The Apothecarium, with two locations in New Jersey, is open for business! That means fully recreational for those who are twenty-one years old or older.  What are they like? Well, they are a study in simplicity, but two vastly different experiences completely.

Phillipsburg, NJ was my first stop of the day. Standing stout against the former industrial foreground, framed by an active freight line and the Delaware River beyond, The Apothecarium has a stately position in the town. The reinvigoration of the former bank building represents brilliant re-use of the space. With soaring three-story ceilings, one gets the feeling of being in a very important place, where the business of the day was commerce.

Photo Credit: The Apothecarium

After waiting in the short line for just a little while, the security guard allows just three people into the space at any given time.  You never feel disregarded though, the line moves along quickly, and people seem to enjoy talking to each other about what strains are in today and the like. Once inside the cavernous space, you check in with the security guard and pass into a series of roped-off lines toward the consultation space. This is a long counter with CSRs- customer service representatives- instead of budtenders, meting out advice along with possessing truly genuine smiles when discussing the individual strains.  Medical cannabis is meted out from a different window within the operation, with no one feeling left out, or ignored. The wait time once inside is very short, maybe three minutes or less. The entire experience is very California-like as opposed to Denver-like, probably because Denver’s experience can be described as, somewhat overwhelming… New Jersey is just right. Just the right amount of flowers with just the right amount of vape carts, just the right amount of concentrates, and just the right amount of hardware.

Phillipsburg, NJ needs to have a consumption lounge, preferably down along the railroad tracks or the river, watching the freights lumber past on their way between here and there. I’d drive there to enjoy this entertainment and smoke cannabis in a nice environment. Phillipsburg has been described as a town, down on its luck, but I see it differently.  Sure, there is little in the way of industry, but with the introduction of cannabis to the local economy, value will rise in the marketplace, and cannabis tourism may be introduced to a rough and tumble town. After all, Amsterdam was a pretty rough place before cannabis hit the scene and added much-needed capital to a generally cold-rain-soaked backwater in a place nearly forgotten by history.  Consumption offers canna-tourism! There are historic train tracks nearby and the rich history of the Pennsylvania coal mines is very close to the whiskey business, which had roots in regard to rye whiskey and the Whiskey Rebellion, making cannabis another vice to enter the community. This time in a legal and tax-generating fashion.

Photo Credit: The Apothecarium

Just on the other side of the bucolic Summit, New Jersey is the quaint town of Maplewood, New Jersey. Long a feeder community for residents from Newark, East Orange, and Elizabeth, Maplewood offers safe streets and unlimited growth opportunities for entrepreneurs. My father’s family came from Newark originally, then they moved to Maplewood, before moving to Verona. My trip to the Apothecarium in Maplewood was less like a visit to a new building within a familiar town, and more like a trip into my family’s history. Pretty nifty stuff for me.

Entering the low-slung building you come into a space reminiscent of Short Hills Mall boutiques. The style is very bougie, with sophisticated wallpaper and not overwhelming lighting. Staff members look crisp, more like people who work in banking for insurance over those who are bud-tenders. It’s remarkable for me to be able to purchase cannabis in New Jersey and The Apothecarium offers a truly unique retail experience within its four walls.

Onto the flowers.  Because of a mix-up with my medical card, I did not purchase any cannabis in Phillipsburg, but I did in Maplewood, and what kind of herb it is truly wonderful plants.

Apples and Bananas- “Cookies Branded” grown in Boonton by talented, young growers, this strain offers bursts of citrus zest and black loam in every puff. When I think about the cannabis that I smoked as a young person, this was nothing like that ditch weed.

Photo Credit: The Apothecarium

The Soap Flower, another – decidedly soapy on the nose, but what a luscious high… I was thinking Irish Spring soap with a touch of gas added for humor, this hybrid strain offers a mind/body high that covers the awake and sleepy parts of getting stoned with aplomb. I like this stuff.  How did they get it to taste as cilantro does to some people?

Kind Tree Slapz Flower- Gas upon Diesel gas, upon ammonia and more petrol…and sour skunky gas. the kind that says truck stop weekend. This is the kind, and it does the trick on my brain. I got pretty stoned, right away. Definitely as good as some of the good stuff from Denver or Oregon. The gorgeous nug in the mylar bag was just huge!

Gary Payton Flower- Gary Payton from Cookies speaks to the original New York Diesel I remember smoking in the late 90s. You remember it, because all the snowboarders had it up in Vermont during the winter, and you could smell it in the air around Madison Square Garden, especially when the Grateful Dead came to town.

New Jersey cannabis has really grown up. I’m definitely impressed.

Photo Credit: The Apothecarium

I wish New Jersey offered home-grow, and I especially wish New Jersey allowed edibles and beverages. The cannabis program is basically backward in this regard, which makes me naturally less than optimistic for the future. But that’s not the point of this article and the argument for or against home-grow or edibles is so stigmatized that I cannot even strike a balance in my brain over the entire topic.

My suggestion is to visit the bank-like branch of The Apothecarium in Phillipsburg, NJ, or the high-style and sleek, Apothecarium in Maplewood, NJ. Both offer the same high-end products, shared in a fashion that introduces over-sells, some of the finest strains of cannabis around these parts of the country.

Thank you.

WB

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