While many consider the Cannabis Cup to be more of a shit show than an award show at this point, I still look forward to the judge's annual selections for the top strains in Colorado and seek them out afterward to try for myself. Sure, some people say the awards are bought, but in the years High Times have been coming to Colorado, I have never been disappointed with the choices. Tops on that list this year were the Ghost Train Haze and Starkiller from Green Man Cannabis – a shop that has been known for consistently turning out top-quality, caregiver-level cannabis for years now.
Green Man Cannabis
1355 Santa Fe Drive, Suite F
Denver, CO, 80204
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily.
Raw marijuana price range: $8-13/gram $25-$50/eighth-ounce, $200-$288/ounce. Members receive about 10 percent off.
Other types of medicine: Wax, hash, minimal edibles, salves/lotions.
Online menu? Yes.
Recreational Sales? Yes.
I hadn't been back to the shop since my first (and only) visit in 2013, and for the most part, not much has changed. The med bar still is made up of a zig-zagging glass cabinet and the center continues to stock loads of cannabis-related gear, accessories and swag; it can be found piled up in cabinets and hanging along displays. If head shops could sell pot, this is probably what they would look like. To be fair, the place was cleaner and less cluttered than during my previous review. Less “cozy disarray” and more comfortable casual.
It seems the only major shift happened when the shop's recreational side opened. The medical supply is still separate though, which means patients age 18 to twenty aren’t left out in the dark. I didn’t make it over to the rec side, but I was told that the selection is just as robust – you’ll just end up paying more.
What sets Green Man apart from other shops, though, isn’t just the quality of its herb (which few shops have managed to duplicate). It’s the staff. My budtender, a tattooed woman about my age, was a total pot nerd. I could tell she'd be able to talk strains, lineage and potency until the cows came home. Which is good, because that’s exactly what I like to do when confronted with grade-A cannabis.
The first two strains she pulled out were the cup winners I came in to see. The Ghost Train Haze, featuring some of Rare Dankness Seeds' most powerful genetics ,was up first, with a buttery, hazy, sweet berry smell that had a turpentine kick at the end. Very intriguing and it nearly got me high just looking at the tight, deep-green buds loaded with silvery, glistening trichomes. No shitty chop-job trim, either. Big fat sugar leaves were left on the buds and they all looked like they had been handed the way buds of this quality deserve.
But the Rare Dankness-bred Starkiller was the cream of the pot crop at Green Man for me. The cross of Skywalker OG and the prized Rare Dankness had a fresh, rubbery, grapefruit sweet-tart scent that reminded me of popping open a brand new can of tennis balls at first, followed by a truly organic, earthy body to the smell that lingered around in my nose for a few minutes after taking a good whiff from the jar. Broken up, the funk got stronger and I was impressed by how clean the buds were, as well as by the strain-distinct odors – no fertilizer smells whatsoever. Buds were dried and cured to perfection – still enough moisture to make them lightly spongey, but dry enough that they burned down to a fine white ash every time and didn’t charcoal out in the bowl. This is the type of herb you want to be smoking all day, every day, for the rest of your days. Seriously. Of course, the price may prohibit that. At $45 an eighth, your wallet isn’t going to like you very much. And at least right now, you can’t buy more than an quarter at a time, since the buds are in limited supply. Same goes for the Ghost Train Haze, which is also set at $45 an eighth and limited to an eighth at a time. Ouch. Member patients pay less, though. And yes, Green Man is still worthy of signing up as your primary shop.
Other strains weren’t limited and were priced more reasonably. The Headband (a strain we tried and loved in 2013) was phenomenal; it was selling at $35 an eighth and $250 an ounce. A slightly wispy but still stinky Bentley Dawg (a spicy, sugary cross of Golden Goat and Grateful Dawg) was a steal at $30 an eighth and $60 a quarter, and even the $25 eighth/$100 half-ounce Blessings OG wouldn’t have disappointed. When I go back, though, I’ll probably zero-in on the earthy, peppery Grateful Dawg, a strangely enticing and rich Chocoloupe (a strain I would normally ignore) or even the powerfully cheesey and trichome-loaded Cheesequake. Everything was on point. One I didn’t get to see was the Forum Girl Scout Cookie cut that the shop is growing. Not sure if it wasn’t on the shelf or if I completely spaced it due to my being enamored with the Starkiller, but it’s one I would go back to Green Man to find based on the quality of everything else.
The only downside of the shop that I could see is the high-side price of the highest-end strains. But both of the award-winning strains I brought home were worth it (at least, for a one-time trial). The Ghost Train Haze was so potent that I had a minor panic attack after a few bowls and turned to a cup of dark roasted coffee to help mellow me out. Even then, I was ripping around my house on an unavoidable cleaning spree, motivated by the mota. Appetite was through the roof and I devoured almost the entire large Benny Blancos pizza I ordered the previous night for dinner, tearing into it like a perpetually starved teenager. The intense musky, mossy flavor was through the roof, too — part of the reason I couldn’t stop taking fresh green one-hit snaps out of a clean, dry spoon pipe.
The Starkiller was equally dank, though I preferred it more than the racy speediness of the Ghost Train Haze for general smoking. The ripe, full taste of earthy-soil, lemon oil and pine sap was overwhelmingly delicious. It demanded a clean pipe every time. Otherwise, I felt like I was wasting a bowl – a bowl that tokers around the country are probably clamoring for after the Cannabis Cup results were announced. The flavor intensity matched the buzz, which was powerful, euphoric and made me blissfully pain and anxiety free for a good two hours plus after three or four tokes. Just thinking about the buds now is sending me into a Homer Simpson-esque doughnut trance.
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I was so taken by the pot that I blanked on concentrates. Not that I have much of a need for high-potency hash or shatter these days, as my stomach pain and nausea have become less and less of an issue. But still, it’s worth noting that Medicine Man is stocked with wax and shatter from the shop's own strains, produced by TC Labs and Endo. I’m at the point where I don’t even have to think about shatter if it’s made by TC Labs: it’s always going to be awesome. Grams of shatter went for $40 and wax for $35. The shop also had some six-seed packs for sale — all rare or unique strains — for a drink-spitting $80.
Despite what people will say about High Times favoritism or people buying awards, there's a reason Green Man got these awards — because the crew grows outstanding cannabis. So, okay, you’ll walk out with a minor hit to your bank account. The herb is worth it, though. But aren't you a little tired of smoking the same old mid-tier buds from the same mid-tier shops? You are. I know it, because I am too. It's not an everyday thing, but sometimes in life, you've got to treat yourself to the things you really want.