If you shop at dispensaries, you’re being ripped off

In my search for bud, I recently met another chronic pain patient who is a current member of the Medical Cannabis Program. For the sake of this story, let’s call this patient Mary.

Mary hasn’t been in the program very long, but she’s tried a handful of different dispensaries and was mostly disappointed in what she found. Mary likes purple strains to treat her chronic pain, which she has trouble finding. She says she likes the Purple Kush at R. Greenleaf and she brought some to my place for me to try.

The label says the Purple Kush is an indica and has 20% THC and 0.27% CBDs. It had a strong smell, but was so dried out, it crumbled between my fingers. That condition is nothing new, as I found the same problem with all of Greenleaf’s bud when I was in the program years ago. Mary wondered if they microwave it, which is one way some growers use to dry the bud as quickly as possible and to kill germs. But no grower worth his or her salt would even think of curing bud with a microwave. I told her the smell was almost artificial, as if they added it in at some point during the process.

When Mary told me she paid $20 a gram for this bud, I was shocked. Shocked, I say! Not only is this bud not worth that much, it’s not even worth half that much. I told her truthfully that Greenleaf was ripping her off. Poor Mary, she didn’t know there was better bud out there, and at a better price. But not at the dispensaries, which is not only sad, but rather tragic.

Mary says she tried The Verdes Foundation, but they have a problem with running out of bud. And she said they close down a lot, too. (That was also a problem with High Desert when I was in the program.) You can only buy in certain quantities at New Mexican dispensaries, like at Greenleaf, just 1.5 to 3 grams at a time. Then you have to keep going back to buy more, almost every other day for Mary. Because there’s not enough supply for the demand, so the bud has to be rationed. And this, even when more dispensaries have been added since I was in the program.

I told Mary that the Purple Kush from Greenleaf was proof that I made the right decision to stay in the underground. Crappy bud for $20 a gram? Shameful. Just shameful that the dispensaries are ripping off patients like that.

From Greenleaf’s website: “The quality of our medical cannabis rivals that of any you will find in the United States or across the world.”

Bullshit. Total bullshit. Don’t be fooled.

“How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?”

This song (Dear Mr. President by Pink) is dedicated to the members of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program — patients, patient associations, producers and dispensaries, doctors, and the Department of Health.  And to the New Mexico State Medical Board and every politician in this state.

While all of you enjoy your holiday weekend, take a moment to think about those who can’t afford this program and have to suffer, and suffer, and suffer, without any pain relief.

“How do you walk with your head held high?  Can you even look me in the eye?”


Do NM Cannabis Producers Support Mandatory Testing for Medical Cannabis?

Wow, to get actual responses from producers… that’s amazing.  I wonder who I have to sleep with to deserve the same kind of treatment?


Under comments:

March 18, 2015

I think it is wrong to assume that because we did not respond to your generic solicitation that we are against testing. Many producers understand the importance of testing and look to our state regulators to create an environment where testing will be available, affordable and mandatory. That environment does not exist now and we have been advised by the DOH and MCP not to test our products with unapproved laboratories. Perhaps a better use of your time may be to put political pressure on the DOH and MCP to test through the state labs. We, as producers, could subsidize the cost and patients would reap the benefits. I founded your organization – the NM Medical Cannabis Patients Alliance and funded it’s inception in order to create a political arm for the patients to express their wants and needs to the government – not so that you could waste your time polling the producers as to how we feel – how we feel is unimportant – how we are regulated is what matters.

William Ford, Executive Director
R. Greenleaf Organics, Inc
Medzen Services, Inc.
Healthy Education Society

Since SWOP mentioned in their response that they use the state lab at NMSU, I don’t understand why the Department of Health has to mandate this option for R. Greenleaf to take advantage of it.  Mr. Ford, are you trying to distract us from the issue at hand?

On the other hand, there’s the NMMCPA — a so-called patient’s alliance — that is pushing for testing, which will undoubtedly raise the price of the medicine, especially with the smaller producers.  You see, the members of SWOP, a small producer, are part of the NMMCPA…

And SWOP believes in 100% testing — whatever that means — and their prices reflect that extra expense.  SWOP has some of the highest prices in the state, if not the highest.  And if you’re a patient who can afford to pay those prices, I guess that’s great.

As for the tone of Mr. Ford’s response, well, perhaps he’s having a bad day.  Any producer who believes that exercises like this are a waste of time must have something to hide.  (Hence, the distraction.)  Aren’t the concerns and questions of patients important, Mr. Ford?  (Don’t worry, I don’t expect a response.)

I guess transparency isn’t important to the big players in this state’s medical cannabis industry — that’s why there’s no push to publish producer’s accounting records.  I mean, wouldn’t you like to know why your medicine costs so much?

The little information provided by the DOH every quarter doesn’t tell patients much, so perhaps it’s time for the NMMCPA to push for publicizing the accounting records from dispensaries.  Let patients really see what’s going on.  Maybe secrecy was important when this program started, but really, what’s the point of it now?

And for a patient’s organization, the NMMCPA certainly has made a mess of things.  Their members are in the middle of this new lawsuit against the DOH, by 19 of the 23 producers.  It will be interesting to see which producers didn’t join in the lawsuit and their reasons for not doing so. Unfortunately, the media coverage for this state’s program is almost nonexistent.  Which is why patients have to do so much research and make extreme efforts to navigate this expensive, exclusive, and secretive program.

It’s been almost a year since I was unable to renew because of the expense (and stress), and it’s taken all that time for the DOH to finalize the new regulations.  Now comes this lawsuit… just one of many that have been filed against the DOH regarding the Medical Cannabis Program.

I’m not sure how a lawsuit will change the fact that Retta Ward from the DOH gets the final say on everything to do with this program. The work that the Medical Board performs for the program doesn’t appear to affect the decisions Ms. Ward has made, and neither does all the negative responses from patients to the rule changes.

The whole business, the public hearings and comments, the set-up and procedures, the secrecy and lack of transparency, the cost — it all adds up to a program that doesn’t work for a lot of really sick people.  How many patients have died waiting for the ability to join the Medical Cannabis Program?  Do you know how expensive it is to obtain the records needed to qualify under “severe chronic pain”?  Do you know how many patients don’t qualify because they suffer from a mental disability?

The answer is to stop fighting over this program — the answer is to legalize.  Or alternatively, keep calm and move to Colorado.

New Medical Marijuana Rules Adopted


The average price for a gram of pot is $10…

Liar, liar, pants on fire…  That’s not the average price here in New Mexico — but sure, if you wanna dream, I can’t stop you.

Optimistic about his [David Romero White’s] chances to be licensed this time, he says, “This is definitely a huge step in the right direction. We all can now breathe a collective sigh of relief and move forward,” he says…

You breathe a sigh of relief Mr. White, while I sit here IN PAIN, unable to afford the renewal costs.

And if you rent your living space, you’ll need to get your landlord’s approval…

In most cases, that’s just not going to happen.  And I think the Department of Health knows that. This agency is working very hard to get smoking restricted in more places than it already is, including apartments.  And since most medical cannabis patients smoke their bud, the DOH is actually working against this program.

In conclusion, the new rules benefit producers, not patients.  But then, I’m not surprised.

Well, Mr. White (and his cohorts in the NMMCPA) must be pretty happy about this news.  Good for them.

My email to Verdes re: batch differences

(As posted at nmcannabisreview.com.)

From: Painkills2
Sent: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 12:54 PM
To: Verdes Foundation
Subject: Questions

Hi Cindy,

If you don’t mind, I’d like to continue our conversation from this morning. We were talking about the differences in the recent batches of Blue Dream and OG Kush.

I mentioned the smell as being “stale,” and I really can’t come up a better description. You asked if the buds were fluffier, and I agreed that they were. Usually, fluffier buds don’t have a lot of resin, and that was the case with these new batches of Blue Dream and OG Kush.

But a batch doesn’t need to have resin to have strength, as evidenced by your Grandaddy Purple strain. So, it was not the smell or lack of resin that was the real problem, those were just symptoms of a loss of strength for both strains.

We both agree that every batch is different… and yet, I’ve purchased Blue Dream numerous times when that has not been the case. This strain has been fairly consistent, with the exception of the anomalies discussed here.

And you mentioned something about each “mother” being different — does that mean Verdes uses clones like R. Greenleaf?

As you know, I will depart this program on May 22nd — so, at this point, you have no reason to answer any of my questions. But this is not just about Verdes and your products — this is about my choice of treatment for pain, and my need as a patient to understand my medicine enough to make the best choices.

What was the difference in growing and curing the last batch of Blue Dream in March, and how it was produced in April? This was not quite like the difference I experienced in strengths between this strain when I first purchased it, and subsequent earlier purchases.

Back then, you concluded my experiencing a loss of strength was due to my using only one strain for too long. And your solution was for me to switch strains. While I agree that many patients prefer a variety of strains, that does not describe my needs as a patient. I would be more than happy to stick with the Blue Dream most of the time if it retained its level of medicinal strength.

The difference between the batches was a lot starker this time. In fact, these new batches of OG Kush and Blue Dream were very similar in strength and smell — so much so, that I almost got them mixed up.

Can you tell me when Verdes started using the gel packs for curing? Specifically, which batches of Blue Dream were cured with the gel packs?

While I will no longer be an MMJ patient in New Mexico after 5/22/14, I hope to eventually move to Colorado, and will need this kind of information moving forward.

Blue Dream was one of my favorite strains during the year I spent in the program, but the loss of its resin (on more than one occasion), is something I would really like to understand.

So, will you help me?

Only response from Verdes on: Wed, May 7, 2014 3:52 pm

I will look in to the questions you have asked and get back to you on this information.


As of this date, no further communications to report (and none expected).

Edible Marijuana: A New Frontier in the Culinary World


[By] Ariella Wolkowicz
Johnson & Wales University-Providence*
Dr. Scott Smith, Dr. Cheryl Almeida
Fall 2012
(pdf file)


The Verdes Foundation was established in 2011 by a group of five individuals, three of whom are “qualified medical cannabis patients.” The founder and Chairman of the business [Douglas Speegle] is also a registered medical cannabis patient producer. Each of these members offers specific skills to the business. The founder has over thirty years of financial and business experience. He served as president and a board member of the New Mexico Bankers Association. An optometrist, IT developer, computer network engineer, and a landscape designer/horticultural expert with thirtyfive years experience complete the business team. Their medical edibles market grew out of their interest in providing patients with a longer, lasting, medically effective product that did not require smoking (The Verdes Foundation).

They grow the medical cannabis used in their products outdoors, at a high tech facility
under experienced horticultural direction. Strict guidelines are employed to produce a clean, safe product without pesticides or plant hormones. Different strains are used in the production of edible products to provide patients with the varied medicinal benefits. Infusion techniques are employed to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material using butter. Since laboratory
testing is not required by the state, The Verdes Foundation do not have their products tested.

Also, as a result of no state requirement, the dosing of their products is determined by calculation by weight. Each individual edible product is prepared to contain approximately ¼ gram of medical cannabis. This information is included on the product labels along with the other ingredients used in each edible (The Verdes Foundation).

Their product line which is composed of brownies, lemon bars, oatmeal cookies and an
Indica Chocolate “Sleep Cookie” is well received by the patient population. The Verdes
Foundation only sells products they produce in their dispensary and do not carry other product
lines to sell to their patients. They have developed their own label and use opaque packaging for all their products. Patients must place their orders in advance, either by phone or online. Pick up is on site or, for patient convenience, delivery is available for a flat fee. Patients are able to pay for their medical edible products using a credit card (The Verdes Foundation).

The Verdes Foundation has experienced growth and satisfaction in knowing they are
providing a much needed medical benefit to their community. They also choose to remain
committed to this market frontier and see greater potential for its growth as federal regulations
catch up with the states that have already recognized the need to legalize cannabis for medical
use (The Verdes Foundation).

*”Johnson & Wales University is well known for its Culinary Arts program but was first founded as Business and Hospitality programs. The university is the largest food service educator in the world. JWU is one of the top three Hospitality Colleges, according to the 2010 rankings released by the American Universities Admissions Program, which ranks of American universities according to their international reputation.” Wikipedia

My review of Verdes Foundation (1/31/2014)

(As posted at nmcannabisreview.com.)

Beginning in the middle of December [2013], I began trying out the Blue Dream strain from Verdes. Here is the description from their website: “Hybrid Indica/Sativa Cross (50%/50%) of Blueberry and Haze and was bred to provide the body high of an indica and the cerebral sativa effects. Provides a euphoric, uplifting effect at first and the settles into your body. Hallucinogenic. Great for pain, stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Effects are long lasting and she has a pleasant fruity taste.”

Now, you might be looking at the length of this post and thinking that it is just too long to read. But, I wanted to document the last few months of this Blue Dream experiment to give readers (are ya’ll really out there?) the whole picture. So, sit back and relax, we’re going on a ride here…

Let’s start out with the fact that I’ve never achieved a hallucinogenic response from marijuana, and that has held true for my medicating with this Blue Dream strain. Overall, I have liked this strain — it is not one my favorites, but it is right up there. When I first started purchasing it, the bud had lots of heavy resin, requiring the use of scissors to cut up. However, there is more than the usual amount of sticks and stems, reducing the amount of bud left to smoke and making it a more expensive strain than what its per-bag cost actually shows. It has a diesel smell and a taste similar to that of the Sweet Tooth strain from R. Greenleaf.

I was really liking this strain until it lost about half of its resin. Within the over two months I have been using it, it went from a strength of 6 out of 10, to about a 5. I have been offered a few reasons this “might” have happened from Verdes, and I have responded with questions — but in the end, I am still not sure why the strength has decreased over this time period.

We can look at this issue generally, stating that cannabis is a plant, and no two plants are alike anywhere in nature. Add this uniqueness to all of the variables in growing (too numerable to list here), and then all the variables within drying and curing — well, what you have is a simple fact: There will be a difference in your medicine every single time you make a purchase. It might be a small difference (what you want), and it might be a big difference (avoid at all costs). I have found that it is critical to take detailed notes for each and every purchase so as to chart the best course forward in making future purchases. I hope I am helping someone out there do the same (but, if I’m just talking to myself, that’s okay too).

I mean, let’s face it, this medicine is very expensive. Within the last 25 years, I have been on any number of pain treatment programs and, although they were all expensive, there really is no comparison for the amount of money I have spent (and am spending) within the medical cannabis program. I have come to treat my medicine as if it were more valuable than gold, which considering the large percentage of my budget that is only directed towards this medicine, even this comparison may be inadequate. You may think that putting so much value in a medicine is not a bad thing, and maybe it isn’t, except when one has to slash a budget, with few available options, I have found that my food budget is the one that’s suffering. Nutritious food is expensive too, and so my choices in the grocery store are now veering toward cheaper, less healthy foods. All in all, probably not a good trend.

Since I was not prepared for the amount of investment needed to be a member, I am hoping to educate patients newer to New Mexico’s program. While it may seem like a good idea to try every new strain, or to fully experiment with available strains, you are going to need a lot of money to do so. Within my reviews, I am trying to judge not only each strain’s strength, but how likely it is that I can afford it.

Some patients choose their bud mainly through the differences in the sativa and indica strains, so knowing whether your medicine is 100% sativa or 100% indica is important, just as important as knowing the different percentages in a hybrid strain. Unfortunately for me, this type of information has not proven to be all that beneficial, as I cannot tell the difference between a sativa and an indica. For shame! I know, but that’s the way it is, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

My one and only consideration is the strength of the medicine, and how much I have to smoke to achieve that effect. If you have read any of my other posts, you will know that I have a long history with intractable pain and, for the purposes of rating a medicine, it must be acknowledged that I have a high tolerance level, as well as high pain levels. In other words, what didn’t work for me, might work for many other patients. For those pain patients who rate their pain, for a measure of comparison, I would rate my pain levels to be, on average, about a 7 out of 10.

Verdes doesn’t post the THC percentages on it’s website, but I was told the Blue Dream was at 21% THC, 0% CBDs. I did not request to see the actual test results, but I intend to start doing so. Recent rule changes are supposed to include testing requirements, but so far I believe that only includes edibles. However, Verdes is one of the producers that tests bud on its own. There are no batch numbers, and although I’ve asked questions regarding the differences in batches, a lot of them have not been answered.

Even though I began using the pre-order service with Verdes for the Blue Dream strain, this didn’t help when I received a newsletter without Blue Dream on the menu. Communicating via email, I was informed that it would be a couple of weeks before this strain was back in the rotation. And then, a week later, the Blue Dream appeared again. It is important, as a patient, that you check menus at all the dispensaries every day, even if you don’t plan to order. Knowing how the strains move through the rotation will help with your planning.

Now would be a good time to talk about the difference on Verdes’ menu between big buds and popcorn buds. All bud is sold in eighths at Verdes, with the Blue Dream at $45 per eighth of an ounce, or $12.95/gram. (It must be mentioned that Verdes has allowed me to try out a few strains with just a gram, so you should ask about that.) The sales pitch I was given on the popcorn buds was that it was cheaper at $40/eighth and there were fewer stems (which is definitely true, especially in this heavy-stemmed strain). But when I asked why the popcorn buds were cheaper, especially if they had LESS stems, the young lady just shrugged. Through additional research, I found out that popcorn buds may or may not have the same amount of trichomes (which can equal strength) as the “big” buds. So, if you are as confused as me at this point, I would not be surprised. Regardless, I did purchase an eighth of the popcorn buds for the Blue Dream strain and was not impressed.

During the period of Blue Dream’s disappearance, I tried out another Verdes strain, Rare Darkness. It is supposed to be a straight indica at 22% THC. No seeds, grass/kush smell, low to medium resin. But, smoking it, the smell is different, yucky, with a taste like a milder taste of the disposable vape pen that Verdes allowed me to try. Strength was about 3.5 out of 10. I rolled 6 joints from 3/8th of an ounce, working out to be $22.50 per joint.

Don’t worry, I’m almost done…

My analysis shows that the different Blue Dream batches I purchased have worked out to cost from $16/joint, all the way up to $21.60/joint. Now I just have to decide if the Blue Dream strain is worth it.

Although I was told that Blue Dream was almost always in constant rotation at Verdes, on my initial visit, it was not on the menu. I only discovered it on a subsequent visit. And, the most recent newsletter from Verdes shows that the Blue Dream (big or popcorn bud) has again been removed from the menu.