There's a dispensary on Oracle Road, right across the street from Tucson Mall. The Rainbow Collective opened in mid-January, but it happened with nary a peep. While Tucson's other two dispensaries swung open doors with some fanfare and emails to Mr. Smith and other media, Rainbow was a bit more low-key. Now that it's been quietly serving the medical cannabis populace for a couple of months, I thought I'd take a look behind the strip-mall storefront.
The collective is super-easy to find. Being across from the mall, just north of Auto Mall Drive, it's pretty much designed for shopping. Parking is not an issue, and getting in and out was a breeze. Watch the clock, though. Oracle Road can be a nightmarish traffic experience during morning and evening rush hours. Still, you're unlikely to ever find a crowd in a dispensary—there was no wait on my visit to Rainbow.
The receptionist in the spacious, sparsely furnished waiting room (there were boxes of tile lying around—it might be spruced up when you go) offered standard paperwork, which included something I didn't see, or at least didn't notice, at other dispensaries. I initialed a paragraph where I agreed to "not discuss with non-members ... my transactions with and involvement in the Corporation." The first rule of Rainbow Club is don't talk about Rainbow Club. Oops.
After a brief wait, I was buzzed into the back room, where I was greeted by a bud tender standing behind a familiar glass case holding seven strains. The top-shelf strains are literally on a top shelf behind the glass case. The website menu shows 30 strains, but that seems figurative. They only had about a dozen the day I went, with a nice range of indicas and sativas to suit your tastes and needs. Rainbow has a few strains at $15 per gram, most at $20 and a few at $25. Eighths are $50/$60/$65, and quarters are $95/$110/$120. Most of the half-ounces are $200 and ounces are $380.
For now Rainbow has a big hole in the inventory—no edibles. One of the biggest benefits of the medical system in Arizona is that it makes edibles widely available. Back in the day, it was tough to find cannabis goodies. Now it's becoming de rigeur. C'mon, Rainbow, give us a cookie. Please? They say it will happen soon.
I bought some Green Crack, a name I don't appreciate but a strain I do. I say rename the strain. I don't think anyone knows exactly WTF they're getting anyway, even if they order seeds from a boutique Amsterdam grow house, and there's no regulatory system. Changing the names of some old-school strains would move the medical paradigm ahead. But Green Crack is the SHIT, so I bought some for $60. ;)
I'd say the biggest fault I found at Rainbow was the lack of lab testing. The strains aren't labeled, and I was told they don't test every batch. This is something that is also becoming standard procedure—the listing of cannabinoid levels. Rainbow told me the Green Crack tests in the 21 to 23 percent range. I'm skeptical. Lab testing costs $50 per gram, with discounts for larger testing orders. I'd feel better about Rainbow if they showed me the cannabinoid levels. I like my CBN—it counteracts the psychoactive effects of good sativa and keeps the fluffy clouds and rainbows out of my head so I can work.
Ultimately, Rainbow is much like every other dispensary. It's a mostly utilitarian space where I can conveniently and safely grab a fistful of cannabis to ease my aches and pains. The selection is pretty good (better than the black market) and the prices aren't too bad (equal to the black market for mid-level strains).
God bless Amurka.