L'Eagle
Lindsey Bartlett

If dispensaries are like restaurants, then Sour Diesel is the cheeseburger and fries of marijuana: Everyone grows it, but some people do it way better than others. It's a great barometer for a shop's quality, because if the store isn't doing Sour D right, it probably isn't getting much else correct, either. Thankfully, L'Eagle Services grows it proper. The buds are 100 percent organic-fed, slow-dried and cured for at least a month, giving L'Eagle's Sour D the full citrus/fuel smells and flavors you expect from this strain. The buds are a potent package that consistently put us into a euphoric, spacey mood after just two or three puffs. The shop offers both medical and recreational herb, meaning that anyone 21 and up can head in and walk out with a bag of this glowing-green ganja. And if it's available, we highly suggest the Sour Diesel bubble hash from L'Eagle, which is expertly made, dried and cured.

Readers' choice: Sweet Leaf

Wanna talk to Sampson? Too bad — but you can take Sir Smoke-a-Lot's advice: "When life is hard, pick up the card with the smiley face." We don't know how happy you'll be when you leave the Mr. Nice Guys dispensary (our pot critic has yet to review it), but just the name and joint-smoking smiley face on the sign are sure to give you a laugh as you wonder how funny Half Baked would be today if you watched it sober.

Readers' choice: Good Chemistry

If you think all vape pens are created equal, you've never been to Rocky Mountain E-Cigs. With more vape varieties than some dispensaries have marijuana strains, these two stores have the perfect vape pen for your type of usage — whether it's vaping small amounts of flower or huge globs of hash oil. The shops also carry all of the "mods" to help your current vape work better, from new atomizers and batteries to air-flow carbs and oversized oil tanks. And if you're one of those who use a vape for nicotine as well as for THC, the shops carry a wide range of flavored oils and e-juice refills. Still smoking herb? Get with the times and get a vape.

Readers' choice: E-Cig of Denver

Illuzion Glass

There are dozens of head shops in Denver, all carrying roughly the same bongs, papers, pipes and one-hitters. But only one shop can lay claim to the most expensive and extensive glass collection in the state: Illuzion Glass Galleries. Even if you don't have the dough in your wallet to afford one, it's worth stopping in just to see the hand-blown, functional glass smokeware valued at $20,000 or more and made by some of the world's best glass artists, including Ryan "Buck" Harris. But not everything here is prohibitively pricey: The shop carries a wide range of affordable, colorful glass pieces that fit just about any budget, including pipes blown in-house by staff glass artists as well as visiting blowers. The shop also carries all of the papers and rolling accessories you could ever want, as well as pipe pouches and carrying cases to fit pipes of all shapes and sizes.

Readers' choice: Heads of State

Want to try a new strain? Something you've never heard of before? We do, too, which is why we were so pumped to find Holistic Life. This shop doesn't look like much on the outside, but don't be fooled into thinking it's another low-rent Lakewood dispensary — far from it. Holistic Life's selection of rare genetics and in-house crosses is second to none in metro Denver, and the grow quality is phenomenal. True Colorado Kong, actual Golden Goat, real-deal Girl Scout Cookies, Gorilla Glue, Bordello and Holistic Life-bred Ron Burgundy will blow your mind even before your first toke. Everyone on staff knows their stuff, too, and they'll be happy to nerd out with you about strain lineage, genetics, growing and anything else pot-related.

Best Buds That Look Like They Were Grown in a Nederland Hippie's Basement

Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine

Though it's right on the edge of the metro area, Golden's Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine looks like a mountain cabin — the kind that quietly, discreetly pumps out the type of top-notch cannabis that Colorado is known for cultivating. While the selection isn't huge, the quality of such strains as pre-92 OG Kush, Purple Whitefire, Maple Kush and a killer White Fire OG (which was the best pot our marijuana critic smoked in 2014) make a visit highly worth your while. And we mean highly.

If edible cannabis is your thing, you're probably tired of the same old flavors, dried-out cookies and boring candies. We were, too, which led us to Pure's in-house edibles business, Colorado Cannabis Company, and its grandma-level baked goods and treats: fresh, sweet apple fritters, creamy-delicious white-chocolate macadamia-nut cookies, crackers — even gluten-free offerings like Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispies treats. Want to make your own? Stop by and snag a jar of in-house cannabis butter made with CO2-extracted hash oil.

The MMJ America name sounds misleadingly corporate for a shop carrying the quality of cannabis that it does. But what stands out even more than the fire-green pot on the shelves of these three stores is the array of its daily deals and patient perks. Like to roll up mild joints? Great. For each gram of pot you buy, MMJ America will match you a gram of shake for a penny. Buy more than five grams, and you get a gram of kief, a 50mg edible or two pre-rolled bud joints for a penny. Members also get cheap ounces (at $40 less than non-members), free birthday bags of pot and — best of all — a friend referral that nets you an eighth every time you send someone over to become a member.

Smoking tar-like, crumbly chunks of pressed hash is so last century. These days, if you can't see through the amber glass of the super-purged shatter oil you're putting in your high-end vaporizer pens or dabbing on your $400 oil rigs, then you're not truly enjoying your concentrates. In the cutthroat world of concentrates, there are plenty of critics — but they all seem to agree that Green Dot Labs makes the tippy-top of the line in Colorado. Not only does Green Dot produce for clients, but it also produces extremely flavorful and potent extracts from its own in-house grow operations with super-rare genetics like Gorilla Glue, Poison OG, Alien Grapevine, Tiger's Milk and San Diego Cat Piss; they're available at many local dispensaries.

Best Rec Dispensary for Your Non-Pot-Smoking Mom

The Green Solution

The Green Solution
Scott Lentz

If you live in Denver and have friends or family visiting, odds are they're curious about what a pot shop is really like — even if they don't smoke or want to purchase anything. Don't take these tourists to the drab, boring shop around the corner with a few jars in a glass case and a lone stoner behind the counter. Instead, blow their minds at the cannabis market that is the Green Solution. Customers follow a set flow through the store, starting at the pot-food deli area, which features baked goods much more diverse than the brownies that your mom's friends were eating in college. After that, it's hash and concentrates — and then you move on to the buds. Each strain is on display in all its glory behind glass, making it easy for even clueless newbies to note the color, shape and size differences between strains. Finally you move on to the paraphernalia and pot-themed sandals, frisbees, towels and more before checking out at a cashier station straight out of a Hollister store. You can be sure that your visitors will never look at pot the same way again.

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