The only thing that kept me from going into Kind Love, formerly Herbal Connections, were the ridiculous ads on the former gym's building: closeups of a man's abs with text reading "9 out of 10 women prefer this to shopping" and a woman's-abs version declaring "9 out of 10 men prefer this to Monday Night Football."
Kind Love Phone: 303-565-3600 Website: www.mmjdenver.net Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Owner/Manager: Leif Olsen, Bruce Grainger Opened: February 2010, changed names in December 2010. Raw marijuana price range: $40-$50/eighth, $70-$90/quarter. Other types of medicine: Hash, hash oils, tinctures, edibles. Handicap accessible: Yes. (Handicap parking is in Homestead Suites lot)
Somehow the gym and dispensary were connected in my mind, and I wanted nothing to do with people selling me ganja who live for pharmaceutical supplements and Spandex. Ten seconds and a Google search could have proved me wrong, but I'm occasionally an ass and enjoy jumping to conclusions. Recently, though, a friend pointed out that while the billboards still linger, the gym is gone -- and I've been missing out on some good chronic.
Still a bit apprehensive about the place, I parked by the Petco and walked up the maze of stairs to the garden-level entrance of the odd little corner building. The lobby inside was quiet and nondescript, aside from the smell of cannabis blowing through the hallway. I checked in at a small receptionist area to the right in an alcove beneath a set a stairs leading up to the former gym before being sent through a door to the actual dispensary.
Owner Leif Olsen says he and his business partner are in talks about ways to take over the former gym space to create a cannabis-centric dispensary and coffee shop. But for now, the shop takes up just the basement of the funky corner building.
I was clearly wrong to have judged this book by its cover, because the inside was way nicer than I expected. The space drops down into a beautifully designed sunken lounge with painted white ceilings and wood trim that pops off the exposed brick and wood floors. Art from local artists hangs on the walls, and the owners have built a unique round bench around one of the building's support beams that otherwise would look awkward in the middle of the floor. I took a seat on a small red leather couch to the left of the entry and filled out some remaining paperwork while the budtenders helped out other patients across the room.
Olsen says that the shop started out as Herbal Connections and was paired up with a shop of the same name in the Highlands -- but as the two shops developed distinctly different philosophies and business models, he and partner Bruce Granger decided to split in December and rebrand as Kind Love. Among the differences: Glendale did not ban on-site consumption as Denver did, and patients would often gather in the shop's vaporizer lounge to hang out and medicate. According to Olsen, that relaxed, stay-and-chill vibe carried over after getting high on site was banned.
The bud bar is at the far end of the room, elevated from the rest of the space and separated off by wrought-iron railing. A large display cooler splits the wooden bud bar in the middle, creating two budtender stations. Herb jars are kept on four illuminated glass shelves along the back wall. Nearly twenty indica strains were on one side of a large flat-screen television that displayed the prices, while another twenty or so sativa strains were on the other. Spread around the room were various pipes and vaporizers for sale as well as a good amount of T-shirts and other swag. The shop also had a handful of concentrates on hand, though not as much variety as they could considering all of the different strains available.
My budtender was a soft-spoken, nice guy who picked up on my taste for herb quickly -- pulling more potent cuts like a delicious Tahoe OG, some deliciously sour Sour Diesel, and a not-so-sour strain called Sour Bomb that my budtender pointed out smelled more Afghani than anything. Everything he put in front of me was the best I have seen in a shop in weeks, reminding me that discount herb isn't always worth saving money on. My budtender also pointed out a crazy Purple Diesel that apparently tested at almost twice the CBD as THC. Olsen said the strain is in response to patients who have asked for meds that provide the pain relief without so much of the head buzz.
Farming is done at four separate spaces, and Olsen says his goal is to maintain enough product for the store while still maintaining boutique-quality. There were clearly strains I passed on, but overall Kind Love is close to reaching that goal. I tried not to take up much time, but I realized after about fifteen minutes of discussing herb that six or seven patients, mostly older folks, were waiting behind me. I apologized, made my choices and headed home to puff tough for the evening.
Golden Goat: $50/eighth Golden Goat is one of my all-time favorite strains for the taste alone -- and my budtender also mentioned that it has consistently been one of their highest-tested THC strains. The cut had an enticing, almost baby-powder-like after-funk (my new term). Olsen says this was the first time for them to run this cut in their recently-opened fourth warehouse. It wasn't as neon-orange as Goat I have seen lately (including from the strain's creator), but it had comparable flavor and smell. Good for an uplifting, morning smoke to get the mind running and appetite flowing or for a mid-day pick-me-up smoke.
Flo: $50/eighth The Flo was the most visually appealing nug I brought home. Though it was slightly leafy, the trim was close enough without shaving the bud and it left some beautiful purple sugar leaves behind. Just a gram out of the jar was enough to fill my office with a grape-berry sweet aroma and sniffing deeper brought out a OG Kush-like freshness. This was a great hybrid strain for me, providing the pain relief of a heavy indica while the sativa kept the crushing, heavy sensation to a minimum. The cut from Kind Love burned smooth with a light, perfumed smoke that matched the fruitiness from the flower itself. This strain didn't do much for me the first time I had it a few years ago, but cuts like this have definitely changed my mind.
Tahoe OG Kush: $50/eighth I'm a man of simple pleasures and sticking my face in the jar and being overwhelmed with this mouthwateringly delicious rubbery OG made my day. I ended up taking home three little chunks of the Tahoe, and despite the other two strains being well worth my money, I wish I'd had more of the Tahoe when it was all said and done. Well dried and cured, the herb broke down into small chunks (as opposed to dust) and burned steady and clean down to a fine white ash. The rubbery skunk taste lingered well into a two-hour buzz that was a solid remedy for sore legs after snowboarding. The buds were small, but the potency and flavor were spot-on.
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Trainwreck Super-critical Extract: $50/gram I never did get a clear answer from my budtender as to exactly what the extraction process was on this. It was somewhere in consistency between thick butane honey oil and jelly like CO2 oil. The dark tan, almost green color wasn't the prettiest extract color I've seen, but it didn't look terrible. I completely ignored the budtender's advice to use sparingly and dabbed up to a quarter-gram of the lemony-fresh tasting oil onto a skillet over the last week. Aside from getting completely rocked, the extreme potency was perfect to curb stomach spasms and vomiting I was waking up with earlier in the week. The downside was that my tolerance for smoking flowers went way down. While it was good, I don't know what to compare it to and would love to see more examples of "super critical" oil. If anyone knows of other shops selling it, let me know.