Boulder County Caregivers opens the door to friendly pros

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This dispensary has closed.

In "Mile Highs and Lows," Westword offers a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind the locked doors of marijuana dispensaries, whether they resemble swanky bars, sterile dentist's offices or a dope dealer's college dorm room.

This week, the Wildflower Seed reviews Boulder County Caregivers:

Boulder County Caregivers 2955 Valmont Road #130, Boulder 303-495-2195 www.bouldercare.com

Hours of operation: Noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Owners: Mike and Jill Leigh Owners' statement: "We began BCC after Mike's fourth degenerative disc disease-related surgery," Jill writes in an e-mail. "Mike realized that MMJ was a much more effective and natural way to help reduce chronic pain and peripheral neuropathy than narcotics and opiates." Opened: September 2008 Raw marijuana price range: $10 to $17 per gram; 10 percent member's discount; 20 percent veterans, hospice, SSD discounts. Other types of medicine: Hash, pre-rolled joints, lotions, bath salts, glycerin tinctures, capsules, suppositories, edibles including hard candy, fudges; gluten- and sugar-free options available. Patient services and amenities: ADA accessible, individualized intake and MMJ counseling, delivery. Members receive two free thirty-minute massages monthly.

Our take: When I enter a dispensary for the first time, I often experience a few butterflies -- nerves from all the years of underground purchases and shady dealings that often accompanied the purchase of even a small amount of marijuana. You never know exactly who is going to be on the other side of the door, do you?

That paranoia -- as the anti-drug crusader-crowd likes to call it (although I prefer to think of it as a healthy fear of prison) -- still lingers, and I often have to subtly remind myself that medical marijuana is legal, that I can use a credit card and get a receipt. So it's helpful if, on the other side of the door, I find a clean, hospitable environment staffed by genuinely nice people. It doesn't hurt to smell something wickedly stinky emanating from the back room, either.

At Boulder County Caregivers, I was as impressed by the professional atmosphere and friendly nature of the staff as I was by the potency of the marijuana. This dispensary takes a measured approach to slinging herb, tempering a wide selection of chronic high-grade with a huge dose of patient education and wellness services. But then, when BCC began as a delivery service in 2008, it was simply a way to help out a few patients with extra medicine that dispensary owner Mike Leigh, who suffers from degenerative disc disease, was already cultivating as a patient.

"At the time," explains his wife and business partner, Jill Leigh, "there were no dispensaries in Boulder and demand for our services grew rapidly. Because it is often awkward to meet a patient in their home, or worse yet in a parking lot, we decided to open a small office so our patients could feel more comfortable."

"We are very concerned about the general public's view of the rapid growth of dispensaries and about the perceived lack of legitimacy in the medical marijuana industry," she continues. To combat the stereotypes and the stigmas, the Leighs volunteer with Sensible Colorado, even teaching prospective dispensary owners a "patients first" philosophy through the Canna-Business Institute. "We focus on empathy and professionalism in all our operations," she says.

That much is readily apparent at BCC: A new patient receives a folder stuffed with information about MMJ, and the shop's waiting room is packed with educational material. I would have been happy to sit there and read for a bit, but I was even happier when I was quickly called to the dispensing room, where edibles and tinctures vied for my attention with the herb in medicine jars.

I started with the Jolly Grape, an Indica-Sativa hybrid of Grape Ape x Silver Haze. Jill says the strain was started from a seed found in a Grape Ape plant, pollinated by Silver Haze. On sale as a grab-bag item for a mere $10 a gram, this average-looking and average-smelling weed took me by surprise with its powerful sedative effect. If other grab-bag treats are as potent as the Jolly Grape, I would recommend everyone come in and score a sweet, four-gram, $40 eighth -- it was a serious deal and well worth it.

I also brought home some Black Domina, a pure Indica with a heady, knock-out high; developed from seed, the high-grade was a palatable $15 a gram. But for the same price, my favorite find was the bright amethyst-speckled Weimaraner (Pez x Purple Erkle x Durban Poison). This herb was brilliant and beautiful, with a juicy sweet scent -- and it produced a fabulous head-change. The nugs were saturated with deep purple, so the sensory experience was very enjoyable. To lay a little spirituality on you, the high was heart chakra warming: I felt a melting sensation in my center, like I had just blushed or fallen in love. Delightful.

As state deadlines for dispensaries hit, plenty of places are shutting their doors for good. But patients will be happy to hear that the Leighs are expanding, opening up South Boulder Caregivers on Baseline Road in mid-July. It's good to know that there will be yet another open door with a friendly face on the other side.

The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.

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