High Street Growers was one of the dozen or so dispensaries forced out of Fort Collins in 2012, when the town passed a ban on medical marijuana businesses. Unlike a lot of its competitors, High Street was able to make the jump and transfer its license to Denver, where the shop joined a glut of other dispensaries along Federal.
It's been three years since High Street moved to the big city, and judging by the traffic on a Tuesday afternoon, the dispensary has made a stoney, low-priced impression on the neighborhood.
High Street Growers
330 Federal Boulevard Denver, CO 80219 720-583-0194 HighStreetGrowers.com
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range (medical): $20/eighth-ounce, $99-$130/ounce. Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, kief, hash, edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks. Online menu? No. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? Yes ($140/ounce)
I walked in after parking around the back of the shop among seven or eight other cars that I figured were customers for some other business nearby. Nope: They were all cars of High Street customers, who were lined up in the low-key waiting room like it was their living room. Five dudes waiting to be let back, all with white childproof exit bags in their hands, crowded around a TV blasting some show about moonshining rednecks in the South. I took a seat, figuring I was going to have to wait around for a half-hour or more before I'd reach the bud bar. And I would have kept on waiting around like that if I was a recreational customer. But the receptionist who took my ID and purple card skipped me to the front of the line after a few minutes, telling me that medical patients still have priority in the shop.
Halfway to my destination, a woman who I assume was either the owner or a manager came bustling through a back door presumably leading to the shop's grow operation, griping about the length of the line out front. My budtender rolled his eyes and pointed out that a few more budtenders on staff would cut down on the lines. While some see the job of budtender as a glorious one that allows you to play with pot all day, I see more of them seeming indifferent about their positions these days, often looking like they'd much rather be somewhere else, doing anything but packing up another half-ounce of pot.
There were five strains on the shelf for medical patients during my visit. The room is split in half by a folding divider with a sheet strung through, separating recreational sales from medical. A peek around the curtain showed that the pot selection on the rec side wasn't much more robust, but the concentrates and edibles selection was noticeably better than in medical. Still, there was an adequate supply on the med side, too: Edibles from Incredibles and CBD patches from Mary Janes were stocked, and there were about a dozen single grams of Jilly Bean wax from Mahatma going for $30 a gram filling the bottom shelf of a glass display cabinet. Herb filled the other cabinet, including three jars of pure shake selling at a discount.
Not that the buds were all that expensive to begin with. On the medical side, ounces went for $99 and $120-$130, and eighths were going for $20, shake for even less. Though the selection was slim, the buds were all chunky, ripe examples. I had read some iffy customer reviews of High Street online, but I didn't see any reason to really complain about the herb in front of me. It was also instantly clear why there was such a line out front for recreational herb. High Street has the lowest recreational prices I've seen, with ounces selling for about $170 after taxes. That's half the price of most dual-use shops I've been in. My budtender said the shop tries to keep prices down, and it's succeeded. The cowboy-boot-wearing couple shopping on the recreational side also seemed pleased by the pricing, loudly buying up four quarters of different herb while talking about how cheap it was.
I didn't get a close look at the recreational strains, but they were near the quality of the medical offerings, such as the fruity Juicy, chunky and trichome-covered White Dream and even the discounted Kushberry, which was slightly leafy but worth considering at $99 an ounce. The Kong and the Deathstar represented the shop's top-quality offerings. Compared to everything else on the shelf, the Kong had a decent fuel-rubber odor and the Deathstar was pungent, with an earthy-pine freshness. Neither was enough to overload the olfactory, but they were enough to stink up my small home office within ten seconds.
The Kong was a chunky, crystal-laden batch with massive trichome heads that glowed like flea-sized LED lights on the fat calyxes and sugar leaves. The buds were a little dried out, but they were sticky, and they burned well in a bowl and pipe, leaving a light-gray ash behind. It also left any stress I had behind as well. A couple of bowls relaxed my back and neck tension almost immediately, followed an hour later by the munchies -- arguably one of the greatest medical benefits of cannabis. Sure, there aren't a lot of people who have trouble getting hungry all the time, but for those who do have issues for whatever reason, it's like flipping a switch.
Anyway, decent herb -- and at $20 an eighth and $130 an ounce, it was extremely well priced.
The Deathstar had dark red pistils and squatty amber trichomes packed into the fat, matured buds. A mellow buzz came on within ten minutes of puffing a lightly lemon-pine bowl of the herb, which was a good mid-day puff but didn't put me in danger of falling asleep at my desk. The flavor wasn't all there, and it failed to burn down as cleanly as the Kong, but again, at the $130/ounce price, it was worth bringing home.
Meanwhile, the line behind me for the recreational side had grown, judging by the number of times the front door buzzer went off. The manager again called out to nobody in particular about the size of the line before heading to the lobby to bring the next customer back. Meanwhile, the boomer couple stalling the works finally finished up their transaction and moved out the door just as I did, snickering like high-schoolers.
As a medical patient, it's nice to still see a dual-use shop put medical patients first. Selection could be better, and I didn't find anything that's going to win any awards, but the buds from High Street were still clean and potent even as they took it easy on the wallet.