Lost Coast of Mendocino County is as primal as 
the north shores of Kauai. Time moves slower, and this region has yet 
to catch up to the cannabis movement it helped start.

Despite a national boom in medical marijuana, America's pot-growing 
heartland of Mendocino, which is licensing mega-farms, has yet to 
license retail outlets for patients.

But then there's Michael Thomas, owner of High Tides, one of three 
new, unlicensed dispensaries in Mendocino. High Tides is perhaps the 
county's most visible: Seated right on Highway 1 in the town of 
Gualala, the six-month-old dispensary has the quaint vibe of an 
antique shop, but with world-class regional flavors such as Boost, 
outdoor Cherry Pie, and the mystery knockout indica Colorado Moss. 
Decades of history are encoded in each nug.

This California coast buckles across seemingly endless forested 
mountain ranges to the Oregon border. After waterhseds were logged 
out, they were resettled multiple times over, notably by back-to-land 
hippies in the Sixties. Hidden behind hours of dirt roads as remote 
as parts of Afghanistan, hippies recombined global cannabis 
seedstocks to yield new, high-potency, regionally adapted varietals - 
families of Purples and Kushes, which reference the Hindu Kush roots 
of indicas.

Mendo's strains and farming acumen seeded our modern, high-THC 
cannabis revolution, and now state-level cannabis regulations are 
rocking The Emerald Triangle - the nexus of three counties: Mendo, 
Humboldt, Trinity, and its halo areas, which are thought to produce 
60 percent of the nation's stash.

This year, Humboldt and Mendocino have both implemented regulations 
for medical-cannabis farms so big, local environmentalists are suing. 
Humboldt County's new rules allow for pot gardens the footprint of a 
large house, some 5,000 square-feet.

Mendocino County's new rules allow for up to 99 plants on a ten-acre 
parcel with a permit from the sheriff's office, and the county is 
also at work on a Mendocino Cannabis Appellations Project, similar to 
those for wine.

Still, California counties are slow to license shops. So, Thomas just 
went for it, hoping the county would catch up.

You'll find plenty of parking at High Tides in the gravel lot on the 
side of Highway 1. The one-story, small residential building has a 
tiny, three-chair reception area and a sales counter in the back. 
Thomas, very kind, used to own the roadhouse down the street.

High Tides sees lots of seniors, and its oldest patients are in their 
nineties, he said. What High Tides lacks in CBD-rich flowers, they 
make up for in extracts. The place is plugged into the Northern 
California extract explosion, and it sells chic, little, 
strain-specific high-CBD vape pens from AbsoluteXtracts. There's 
nothing to grind or pack or dab; you just sip on the tip. It's the 
type of zero learning curve seniors love, Thomas said.

As for the flowers, you'll find about ten strains of outdoor 
mid-grade, and then some true gems. The Boost, for example: It's DJ 
Short's elemental, floral hybrid Blueberry combined with Sweet Tooth, 
two vintage flavors missing in the urban market. High Tides' Boost 
was light green and very resinous, with a fruity, soft aroma. It felt 
like a refreshed riff on the mega-popular Blue Dream. Patients use 
balanced hybrids like Boost as versatile day or night supplement for 
mood disorders such as chronic anxiety and stress, or nausea.

High Tides' Cherry Pie was a great example of a very popular family 
strain. Regional indica hybrids in Mendocino have been selectively 
bred since the Seventies to evoke a spectrum of flavors, from grape 
soda to orange to cherry. They're a sedative and can treat nerve 
pain, tension, and inflammation. But if it's sleep you want, seek out 
the Colorado Moss.

A heretofore undiscovered strain, Colorado Moss looks like a protean, 
near-pure indica - dark, and dense, with a savory, meaty aroma. We 
can only surmise the name comes from the likelihood that moss could 
grow on you while you're couch-locked on this indica.

Just down the street from High Tides, you can get fishing permits and 
wet suits to explore your own Monterey Bay Aquarium - suiting up and 
free-diving into fifty-degree water to scout for rare nudibranchs and 
huge anemones among the kelp forests. You'll see rock fish, star fish 
and huge underwater snails called abalone. There is something 
profoundly satisfying about kicking toward shore, floaty full of 
ocean delicacies, knowing there's a pre-roll of some Boost waiting 
for you back on land.

Further down Highway 101 are some of the world's finest, tallest 
trees, as the county is full of federally protected groves of 
redwoods forests and The Revenant-grade rivers to float.

Give yourself a break from the city stress this summer. Hit the road 
and keep your eye on the coast. The Tides is rising.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom