Best Dispensary Downtown
Thomas Mitchell

Throw a rock across any street downtown, and you have a good chance of hitting a dispensary. Despite the options, however, most cannabis users tend to avoid downtown dispensaries, fearing high prices and low parking availability. Unless there's a Rockies game, though, Den-Rec is a safe bet for an easy outing, and you won't have to worry about missing out on the primo. The store's cultivation likes to give customers options, with classics like Blue Dream, popular in-house strains like Four Kings, and even phenotypes of the same strain, so customers can choose which version of Holy Grail Kush they like best. There are more than enough edibles to satisfy an appetite, and Den-Rec's selection of premium concentrates is right up there with those of South Broadway dispensaries. While you can aways visit Den-Rec's other stores in south Denver or Lyons, you're not losing anything by shopping in the heart of the city with this one.

You can't remember to pack everything for every trip to the mountains, but no big deal: There are dispensaries in resort towns. It'll cost you, though, and they might not carry products you're familiar with. Before it's too late as you drive west on I-70 for the weekend, keep an eye out for Exit 243 Dispensary in Idaho Springs. This store, located right off the interstate and named after the nearby highway exit, has changed hands a few times over the years, but current ownership has created a good-enough menu to back up the visible location. Affordable and connoisseur buds are both at the ready, as are a deep edibles lineup and enough pre-rolls and vape cartridges to get every ski lift in Summit County high.

"Maiko" is the Japanese term for an apprentice geisha in Japan who performs during feasts and makes visitors feel welcome. You won't see the budtenders at Maikoh Holistics dancing a jig of any sort, but they will make you feel at home. The cannabis quality and prices are strong enough to prevent any harshing of your buzz, and the staffers add some good vibes, leaving you excited to try out your purchase but sort of sad to leave, too. It doesn't matter if you're indecisive, full of stupid questions or change your mind at the last second. You've got a friend in Maikoh.

Best Dispensary Waiting Room
Scott Lentz

Dispensary waiting rooms wouldn't exist at all if it were up to us. State laws mandate some sort of waiting area as budtenders serve one customer at a time, though, so props to the Herbal Cure for making the time fun and comfortable. The dispensary's saltwater fish tank is large and lively enough to keep you occupied for a few minutes, and if that's not enough, there's a stack of coffee-table books about everything from dogs to street art that will pique interests. With any luck, the wait won't be that long for some of south Denver's best cannabis, but if you do get stuck there on a Sunday, you shouldn't have any problem getting cozy.

A Cut Above
Google Maps screenshot

It's best to check out A Cut Above's menu online or make a to-do list before going into the dispensary, where you'll find more flower than at a Home Depot nursery. In fact, this place has more options than an Instagram model, and each one looks just as good or better than the next. Denver's premier growers like to release their newest strains and harvests at A Cut Above, and eighths and quarters are always priced ahead of the curve. Few dispensaries in Colorado can match A Cut Above's mix of exclusivity and affordability, and that's why it stands out among dozens of dispensaries — despite being nestled in the inner corner of a parking lot on South Broadway's Green Mile. Just have your cash on hand, because chances are you'll leave with more than you intended.

L'Eagle
Lindsey Bartlett

There's no dip in quality here just because the names aren't new every week. Classics stay classic, and L'Eagle keeps growing them really, really well. Operated by John and Amy Andrle, the Denver dispensary isn't afraid to put an Apple Fritter, Ice Cream Cake or one of their own new creations on the shelf, but they also know how to play the hits. Blue Dream, Grape Ape, Green Crack, Strawberry Cough and John's favorite, Sour Diesel, are all fixtures at L'Eagle, and they're some of the best takes on the strains you'll find. Seeing one of those names on a dispensary menu is rare nowadays; five is a miracle. And that's just a portion of the throwbacks you'll find at L'Eagle, where Bruce Banner, Grand Daddy Purple and Pakistani Chitral Kush also make regular appearances.

Standing Akimbo
Thomas Mitchell

Recreational marijuana buyers would likely be jealous if they saw the prices that medical patients get at Standing Akimbo, but we're not sure the north Denver medical marijuana dispensary could handle any more customers. The parking situation leaves a lot to be desired and the line tends to meet the sidewalk, but since Standing Akimbo has virtually unbeatable prices on popular edibles, flower and concentrate, deal-hungry patients argue that the wait is well worth it. Considering medical marijuana isn't covered by health insurance, those cost cuts can make all the difference.

Higher Grade
Clara Geoghegan

Flash deals and coupons are great and all, but it's nice to know that there's always a bargain waiting for you at Higher Grade. The growing staff operates one of the better dispensary cultivations in Denver, and the stores — two medical-only and a recreational pot shop in Denver — like to pass the savings on to customers. Even with popular in-house flower, Higher Grade's wholesale selection from growers like Cherry, Cookies, Green Dot Labs and Veritas are priced competitively and are eligible for weekly deals, which span everything from edibles to rosin. Sign up as a Higher Grade member to order online and get an extra discount on purchases (on top of daily deals). Enjoy the rollbacks.

If we're measuring cannabis breeders based on how many of their strains reach users, then it's tough to beat Ethos Genetics. Since launching in 2017, the Littleton-based seed company has continually appeared at Colorado dispensaries and beyond, and there's no sign of that spirit letting up. Citradelic Sunset, Citral Flo, Colin OG (named after founder Colin Gordon), Lilac Diesel, Member Berry and perhaps the company's most popular creation, Mandarin Sunset, are just some of the strains birthed by Ethos Genetics. We can't wait to puff what it comes out with next.

ethosgenetics.com

The Big Tomato was helping home growers long before the dispensary boom, selling indoor gardening supplies for over two decades. Now owned by Schwazze, a Denver-based cannabis corporation, the Big Tomato still offers the same friendly service for newbies and regulars, but now has even more of a cannabis focus — and an online shopping option, to boot. For beginning green thumbs, finding a trustworthy growing store is like searching for a new mechanic; more cynical shops can take advantage of that lack of experience by suggesting unnecessary lighting equipment and nutrients. That's not the case at the Big Tomato, so don't be afraid to ask questions.

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