Mile Highs and Lows: Lotus Medical

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 will be 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 Lotus Medical.

Lotus Medical 1444 Wazee Street. Suite 115 720-974-3109

Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Owners: Eric Santus and Hung Nguyen

Owners' statement: "Lotus Medical combines central downtown accessibility, class and comfort for patients seeking alternative medicine. We believe this focus on comfort and overall wellness and health will create a comfortable, warm and happy environment that will quickly make Lotus Medical the premier destination for medical marijuana patients in Colorado."

Opened: October 1, 2009

Raw marijuana price range: $55 for an eighth of herb, $35 for a gram of hash. Members receive a 10 percent discount.

Other types of medicine: Edibles, hash, tinctures.

Patient services and amenities: Massage (call for appointment), tarot card readings, chiropractic services by appointment on Mondays.

Our take: Lotus Medical is located in a garden-level office of the Elephant Corral building on Wazee Street. It's a really cool building with a lot of history -- but absolutely no parking. I drove around for about five minutes looking for an open meter, finally nabbing a spot a few blocks away on Wynkoop. But once I finally got up to the dispensary door, I didn't even have to ring the bell before owner Eric Santus spotted me and buzzed me in.

Lotus's waiting room is huge, reminiscent of a lobby in a hotel at a mountain resort. The exposed, century-old brick walls and wooden beams play off a modern ceiling, and faux-suede and leather couches and chairs surround an antique-looking coffee table. The space is low-lit, with spotlights shining on framed photographs shot by Santus's mother that hang on the wall. Lotus's nice-but-not-too-nice living room feeling is something Santus says he couldn't find at any dispensaries when he first got his card; those spots were either too sterile or too low-rent. So after he heard his girlfriend say that she didn't feel safe in a lot of places, the two decided to go for it on their own. "I said, 'That's it. I think we can separate ourselves really easily from the rest of the crowd and put a good face on the business.' That's how it came together," Santus told me. "A normal atmosphere that was nice, but not so nice that you didn't want to touch anything or sit down."

Although I arrived at Lotus relatively early, I was behind two people and another three came in after me. As I waited for other patients to finish up, Santus and I chatted about the different herb Lotus has on hand, including the Incredible Hulk, which he recommended. "We only have a handful of vendors, and most of them are our boys," he said, with his lingering Philly accent. "Every now and then, people will walk in with something that we have to get. But most of the time our friends come up with some weird, weird shit, and that's what we like."

Lotus prides itself on being a wellness center, and as I walked back to the bud bar, I got a look at the separate massage room at the rear of the space. A really inviting massage table was set up next to a low stand with candles. Next time, I should probably call ahead to schedule a rub-down with my pick-up.

The budtender introduced himself with a handshake and asked what I was interested in, then pulled out a few jars from the fifteen or so on the counter. Instead of a putting a big menu on the wall, Lotus places small placards in front of each jar that give the strain name, type and a brief description -- a good way to let customers browse. There are no prices on the cards, though, so I still had to ask how much everything was. Lotus had a good selection of herb, including Mango, Maui Haze and straight Maui, and the quality looked top-notch as well. Each time I asked to see a specific strain, the budtender would put the jar on the counter and then shove a large magnifying glass equipped with LED lights over the top of it. This was a really cool tool for seeing how covered (or not) in crystals different buds were.

When I asked for his pick in sativas, the budtender pulled out a jar of Agent Orange that glowed like a Christmas tree in the snow under the LED magnifier. He split an eighth for me between the Agent Orange and the Incredible Hulk for the member price of $50; with a gram of Crystal Chunk bubble hash, my total was around $86 (including tax). The order came in baggies instead of plastic containers -- another welcome touch, since plastic medicine jars are slowing taking over my office.

The Incredible Hulk didn't have much of a smell out of the baggie, but breaking it open released a sweetly strong wild berry-skunk aroma. The bud burned smooth in the pipe and there was a subtle spicy finish, but I think a bit more time curing would help the flavors come out. I wrecked my neck and back doing yard work last week, and while the Hulk left me a bit dazed for a few minutes after I finished the bowl, I snapped out of it quickly and got on with my day without any lingering soreness (or stonedness). The Agent Orange could easily have gotten its name from the orange hairs all over it -- but when I broke it open, the ganja smelled like orange Chiclets and I nearly took a bite out of curiosity. Instead, I burned a tangy and fresh-tasting little joint of it and caught a strong buzz for about 45 minutes, during which time I somehow made and ate two sandwiches.

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