By R.J. Villa
Like many things in life, good old Frank Sinatra painted a perfect picture of San Francisco as he sang, â€œHigh on a hill it calls to me, to be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars.â€
The summertime is one of the best times to visit San Francisco. School is out, vacation time is banked, and the increasing summer temperatures have many Southern Californians taking holidays in cooler temperatures up north. It is a city where the train tracks that line the asphalt are just as plentiful as the cable lines lining the roads overhead. Cable cars continuously buzz by as regular automobiles and SUVs become fewer and far between with all the hybrid cars and scooters efficiently puttering along the city streets.
When it comes time for considering your medication options while visiting the San Francisco area, a must stop is The Vapor Room Cooperative in the Lower Haight. The moment you reach Steiner Street, a familiar smell will draw you towards the cooperativeâ€™s doorway. After being buzzed in and given the rules by a security guard, you are greeted by a friendly staff member at the reception desk to handle your patient verification. Once a member, you are walked through a very relaxed lounge area and surrounded by patients from all walks of life.
â€œThe Vapor Room Cooperative started in June of 2006,â€ says Martin Olive, Executive Director of The Vapor Room. â€œPrior to that, we were a collective that started in 2004.â€
The environment and social vibe was very reminiscent of visiting a cannabis coffee shop in Amsterdam. People from different backgrounds were all congregating through the common thread of medicating with cannabis. What really makes this cooperative special are the high-end vaporizers, water pipes and papers provided for medicating within the lounge area.
â€œWe have custom waterpipes made of 9mm Schott glass as well as Volcano Vaporizers on every table in our lounge,â€ states Olive. â€œWe also provide glass pipes and RAW rolling papers.â€
The Vapor Room offers a varying selection of high quality therapeutic cannabis strains, concentrates, edibles, tinctures and Forest Nymph Botanicals cannabis products, which are all displayed in very artistic and professional glass display cases. A clone bank behind the counter holds a selection of healthy cuttings in a BCNL grow box for those looking to grow their own medication.
â€œWe have been really excited about a return to some heirloom strains that have not been around consistently for a few years,â€ reveals Olive. â€œStrains like Champagne, Romulan, Northern Lights #1, Super Skunk and Silver Haze have all been making their way through our counter with welcome arms and bowls. Let us not forget all the creative endeavors put forth by our member providers with crazy cross strains that are very beneficial and unique in the their effects such as Amnesia (Skunk x Cinderella x Jack Herer), Bubba Berry (Blackberry Kush x Bubba Kush), RomWreck (Romulan x Trainwreck) and Cheese Cough (Cheese x Strawberry Cough). Lastly, we have been especially excited to be a part of Project CBD and carrying High CBD strains like Harlequin and Cannatonic (MK Ultra x G13). High CBD has been particularly beneficial to our members who prefer pain and inflammation relief without the high associated with THC.â€
The lounge area tables can comfortably seat up to 14 patients. Along the main wall, there are cleaning utensils next to the water station for cleaning waterpipes, as well as filtered drinking water and boiling water for making tea. Some homemade, non-cannabutter snacks such as cookies are offered from time to time. A bookshelf near the entrance holds a small library to thumb through, as well as some board games and a beautiful live plant freshwater aquarium. Centered in the cooperative is a large HDTV (which at the time of my visit was showing the original Conan the Barbarian).
As Arnold Schwarzenegger continued to recite his barbarian one liners and dice up James Earl Jones, a brief look around the cooperative revealed patients from all walks of life and backgrounds with open arms, coming together, and interacting as long time friends, even if they had just met each other. A couple of ladies in their â€˜50s and â€˜60s were medicating with a small glass pipe as a few guys in their â€˜20s and â€˜30s, who were sharing their table, emptied Volcano bags. All of them were discussing the original Conan comic and upcoming remake with the security guards and budtenders. It was a great atmosphere for sampling sativas and socializing.
â€œOur staff consists of highly trained, compassionate and caring members of our community,â€ adds Olive. â€œWe pride ourselves on knowing our medicine and patients, and how to combine the two for the best benefit. We carry a wide variety of healing and therapeutic products, and offer our knowledge of these products to our members, so they can make the appropriate choice. Having been one of the longest continually operating dispensaries in San Francisco has provided us with a unique view on our community of patients, providers, activists and colleagues.â€
The mission statement of The Vapor Room sums up the goals of this quality cooperative. They are committed to serving member/patient needs with the highest level of compassion and professionalism, striving to provide the finest quality medicine in a safe, relaxed and comfortable environment. The Vapor Room continues to establish a healthy and caring community by educating their members and the public about the benefits of therapeutic cannabis, advocating compassion, tolerance and understanding towards all walks of life. At The Vapor Room, they are well aware of the intrinsic need for communication between doctors, patients and cannabis providers in order to effectively serve the diverse needs of their members.
Medication testing and quality control is a large part of keeping medical marijuana patients safe. The Vapor Room takes the necessary steps to assure that all medication dispensed to their patients has been lab tested and examined for potential parasites and molds.
â€œWe regularly test samplings of our medicine for potency and contaminants,â€ Olive explains. â€œMore importantly, we maintain strong relationships with our member providers and require that they consistently meet our strict quality control standards. Our medicine comes from our members for our members. Also, while THC potency testing can help provide an informed decision, it is important to recognize that it is not the only indicator of quality and, oftentimes, the appropriate choice for your symptoms is not the highest THC percentage strain.â€
I had a chance to take a closer look at their Casey Jones, Dark Star and Purple Nepal. Named after the greatest train wreck in history, their Casey Jones was a very strong sativa dominant strain that happened to be flying off the shelves that day. This Trainwreck x Thai strain crossed with Sour Diesel pops with vibrant green buds and orange pistils. The flavor was smooth and sweet with a strong distinct taste of Sour Diesel in the strain. I found the effects to be uplifting and cerebral; definitely fueling the more creative side of the spectrum. It is great for brainstorming and firing off ideas, but it can be a little hazy when trying to concentrate on something.
I was drawn in by the name Dark Star and sold on its appearance and extreme potency. This hard-hitting indica comes from a Purple Kush and Mazar-I-Sharif cross. The origins of this strain come from the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan, the original high elevation home where indicas first evolved. While the odor is a little subtle, this strain produces very dense nugs that are not to be taken unless you plan on completely losing yourself in whatever youâ€™re doing. Whether you are losing yourself in live music, diving into a gourmet meal, or suspending your reality in the storyline of a film, its narcotic effects will keep you buried in the moment. Its effects help alleviate the focus on pain and work as a strong appetite stimulator.
I really liked their Purple Nepal. Itâ€™s a very flavorful, strong and heavy-hitting indica. This strain appears dark green with orange hairs at first glance, but a closer look reveals distinct shades of purple. A squeeze of the nug produces a strong citrusy and sweet smell. While the buds are not predominantly purple, the purple definitely shines through in its fruity taste. Purple Nepal is a very potent indica. Its relaxing effects are well-suited for pain relief and for use as a sleep aide. The flavor on your palette and its calming qualities make this strain a great evening ender.
â€œNew members often receive a free edible or pre-roll on their first visit, though we donâ€™t specifically have a policy in place,â€ states Olive. â€œThat being said, we are a very compassionate cooperative and offer a variety of freebies, samples, and compassion to all of our members. As a Vapor Room Cooperative member (new and returning), your contribution goes on to provide a wide variety of member services that every member is able to participate in, free of charge. These include our multi-tiered compassion programs and member services such as free yoga, nutritional counseling, computer skill workshops, peer counseling, massage, free fruit and more. Check our site at www.vaporroom.com for more details, with an exciting new site launch in the next month or so.â€
So why not head north to San Francisco if youâ€™re in need of a getaway? Spend an afternoon navigating through Golden Gate Park. The Presidio also offers great summer hiking, romantic scenery, and reveals breathtaking city and bay views around every corner. For culture and lifestyle, you can visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or catch the boys of summer and take in a ballgame at AT&T Park. Shop or wine and dine along the world famous Fishermanâ€™s Wharf, and visit Chinatown or the Castro, Marina, and Mission Districts. Flying or driving into the city is always an adventure, but the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) makes traveling throughout the city, and even out to and from the East Bay of Berkeley and Oakland, a lot less stressful. But while you are in San Francisco, do not forget to stop by the Lower Haight. When you are ready to take a break, vape and medicate, The Vapor Room Cooperative and its friendly staff and members will be waiting for your arrival.
â€œWhen I come home to you San Francisco,â€ Sinatra sings. â€œYour golden sun will shine for me.â€
The Vapor Room Cooperative of San Francisco
607A Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
11am-8pm Seven Days a Week