Mile Highs and Lows: Boulder Kind Care

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 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, The Wildflower Seed reviews Boulder Kind Care:

Boulder Kind Care 2031 16th Street Boulder 720-235-4232

Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Owner: Lance Smith. Owner's statement: "I kind of backed into it through dumb luck, and then had this weird medical condition pop up." Opened: January 1, 2010 Raw marijuana price range: All strains $15/gram, $45/eighth, $90/quarter. (A 5,000-square-foot facility will be ready to harvest in the near future, which will lower costs, Smith says.) Other types of medicine: Edibles, tinctures, oils, hash, books, non-medicated beauty products, etc. Patient services and amenities: Physician referral service, holistic care services, patient registration assistance and forms.

Our take: When Lance Smith opened Boulder Kind Care in a cheerful, remodeled bungalow just off Pearl Street on New Year's Day, he had no idea he was about to become one of his own most critically ill patients. But as his marijuana club burgeoned to serve more than 400 patients, Smith's life was changing dramatically behind the scenes. While Colorado's postmodern version of "refer madness" played out in newspapers and dispensaries across the state, Smith stoically awaited pathology reports that would reveal whether or not he had a fighting chance against cancer.

And as it turns out, he does.

"I've never been a negative person, but the eight days of pathology were the worst days of my life," Smith recalls with gusts of emotion, "and I can't say I didn't want to say 'Fuck it.' Now that I know I'm not going to lose my kids and my wife, that I'm going to live, everything is more meaningful in my life because of this. It's been a gift in my life."

For one thing, cancer has turned this businessman into an ardent medical marijuana advocate. Smith plans to bring a video camera into his chemotherapy sessions to document his fight against lymphoma, he's meeting with Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, and he's trying to get Jared Polis to come into Boulder Kind Care and take a look around. Smith's message is that marijuana has the potential to do a vast amount of good for our state, as well as for individual patients. For example, he suggests, the revenue from medical marijuana could be used to support a Colorado single-payer health-care system. "If I can use cancer to our benefit, for once in our lifetime, then I'm going to do it," he says, laughing, then quietly adds, "It's intense, though."

Smith's diagnosis came just as he was opening his new dispensary business and establishing a clientele -- but in retrospect, he says, it couldn't have come at a better time. His shop is ultra-modern and relaxing: hipper than a spa, more retail than a doctor's office, much more like a wine bar than a liquor store. This unique atmosphere could only occur in a marijuana dispensary, and Boulder Kind Care pulls it off with elegant, low-key ease. In fact, Smith wants the entire experience to be fun and easygoing. His own health-care battle has helped him forge a deeper relationship with the patients he meets every day. And while their conditions differ, they all have one thing in common: They want good weed. "I was going around like, 'A-grade, B-grade?'" he jokes. "Who wants to smoke C-grade? Nobody in Boulder!"

Boulder Kind Care carries a nice variety of top-notch herbs: Sativas -- heavy on the THC for a cerebral, daytime high -- include Maui, Cinderella 99, Jack Flash and Golden Goat, while melt-into-the-couch indica choices include some of my all-time faves like God's Gift, Cheese and Blueberry; the hybrids include sought-after strains like Northern Lights x White Widow, Jack Herer 99 and Hong Kong.

On my first visit, the bud-tender offered me a free joint just for stopping in, and it looked so nice that I bought two more at ten bucks each. (What the heck: I was off to see Bob Weir and Phil Lesh at the 1stBank Center that night.) I was checking out a beautiful, organic Maui when the tender asked if I'd ever seen herb under a microscope before. He put the nug under the sci-fi-looking scope, and a crystal forest of trichomes emerged on the hi-def flat-screen. Taking a microscopic tour of my cannabis before purchasing it was fun and informative. The counter also keeps a jar of coffee beans on hand so that patients can freshen their palates between sniff tests.

I wound up bringing the Maui home, and to my delight, it was some of the best-tasting weed I have come across in a while.

Smith's concern for his patients' welfare shows in every aspect of Boulder Kind Care, which he sees as a model for future dispensaries. "I'm self-regulating myself right now," he says. "If they want to say that we're like a liquor store, I'll have that argument anytime, anywhere. But give me a checklist. Don't limit patient access. I don't want my patients feeling like at any moment the DEA is going to kick in the door."

He sees himself as a poster child for MMJ, and an ardent champion for his patients' right to use medical marijuana. "Now it's time for me to fight for the people who don't have the resources I do," he says. "I have a world-class team. I have health insurance. I can get top-notch medical care six miles from my house." He overflows with enthusiasm as he describes his commitment to the cause. Since Smith's diagnosis, his best friend says, "Dude, cancer took the filter off you."

"I'm clearly passionate; I'm excited," Smith confirms. "If there's any place that can be the epicenter of the movement, why not Boulder, and why not my place, right on the corner of Pearl Street?" The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.