Much like some of this city's breweries/taphouses, many of Denver's chain dispensaries got their start in north Denver because of cheap commercial real estate in that industrial area, buying large warehouses for cultivations that now supply their stores in neighborhoods with more traffic. Most of those massive chain grows have dispensaries attached to them, too.
Here are five north Denver dispensaries that are delivering some of the finest cannabis in town. Most of them have strains you can't find anywhere else, but all of them should be on your to-do list.
House of Dankness
10555 East 45th Avenue
Plenty of cannabis chains got their start in the warehouses of north Denver, but none of them have affected the dispensary scene like House of Dankness. Instead of expanding its reach with more stores, the company has a separate branch for breeding and wholesale strains, Rare Dankness. Rare Dankness breeders are responsible for statewide hits like LeeRoy OG, Tangerine Kush and Ghost Train Haze, and dozens of dispensaries around town either carry Rare Dankness genetics or wholesale flower. House of Dankness is the source of it all, though, and it has trendsetting strains you can't find anywhere else.
11975 East 40th Avenue
I've never been a big fan of the quality and experience in most chains, but Lightshade is one of my few exceptions. With $30 eighths out the door, a vast selection of cannabis products and the ability to accept credit cards, every location brings a level of convenience that most dispensaries can't match. The shop's Peoria location features one of Lightshade's largest grows, showcasing its dense, stanky cuts of Primus OG, Golden Goat and White Dawg – but it also carries an even larger list of impressive wholesale strains.
4975 Vasquez Boulevard
Despite its generic name, Denver Dispensary produces distinctive cuts of classic strains like Bubba Kush, Grape Ape and U.K. Cheese. The store is located near Colorado Boulevard and two blocks from I-70, making it an easy stop for commuters — and an essential stop for stoners. Although its rarer strains like Raspberry Cookies and Fat Face OG can be a little pricey ($40 an eighth), the $25 eighths of Afghani Grapefruit and Shark Bite are a good value.
4773 Fox Street
Formerly known as Fox Street Wellness, Fox Cannabis built a reputation for unique, medically focused strains before recreational sales ever began. It provided my introduction to Birthday Cake Kush, and I've been lighting up its candles ever since. Although it's a little more expensive than what most daily consumers are used to ($40 an eighth before tax), its Hell's OG and Banana genetics are a worthy treat on payday.
3835 Elm Street
Another north Denver pillar that hasn't lost its medical-first approach, DANK might be your budtenders' favorite dispensary if they were really honest with you. The Park Hill pot shop has an esteemed reputation within the industry, and it was an early host of several events that gave yuppies and out-of-towners a proper look at what recreational cannabis is really all about. DANK's strain lineup is expensive compared to the current market ($40 to $50 for an eighth), but its 303 OG and Blue Dragon have enticed plenty of noses to fork up the cash.