Special Kinds is special only if you like brick weed

This dispensary has closed.

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 Special Kinds:

Special Kinds 4804 West 60th Avenue, Arvada 303-420-5463 (KIND)

Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily Owner: SK and Tina Walker Owners' statement: "We take pride in selecting only the finest medicines in regards to not only look and potency, but also taste, flavor, smell and efficiency. We utilize our passion for this amazing medicine to supply only the highest quality medication to our customers." Opened: November 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $49 eighths for members, $54 eighths for non-members for "highs" Other types of medicine: tinctures, candies, edibles, hash, clones

Our take: I first heard about Special Kinds on a cannabis message board, and it wasn't because of anything good. People were amazed that this dispensary not only sold shwag, but pictured it on a relatively slick website. I had to see what kind of dispensary would so openly sell brick weed -- especially considering new laws about to take effect that will require every dispensary to be growing its own herb.

I expected some sort of storefront, or at least some signage, but drove up and down the street for a while before realizing that the small, residential duplex I kept passing was Special Kinds. A lot of dispensaries have popped up in converted houses, but Special Kinds is really in someone's house. I walked up, rang the doorbell and was greeted by a tattooed woman with a young Rottweiler. She told me to have a seat, that she'd be with me in a minute, and while I almost excused myself altogether from the cigarette-smelling house, I decided to stay for the experience.

After sitting down on the stained La-Z-Boy across from the dusty television with a pellet gun propped against it, I realized I'd already experienced similar places in less-than-legal times -- back in high school, when going to a friend of a friend of a friend's sketchy apartment to get pot was common. I looked around for a bit, admiring the framed pictures from an M.C. Escher calendar and the busted trampoline in the back, then realized that the girl across from me tapping away on her cell phone likely wasn't a patient, but someone who lived there. Sadly, everything I had imagined about a place that brags about selling brick weed was coming true.

The tiny, cramped living room was trashed and the bud bar was actually just the pantry of the tiny galley kitchen. One of the managers told me the goal was to have a more relaxed atmosphere than at the sterile dispensaries run by "kids." Special Kinds had stashed a lot of tinctures and edibles, as well as pot-infused candies, in a cabinet by the refrigerator; the ganja was stored in opaque, plastic cereal containers on a low shelf, with the menu scribbled out on a white board above the shelf. It listed several different kinds of "highs," including some supposed Skunk 1 and Afghani Kush; two "mids," which were actually two kinds of seeded brick weed, and one huge brick of dirt-brown shit weed -- the "low."

Later, when I spoke with a manager over the phone, he told me they offer the brick weed because customers have asked for it, even though it's pretty clear the pot isn't grown in Colorado (or even the United States, for that matter). He said that once the dispensary's in possession of it, though, it becomes legal medical marijuana: "If you're buying brick weed, you aren't going to buy it from someone who is legal. They are breaking the law, but legally we can do it. I figure there are people who request it, so we might as well get it for those people so they can get it from somewhere safe instead of off the street."

There wasn't much ganja in the shop that looked worthwhile; most looked compressed or unimpressive. But I did grab some of the Afghani Kush, which the bud-tender told me was soil-grown, though everything about this sample said it was done hydro -- from the coloring to the smell of Advanced Nutrients fertilizer. While the bud did have some fuzzy crystal goodness down in the crevasses, the huge fan leaves left on the bud really killed any aesthetic appeal this nug might have had. When I broke it open, it barely had the turpentine/rubber scent of a good Afghani Kush. The herb burned harsh and flavorless and I had a hard time packing up more than a few bowls of it. Medically, the strain usually puts me down for the count and is a great end-of-day smoke -- but the cut from Special Kinds was disappointingly weak.

I also bought the brick weed, to have photographic proof that there are still dispensaries selling this crap. I used it to practice spliff rolling, and threw it out when I was done. I could have smoked it, but didn't want to waste good herb chasing the taste out of my mouth, or waste time getting rid of the subsequent headache the brick weed would have caused. If the prices of herb in dispensaries are too high for you, search around and find a caregiver who offers better deals. If the "good stuff" is just too strong for you, smoke less.

I'm sure there are patients who get some benefit from the meds Special Kinds is selling -- and it's staffed by extremely friendly people. But there was very little about this "dispensary" that seemed medical to me. Patients in Arvada: I know you are hurting for dispensaries, but do yourself a favor and drive an extra ten minutes if it means avoiding places like this.

The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.