The word "lush" can describe the thick foliage of a plant, something lavishly productive, or an object or experience that is sensational.
The term has also taken on the slang meaning for a sloppy drunk, though that connotation doesn't really come to mind after visiting Lush, which has been around for several years but started out with a generically bland moniker: Colorado Wellness Center.
The current name is appropriate to the shop's tranquil confines.
2490 West 2nd Ave., Unit A Denver, CO 80223 303-880-1554
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sundays. Raw marijuana price range: $10/gram $35/eighth-ounce, $225/ounce. Members and first-time patients are capped at $25/eighth and $180/ounce. Other types of medicine: Shatter oil, wax, edibles, tinctures. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.
The Colorado Wellness Center handle certainly didn't help the shop stand out, especially since it's not really in a drive-by location: It's is at the end of an unnamed road/alley/driveway off of Second Avenue between Yuma and Bryant Streets in a two-tone brown-brick industrial building with a neon "OPEN" sign. It makes sense that at one time CWC was touting itself as Denver's "Most Discreet" dispensary.
While there's an industrial wasteland of warehouses and tractor trailers outside, the interior is a full-on holistic center complete with a Persian-themed massage room (that still is in use, apparently) and a doctor's office-like receptionist area. The tan walls and soothing, earth-themed artwork don't scream "MARIJUANA DISPENSARY," even when you get into the cannabis-drenched bud bar.
My budtender, a tall, cat-eyed woman named Chanel, handed me a small clipboard and offered me a water before putting my information in the system. While we chatted, she mentioned that the shop is family-owned and has been in business since March 2010.
When those formalities were finshed, I was ushered back into one of the corner offices of the building, where a bud bar had been set up with two oak-and-glass display cases -- one full of jam-sized glass jars filled with maybe a baker's dozen or so of herb strains and the other featuring edibles from Incredibles, SweetGrass Kitchens and Cheeba Chews, plus accessories like oil-smoking devices and pipes. The shop had a few more oil rigs lying around in other spots, including what looks like a dab-centric display shelf loaded with Hitman Glass shirts, Top Shelf Extract gear and $10 Rig Rags -- basically a handkerchief with BHO-related artwork on it so you can wipe down parts of your oil rig that need it.
For concentrates, Lush had $30 grams of shatter oil made from trim as well as $50 grams of oil made from actual buds. The center also carries waxes, but the only ones on the shelf when I visited were grams of the ultra-clear Jedi Kush nug-run oil made in-house by hashmaker Ryan Skipton. The $50-a-gram price is steep (and absolutely the most I would pay for concentrates from a dispensary these days), but it looked like the chunk of amber on top of Richard Attenborough's cane in Jurassic Park (minus the bug).
What I brought home was odorless but not entirely flavorless: There was an added skunkiness to the otherwise vaporized-THC flavor. I've had tastier shatter before, so that was the only knock. But otherwise it was a to-the-moon blast of medicine that turned a gurgling, cramping stomach into an American breakfast-slamming appetite in five minutes. Was it worth the jump in price from the level below it? Probably not, but I would have to see the trim-run shatter to make the final call on that.
With few options in wax, I was more focused on the herb -- specifically, something to help with my on-again, off-again back pain. This time, I agitated it taking off a hiking backpack in a funny way. Yes, I'm that fragile. But I think it's pretty emblematic of people who experience recurring chronic pain in this country who do (or should) use medical cannabis. It works, it isn't going to kill you if you take too much, and it isn't physically addictive.
Okay, preachy rant over.
Chanel picked up on my pain (likely from my hunched-over, hands-on-my-back posture) and went straight for herb on the indica side of the shelf with a fuzzy-looking Bleu Cheese. And instead of grabbing the sample jar, which looked like it contained perfectly smokable buds, she pulled out the two-gallon glass stock jar filled to the brim with the chunky green buds loaded with thin, Romulan-like orange pistils. She said the sample jars don't smell as nice as the big jars due to their being opened and closed so often. She knew her stuff as well, and was able to rattle off lineages and the expected effects of each strain they had in stock.
We moved on from there to a popcorny and pungent batch of Sour Diesel and a plump, sweet-tea/grapefruit-smelling batch of Grandma Cindy. She also passed off the last of the Bubba Kush -- the one small sample jar I smelled. As Chanel had predicted, it didn't have the punchy smell of the other OGs stored in the stock jars -- more of a dried-herb/black-pepper aroma than the turpentine/turned-earth scent I prefer.
Fortunately, I found that in Lush's exceptional LA Kush. Popping the top off the jar in the dispensary was like cracking open a new tube of tennis balls under my nose, thanks to a rubbery tartness that faded to a piney sweetness when I took the jar away. At home, the pine-cone-shaped buds scoped clean and broke down into waxy, BB-like chunks, which burned with a flavor that mirrored the smell perfectly. Potent, this strain was a good way to deal with pain while still being able to function, albeit on a much more lucid plane of existence than before the bowl. Member pricing made this too good to pass up.
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I dug the Bleu Cheese enough to bring it home, actually. It had a spicy-sweet licorice punch up front, with a lemon-furniture-polish body underneath that grew exponentially more pungent when the oily, waxy flowers were crumbled up in my hand. My thumb and forefinger were left with the citrus smell and a waxy feel, like I had just dusted my house with Pledge. The flavor when smoked wasn't as potent as I expected. Instead, it really came out in a vaporizer with a clean whip and wand (I use a Silver Surfer). A bowl-pack was enough to help me ease up on the back tension and, at the very least, get stoned enough to forget about my pain for a couple of hours. Puffing more than two bowls in a session was a prescription for sleep.
I opted to split an eighth along with my gram of hash to save on some coin, which was no problem for Chanel, who rounded both half-eighths up to a full two grams. The shop still takes cards, which is also a plus. Overall, I think Lush was a great find -- though I guess I'm a little late to the party. Nevertheless, staffers treated me like an old friend and, more important, they had the type of cannabis that will keep me coming back for more.