Ganja is golden at Golden Alternative Care

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.

See our current dispensary list here, and keep reading to learn more about Golden Alternative Care:

Golden Alternative Care 807 14th Street, Golden 303-278-8870

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday Owner: Craig Mardick Owner's statement: "I am striving for a professional, serene environment for our clients." Opened: January 2010 Raw marijuana price range: Grams $20, eighths $50, quarters $100 Other types of medicine: Hash, edibles, tinctures, balms Patient services and amenities: Massage therapy (occasionally free), spiritual counseling, doctor referrals, local delivery, ADA-accessible.

Our take: I love Red Rocks Amphitheatre, one of the most beautiful live-music venues in the world, nestled into the large, naturally acoustic rock outcropping of the Fountain Formation. And I love getting there, since I can make an easy detour through downtown Golden, which has a little sweet shop on Main Street that serves frozen Key lime pie dipped in chocolate on a stick. That alone is reason for a pit stop. But now I've discovered another reason to visit: Golden Alternative Care.

This dispensary is just off the main street, across from a beautiful adobe inn that gives the area a Santa Fe vibe. Inside Golden Alternative Care, the vibe is minimalist -- comfortable and clinical, like a chiropractor's office that just happens to be full of stoners. When I rang the doorbell, I was shown to a clean, welcoming waiting area with black leather couches, where I could sit while filling out a moderate amount of paperwork. The staff chatted with customers, making us all feel at home while we waited for our turns. And in the meantime, the owner and his quite adorable bird dog kept us happily entertained.

The dispensing area, which is built into the main room, has shortened walls and fabric panels that distinguish it from the larger space. It's stylish, but the selection that day was on the smaller side, with fewer than a dozen choices of weed. However, all of it was top-shelf and labeled as organically grown, organized with indica-dominant strains to the left, sativa-dominant strains to the right, and hybrids in the middle. I spied Sour Diesel, Black Domina and AK-47 that all looked worthy of further investigation. Each strain was a deep forest green with dark amber hairs and dense buds. (They seemed so similar that I wondered if they were all house-grown, or at least from the same grower.) As with many of the organics I find in dispensaries, the aromas weren't overwhelming; the general scent was a botanical mid-note, neither too sweet nor too earthy.

While the herb selection was limited, I was dazzled by all the yummy-looking edibles. Bouquets of marijuana-infused lollipops and huge drop cookies tempted me, but I was more in the mood for some wicked kief, as I had just been gifted a new vaporizer and was hoping to find something to bubble in it. The dispensary had no kief, though, and had just one kind of hash. So as not to be blown off course, I settled on an eighth of the Blueberry weed.

The Canadian grower DJ Short developed the original Blueberry, which I'm quite familiar with from my past life in the Pacific Northwest. This strain was once the pride of the Oregon Country Fair and took home the Cannabis Cup in 2000. Today, there are lots of Blueberry versions, most of which share certain characteristics: sick blueberry scent, tight blueberry-sized nuggets and a bluish-purple hue. While this Blueberry wasn't blue-tinged at all and lacked the characteristic little marble nugs, it had a fragrance reminiscent of wild blueberries, the kind that grow by the side of roads in Maine and northern Massachusetts in the summer. The buds were large, dense and trichome-coated, and looked very respectable in their large Mason jar.

Later, when I introduced the Blueberry to my vaporizer, it knocked my socks off. A powerful, indica-soaked intoxication fell over me, and I was soon adrift in a haze of music-infused mindlessness.

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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The Wildflower Seed