Mile High Medical Cannabis isn't the first shop I've visited with some major issues to their marijuana.
But it just might be the one shop I've come across that was most welcoming of that bad news.
I stopped by Mile High Medical a few weeks ago, back before the Broncos horribly blew the Super Bowl like a cheap hooker and people were still milling around Mile High Stadium buying AFC Championship T-shirts...
Mile High Medical Cannabis
1705 Federal Blvd. Denver, CO 80204 303-455-9333 MHMCDenver.com
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range (medical): $10/gram $30/eighth-ounce, $150-185/ounce. Members receive 10 percent off purchase. Raw marijuana price range (recreational): $16/gram $40-$50/eighth-ounce, $400/ounce. Other types of medicine: BHO, edibles, wax, shatter Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.
The shop gained some notoriety during the playoffs for being the closest legal weed shop to the games themselves -- you could throw a wobbly duck pass from the front door of the dispensary and hit the tailgaters.
I didn't visit the recreational half of the store, which forces patients around back to the alley. But I figured the herb selling on the medical side was exactly the same -- something confirmed by my budtenders when I was shopping. There's a sign on the front of the shop telling recreational customers that the front is medical only and that recreational customers need to go around to the alley, but I must have watched three or four people read it and still walk right in the front door wearing a confused look.
The shop lobby includes a ratty, well-worn couch and a massive fish tank that takes up the south side of the room. The receptionist is behind a huge metal-and-glass cage like a payday-loans teller.
The guy behind the counter was quick to greet me and grab my card and ID before telling me to have a seat while the patient ahead of me finished up his purchase. The shop had a heavy, chemical fertilizer smell to it on top of the abundant ganja odor, not unlike the Miracle-Gro lawn spray my dad used to douse our lawn with when I was a kid.
After the dude ahead of me finished up, I was called back to the tiny bud bar, where my budtender Nicole, a woman in her late twenties, greeted me with a "What's up?" and we instantly got down to business.
Here's the thing: The shop clearly can grow some plump, crystal-coated buds, and there's no arguing that the jars filled with various chunky strains were all somewhat impressive. The 303 Kush and Sour OG jars were filled with golfball-like pinecone buds, and huge nuggets of fluffy, spicy Durban Poison and a leafy, super-photogenic Flo were also on hand.
But what was lost to me due to the fertilizer smell already floating around the shop was the clearly unflushed odor the buds were letting off. In my ten-minute browse through the strains, I also missed some of the other issues that became very apparent at home.
Namely: There was a massive load of white, powdery mildew coating the L.A. Confidential. I'll admit that I missed it in the shop, but there's no way that the growers missed this in their garden. The first bud I pulled out of my jar at home looked like someone had sprayed Christmas-tree frocking on some of the fan leaves, leaving huge patches of thick, white grossness. I didn't even smoke the buds, so I couldn't tell you how potent they were under that mess, or if they had any flavor whatsoever.
The Girl Scout Cookies was another batch that looked good in the shop, but really fell below my expectations at home. For starters, the heavy chemical smell has lingered in the jar for over a week now, and it completely overwhelms any of the strain-distinct sweet flavors and odors. The second issue was the helping of fungus gnats dried up in the first bud I broke open. (I somehow managed to set those buds aside and then lose them in my office.) And if the second tip I cracked up wasn't as bad, I still managed to spot five or six.
Granted, the White Urkle I got from Chronorado a few years back was worse. But the gnats still indicate that something has gone south in their grow room. I did take a few puffs off these buds, but was left with a horribly acrid aftertaste due to what seems to have been a complete lack of flushing.
I can't imagine that all of the other strains I looked at that day were problem-free, either; I just didn't bring any home to get a better look. But based on what I saw, the shop isn't worth visiting at all as a patient and certainly isn't worth double the price or more for recreational customers. Which sucks. I don't like finding subpar pot any more than the next guy.
Like every media-obsessed child of the '80s, I took my frustrations to Facebook, posting that I hadn't written a "bad" review in a while but it looked like one was coming. And then things got strange. I got a note from Nicole, asking if I was talking about her dispensary. (Apparently, the folks there had somehow figured out I was in a few days before.) I wasn't going to dodge it, so I told her flat out what was wrong.
Her response, however, was awesome. Instead of denying it or playing it down or getting angry, as some people have done in the past, she owned it and said the staff would pull the offending strains from the shelves immediately.
Clearly, Mile High Medical Cannabis has had some issues in the past, as Nicole is new and was brought in to "help revamp" the stores. It's only been a few months, though, and turning around a grow operations is like trying to flip a 180 in a massive ocean liner. It can't be done on a dime.
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Nicole also said that any patient that would have brought back cannabis with those issues would have been issued a refund -- and she apologized profusely for my bad experience. But that's where she was wrong: The staff was friendly, and though the shop was somewhat tatty, the experience was enjoyable enough just talking cannabis with fellow pot nerds. As I said to Nicole, gardens can be fixed, but people who suck can't. Luckily, the store only has to fix its garden. In the meantime, though, I wouldn't suggest going in for a visit for a few months -- at least until the staffers can get their issues under control.
In the meantime, however, I have been invited to check out the Mile High Medical Cannabis grow to see the changes that are already being implemented. As Nicole told me over the phone afterward, Mile High as it stands is a hodgepodge, with merchandise pieced together from a bunch of different dispensaries that weren't handling things the way they should have been. She says the company has the capital and push to get things right. While we've never actually toured a grow after a subpar review before, we've never really been invited to do so. We'll keep you updated as things progress.