(This article is sponsored by Evergreen Cannabis Society.)
The Evergreen Cannabis Society is unlike any other dispensary in Vancouver. In fact, it could be considered to be the city’s only true mom and pop pot shop.
With a transparent floor-to-ceiling window on West 4th Avenue near Macdonald Street, the husband and wife team of Mike Babins and Maria Petrucci have made their two-year-old compassion club as welcoming as possible.
Visitors can sit on chairs around light wood tables in front of a fireplace. There they can ask expert staff about different cannabis extracts.
Products are displayed elegantly and there's a distinct lack of clutter—making it feel like you've entered someone's living room. It's clear that great care has been devoted to the decor.
"We have a very inviting community vibe," Petrucci says. "People feel they can come in, take their time, ask questions, and they don't feel intimidated."
Because it’s been approved for licensing by the City of Vancouver, patrons can feel safe and secure on the premises. There’s no need to buy pot from a back-alley vendor anymore to maintain privacy.
Babins explains that as a registered B.C. society, all of its members are protected under the personal privacy protection act. No one is even allowed to ask if you’re a member.
"We have people in industries where it wouldn't be good if people found out they were using cannabis after work," Babins says. "Everyone is completely safe and protected."
This has made Evergreen the de facto cannabis community centre on Vancouver’s West Side. And it’s easily accessible for any college or university students who are new to Vancouver.
All they have to do is hop on the Number 2, Number 4, or Number 7 bus and get off at the corner of Macdonald and West 4th Avenue.
Perhaps most importantly, Evergreen Cannabis Society sources all of its marijuana from growers who don't use pesticides or artificial fertilizers. It’s the safest bud on the market—and it’s far less likely to give a person a headache or make someone sick than weed made with toxic chemicals.
“Our motto is ‘Organic, craft, local’,” Babins says. “Everything is pesticide-free and grown by small batch artisan growers.”
Evergreen relies on a small number of B.C. craft producers that it trusts. And this mom and pop operation refuses to buy marijuana from anyone who shows up unannounced with a knapsack full of weed.
"I wouldn't go to a grocery store that bought from someone who came up and said 'I've got some steaks, I killed the cow myself'," Babins says with a laugh.
He’s a former radio host and a voracious reader of scientific literature and popular articles on marijuana. When asked how he became so knowledgeable, he replies that his family has been using cannabis for at least three generations.
For her part, Petrucci survived a cancer scare with the help of Phoenix Tears which, coincidentally, are a hot seller at Evergreen. This experience has given Petrucci deep empathy for Evergreen Cannabis Society members facing their own health challenges.
They decided to open their own dispensary because staff at other outlets wasn’t very helpful when they asked serious questions about Petrucci’s health.
"I just love making people happy and making people healthy—and seeing people from all walks of life, all ages," she says. "It can be people who've never tried marijuana at all or people who were using it in the '60s."
She says the couple are very "pro vaporizer" because it's a much healthier way to consume cannabis. Evergreen only carries butane-free shatters, which are marijuana concentrates from the cannabis plant.
The shop also offers informative lectures on cannabis, cannabinoids, nutrition, and health. To provide more holistic treatment options, she and her husband work with naturopathic doctors, an herbalist, and a massage studio.
According to Babins, their objective was to create an environment that's comfortable, cozy, and professional, but not sterile.
Their application impressed the Board of Variance, which granted unanimous approval after people in the community wrote letters on behalf of the society.
This is also a pot shop with an artsy side. Touring bands like Diamond Head and Testament have dropped by for autograph sessions. Members of the ganja-loving Wailers, Bob Marley’s legendary backing band, have also visited the Evergreen Cannabis Society.
Babins points out that local art is always on display, and he and his wife plan on hosting more cultural events in the future.
It’s situated in a popular area for health-related businesses. A dentist, chiropractor, and Reiki practitioners are also on the same block.
To the west is a locally owned coffee shop and to the east is the Naam vegetarian restaurant and Darby’s Public House, which is the capital of craft beer on the city’s West Side. It makes sense that craft cannabis would be so readily available nearby.
Babins is proud of the personal touch offered at Evergreen. For instance when members buy capsules or oils, he advises them that if they're ever feeling too high, vitamin C will take the edge off. This type of wisdom isn’t available everywhere else—and it’s appreciated by the members.
"We want to be the dispensary that we wanted to go to," Babins says. "We're the grown-up dispensary. We don't have neon pot-leaf signs in our window."
For more information, visit Evergreen Cannabis Society at 2868 West 4th Avenue or online here.
(This article is sponsored by Evergreen Cannabis Society.)More