Mom and pop shop offers organic 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.