LoCol Love's strains are covered so heavily in trichomes that you get free bowls of kief at the bottom of every eighth — but the wholesale cultivation's Colorado Cream Soda, a hybrid of Gelato and Kush Mints, took that snowy reputation to a new level in the past year. We still don't really know the color of the strain's buds, since each calyx of Cream Soda is covered in a layer of resin that looks almost unnatural. The smoke's flavor — a combo of vanilla, sweet dough and pine — tastes like a weed-infused root beer from 2012, sticking the landing with a creamy back end...which is admittedly hard to notice when you're coughing your brains out after an overzealous bong hit. Colorado's strain library has been asserting itself nationally for over a decade, and the rest of the country would be lucky to taste LoCol's Cream Soda — but maybe it's better served as our little secret for now.

locol-love.com

Cannajuana is exclusive to medical marijuana patients for now, but the south Denver dispensary plans to open for recreational sales soon, and we can't wait. Since taking over for the old MMJ America space last July, Cannajuana's potent in-house roster of Papaya Cake, Miracle Alien Cookies and other trendy varieties has been getting raves for all the attention to detail during the curing process. However, the real beauty is inside the grow, where you'll find clove and nettle plants sharing plots with cannabis in order to create live soil with pest-killing bugs. That's the kind of sustainability we like to see.

Best Selection at a Dispensary
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A dispensary's selection isn't just about strains, though A Cut Above certainly has a lot of those. Now that superstar growers carry all the cachet, pot shops can't sell just buds from their own gardens and expect to bring in the shoppers. But in a sea of competition on South Broadway's Green Mile, A Cut Above serves as a beacon to seasoned stoners, thanks to a long, constantly evolving flower menu. You'll find cultivators like Antero, Cherry, Snaxland and Bloom County, all of which typically come in a few bucks cheaper than at other places. Show up mid-day or during slow hours if you can, because we're not the only ones who know about the menu.

L'Eagle
Lindsey Bartlett

The legacy strains of pre-legalization aren't as omnipresent as they used to be, now that strains named after candy and baked goods are taking over. While L'Eagle isn't opposed to new-school options, offering cuts of Gelato and Runtz while even bringing in flower from outside growers to keep up with demand, the longstanding dispensary always keeps a handful of the classics on hand. The Strawberry Cough, Grape Ape and Sour Diesel smell and taste just like they used to, and if you're lucky, you might find rarer cuts from yesteryear, too, like Texas Hash Plant and Pakistani Chitral Kush. Hosting a visiting old head who just wants a stiff cut of what he grew up on? Fly over to L'Eagle.

Stoners are a weird bunch. We're particular, but we want options. We like affordable products, but we also don't want our money going toward shitty weed or (worse) shitty dealers. Callie's Cannabis Shoppe, a family-owned dispensary in Northglenn, checks all those boxes, always carrying several dozen flower options, from popcorn to connoisseur buds, for all budgets. The regular deals and rewards program make the drive worthwhile for anyone who drops a hefty portion of Friday's paycheck at the pot shop, and the staff knows how to be friendly and helpful without pushing overstocked crap into your basket. Callie's is good people, and for some of us, that extends to the high.

LoDo Wellness Center

After more than seven years of recreational sales, it's safe to say that most of Denver's cannabis stores have the desired tourist routine down. "Start low, go slow with edibles. Have you tried a vape pen or THC mints? No, that lotion won't get you stoned." The menu at LoDo Wellness will not only fulfill all of your visiting friend's weed fantasies, but the dispensary's lower downtown location and strong prices ensure a fair trip that won't take you out of the city action. And the store's atmosphere — a basement setting adorned with Eastern decorations and couches dating back to the medical-only days, when you could roll your own joints at the shop — is a fun blast from the past for any pot nerd.

Recreational cannabis is slowly taking over in Colorado, but Chronic Factory founder Matthew Lopez is still passionate about the small batch. The Denver native brought more than a decade of experience cultivating legal marijuana to his Baker neighborhood dispensary, buying the location from his former employer, New Amsterdam Organics, in order to implement his own growing practices. The soil-grown cuts of Strawberry Blonde, Afghani and Blue Lemon Thai show the love put into the cultivation, and a consistently affordable and potent concentrates menu is a smart way to ensure patient loyalty.

Helping Hands Cannabis
Scott Lentz

The "help" at Helping Hands is literally in the name. Sure, the reviews of its menu are great, and the budtenders are beyond considerate, taking their time and avoiding the eye rolls when inexperienced customers come by — but it's how they take care of regulars that earns our respect. Helping Hands was one of the first dispensaries in Colorado to apply for a medical marijuana delivery license during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering drop-off services for its at-risk patients. The dispensary also began accepting cryptocurrency and partnered with a digital payment app in 2020 for those tired of paying cash all the time. These moves might seem simple on the surface, but legal marijuana's banking status and delivery laws have been advancing very slowly, and these hands are helping push them forward.

Best Dispensary Mural
Scott Lentz

The Denver dispensary scene's mural game has undergone serious upgrades in recent years, as talented artists like Pat Milbery, Tukeone and Chad Bolsinger have turned pot shops into Instagram attractions. With a warehouse cultivation containing multiple garage doors and side walls as well as an old train car on the property, the Herbal Cure had a handful of canvases, and the south Denver dispensary brought in a handful of artists to play around with them. Henry Bell's airbrushed collage of famous tokers like Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley and Randy Marsh adorns the train car, while Roby Stowe's cartoon portrait of Cheech and Chong, the Like Minded Art duo's homage to Damien Marley and South American-inspired street art from Dan Drossman all cover the garage doors. To top it off, the Herbal Cure hired A.J. Davis to paint a moonlit mural of a woman smoking a joint on one of its outer walls.

You can scan for coupons and flash deals if you have the energy — there are plenty of scores out there if you do the work — but eventually you'll just want something dependable, both in the pipe and on the budget. Good Chemistry's four locations and $30 eighths (raised from $25 at the end of April) keep good weed within a reasonable distance of nearly all points around town, and affordable, classic concentrates like kief and bubble hash will always have a special place in our lungs. Stop overthinking it, and trust the chemistry.

Four metro locations
goodchem.org

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