As Colorado's medical-marijuana industry grows, marijuana dispensaries of all types and sizes are proliferating around the state. Some resemble swanky bars or sterile dentist offices; others feel like a dope dealer's college dorm room. To help keep them all straight, Westword is offering a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind these unusual operations' locked doors in "Mile Highs and Lows," a regular online review of dispensaries around the metro area and beyond. (You can also search our directory of dispensaries for one near you.)
This week, William Breathes reviews the Clinic Alternative Medicine.
The Clinic Alternative Medicine 4625 East Colfax Avenue 303-333-3644 www.thecliniccolorado.com
Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily Owner: Ryan Cook Owner's statement: "To better understand and facilitate the needs of our patients, making sure they have the most pleasurable and comfortable experiences with medical marijuana." Opened: February 2009 Raw marijuana price range: Eighths $40 for patient, $50 for non-patient. Other types of medicine: Hash and hash oil, $25-$55/gram; tinctures; edibles; pre-rolled spliffs. Patient services and amenities: Doctor referrals, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal treatments.
Our take: I finally bought ganja on East Colfax. Legally, that is.
I've avoided going to dispensaries on Colfax for some time now. Not because of any paranoia about my safety, but because I didn't want to perpetuate those tired clichés about our city's most famous and infamous thoroughfare, and how you can get anything you want along the 26-mile-long strip. But after a friend showed me the Sour Diesel from the Clinic Alternative Medicine, I figured the time had come to brave the 'Fax.
The Colfax location is the second for the Clinic's owner, who's converted what had been a bungalow-style home and later a veterinarian's office into a clean, comfortable wellness center with a nice waiting area and a bud bar, plus rooms for massage therapy, chiropractic work and acupuncture. Although the outside has that seemingly obligatory green color scheme, the cozy interior is painted in more mellow tones. The space even feels somewhat homey -- though not in that weird "What am I doing in this person's home?" way.
After watching a few minutes of a snowboard film while waiting for a staffer to copy my paperwork, I was called back to the bud bar, which occupies a former bedroom and features a Plexiglas wall back-lit with green lights. Because it was my first time at the Clinic, the bud-tender, Rick, walked me through all the offerings. A whiteboard on one wall had the price breakdown for the ganja; a smaller board gave the prices for hash and kief. Next to the bud bar was a display fridge full of edibles -- including some unique ganja-infused soup crackers. The bud case held about twenty strains of herb separated by sativa and indica, as well as a handful of strains of hash and hash oil; a smaller shelf up top had the dispensary picks, including some Ice Princess and that Sour D. I opted out of the otherwise great-looking Ice Princess because it was near the bottom of the jar; the Grape Ape, Crystal Chunk and Super Skunk also looked good. In fact, the Crystal Chunk was my top pick -- until I saw some delicious Jack Flash nearly glowing in a jar.
I was impressed that Rick put up with my sniffing through more than half the jars and my barrage of questions. And after my purchase, the two of us started talking about the state's new medical marijuana measures. I explained how HB1284 was forcing my caregiver to drop me as a patient, giving me little option but to start searching for a dispensary to sign up with -- a difficult task, since it's tough to tell which businesses will still be standing three months from now. According to Rick, the Clinic is one of only fifteen or so dispensaries to have received its Denver license; while he acknowledged that some dispensaries will close, he said that the Clinic has its ducks in a row and is looking to take on more patients.
I'd been concerned that if I signed up with one dispensary as my caregiver, I wouldn't be able to go anywhere else, but Rick said he didn't think that was the case. A second Clinic staffer confirmed this and said that while a patient can sign up a dispensary as his caregiver, allowing it to grow for him, the patient would still be able to shop at any dispensary he chose. That made me feel better about my status as a patient. So did the split eighth of pre-98 Bubba Kush and Jack Flash that I bought from the Clinic.
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As I've said before, Jack Flash is one of my all-time favorite strains, and this cut reminded me why. Burnt-orange hairs wiggled their way around the bud of the pine-green crystal-slathered goodness. When I broke open the herb, a powerful, spicy kick with a fruit-punch-and-citrus smell tickled the inside of my nose, and smoking the buds produced a wonderfully fragrant silver smoke. The taste itself was lightly spicy and pleasantly bitter. Jack Flash has always been a good strain for my appetite because of the haze genetics, and I found this one to be slightly psychedelic and relaxing without being overpowering.
When I opened the jar of Bubba Kush, a cross between Bubblegum and a Kush variety, it smelled like a new set of tires with a faint mothball finish. (Funny how things that sound unappealing to most people can be mouth-watering to pot nerds.) The sample wasn't trimmed well, but I could see amber-colored trichomes covering the chunky, dark-green flower. The smoke tasted thick, like hash, but with a molasses-like sweetness to the finish. Although I expected a bit more flavor, I was still impressed with the backache-relieving and sofa-locking strength of this Bubba Kush.
The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.