Ask ten people to name the best dispensary in Denver, and you'll likely get ten different answers.
That's no surprise, because people have very different reasons for why they favor a particular dispensary. Some appreciate price, others quality, others service. I appreciate all of those, and rarely find them all in the same measure at metro Denver's 200-plus dispensaries.
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That's why, as we plan the Best of Denver, we recognize the industry in multiple awards, rather than honoring just one dispensary. While there are still some bad actors out there, since stores started selling recreational marijuana in January 2014, many cannabis businesses have upped their game. We're honoring several of them, as well as other businesses, in the Best of Denver 2018.
The general trend? Quality over quantity. Keep reading for some of our cannabis-related Best of Denver awards over the years (with updates in italics), closing with our Best Dispensary Cultivation winner for 2018, which exemplifies the trend.
Best MMJ Dispensary for Patients (2014)
The Herbal Cure
985 South Logan Street
Medical marijuana patients designate dispensaries as their primary caregivers in exchange for the right to grow six of their own plants, and it's nice to get something in return. The Herbal Center does right by its patients, who get at least 10 percent off retail pricing on herb, edibles and concentrates, as well as a $225 cap on ounces. The store also offers daily deals like Wax Wednesdays — when you can take $5 off the per-gram price of hash — and free-joint Fridays. But what really stands out is the giant prize wheel, which can be spun by patients who spend $35 or more. Prizes range from free THC suckers and $5 coupons to an eighth of herb from the $25 economy shelf or a card punch worth $25. It's like the stoner Price Is Right. While the exact deals and membership perks have changed a little over the years at The Herbal Cure, the attention toward patients and emphasis on low prices remain the same.
Best Dispensary to Impress Your Pot-Hating Father (2015)
Your old man is in town and disapproves of your newly found freedom, and you don't want him to continue living in the dark. What to do? Go to the Clinic. On top of award-winning strains and some of the most knowledgeable budtenders in town, the Denver-born chain is known for its charitable contributions, which includes hundreds of thousands of dollars given to the National MS Society since 2010 and annual donations to Colorado's PrideFest. If the pot-for-a-good-cause route doesn't work, take him to the annual Clinic Charity Golf Classic to hit some balls after a joint of the clinic's barrier-breaking Durban Poison. There's not a man out there who hates both weed and golf. The Clinic continues to hold a charity golf tournament every year while crushing it in the grow room, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical research and winning multiple awards in The Grow Off.
Best Flower (2016)
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. Kind Love's flower menu and footprint in Colorado's cannabis industry continue to blossom.
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Best Dispensary to Take Your Grandmother To (2017)
Support for legal marijuana is growing among this country's senior citizens, and chances are good your grandmother won't be put off by weed — just by some of the seedier parts of town where dispensaries are located. But Good Chemistry, a welcoming and non-intimidating place, should put Grandma at ease. At both of its locations, including the classy Aurora space, the staff doesn't simply throw "Indica" and "Sativa" on the jars; it breaks down the feeling of each strain into four categories: sleep, relief, stimulation and relaxation. Those are terms even Granny can get behind. Good Chemistry has since opened another location at 1724 South Broadway, conveniently located for south suburban grannies.
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 it without selling its customers steroided buds showered in mildew killer. Nowadays, that means a lot.