A few months back, after we checked out Root Organic in Boulder, several readers urged us to go back and visit Boulder Wellness next door. The herb is better quality and worth the drive up from Denver, they said.
Whereas Root Organic (on the right) takes the more slick, modern approach to its operation, Boulder Wellness (on the left) falls more into the laid-back, Eastern-inspired, new-age, crunchy Boulder vibe. The two may share space in the same shopping center, but the difference between them is worlds apart.
5420 Arapahoe Ave. Boulder, CO 80303 (303) 442-2565 BoulderWC.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Raw marijuana price range: $15/gram $40/eighth-ounce, $200/ounce. Members receive 20 percent off purchase. Other types of medicine: BHO, shatter oil, bubble hash, edibles, drinks. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.
The waiting room of Boulder Wellness is done up with a hindu/Buddhist/zen theme, which is probably a zoning requirement in Boulder at this point for any store operating in the natural-health-and-wellness industry. You could easily be walking into a yoga studio, an acupuncturist's office or a natural herbalist's place. Bamboo floors balance the loud red furniture and blue walls on the outside of the bud bar in the back of the house. It's a spacious area, with a leather couch and chairs set up off to the side near an ATM and a water cooler.
Another memorable item is near the bud bar: a framed, signed Thomas Benton marijuana poster -- a gift from a patient who found it in a garage. Aspen local Benton is probably best known for creating Hunter S. Thompson's famous posters for his 1970 Pitkin County sheriff campaign.
The center was near-silent when I walked in. The guy behind the small receptionist desk directly in front of the doors gave me a quiet "Hey, how's it going," emphasizing the tranquility of the whole shop. I don't think it was necessarily on purpose, but it certainly matched the strip-center day-spa peacefulness surrounding him. He copied over my information while we chatted about the failure of the D.A.R.E. program we all went through as kids, noting how all the cops did was pique our interest and how it no doubt contributed to us sitting right there in a legal medical marijuana dispensary.
Compared to shops I've been in recently, the dozen or so strains Boulder Wellness had on the shelf seemed like a small, manageable amount to get through. But fewer strains didn't make the selection much easier when pretty much every one on display was top-tier quality. Fighting it out to come home with me were a near-perfect Golden Goat, a nose-tickling Sour Kush and a chunky, trichome-loaded Pre-'98 x Buddha's Sister that had the borderline grapey kushiness of the former mixed with the tartness of the latter.
My budtender also pulled out a jar of Headband that wasn't on display yet, and it immediately took the lead. The lemony-leathery-earthy-smelling buds had a good density without feeling artificially plumped and were coated in fat amber trichome glands. Delicious out of a clean pipe or vape, the half-eighth I brought home disappeared way too quickly due to both its mouthwateringly full flavor and the instant appetite it gave me. With the patient pricing, an eighth would have only been about $30 with tax -- a great value for the quality.
I've had a personal aversion to Bubblegum for years after seeing way too much of it back in college, and I usually pass it over. But not this batch. It was easily some of the best Bubblegum I've seen, and I forgot about my bias instantly. Instead of the leafy buds of my youth, this was perfectly plump -- dried and cured to perfection. The near dead-on Bubblegum smell and flavor oozed from the buds like the glassy crystals coating the calyxes. A much heavier, nap-time indica than I remember, this Bubblegum would be solid for pain relief, soothing anxiety and putting your ass to sleep.
The edibles selection wasn't huge, but Boulder Wellness does have a decent range of potent potables from Wana, Sweet Grass, Incredibles and Sweet Mary Jane. A small (but really loud) fridge housed drinks from Marqaha and Keef Cola for about $8-$12 a pop. Boulder Wellness also had bottles of the Chai High tea for $14. If you like iced chai and getting really, really dosed on cannabis, these 315-milligram drinks are amazing. Though I didn't get into it very much with my budtender, I also saw a few tinctures on the shelves next to cannabis-infused topical salves and lotions.
The concentrate selection was also worth a longer look. The shop had a range of strain-specific and blended budders and shatters selling for $30-$35 for non-members (and about $5-$7 less for members). Lower-priced caviar and kief were also up for grabs, along with RemPen e-cig refill cartridges.
After a lengthy hiatus from butane waxes, I finally found some hash worth bringing home in the Golden Goat shatter oil. Also tempting was the Headband shatter, house blend shatter and Bruce Banner shatter. But the Golden Goat retained most of its natural smell. The rock-hard concentrate warmed up in my fingers and made for manageable dabs that vaporized instantly and cleanly on a nail and melted like amber ice chunks over a bowl. It was extremely potent, too; Pinhead-sized dabs were enough to overwhelm my senses for a few minutes before settling into a strong, energetic high.
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Pricing isn't bad, though the $40 non-member price for an eighth and $250 ounces aren't something you're likely to want to pay all the time. But Boulder Wellness Center is easily the type of shop many people would want to sign up as their primary center. Doing so gets you 20 percent off purchases. To give first-time patients a feel for what that's like, Boulder Wellness offers everyone a "trial membership card" good for three visits at member prices. There's also a discount for folks who drive from cities outside of Boulder to the dispensary, which probably evens out the cost of the gas used getting up there.
Root Organic definitely has its advantages, including multiple price tiers and a better selection of non-butane-extracted hashes. But if you're forced to choose which dispensary to visit at the shopping center, I'd walk to the left instead of the right.