A Cannabis Celebration: On 4/20, We Had a Trick-or-Treating Adventure

With a fancy Volvo SUV and a famous magician who graciously served as our sober driver / adult supervisor, we set out on our 4/20 trick-or-treating adventure!

Us five over-50s piled into the car to begin our adventure at 1 pm… and that was our first mistake.

We’d heard that the dispensaries give away extravagant goodie bags on this day, but we soon learned that most of that happens in the first hour after opening. Each manager told us there was a line outside long before they opened.

Do you want to know who got those deals? The seniors. I know this, because every shop was low on the arthritis-salves and sleepy-time gummies when we got there!

We started in my hood, Demuth Park, one of Palm Springs’ cannabis hubs. Within eight blocks, we saw six open dispensaries, with evidence of frivolity pouring out their front doors onto the sidewalks. Our first stop was Reefer Madness, on Ramon Road. Back when medical marijuana sales started, the Reefer Madness building now occupies was where you went to see the “doctor” who wrote your $ 60, one-year prescription for medical marijuana. When he asked me why I needed a prescription, I said, “I have anxiety!” This was true, because it made me anxious to lie about having anxiety.

Reefer Madness is my go-to neighborhood dispensary. It is intimate and fun, queer-owned, and they do some advertising in the community. That always wins points with me. They gave us bright purple hemp socks. How delightfully queer of them.

One block away on Williams Road is Emerald Springs Dispensary. It was big, beautiful and surprisingly bright. As we approached the counter, the store was virtually empty… and then the whole room quickly filled with kids behind us — like, a bus load. We were instantly the oldest people in the room. We all bought salves for our joints (the achy joints, not the doobies) and sleepy-time gummies. (I’m not sure what shifted, but I admit that is what happened.) I was almost poked in the eye with a green spike of a mohawk — totally cool hair, but I almost stumbled right into it.

Also, they had a striking and substantial bong wall. Art is in the eye of the beholder. I loved the wall-o-bongs.

Our driver / supervisor wrangled us out of the grips of the youngsters and back into the SUV. It must be said that we didn’t come at this chauffeured and chaperoned adventure all willy-nilly. We are businesspeople, so we had planned and plotted a route with estimated departure and arrival times. It was on a shared Google spreadsheet accessible to all of us. I picked people to ride with who are wise enough to know that you make a plan, but you must also be willing to go with the flow.

Just one more block down Williams Road, we came across the OTC Dispensary, which stands for Off the Charts. It wasn’t on our spreadsheet, but we could see it was rocking, so we decided to go off-book.

You know what I didn’t smell walking up to OTC — or any shop, for that matter? The wafting scent of weed coming outside from the store. I used to smell this “pot district” from my car, from blocks away, as I drove home every day. It made me smile, though I’m sure it bugged the crap out of lots of the nearby residents. It seems like they have that handled.

What I did smell was the first of many food trucks we saw outside the dispensaries — set up like a cop car at closing time, parked outside the bar. It was barbecue, and it smelled orgasmic. There was a long line of people who were happily speed-trapped by the munchies, so we sniffed it all in, but kept walking. We hadn’t toked yet, so our willpower led us inside.

As a reward, OTC finally provided us with a full, smoky billow of weed as we opened the door. Looking to the left, there was a pot-smoking lounge, filled with abstract bodies I could barely make out through the black-lit, weed-smoke-filled air. It was my first time seeing a lounge like this. It made me grin like it was 1990, and I had just scored an eighth on the corner from some stranger named Vinnie.

All looking black-light-purple, we passed a joint between the four of us. We didn’t get through it, so we bantered, as older people do, about the best way to preserve a joint for multiple uses.

Walking to the right, we entered the store — another bright, shiny, beautiful space. It was packed enough to require us to brush up against strangers in a way I hadn’t done in a long time. The music was young, and there were 10 people serving 10 lines of active buyers. We figured out that the more we spent at each place, the more two-fers and promotional joints we could buy for $ 1. Using math and science, we agreed to pool our purchases, scoring us the most impressive goodie bag of the day.

Now we definitely needed our first hit! We ambled across to the lounge; I guess we looked old enough that some kids gave us their seats on the couches (which also reminded me of 1990). All looking black-light-purple, we passed a joint between the four of us. We didn’t get through it, so we bantered, as older people do, about the best way to preserve a joint for multiple uses.

On the way out, the most dedicated stoner among us (not me; I’m a lightweight) got sucked into a demo. She sampled some “dab” —THC condensed into a waxy blob, smoked through some new-fangled, turbo-charged, electric not-bong that vibrates to let you know when the not-smoke is ready to inhale.

Whatever. She was toast for about an hour.

We made it to The Vault on Date Palm Drive in Cathedral City, as scheduled, at 3 pm The “CannaBus” shuttle was parked outside there. The driver explained that it was his bus that dumped the load of kids at Emerald Springs when we were there. (Another cool cannabis business taking tourists around to smoke!) It was quiet inside The Vault, because their second celebration of the day was set to start in an hour or so — at 4:20, of course. Lucky for us, the headliner, Giselle Woo and the Night Owls, was doing their sound check in the old bank vault, which serves as The Vault’s lounge and entertainment venue. We were treated to a private serenade of two songs; as we watched, we took our second and final tokes.

It was freaking fabulous. Perfect buzz.

We rounded out the trick-or-treating at Four Twenty Bank on Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs. It is, by far, the biggest and most spectacular pot shop and lounge around. It is huge and open, with three monster crystal chandeliers hanging over the enormous, central bar. Like The Vault, the Four Twenty Bank had also been a bank before becoming a dispensary. There were pool tables, a huge chess game, and some grown-up henna tattooing and face painting. A live band played on a lovely, high stage at the back of the venue. This dispensary’s old bank vault was filled with vintage pinball machines, a big air hockey table and video games — including Ms. Pac Man. I’m going back for some air hockey!

We managed to buy a little something in each shop and came home with that rush of having saved a bunch of money (though I spent more than I ever have at one time). I’ll be set for six months. We were careful not to call anything “a freebie,” as each vendor reminded us that giving away weed is illegal. Overall, there were no tricks, but there was quite a haul of treats.

Sobering up wasn’t tough, since we all behaved far better than our younger selves would have. Now, at 4:20, we had 40 minutes to get to the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce mixer at Spencer’s Restaurant. When we bought our tickets, we didn’t realize that April 20 is 4/20. Stoners.

With just the perfect amount of afterglow, we indulged in the mixer’s spread of appetizers and desserts, while trying to blend in with the networking business owners. Looking through the wall of windows at Spencer’s — in that cool room up on the hill, overlooking the pool, the palms and the city — we cooed to each other, “I love you dude.”

I’m happy to report that there were no cross words all day. Weed works.

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