As Colorado's medical-marijuana industry grows, marijuana dispensaries of all types and sizes are proliferating around the state. Some resemble swanky bars or sterile dentist offices; others feel like a dope dealer's college dorm room. To help keep them all straight, Westword is offering a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind these unusual operations' locked doors in "Mile Highs and Lows," a regular online review of dispensaries around the metro area and beyond. (You can also search our directory of dispensaries for one near you.)
This week, William Breathes reviews Denver Kush Club
Hours of operation: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday Owner: Darin Smith Owner's statement: "We try to keep the prices low and have as much quality and variety as we can for people." Raw marijuana price range: $50/eighths, $25/sixteenths for non-members; $40/eighths, $20/sixteenths for members. Other types of medicine: Hash oil "wax" ($40/gram), tinctures, edibles. Patient services and amenities: Massage, chiropractic by appointment.
Our take: I've been curious about Denver Kush Club for some time because of its location -- I hadn't been to Five Points in a while -- and the good things I'd heard about its medicine. Kitty-corner from the 26th Avenue light-rail stop on Welton Street, the dispensary is in a neighborhood that some people still associate with drugs being pushed on the streets. The owners and staff are aware of this, and Denver Kush Club has worked hard to change perceptions. "When we first moved in, there was a kind of small uproar over us in the community paper," says one manager. "But over time, as people have come in here and seen that we aren't just setting up some pot shop, that changed."
Owner Darin Smith and his business partners chose the location in part because they own the Magoo's Pizza Shop a few doors down from Cervantes' Other Side, but also because they love this historic neighborhood. Old photographs of Welton Street hang on the walls; one of the partners says he's looking to buy a house nearby.
Still, as I walked in off the street, the sketchy feel of the secured entryway -- surrounded by cinderblocks, bulletproof glass and iron bars overhead -- made me think I was heading into a prison cell. But then someone answered the doorbell, and after I handed over my red card and ID, the heavy door leading back was unlocked and I strolled into the massive waiting room like Dorothy (or better yet, her male dog, Toto) discovering colorful Oz.
The space was larger than I'd expected and set up like a lounge. According to the manager on duty, Denver Kush Club opened before the city passed its ordinance prohibiting medicating on-site; the initial idea was to create a true cannabis-club atmosphere. The puffy couches, chairs and big-screen television taking up the majority of the space are evidence of their original concept of a chill spot to puff with fellow patients. I was the only patient during my visit, though, and the staff and I talked about Colorado's upcoming legislation and how much it could hurt both the patients and the shops by locking patients into one dispensary.
After leisurely finishing up the paperwork, I made my way to the bar behind the lounge, where bud-tender Joaquin was tidying up. The area is small and dimly lit, with wooden cabinets and glass display cases taking up most of the room. Joaquin was really friendly, and quickly showed me how the roughly twenty homegrown and vendor-purchased strains were divided by sativa, indica and kush, then went into detail about some of his favorites. Joaquin knew his stuff and was able to give a thorough breakdown of each strain.
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The selection was impressive, and I spent a good amount of time peering through the different cuts, including some powerful-looking Summit Co. Sweet Skunk that had hints of ISS but with purple bits in the flowers and a more pronounced Pine-Sol scent. The shop also had a small jar of the now-famous Pineapple Express (Pineapple Kush), but what little was left in the jar wasn't good enough for Joaquin to sell. All herbs are capped at $50 for walk-in patients, $40 if you make the dispensary your caregiver. The owners hope to soon get prices down by another $10 per gram. I walked out happy with a split eighth of Cough for my sativa choice and Banana Kush, a Joaquin suggestion that I went with because, after all, I was at Denver Kush Club.
Cough is a Colorado staple out of Fort Collins that's been around for well over a decade. The Kush Club Cough had excellent cuts and an near-electric pine scent at first; the taste was very dark and earthy, almost mushroom-like, with an incredible musky-haze finish. The Cough is usually a slightly harsher, rough smoke, but I took a few icy-cold bong rips and it went down smooth. The sativa-heavy strain generally hits you hard right in the frontal lobe of your brain and has sofa-locking superpowers, but aside from the lazy eyes and, at least for me, memorably bad cottonmouth, this strain is one of the best appetite-inducing herbs I've tried. And that run continued with the Kush Club's version: I was eating a bowl of Cheerios before 9 a.m. -- something I usually have trouble doing so soon after waking up.
The mouth-watering, crystallized green nuggets of Banana Kush that the bud-tender had weighed out for me looked like tiny, fragile evergreen trees covered in a dusting of snow. When I opened the medicine jar at home, my office instantly filled with the tangy, citrusy first scent of the herb. Breaking it open, the fruit-smoothie smell tickled the inside of my nose and had me licking my lips. The herb was dried and cured well, burning to a clean, white ash with a buttery-sweet taste. The bowl left a very pleasant, perfumed smoke hanging in my office that even my non-smoker girlfriend enjoyed. The buzz was functional and motivational enough that it got me off my ass to do yard work, but it was still euphoric and relaxing that I could space out to Boston while pushing the mower.
The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.