Toke Signals: The Secret to Choice Wellness’ Success

Choice Wellness Center isn’t the biggest of the many dispensaries on Aurora Avenue, but if you count its previous location in the U District, it’s been around longer than most. There are always reasons for a shop’s longevity in such a competitive environment, so I checked out Choice on a recent weekday afternoon to see what gave it such lasting power.

The access point is located inside the former office of a shut-down motel, and as such, it’s close quarters. But the shop doesn’t feel cramped; it feels cozy. That’s at least partly due to the friendly welcome extended by budtender Calvin, who also happens to know his cannabis.

Choice Wellness has an excellent selection of cannabis-infused topicals; in fact, its topicals shelf would put to shame those of a few shops twice its size.

There were only about 10 strains on the shelves when I visited; Calvin said there are usually more. One shelf held four sativa-dominants, and another had around half a dozen indicas; prices ranged from $10 on the left to $12 in the middle to $15 on the right.

Now I’m not crazy about paying $15 a gram, and when I do, I insist on being impressed. But I quickly decided life’s too short not to try the best weed in the place, selecting two $15 strains, the indica Head Band and—at Calvin’s suggestion—the sativa Chocolope.

Once the sampling started, it didn’t take long to figure out that if there’s such thing as an appropriately priced $15 weed in Seattle, this Head Band is it. These rock-hard, tightly trimmed nugs may not be the prettiest flowers you’ve ever seen, but they pack a pleasing punch, quelling nausea and pain even as the potent brain fuel puts your thoughts into overdrive.

I know this is atypical advice for an indica, but if you enjoy indulging your creativity, I predict you’ll love Head Band. Just be cautious if you’re tempted to take a big ol’ toke: This weed has a lot of lung expansion once inhaled, and is capable of making you cough your ass off.

As I mentioned, Calvin recommended the Chocolope, and I’ve rarely regretted taking a budtender’s advice. Nobody’s in a better position both to sample every strain in the house and to weigh patient feedback on a daily basis. So it’s no surprise that he was right about the Chocolope. This almost-pure sativa (95 percent) is a blend of Cannalope and Chocolate Thai, and it’s as delicious as it sounds. The cross retains much of the Chocolate Thai’s taste, mixed with a bit of the Cannalope’s ripe sweetness. It delivers dreamy but intense cerebral effects, alleviating stress and magnifying appetite. If you are sensitive to strong sativas, proceed with caution, as this strain, in addition to giving relief, will also get you quite high.

First-time patients get a free medible; I recommend the in-house Soma brownies. I was also pleased to find a lighter in my bag when I got home.

Steve Elliott edits Toke Signals at, an irreverent, independent blog of cannabis news, views, and information.

CHOICE WELLNESS CENTER 8600 Aurora Ave. N., 682-3015, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 1–5 p.m. Sun.

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