Looking Back at Denver's Best Cannabis Growers | Westword

Denver's Best Cannabis Grower in 2022 — and Other Winners in Past Years

Looking back on Denver's best herb over recent years.
Sanxland's Melonade x G41 cross was a sight to behold.
Sanxland's Melonade x G41 cross was a sight to behold. Herbert Fuego
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As popular as edibles and vape pens have become at dispensaries, we still want to know who's growing the best herb. In a city with hundreds of dispensaries and growers, determining that is no easy task.

Most of Colorado's growers were tied to dispensaries in the early days of legalization because of complicated supply laws, but the talent has been able to branch out in recent years, adding another layer of competition to dispensary shelves. These changes have impacted the way growers brand themselves and how we evaluate the landscape of Denver cannabis.

Consider the evolution of how we've awarded Denver's best growers, starting with Best Buds That Look Like They Were Grown in a Nederland Hippie's Basement in 2015, to separate awards for Best Dispensary Cultivation and Best Wholesale Cultivation in 2021. This year, with so many options leading to the same endgame — our joint papers — we decided to make it simple.

Find our winner for 2022's Best Grower below, as well as winners of past years with their original Best of Denver descriptions and some updates.

2022 Best Grower
Snaxland's flower is so striking that you'd think photos of it had a Snapchat filter. Seeing it in person proves that those buds are no hoax, though, with flower that would likely top any dog-and-pony show of Colorado growers. Snaxland pumped out Denver's best cuts of numerous strains in 2021 (Apple Fritter, Gary, Gelato Cake, Jealousy and Lemonotti, among others), and it continues to set the market rate for premium wholesale cannabis. The groundbreaking of a new growing facility in 2022 could lead to even more Snaxland buds in Colorado dispensaries in the future. Sign us up.

2021 Best Dispensary Cultivation
5301 Vasquez Boulevard, Commerce City

This Commerce City dispensary is operated by the Fernandez family, who moved to Colorado from Miami and worked on their grow and dispensary for over two years before opening for business. Son Alex leads the cultivation side; his grandfathers grew tobacco in Cuba, and like his elders, he can produce one helluva smoke. KrystaLeaves is also one of the few pot shops selling multiple phenotypes of the same strain, allowing you to try several different slices of Layer Cake or Frozen Lemons at once. Sure, you can find KrystaLeaves flower elsewhere under the label Cuban Crew, but true stoners want to go to the source, and there aren't many weed wells out there better than KrystaLeaves.
Update: Building from the success of KrystaLeaves, the Fernandez family has launched a wholesale flower line, Cuban Crew, and a Habana Extracts concentrate label.
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Cherry head of horticulture and genetics Jason MacLean
Courtesy of Cherry
2021 Best Wholesale Cultivation
The Colorado cannabis field is full of talented growers, but Cherry's out-of-this-world ability to take users to another planet needs to be recognized. Lead grower Jason Maclean wasted little time asserting himself among the city's best, pumping out versions of Oreoz, MAC, Grape Pie and Kush Mints that are simply better than the rest, covered in trichomes with aromas that cannot be contained inside a wimpy plastic bottle. Don't measure Cherry's potency as if it were flower for mere mortals: Smoking this shit is like taking a dab, and it should be toked slowly, if only to better appreciate that sweet Cherry flavor.
Update: Cherry's brand recognition has only grown over the past year, launching lines of rosin and award-winning solventless edibles, and an expanding lineup of strains.

2020 Best Cultivation
Verde Natural
5101 East Colfax Avenue

For better and for worse, the legalized weed game has grown up a lot over the past ten years. Verde Natural has grown along with it, but without selling out. Branching out to a wholesale operation, an additional store in Boulder and a solventless extraction company hasn't stopped Verde from growing some of the most delicious weed west of the Mississippi. "How we grow it, the love we put into the plants — the culture of true smokers understand what true quality is," founder and grow mastermind Chuck Blackton says. "I feel like we're able to keep up with the madness, but we're not trying to over-expand and take over the world. We want to do things at the right pace."
Update: Verde Natural continues operating stores on East Colfax Avenue and in Boulder. Although some talented staffers left Verde to start their own operations in recent years, the grow can still pump out excellent flower, including its hallmark Hazelnut Cream.
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Verde Natural's Denver location.
Scott Lentz

Best Dispensary Cultivation 2019
Verde Natural
5101 East Colfax Avenue

Cannabis is all about what our nose and tastebuds tell us, and the nugs at Verde Natural are grown to please both. Pulling the "cheese" out of UK Cheese and the "lemon" out of Super Lemon Haze as few others do, Verde carries a lineup of classic and modern strains that carry intense flavor profiles. Bubble Jack, Citrus Berry and Hazelnut Cream aren't breakfast cereals; they're strains that taste exactly as their names imply. With a brand-new greenhouse operation ready for its first harvest this year, we're excited to see what the Verde crew has in store for the rest of 2019.

Best Dispensary Cultivation 2018
380 Quivas Street

With hundreds of cultivations to choose from in the Denver area, it's safe to say that there are at least a couple of commercial grows out there doing it the right way. The team behind past Best of Denver winners L'Eagle hasn't just been growing the right way; it's been advocating for others to do the same. L'Eagle's sustainable growing methods and organically motivated practices earned a Clean Green Certified seal from the City of Denver, and owners Amy and John Andrle have spoken out against unsafe pesticide use and cutting corners in grows. Every pot shop says it has the dankest Sour Diesel and Strawberry Cough, but L'Eagle is one of the few that can truly say that without selling its customers steroided buds showered in mildew killer. Nowadays, that means a lot.
Update: L'Eagle continues growing and selling some of Denver's finest cuts of Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough and other classic strains, winning our award for Best Dispensary for Classic Strains in 2022.
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Cannabis connoisseurs should highlight Kind Love on their maps when visiting Denver.
Scott Lentz
Best Flower 2016
Kind Love
4380 East Alameda Avenue, Glendale

Kind Love's reputation for stellar genetics has been well known since 2010, but until last year, only medical patients were able to experience the frosty, terpene-filled buds that are standard at the Glendale dispensary. Luckily for recreational tokers, Kind Love recently opened its doors to the 21-and-up crowd, and most of us haven't looked back. The pot shop's cuts of Alien Rock Candy, Brodello and White Fire OG made our strain reviewer's list of the 10 Best Strains of 2015 — and two of those were bought at different dispensaries and later discovered to be Kind Love wholesale flower. Aroma, potency and taste are all thoroughly covered in any one of the thirty-plus strains in the shop's library, leaving you with one helluva decision at the bud bar.
Update: Kind Love is still holding down the corner of East Alameda Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, and has since expanded into Oklahoma's medical marijuana market.

Best Buds That Looks Like They Were Grown in a Nederland Hippie's Basement 2015
Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine
511 Orchard Street, Golden

Though it's right on the edge of the metro area, Golden's Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine looks like a mountain cabin — the kind that quietly, discreetly pumps out the type of top-notch cannabis that Colorado is known for cultivating. While the selection isn't huge, the quality of such strains as pre-92 OG Kush, Purple Whitefire, Maple Kush and a killer White Fire OG (which was the best pot our marijuana critic smoked in 2014) make a visit highly worth your while. And we mean highly.
Update: Rocky Mountain Organic Medicine was purchased and renamed Golden Alternative Medicine. Although the dispensary is still only open for medical marijuana sales, Golden voters approved recreational pot sales in 2021, and Golden Alternative Medicine ownership is pursuing a recreational sales license.
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