I like things verde. Salsa verde on a breakfast burrito makes life better and Mesa Verde National Park is one of earth's most beautiful places. And last week, I found plenty of my favorite kind of verde at another verde to like: Verde Wellness Center.
Location: 5101 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. Phone: 303-474-4489 Manager: Chuck Blackton Opened: December 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $40 to $55 an eighth. Other types of medicine: Bubble hash, edibles. Handicap accessible? Yes.
Despite its name, Verde Wellness Center is in a red-brick, one-story retail space free of green paint, except for the little bit making up their logo on the front of the building. Off the street, there's a small lobby with nicer decoration than at entire shops I've been to lately, including heavy, arched hardwood doors leading back to the dispensary. On the table were a few "Linkhart for Mayor" signs and fliers along with stacks of other ganja-related ephemera. A tall, skinny receptionist named Ian greeted me and copied my ID and card while I filled out my paperwork on one of the red corkscrew-shaped vinyl seats.
Inside, the place has a Through the Looking Glass thing going on. Red walls face yellow walls which face black and white striped walls -- all accented by black painted molding and slick black furniture. A few mirrors and abstract paintings hung on the wall, but the colorful walls are the decoration. Despite being loud and bold, skylights let in cooling natural light and mellow out the space.
I played a bit dumb about what some of the forms were, and Ian took the time to explain every page and why I did or didn't have to sign it. After filling out my paperwork, he led me around the corner for a tour of their glass gallery while we waited for a patient to finish up buying meds in the glassed-off bud room.
I've been in plenty of shops offering cheapo glass pipes, and every now and then I'll come upon one with a handful of nice water pipes for sale. Still, nothing has caught my eye enough to get me back in the door. Verde, on the other hand, is worth checking out for their glass collection alone. One of the four cases featured heavily worked hand pipes, domes and slides by renowned artists like Salt, while the others contained glass tubes and bubblers, including old-school RooR pieces, Toro micros, and what looked like original Jerome Baker-worked bongs retrofitted with glass-on-glass down stems and slides. The heart of their collection is the line of Sheldon Black bubblers and bongs, including a pretty rad build-it-yourself bubbler with glass-on-glass removable mouthpieces and down stems that are interchangeable with more detailed and worked accessories. The collection of more than thirty tubes and bubblers is impressive, and Ian said they are really trying to make it a steady portion of their business.
I stood around looking at the glass in awe, not noticing that the budtender had finished up with the patient ahead of me. He patiently waited for me to finish window-shopping before leading me back through the door to what is best described as the herb lounge. My budenter turned out to be the owner, Chuck Blackton, creator of the Lemon Skunk and winner of six High Times Cannabis Cups in Amsterdam. In short: dude knows his shit. He said his time in Holland's coffee shops gave him his idea of what a comfortable pot shop should be. The black leather couches and gas fireplace in the corner gave the place a mild swingers-pad vibe, but it was the table stacked with High Times magazines and a lung-bruising four-foot RooR straight tube offset that gave the place some stoner-chic attitude.
Herb is kept in a tall wooden hutch more suited for dinner silver than the mod confines of the dispensary. There's no traditional bar, and you and the budtender stand in front of the case discussing the herb like it's on display at an art gallery. If they had dozens of strains to chose from, this might be a headache, but the shop specializes in carrying limited selection on the shelves at a time, opting to cycle new strains in and out instead of running larger warehouses to compensate. As Blackton says: "I didn't win my cups off of schwag."
Considering who Blackton is, it was disappointing that they were out of Lemon Skunk the day I was in -- especially if it's at the level of some of their other meds. Most impressive was the tennis-ball stanky Sheldon Black OG, though it was priced at $55 and I was on a money-saving kick. Right below that, at $50, was a cut of Jack Herer that he assured me is the real deal from a very old mother that's been around for years. Everything else was priced at $40 an eighth, including a musky Mako Haze, a uniquely exotic Corleone Kush and a spicy Durban Poison that I wanted to sprinkle on pizza and eat.
Bud is weighed out at the counter next to the bud display case and packed up in standard orange med jars. My only criticism of the shop is that all of the strains were trimmed very tight, with whoever does their manicuring opting to chop down larger buds into small, loose chunks. Quality isn't the issue and everything looked good and smelled strain-specific: It's just that the looks aren't representative of the dankness. In total, I walked out spending under $50 for a split eighth of some chronic. Even if the herb had been mediocre, though, I still would have stopped by again simply to ogle the glass.
Bubba Kush I realize that I've been reviewing this strain a lot lately and probably should branch out into new things. But this was truly some of the most funky smelling Bubba yet. On the shelf, it didn't look that impressive, but taking the lid of stunk up a four-foot diameter space around me within seconds. Under the scope, the dense foxtails were coated in tight amber trichome that left my fingers tacky enough stick to rolling papers. Despite not being the most photogenic herb, the robust smell came through perfectly in the flavor from first hit to the ashy last one. A good, stoney ganja that derailed my plans to pack for my vacation by a few hours with just one bowl pack. Well done, and well priced at $40 an eighth.
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Jack Herer The buds of the Jack were much more robust and photogenic than the pieces of Bubba Kush, and equally as potent. Very nice chunky but tiny calyxes that lumped together into quarter-sized buds that had a spicy lemon smell out of the jar and a mouthwatering stank when broken up. The stickiness of the bud made joint rolling hard (especially since I can't roll a joint to begin with), and it burned even and slow both in a spliff and in the bubbler. Classic Jack hazy taste with a sweet citrus aftertaste and a mind-racing buzz. This cut is one of the best I've seen, and it was great for mood elevation, enhanced imagination and overall getting high-ness.
William Breathes is the pot pen name of our medical marijuana dispensary reviewer. Be sure to check out our archive of Mile Highs and Lows medical marijuana dispensary reviews.