I pass by Shambhala Healing Center all the time strolling up and down Mission street. Boasting a rather nondescript facade you would be hard pressed to even know a pot store was inside if not for a little sign outfront (which gives it the appearance of a make shift spa) advertising it as such. And that oh so ubiquitous San Francisco smell that emanates from it. Ya’ll know what smell I’m talking about and it ain’t feces either. IT’S THAT WEED SMELL.
The minute after I left Priceless Evaluations I literally walked down the block into the first dispensary I could find, which was Shambhala, before the ink even dried on my newly issued Medical Marijuana Card. I figured why wait. I’m addicted to weed, addiction is a disease, weed helps with this disease, I felt my logic was fairly airtight.
I first found it to be the kind of dispensary one would expect in the early 2000’s. What I mean is, you couldn’t just flash your Cannabis card at someone and voila! you are in the midst of some Grand Daddy Purple. No, you need to get buzzed in, make a lil’ small talk and then make your way into the main area.
After entering I had to fill out a couple of forms and awkwardly wait around for someone to get them. I figured this was common. A tall brother with a bald, halo like head asked me if it was my first time there. I said it was and he immediately stuck a huge gold star on the back of my card, like I had passed my 3rd grade spelling test or some shit.
I had to be buzzed through another door by a dreamy eyed girl and found myself in a dimly lit, startlingly clean rectangular room. Around me were lots of shelves and display cases and what looked liked…not much else. Now I know this was my first time there and maybe the excitement of being at my first dispensary clouded my judgement but I ain’t gonna lie to you, the selection looked sparse. A few jars full of leafy green here, a few random displays of wax there and that was about it. Now I’m fairly certain they have more than that, hell, they probably have lots more. But it just looks like for whatever reason that day, they were hiding it.
I asked the woman behind the counter, who was nice enough in hindsight, what kind of wax she recommended . And maybe she had a lot to say about the subject, maybe on her off time she was the wax fucking wonder, waxing poetics to all her stoner buddies about crumbles and shatters and full melts but during her shift that day my girl simply did not have a lot to offer in the way of suggestions, because there were about 3 varieties on display, and about four grams of each. “Uh, I like this one” she grunted, pointing to a random sample of wax like she was pinning the tail on a donkey. I absentmindedly thanked her and got 2 grams, considered getting some more until I saw the price. $73 dollars. Good Lord. I felt I might as well have hopped the two buses it takes to get out to Golden Gate Park and experienced that level of fleecing there. I do remember, however, what I got was good. No I don’t remember what I got. And in all fairness, $73 is not to much more than market rate.
Am I being to hard on Shambala? Probably. I’ve read some decent reviews about them on Yelp so I feel I should give them another try. Plus I subscribed to their mail list and often receive promotions and deals that to be honest sound pretty damn sweet. So since I’ve hashed out my initial experience with them, here are what I feel are the pro’s and con’s of the place, which may be updated in a future post.
PRO: Locality? I guess they’re in the Mission. So if you are one of those newly minted Mission residents. Good for fucking you.
PRO: I heard they deliver. I have not yet tried their delivery service so I am not sure if they are, similar to Purple Star and others, not willing to travel to the fringes of SF except for extra cash. Nonetheless they bring it to you, so why complain?
PRO/CON: They infrequently have specials and promotions but they seem to coincide with major holidays like Valentines or the 4th of July. The thing is I don’t need fireworks or a hug when I smoke up give me a discount 365 days a year. But I do plan on taking full advantage of these specials one of these days, and will report back then.
CON: This is must for all dispensaries. I am putting it in bold, all caps. You can Facebook this shit, Instagram it, Tweet it, send it through physic wavelengths I don’t care. Because it’s the truth. Because it could make or break the reputation of your business. No matter how stoned your clientele is, NEVER, EVER, LET YOUR STAFF BE NOTICEABLY HIGH. They can be chipper than a muthafucker; but if the person ringing up your order looks like they might forget to give you your change back, that isn’t a good look.
Shambala is located on 2441 Mission St San Francisco, CA 94110
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.