When I first checked out Caregivers for Life nearly two years, what I brought home was decent but not what most people would consider connoisseur quality. But in the intervening months, the shop has clearly come into its own and begun putting out some amazing herbs.
310 St. Paul Street 720-536-5462 www.caregiversforlife.net
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Edibles, hash oil. Handicap accessible? Yes.
The shop still occupies the same Cherry Creek North location, tucked away in the back of what looks to be an old apartment or condo complex. There's the same low-key sign out front, and a porch just begging for patients to puff there -- if the laws ever change in the cannabis user's favor.
I stopped by in the evening, close enough to closing time that I half expected the "open" sign to be turned around in the window. But instead, I walked right in and was greeted by a woman in one of the back rooms calling out that she would be just a second. I could hear her talking with what I assumed were other patients, so I took a seat and raided one of the well-stocked candy jars on the coffee table.
The lobby of Caregivers for Life hasn't changed -- but then, this place did it right from the start, keeping things clean and professional while still remaining comfortable. There's still a flatscreen TV along the back wall, and the white couch remains puffy and cozy.
After I listened to my future budtender talking with people in the back for a few minutes, she came out to the lobby and apologized for making me wait, then copied my ID and card and sent me on to the bud bar -- one of the few things that's really changed at Caregivers for Life. Before, the bud bar was situated behind the large reception desk, but it's been moved to a much larger and more comfortable space just beyond the lobby.
What I'd thought were other patients turned out to employees with another dispensary, trying to purchase wholesale amounts. Their constant interruptions made shopping somewhat difficult.
Long gone is the colored dot system that used to differentiate strains; things are now on a simple shelf system. There were about eight strains in the glass display case, and at first glance they all seemed surprisingly full and well developed. Opening up the jars of Blackberry Kush, White Erkle and the award-winning OG confirmed that, and I would have gladly taken home just about everything in the cabinet. Also impressive was the chunky, fruity Skunk Berry and a delicious-smelling Jack Herer jar -- both cuts having won first place in various cannabis tournaments over the last few years, including the High Times cup, the Boulder Cup and the Mile High Cup.
But a lot of the merchandise was being put away for the night, so I didn't get to check out many of the lower-shelf strains; the edibles selection was down to a few assorted hard candies. The only concentrates out were three jars of $30 per-gram butane extract hash, which I saw after I'd made my nug selection. Two of the jars were blends, while the other was a strain-specific kush (though I can't recall which one -- my notes are fuzzy here); all three looked well purged, with a flakey consistency.
By now another customer had come in behind me and I was feeling really rushed. And that's a shame, because the shop really has only gotten better in just about every area over the last two years. The herb has gone from being decently grown warehouse buds to some real lookers and sniffers.
An owner I later spoke with said the shop had recently partnered with the growers at The Green Man, and all of its top-shelf strains come from that organic coco fiber garden. In fact, he said, Caregivers for Life will soon be changing its name to The Green Man, as well as opening a second store at 1355 Santa Fe Drive.
Eighth prices are capped at $45 these days -- taxes included. And other value strains have gone down as low as $30.
White Urkle - $40/eighth It's been about two months since I picked up this strain, the last being the bug-infested sample from Chronorado. Even though the gnats in that batch were gross, the strain itself was still impressive. But the cut from Caregivers for Life was as pretty out of the jar as it was in the shop, with a similarly fruity-soil smell. No bugs, just swollen calyxes with hints of purple and orange in between slatherings of amber crystals. Under the scope, the mushroom-like trichomes had nearly purple heads on top of their slender stalks. The herb burned clean and the fruity taste came through well, but overall this wasn't the most flavorful strain in either a dry pipe or vape. Nothing harsh or negative, just a lack of fullness. But flavor is sometimes secondary to the effect, and this herb was potent enough for a bowl pack to have lasting effects on my post-dinner evenings this week. In addition to helping ease cramping digestion pains, the bud did a number on a nagging headache I had all day Wednesday. As a $40 strain, this was definitely worth bringing home.
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Jack Herer - $45/eighth The jar at Caregivers for Life was full of spear-shaped nugs with small, bb-like calyxes and straight, pointy red hairs jutting out like tiny rusted antennae. The crystals coating the buds were shiny and clear, giving the bud an icy appearance up close. Crumbling the bud down in my fingers brought out a potent, sweet, buttery-haze smell and left a sheen of oil and resin on my thumb and finger tips. Flavor was on-point as well, with a slight eucalyptus twist at first that faded to the sugary haze Jack Herer is known for. One of my top sativa-dom picks for getting my appetite going, this is what I lovingly refer to as a plate-cleaner strain. A few bowls of this before chow, and I will put down everything you put in front of me. Strains like this are essential for the medicine cabinet, and I wouldn't mind stocking up on this for future use.
William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews in our marijuana blog, Mile Highs and Lows and keep up with all your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.