This dispensary has closed.
It wasn't my intent to re-review Golden Alternative Care, or any shop, this week. But I found myself out in the neighborhood after a trip up into the foothills to catch the aspens changing and wanted a joint or two for my ride home.
And to be really honest: I got stoned and forgot to Google it. We've done a lot of these places in our two-plus years, and it's hard to keep track.
Golden Alternative Care
807 14th St. Golden, CO 80401 303-278-8870 www.goldenmedicalmarijuana.com
Hours: 10:30 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays. Owner/managers: Craig Mardick Raw marijuana prices: $35-$40/eighth, tax included. Members receive discounts. Online menu: Yes, but not recently updated. Other types of medicine: Edibles Handicap accessible? Yes
The day I was in, the shop was manned by a guy with a strange resemblance to Tweak on South Park, only with a slightly Southern accent. My budtender gave me the tour-less tour of the place, pointing out the receptionist area, bud bar and back room from where we stood in the lobby. After taking my ID and red card and handing me a stack of paperwork to fill out, Tweak went off to the bud bar, which is separated from the rest of the dispensary with curtains, like the kitchen of a Japanese restaurant. Meanwhile, I filled out seven pages of paperwork while sinking into the money-green leather sofa that was probably bought back when Biggie made it cool, trying to figure out what part of the place Ms. Seed had deemed "stylish."
Nothing much appears to have changed in the fourteen months or so since her visit. The place still has the same stoner chiropractor office feel, with mismatched leather couches, maroon carpet and random pieces of artwork and cannabis product posters hung around the lobby. It had the dumpy feel of shops about two years ago, when people were rushing to open a storefront with whatever furniture they had lying around in their basement. The center's not uncomfortable or dirty, just hokey. Like your single uncle with the un-ironic mustache's equally un-ironic bitchin' Chevy van with the Star Wars paint job on the side.
Now, in the long run, the interior of a shop doesn't matter. What really counts is the quality of the medicine available and how friendly staffers are to their patients. Tweak had the friendliness thing down, and the two of us chatted about life in Golden over the static-heavy sounds of 107.5 blaring from an out-of-sight boombox between the paperwork task and me making my way back to the bud bar. However, the medicine pretty much matched the hodgepodge surroundings.
Things are still all "top-shelf," though that term has truly lost all meaning and value other than as a point of reference to other shelves in a store. Top-shelf at Golden Alternative Care, for example, was about a dozen or so premature cuts of herb ranging in quality from passably smokable to why-didn't-they-turn-that-crap-into-hash. This opinion was based on the small half-gram to gram sample buds in tiny plastic baggies on a shelf about six inches below the glass counter. But seeing the buds in the jars as Tweak pulled them from the shelves did nothing to improve the situation.
Most of the dozen strains looked stressed and cut early. The White Shark was down to the leafy end, and the Agent Orange looked heat-stressed and smelled like it had been stored with orange rinds. The biggest, juiciest buds in the shop were from the Bubbleberry, but the smell was way too fresh and hydro-artificial for me to take home. The budtender told me everything was done in-house in either organic soil or with a mostly organic hydro mix.
No hash, kief or oil when I was in, though the shop apparently does carry concentrates from time to time. The edibles selection was strictly from third-party vendors like Benjamins and North Shore. One positive is that between 3 and 6 p.m. each day, the shop weighs out 4.2-gram "eighths," so I walked out with a little more than two grams of a questionable OG cut and a mediocre Tangerine Haze cut for $40 even, tax included.
In all, there's nothing wrong with the shop; it's just not super high-quality. But then again, this is the same town that is home to arguably the most average beer on the market, and everyone seems to be okay with that. Pot snobs won't get much out of GAC, but your weird van-driving uncle might.
OG: $40/eighth First off, the smell and look of this cut either in the shop or at home didn't suggest that it had any relation to the funky, earthy-soil goodness of a real OG or OG cross. Out of the bag, it smelled like an empty house with new synthetic carpet and a fresh coat of KILZ primer on the basement walls. More un-Kush-like characteristics in the lanky and loose look of the nug and skinny little sugar leaves -- several of which had turned brown during flowering. Broken up, it had a rubbery finish, but not the tennis-ball sweetness of an OG. Instead, the cut had an acrid tartness, like a split-open super ball or fresh pack of rubber fishing lures. It reminded me of back in the day when people would put any name to a bag of chronic to sell it. The cut had a surprising lack of taste. By that, I mean I was shocked to burn a green hit of this and not taste anything gnarly, chemmy or nasty in the bud. Low potency on this cut, with a quick liftoff that came crashing back down about 45 minutes later.
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Tangerine Haze: $40/eighth The jar in the shop had a gnarly funkiness to it, and not in the good way. The pleasing smell of haze came through at first, but it mixed with borderline compost-rot. You can see in the picture that the buds were really wispy and underdeveloped despite a pretty solid dusting of tiny trichomes. Ground up, the bud's spicy haze came out and I could smell what some might consider the tangerine smell coming through. When smoked, it had a strange, woody finish, like burning some premature Super Silver Haze while sucking on a eucalyptus-mentholated toothpick. It smoked better than I expected, with a nice sativa buzz for about an hour before it tapered off quickly. I don't question the genetics on this cut like I do with the Faux-G cut; the barely discernible orange flavor lingered around the office and the smoke it left around the house was musky and pungent. Still, I would travel to Denver for herb if this is was the best cut I could find in Golden.
William Breathes is the nom-de-plume (of smoke) for Westword's wandering medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews here, and keep up on all your marijuana news on our news blog, The Latest Word.