As most of the rest of Denver was preparing for the big blizzard last week by stocking up on groceries at the supermarket, I went out for more important errands and found myself at B*GOODs with a few other like-minded individuals preparing for a stoney snow day.
80 South Pennsylvania St. Denver, CO 80209 303-777-5239 www.mastergrowers.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles, drinks, tinctures. Handicap-accessible? Yes.
Whereas a lot of shops have locked entryways and security doors between patients and the bud bar, B*GOODs' owners have taken a much more open approach. Instead of locked rooms and security doors, the center is set up like a neighborhood coffee bar -- except there are jars of herb on the counter, not an expensive cappuccino machine. There is even a small sitting area up front where I half expected to see the guy in line while I was shopping sipping a chai latte and reading some alternative weekly fishwrap newspaper.
The pot-friendly cafe vibe makes for an automatic connection with an Amsterdam coffee shop, even for those of us who have never been to the 'Dam. But that association isn't accurate for one very unfortunate reason: You can't smoke herb in medical marijuana centers. I get the arguments against on-site consumption, but let's face it: The bars and restaurants serving booze are way more of a threat to public safety than a few people sitting around puffing a vaporizer will ever be.
Neil, an owner I spoke with after my visit, agrees. He says B*GOODs is trying to stay away from the cold, doctor's-office feel of some dispensaries and create a "respectable, discreet and professional" environment much like a coffee shop or hash lounge in Holland.
My budtender was all smiles when I walked in the door, greeting me like she knew me as I sauntered up to hand over my paperwork. A handful of customers showed up while I was shopping; they all knew her by name, and vice versa. Based on the crowd behind me, I got the feeling B*Goods has been an increasingly welcome neighbor in an area full of Generation Xers who need a toke now and then but don't want to go to a shop with flashing neon pot leaves in the windows or bro-brah budtenders. Neil feels my assessment isn't far off, adding that the shop's patients say they appreciate how well the it blends in with the neighborhood.
First thing that stands out from my visit isn't the herb, but the ton of edibles B*GOODs carries. Mostly stuff from Gaia's Garden, Sweet Earth and Granny T's, but I'm talking everything those companies make. Shelves full of $6 lolipops, $12 almond bars and Gaia's newest creation: the $23 TKO chocolate-and-marshmallow concoction loaded with about 53 mg of THC occupied the walls along with "Grown Locally" Colorado shirts and hats. I also saw a few topical lotions, and the site says the center also carries stuff from the Apothecanna line. For what it's worth, I recently tried some topical rub on my sore back and was surprised at the positive results.
In addition, B*GOODs had what is becoming a standard selection of small glass pipes, as well as two or three different vaporizers and e-cigs (which from here on out I will refer to as e-joints).
The meds on hand were (appropriately) good. Not great, not bad. Just good. All of the jars on the counter had similarly popcorny buds and some looked to be well-grown but not well-finished. The bud was kept in large jars on the shiny granite counter that were arranged from sativa to indica, with hybrids in the middle. A few strains that stood out were the ATF, Mama San, NL #5 and Blue Kush. Unfortunately, most of the strains had a similar uncured-bud smell to them, like a jar of blended hash. The only cut that seemed to be really on-point was a jar of Jack Flash that I saw only after I had paid and was wrapping things up. Apparently, I also should have grabbed the Cindy '99, Wheelchair, Pineapple Kush or Mama San, according to the owner. The good news is that the drying/curing problem is a relatively easy fix. You can check out the actual buds they have on the shelf right now for yourself using B*GOODs' new strain menu.
Even smaller buds were sold as "second shelf" herb for about $5 less on the eighth, as well as mixed house shake for $6.25 a gram all the way up to an ounce. Despite the average quality, it was some of the best-looking shake in terms of actual buds (not trim) that I've seen in a while. I didn't have a need for it, but I know there are plenty of you out there who love it for rolling up joints. The shop grows everything in a soilless hydro system, keeping things on a perpetual harvest so that strains rotate through the shop often. Plus, B*GOODs stocks in-house blended bubble hash, separated out by filter screen size. As I found out later, the bubble would have been a better buy over the butaney BHO that I took home.
On the positive side, the shop is very discreet, being tucked away in the small retail area along Pennsylvania. And for neighbors, it's probably a nice walk in the spring and summer -- especially if you're making a pit stop at Carmine's before or after for some smoked-chicken rav or baked ziti. The bud isn't anything special and would be mid-shelf at more discerning shops. But what B*Goods has is clean, and everything sells for $25 an eighth or less if you're a member. The shop even still takes credit cards. It's not anything I'd drive across town for right now. But there's really not much one can complain about at that price.
Blue Goo: $25/eighth Though the name sounds borderline disgusting, the strain conjures up an appealing combination of the lavender smells and taste of Blue Dream with the indica punch of the sweet, Pine-Sol-tasting Afgoo. Sadly, the buds were underdeveloped, with some patches of pistils nearly translucent white and a generally more leafy appearance than is preferable. It was well grown up to the early harvest, free of any nasty mildew or bugs from what I could see, and had a powdered-sugar-like coating of crystalline trichomes. But as with most all the herb I got a look at in B*GOODs, the Blue Goo lacked any strain-distinct smells. There probably was not much of a curing time judging by the generic, airy ganja smell to the buds out of the baggie. Broken up, the buds released some of the pine-cone/relaxing lavender scent, but nothing came through in the taste. It wasn't bad, just bland, with a hay-like flavor through the bowl. The owner said staffers were thinking of dumping this strain because the growers haven't been impressed either, and I think I could support that decision.
Diesel x Cough: $25/eighth Like most of the strains I sniffed and looked at during my visit to BGoods, the Diesel Cough didn't have anywhere near the strain-distinct qualities you would expect. Though a much better developed flower than the Blue Goo I took home, the Diesel x Cough sample was equally as scent-impaired. Very dry, the bud broke down to a sneeze-causing powder with a light sugariness that I wouldn't expect from a blend of these tart and hazy cuts. Sadly, it didn't get much better smoked -- and trust me, I really wanted this cut to live up to the image I had built in my mind. If I exhaled just right on certain hits, I could barely detect the tangy Diesel aftertaste. But otherwise, it burned with a dry, leafy finish. Mild headbuzz from this cut from a five-hit bowl out of a dry pipe with a lazy, tired comedown about an hour and a half later.
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Northern Lights BHO: $20/.5 gram This glob of amber looked good and smelled clean in the shop. But at home, dabbed on a hot quartz nail through a clean oil rig, the wax had a cringe-worthy chemical taste and smell -- like blowing up a new beach ball fresh out of the package. I tried melting the wax down in a glass jar to purge it out further, but it gave off a nauseating candle-wax smell, and I gave up on the project soon after for some fresh air while a few more inches of snow piled up on the lawn. The owner wasn't sure what vendor the wax had come from, but until B*GOODs starts getting BHO from someone else, I would not buy it from the shop again. In retrospect, the house bubble hash was the better (and cleaner) deal for about half the price.
William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews at Mile Highs and Lows and keep up with all of your medical marijuana news over at The Latest Word.