Journey to the East Bay: Berkeley Patients Care Collective
Article and Photos By R.J. Villa
The University of California Berkeleyâ€™s blue and gold colors were flying proud up and down the college area. All my visits to the East Bay always remind me of my college days: good road trips up the coast, concerts at The Greek, the healthy and organic eats up and down Telegraph and College. My journeys are accentuated, of course, by the top shelf medication that is always available in the East Bay. Every trip to Berkeley, a fellow friend and patient would tell me to visit Berkeley Patients Care Collective and check out the quality. With school back in session this September, I thought I would take a trip to my friendâ€™s old stomping grounds. My walk down Telegraph to PCC reminded me a lot of Camden Town, London. I passed by a few cafÃ©s, glass shops, great record stores, pushy street vendors, trendy clothing shops, and busking musicians on every corner.
The Berkeley Patients Care Collective was established a decade ago to provide the highest quality medical cannabis, along with personalized service and information, in order to help patients get the most from their medicine. This patient-focused strategy has shaped the PCC from the beginning. Turning back the clock to 2001, the only place in the country where you could find a medical marijuana dispensary was in Northern California. There were only a few operating at that time. Public perception and the political climate were not nearly as tolerant or as compassionate as they are today. Each and every month brought news reports of DEA harassment. Through the Berkeley Patients Care Collectiveâ€™s resolve and dedication, they have kept their doors open and continued to treat and educate patients in the East Bay. In 2002, they had a helping hand in founding Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
â€œNot only have they spent a decade providing safe and affordable access to medical cannabis, but they are true pioneers,â€ said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA in Washington, D.C. in the PCCâ€™s 10th anniversary press release back in April. â€œThe PCC was a founding member of ASA and helped create the nationâ€™s first medical cannabis distribution laws. Thank you for all that you do. Your work has inspired a national movement.â€
â€œWe opened on April 4, 2001,â€ said Erik Miller, Berkeley Patients Care Collective spokesperson and manager. â€œWeâ€™ve now been at the same location for over 10 years. We have a great team of people here who are really focused on helping patients get the medicine that works best for them. We are all patients ourselves and we pride ourselves on having the best quality medicine, taking the time to make sure patients get the assistance and care that they deserve.â€
Standing outside the door of the Berkeley Patients Care Collective, I was greeted by one of their security guards and handed him my recommendation and California ID. Once I was let in, I was greeted by the collectiveâ€™s extremely helpful and friendly receptionist. I filled out the paperwork as she briefly went over the standard rules, literature and services that the collective had to offer. The size of the collective was smaller than what I was expecting, but some of my favorite collectives are those small hidden gems. The steady flow and high volume of patients that had cycled through just during my visit was a solid testament to the loyalty of their local patients.
The PCCâ€™s mission is to provide a healthy, safe and educational place for patients to procure and learn more about their medicine. They subscribe to the quality over quantity philosophy: that the highest quality medicine will work most effectively, and less quantity will be needed.
When I approached the dispensary counter, I was greeted by David Bowers, another PCC manager. He had quite an extensive knowledge of the high quality medication, flowers, concentrates and edibles they had available. He explained how everything they had was ONLY top shelf quality, no mid-level medication. Edibles were high potency. The flowers were offered in gram and eighth increments, with the concentrates available in grams and half grams for the heavier doses. All prices listed on their menu include Berkeleyâ€™s 12.5% medical marijuana sales tax. Respecting their elders, patients over the age of 60 receive a senior discount.
All that the PCC carried were top notch strains; I wanted to write about all of them. However, these are the nugs, concentrates and edibles that we will take a closer look at:
I had a chance to try their OG Kush â€˜Jar Specialâ€™. It was that true lung expansive, behind the eyes, pine cleaner aroma we all look for in a well done OG Kush. Definitely more of a body effect with some headiness to it.
Next on the list was their Super Lemon Haze. This sativa dominant strain was a Lemon Skunk crossed with Super Silver Haze. It tasted like a subtle lemon candy without the bitterness. Its effects had a solid balance of head and body. This would be a great daytime medication as I found it to have a clean, creative and energetic high. It was great for being socially active, getting tasks done, and diving head first into your chosen craft. It hits quickly and had a nice, gradual, tapering off effect towards the end â€“ Tasty.
It has been a while since I have come across a XJ-13 worth picking up. I always loved the Jack Herer crossed with G-13 strain. I find its effects to be longer lasting as well as very calming and clear. One look through the display and it was a no brainer; I was grabbing a bag of it. The familiar Jack Herer smell with a nice G-13 flavor brought me back to when I first came across both strains. One hit was like listening to an old 90â€™s mixtape you just found under the car seat. It was very creative, thought firing and not your nighttime mediation if you are planning on going to bed any time soon.
Their concentrates were definitely worth highlighting. The PCC has one of the widest selections of concentrates, cold water hashes, crystals, full melts, kiefs and oils I have seen. I only had a chance to try a few, but after sampling them I knew I was going to be back again. Their Amber Crystals were a potent concentrate that had a brown sugar consistency at first inspection; but, under the microscope they look like amber crystal, glasslike shards. The heavy high it carried was instant and left me properly sedated.
For those who love their waxes, I sampled their Delta-9 Butane Extracted Vacuum Purged Wax. This was made from their Royal Kush strain. You could not have it any better unless you are as close to the source as possible. This wax was made by the latest methods of butane extraction vacuum purging. It burns on the skillet nice and clean, bubbling nicely and leaving no traces of residue behind.
Their Kushmills Triple Double Truffle concentrate took the cake in sedation and night ending medication. It is to be handled with care, as overmedicating with it is easily done. Bowers explained to me that it was a blend of six separate amber crystals, hashes, and kiefs. Itâ€™s effective and great in a vaporizer, lined in a joint, or even sprinkled as a topper on your bowl. This blend is a guaranteed high, even for those with the highest of tolerances. The six pieces that make this heavy and well respected blend are Blueberry Haze Amber Crystals, Jurassic Amber Crystals, Blueberry Kush X Raspberry Kush Hash, Sour Diesel Hash, Black Dream Kief and Pure Kush Kief.
PCC has released strain specific collector cards aimed at providing information about cannabis strains in an accessible way. The cards made their first appearance at the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo at San Franciscoâ€™s Cow Palace Arena back in April 2010. The cards were then shown the following weekend at the THC ExposÃ© at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The cards feature high quality photos, which were taken at the PCC, along with genetic, flavor, effect, and medicinal use information for each of the strains showcased. An innovative design and a distinctive foil stamping really set the cards apart as individual works of art, featuring strains like OG Kush, Jack Herer, Grand Daddy Purple, Afghani Goo, Cheese, Headband, Strawberry Kush, Blue Dream, Romulan and Sour Diesel.
â€œTheÂ trading cardsÂ were designed as a fun way to help patients learn about the different varieties of medical cannabis,â€ said Bowers in a press release. â€œWe are excited to see more awareness about the many benefits of cannabis, and we are going to do our best to educate ourselves and others about this amazing medicine.â€
Berkeley Patients Care Collective has been operating in the East Bay for over a decade now. They are a part of the history of collectives in California and a solid part of the medical marijuana community. Furthering the movement has always been in their sights. They had a helping hand in founding Americans for Safe Access and are providing education and medication to their patients. It has always been their missionÂ since the beginning. The PCC is always participating in medical marijuana expos and planning for the future.
â€œWe will have a booth at the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo in downtown Oakland on September 3rd and 4th,â€ added Miller. â€œWe are also working on a side project;Â a revolutionary system to help dispensaries procure their medicine. It is top secret for now, but details will be coming soon.â€
Berkeley Patients Care Collective
2590 Telegraph Ave
(Between Blake and Parker)
Berkeley, CA 94704
The Berkeley Patients Care Collective was established in 2001 to provide the highest quality medical cannabis, along with personalized service and information to help patients get the most from their medicine. For more information or to see an updated menu please visit their website www.berkeleypatientscare.com