In "Mile Highs and Lows," Westword offers a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind the locked doors of marijuana dispensaries, whether they resemble swanky bars, sterile dentist's offices or a dope dealer's college dorm room.
This week, William Breathes reviews Caregivers for Life.
Caregivers for Life 310 St. Paul Street 720-536-5462 www.caregiversforlife.net
Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Owner: Withheld Owner's statement: "We want to be able to help patients medicate affordably." Opened: December 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $30-$35 discount eighths (tax included) and $40-$55 regular-priced eighths (before tax) Other types of medicine: Edibles, hash, kief and oils. Handicap accessible? Yes.
Our take: It seems like a lot of dispensaries -- or clinics, now that it's July 1 -- are featuring specials and trying other ways to get customers in the door, though most of the time there's nothing special about these specials: You either end up with shitty medicine or paying way too much. So it's refreshing to find a place like Caregivers for Life, which is trying to keep quality meds affordable.
The dispensary clinic isn't fancy or overdone in any way -- which alone is enough to make it stand out in Cherry Creek North. While other clinics in the area go out of their way to have a professional atmosphere, Caregivers for Life opts for the look of a well-to-do living room. There are no High Times centerfolds on the walls; instead, homemade artwork hangs above a colossal desk that takes up most of the waiting room. A puffy white-leather couch, a coffee table and chairs, and a flat-screen television occupy the rest of the space. Aside from the faint smell of herb and "Beware of Guard Dog!" signs, the place feels more like a day spa in a converted condo than a dispensary.
Caregivers for Life is also looking to be a one-stop shop for customers, offering a wide assortment of pipes, vaporizers and rolling papers. It's not somewhere I'd go for my glassware, but if head shops are too heady for you, I can see how it would be nice to be able to buy both your pot and a pipe to put it in at the dispensary.
But when I dropped by Caregivers, I was there for the medicine, and this clinic certainly has a selection -- more than forty strains that day, ranging in price from $40 to $55. The owner's daughter, who helps out at the family shop, was my bud-tender, and we ended up with a dozen or so jars up on the counter by the time I was done, including several decent kinds of kush, some popcorn-like bubblegum, and a cut of slightly underdone Island Sweet Skunk (it wasn't as orange as it should have been). Still, almost everything in the jars was decent-to-good quality. I didn't see anything near the quality of a smaller basement grow, but this was easily the best I've seen in such a big selection.
A color-coded dot system breaks down the prices, and from the dozen or so jars I went through, everything seemed to be appropriately pegged. What impressed me the most, however, were the $30 house eighths, which change by the week. The day I was in, the house eighths were Sally's Blend, and they didn't look anything like the dirt some places would sell at that price. Instead, the buds were covered with amber crystals, brilliant orange and green, and the jar had a nice piney scent. Regrettably, I didn't grab any to sample -- but the variety changes by the week.
According to the owner, Caregivers is compliant with all the new laws -- which means that 70 percent of its ganja is grown by the clinic itself. In fact, Caregivers has had a grow going since it opened in December. "We knew that if we were going to be able to offer it at an affordable price, we had to do it ourselves," the bud-tender says, adding that everything is grown in organic soil rather than done the "lazy way" with hydro. "God made things to be grown in soil, and that's the way it is."
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Even though the name reminded me of a bad Chinese joint I used to eat at in college, I went for the red-haired, fluffy green Red Dragon. And, like too much MSG, it put me down for the count. It had a spicy, floral potpourri smell that burned rich and heavy, like Trainwreck. I started a bowl, took two hits and then drifted off into Internet land for about an hour or so before realizing I had yet to finish the bowl. It was great for relaxation and easing head stress.
The Strawberry Cough was the dessert to the Red Dragon's heavy meal, with the light green and tan buds well coated in crystals. Unfortunately, it didn't have as much berry-sweet flavor as other examples I've seen, something a bit of attention with the curing could probably fix that. Medically, the Strawberry Cough gave me a really active, mental high, but it also helped to dispel an ongoing wave of pain and nausea I have been waking up with recently. More than anything, it woke me up and put me in a good mood after waking up so sour.
The Violator Kush was my least favorite, even if was the frostiest of the three strains I picked. It had a leather-like smell, but was crispy-dry. Nonetheless, it violated my senses, and what started out as an attempt to curb a cramp ended up putting me out for a pot nap at 5 p.m. I didn't get a receipt, and my notes are a bit garbled (it's the Red Dragon's fault), but I walked out spending only $48 on the three grams -- and with so much quality for the price, I'll be back at Caregivers to spend more.
The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.