Mom and pop shop of­fers or­ganic cannabis

The Georgia Straight - - CANNABIS -

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 dé­cor.

“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 be­cause it’s 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 No. 2, No. 4, or No. 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 gave her deep em­pa­thy for Ever­green Cannabis So­ci­ety mem­bers fac­ing their own health chal­lenges.

They de­cided to open their own dis­pen­sary be­cause staff at other out­lets weren’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, Petrucci and her hus­band work with natur­o­pathic doc­tors, a 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 to host more cul­tural events in the fu­ture.

It’s sit­u­ated in a pop­u­lar area for health-re­lated busi­nesses. A den­tist, a chiropractor, and Reiki prac­ti­tion­ers are also on the same block.

To the west is a lo­cally owned cof­fee shop and to the east are 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.”

RAN­GOLI’S ALL THE RAGE Af­ter Vij’s Restau­rant left West 11th Av­enue for big­ger digs on Cam­bie Street, its smaller sis­ter restau­rant next door moved in. Now far more com­fort­able and warm, Ran­goli of­fers dishes that Vij’s fans de­mand and adore, like lamb pop­si­cles, as well as de­li­ciously in­ven­tive veg­e­tar­ian items such as jack­fruit, kale, and cau­li­flower curry with rice. It has a late-night menu, too, fea­tur­ing pa­pad­ums, pâtés, and a samosa flight.

PLANT POWER The bright and airy Heir­loom Veg­e­tar­ian Restau­rant of­fers brunch as well as an all-day menu fea­tur­ing plates like smoked sea­sonal mush­room Bolog­nese, tan­doori-jack­fruit co­conut curry, smashed av­o­cado on toast, and a build-your-own-salad op­tion. If you’re in a rush be­fore a mati­nee, there’s the Heir­loom Juice Co., with nu­tri­tion­ally loaded juices and smooth­ies as well as ul­tra­healthy items like kale slaw and cae­sar salad, chick­pea-curry wrap, and a Baja bur­rito with quinoa-nut frit­ters, col­lard greens, ji­cama, bell pep­pers, and all the usual fix­ings.

ETH­NIC EX­CEL­LENCE One thing Woo loves about the area is its din­ing di­ver­sity, and sev­eral cul­tures are beau­ti­fully rep­re­sented here. Jam­jar Folk Le­banese Food of­fers plates that nour­ish the body and the soul, such as fat­toush, lab­neh, egg­plant stew, baked ar­ti­chokes with sea­soned beef, and fried hal­loumi with crushed olives, fresh mint, and toma­toes.

Rice-ver­mi­celli dishes, noo­dle soups, bánh mì, salad rolls, and spring rolls are all on the menu at 5 Spice Viet­namese Cui­sine, while hun­gry the­atre­go­ers with a han­ker­ing for go­mae, gy­oza, tem­pura, and teriyaki can opt for the all-you-can-eat lunch or din­ner menus at Kyo Korean BBQ and Sushi House.

The flavours of the Mediter­ranean star at Siena (which prides it­self on us­ing pre­mium in­gre­di­ents such as all-nat­u­ral free-range meats and pro­duce from the UBC Farm); think risotto, ravi­oli, arancini, and rose­mary-braised lamb shank.

The Rise Eatery pulls it all to­gether, the glob­ally in­flu­enced venue com­ing up with all sorts of cre­ative com­bi­na­tions. Take the Neer and Far, with pan-fried pa­neer, rata­touille ren­dang, and naan, or the Dish Called Wanda, which has wild Pa­cific salmon ril­lette with mini house-baked brioche buns, Asian herbs, ca­pers, and pick­led onions. Need more ev­i­dence of the resto’s cul­tural mashup? Try the Rou­tine: “ra­men” fries, cheese curds, miso gravy, kew­pie mayo, and fu­rikake.

UP­SCALE EATS Un­der the in­spired guid­ance of chef Quang Dang, West Restau­rant is an el­e­gant, vi­brant spot that spe­cial­izes in con­tem­po­rary lo­cal cui­sine. It of­fers a pre-the­atre prix fixe din­ner menu. Ex­am­ples of the kind of dishes on of­fer: caramelized-onion soup topped with aged Gruyère, black­pep­per crou­ton, and sherry gas­trique; duo of Fraser Val­ley pork (braised cheek and crispy belly, with bone broth and Swiss chard); and chamomile cheese­cake with gra­ham crum­ble, honey cus­tard, and blueberry sor­bet.

NEW FORMS FES­TI­VAL (Septem­ber 28 to 30) Elec­tronic mu­sic and me­dia art mash to­gether, with names like Ju­liana Huxtable, DJ Stingray, Hans-joachim Roedelius, and Hamid Drake.

B.C. CUL­TURE DAYS (Septem­ber 29 to Oc­to­ber 1) Hands-on art­mak­ing and be­hind-the-scenes tours of ev­ery­thing from ar­chi­tec­ture and dance to pho­tog­ra­phy and pub­lic art.

EASTSIDE CUL­TURE CRAWL (Novem­ber 16 to 19) More than 500 artists open up their stu­dios to tens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors in the city’s biggest art party.

DOWN­TOWN EASTSIDE HEART OF THE CITY FES­TI­VAL

(Oc­to­ber 25 to Novem­ber 5) Per­for­mances, ex­hibits, the pre­miere of the cham­ber opera and more hon­our the women of the DTES.

Miss­ing,

Ever­green Cannabis So­ci­ety is spear­head­ing the cam­paign for ac­cess to safe, tested cannabis. Stephen Le­bovits photo.

Au­gust 23–Septem­ber 23

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