A couple of weeks ago, a new medical marijuana dispensary swung open its doors in SoMa, and with its sleek design and unique retail experience will undoubtedly be a game-changer for the local pot market. SPARC (SanFrancisco Patient and Resource Center, 1256 Mission St. between 7th & 8th) is the latest project from medical marijuana grower and advocate, Erich Pearson. Pearson co-founded the Cannabis Collective in 2001, which was formed to provide free medical marijuana to low-income, terminally ill patients in San Francisco, and he's been a grower now for twelve years. "We cut out the middle-man by growing all our own stuff," Pearson says, "Which brings down the costs for patients and takes the profit out of pot." Within two weeks of opening, other dispensaries around town began lower their prices to match SPARC, which sells 1/8 ounces for between $35 and $55, with a daily $28 special — today it's Hindu Skunk.

SPARC is a non-profit, and Pearson wants to bring high-quality marijuana to those who need it, in a comfortable, well-designed setting. "Our whole approach is to bring medical cannabis out of the shadows and into the light; helping patients feel good about the place they get their cannabis is key to that." With its blue-glass exterior, the place could easily be mistaken for a wine bar. Inside, polished wood benches and tables line one wall, while handsome wood and glass cases display over a dozen varieties of weed — all color-coded to indicate whether they're indica, sativa, or hybrid strains. Eighths come in pretty glass apothecary jars with custom designed labels, and the product is stored in wooden boxes along one wall like an old-timey apothecary. The menu and price guide are shown on hanging LCD screens. Yes, folks, it's a pot store for the Apple generation.