One of Denver's most esteemed medical dispensaries is finally open for recreational customers, too. Verde Natural, a staple for cannabis patients since 2009, officially started retail sales last week.
While Verde Natural owner Chuck Blackton started his 25,000-square-foot retail cultivation in 2016 and has been selling wholesale flower to about thirty retail dispensaries around the state for eighteen months, he says he didn't want to rush the recreational transition for fear of alienating his patients while failing to connect with retail buyers in a meaningful way. But now he's excited to finally be able to serve all consumers from his storefront at 5101 East Colfax Avenue.
"We wanted to let medical patients know that they were still first. Our roots are deep in this," Blackton explains. "Our biggest niche in this whole game is keeping our place boutique." Although medical patients will have a separate, more intimate room where they can make purchases, they'll also be able to buy recreational products at medical prices if they see something they like.
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Blackton, who says he was the original breeder of Lemon Skunk during his time in Amsterdam (a claim backed by a print-only article in High Times), has grown some of Denver's most sought-after buds for the past eight years, after returning from a decade overseas. The Las Vegas native learned to master the tricks of popular Haze and Skunk genetics while living in the Netherlands, but he's pretty good with other strains, too.
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"I've really gotten into OGs," he says. "Our Herijuana OG, SFV OG and Tri-Fi (White Fire OG crossed with Triangle Kush) are all hugely popular among the patients. We can't wait to share them with rec buyers." Blackton adds that the Verde team has developed its own cut of OG Kush, an in-house take on the heavyweight they call OG #1. The lineup also includes such sweet-tasting classics as Super Lemon Haze and delicious newcomers like Key Lime Pie and Hazelnut Cream.
Verde store manager Kelsey Liedman, who started as a budtender for Blackton, says the store will maintain a medically focused approach, guiding customers through selections based on a number of specific cannabis effects: relaxation, focus, energy, meditation, recovery and creativity. "This helps us learn about them: who they are, what they like, what they're doing with their day after they leave," she explains. "We want to create relationships."