Buddies Wellness is one of those dispensaries that you've probably missed unless you’ve driven past it or heard about it from friends. I know I did, even though it's been around for five years according to the budtender there.
The shop is hidden away in an industrial center a few hundred yards from the Platte River to the east. An unnaturally green baseball diamond much nicer than any other structure in the area is across the street at Valverde Park.
1270 W. Ceder Avenue, Unit A
Denver, CO 80223
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Raw marijuana price range: $25/eighth-ounce, $160/ounce. Members receive about 10 percent off purchase.
Other types of medicine: Wax, shatter, infused candies.
Online menu? No.
Recreational sales? No.
I walked in to the front security area and completely missed the doorbell ringer on the counter in front of the glassed-in receptionist desk. As a result, I stood around for a minute staring at an amazing vintage, rusty-red bicycle in the office and wondering if anyone was home. Eventually I found the buzzer and rang my budtender in the back, who buzzed me through to the waiting room while he copied over my paperwork.
The tiny waiting room wasn’t much. There’s a couch and a long rectangular coffee table with magazines stacks ten high in places spread across it. Want to catch up on the back issues of Hemp Connoisseur? Have at it.
There was also a second vintage bike I later learned was built sometime in the 1930s. According to my budtender, the grow is in the back of the shop. It must not be too far back there, though, as the greenhouse plant and fertilizer odors filling the place were borderline overwhelming at first. Aside from the pot smell, Buddies felt more like the rarely used customer service counter for an obscure mechanical parts warehouse, I could easily imagine my budtender saying something like “I don’t know if we’ve got that torque converter, I’ll have to go check."
Buddies Wellness is janky inside. Those aren’t my words, but my description wouldn't have been much different. Instead, it came from my budtender, Gabe, who seemed tired of the electrical cords everywhere, the half-stocked display cabinets and half-assed decorating job he’s dealt with for the last five years. The bud bar isn’t that notable, either. There are a few large-print photos of buds hung on the wall along with a TV. But otherwise, it seemed as if someone started to move into the space five years ago but then never finished. Counters were half-filled with vape pens, edibles selection was down to a few EdiPure lozenges and Wanna candies and large glass jars of shake. Without my prompting, the budtender gave me his aforementioned opinion of his shop and said with some relief that they were planning on expanding soon. Redoing the bud bar was top priority, he said.
But while the dispensary room seemed forgotten, someone was definitely paying attention to the meds on the shelves. Concentrates by Mahatma were priced at $25 for grams of wax and $30 for grams of shatter for no-members. First-timers get member pricing, though, which drops prices by $5 or so on hash. The wax was wax and I’m sure did the job, but it’s been a while since I’ve had Mahatma-made shatter (or any hash oil, for that matter). I’ve actually laid off concentrates for the last few months entirely. But at member pricing, I figured the Deathstar ’98 shatter was worth ending my hiatus. It burned clean on a nail in a small glass rig and as expected I hit the ceiling from the rush of THC. Flavor was subtle and not very strain specific, but the hashy taste wasn’t bad, either. After coming down to the troposphere twenty minutes after a dab, I buzzed around the house taking care of chores like a manic Molly Maid. Better than a cup of coffee energy-wise, the oil was also solid pain relief. At least, I was so baked I stopped caring about my bunk back.
The bud counter was minimally stocked, with two strains on discount and the other six or seven selling at the full price of $25 an eighth and $160 an ounce. The discount Blue Dream looked and smelled decent, with chunky buds coated in tiny silvery trichomes. It was going for $20 an eighth and I couldn’t see any reason why from my peering into the jar and getting a whiff of the ganja. Well done. The other discount strain, Pakalolo, was worse for the wear. Despite a sweet, fruit-punch aroma and chunky orange buds, there were streaks of white powdery mildew on the underside of a numerous buds and at least one bud was completely coated, top to bottom. Probably not even worth putting up on the shelf.
Unlike the Deathstar, which was freakishly good compared to the Pakalolo. Ripe, with pungent Diesel stinkiness to the batch of trichome coated, spear-shaped, sharp emerald buds. Well done and certainly worth considering, as was the Pre-98 bubba Kush, even if it was more likely a batch of soil-rich and grapey Flo. The buds were densely packed THC bombs waiting to go off, and just smelling the jar put me in a better mood.
The White Rhino also had a Flo-like blueberry/soil/lavender thing going on, but with a sweeter finish. White Rhino or not, the buds came home with me and I was really impressed with the sweet, soil-like finish when smoked out of a dry pipe, not to mention the potency that three or four hits offered. Functional but strong, the buds instantly relaxed the stress tension in my neck and back. I didn’t get lethargic, but I wouldn’t say I was up for any sort of physical activity after a bowl. Appetite came on about a half-hour after toking and couldn’t be ignored, though I don’t think I would go back to Buddies’ White Rhino if I needed to get hungry again. But at $160 an ounce and $25 an eighth, I will return when I need something tasty for stress.
The Chunky Diesel was spicy and ripe, with a pine-board freshness to the diesel-fuel spice of the lightly purple and dark green buds in the jar. Dry bud cured well, the buds stank up my office when broken down by hand and left my hands tacky and sticky from the tiny, silvery trichomes left behind. Out of a clean pipe the flavor was mild but still Diesel-rich and spicy enough to leave a great aftertaste on a green hit. And one hit is all it took to send my stomach into hyperdrive. Even thinking about the bud makes me hungry.
While the shop itself needs work (plenty of it), the buds on the shelf made it worth visiting even if the selection was small. My budtender also mentioned that part of Buddies' expansion is the acquisition of another grow space, which is going to allow them to get more strains in the dirt and (eventually) on the shelves. In the meantime, it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area or live nearby.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.