What’s in a name? Would bud from a dispensary that previously sold okay herb under another name smell as mediocre after a change in its name?
Not at Mindful, formerly Gaia Plant Based Medicine, which is definitely moving in the right direction.
MiNDFUL Medical of Denver
5926 East Colfax Avenue
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Raw marijuana price range: $8/gram $25/eighth-ounce, $150/ounce.
Other types of medicine: BHO ($30 to $60/gram), edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks.
Online menu? Yes.
Recreational sales? Yes.
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The location on Colfax isn’t a new one. It’s been three dispensaries at this point, by my count. First a Greenwerkz location, then Gaia, and now Mindful — though the last change was in name only. I learned that as I checked in and was reminded by the woman in her twenties behind the counter that my last visit was in September 2013. Apparently due to some “boring bureaucratic reasons,” the shop became Mindful and did some renovations. Just the name changed, she stressed. If she hadn't told me that, I could have gone on thinking it was a new place with new owners and a new grow.
I’ll admit my memory of Gaia is pretty foggy, but I do recall it looking much less slick and modern inside. The renovations since the Gaia days eliminated the college-hangout feel. Now there are chest-high steel tables with menus of buds and a few modern oil paintings on the walls. It felt like the lobby of a pot-smelling modern furniture store.
Another change is the dual-use recreational and medical sales. Everything is done at the same long bud counter in a room adjacent to the lobby, which means that patients ages eighteen to twenty are going to have to shop elsewhere.
A security guard (or at least a guy big enough to be a security guard) watching over the bud bar from the doorway into the lobby called me back and pointed me in the direction of a dreadlocked pot enthusiast. This was my budtender, who was tidying up from the previous customer.
All of the herb is pre-packaged here, and there are shelving racks full of black, gray and green Mindful jars behind the budtenders, where you’d normally expect to see large display jars. Instead of that, the shop has small sample jars, each filled with five or six grams of a given strain. I jumped right in and began popping lids, but found out the jar I was sniffing was unavailable to me: Mindful keeps better-trimmed and more choice buds for member-patients. Interesting move, but definitely a reason to consider a shop for a primary center.
It actually didn't matter all that much either way, though. The buds I could purchase were similar to the member buds in quality and price. Eighths run $25 and ounces are $150. Extremely good pricing, actually. Strain selection wasn’t huge — maybe eight to ten to look at. But what was on hand was intriguing. My budtender thought so as well. He was more excited about the herb than I was, and was quick to rattle off the history of the strains with a Mitch Hedberg-like stoner/surfer drawl.
We started out with the Tshaka Zulu — a purple, spicy bud with an even, mellowing buzz when smoked. The tiny nuggets had solid bud structure, with round, bb-like calyxes covered in green-to-purple-colored leaves. Clean under a scope, the buds boasted fat, amber trichomes covering. The buzz was perfect for easing stress and getting rid of minor aches and pains at night, but when smoked in the morning, it was a little heavy and made me want to crawl back under the covers.
On the same level was the Ultra Sonja, little orange-y spear-tip buds wih a vague sweetness to them, like a bag of candy-store fruit lozenges. The Head Trip was another strain that caught my eye — or nose — with its spicy, fresh-cracked-black-pepper smells.
Not everything was great, but even the wispy Sour Diesel and thin Gorilla Glue buds were better than what other stores up and down Colfax sell at comparable prices. Stinkiest of all was the Triangle Kush, with its rubbery, earthy base and a sweet, sandalwood tang that hits your nose soon after. The flavor was outstanding as well, with a citrusy twist at the end that lingered for a few minutes after fresh green hits. Powerful but not tranquilizing, the buds eliminated back pain and tension while leaving me with a surprisingly clear-headed mental jolt. Appetite stimulation could have been better, but I wasn’t expecting that anyway. For the price, the buds were a steal. I’d be back every week and sign them up as my primary center if I was in the market.
And that’s just based on the bud. The TR Concentrates shatter and waxes in stock were outstanding. For $30 a gram for wax and shatter and $60 a gram for live resin, the prices were fine. Amazing clarity on the shatters — all strain-specific, with about six different types to chose from. I would have gone with the Headtrip shatter based on the light amber color, but you couldn’t have gone wrong with any of them. And apparently I’m not the only person who noticed. A guy walked in behind me and purchased four grams of live resin sight unseen and walked out before I had a chance to finish with my selections.
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Recreational customers seem to get the same (good) treatment. Buds I saw all looked to be on par with the medical side, and they seemed to have roughly the same selection for both types of clientele. Recreational buds sell for $40 an eighth and $60 a quarter, though you can get more for your money by getting a $200 ounce — and with the 4/20 holiday coming up, you’d do yourself right to at least give it a shot.
A big part of the change at the shop is one that happened when we first visited in 2013 — a major shift in the grow to genetics and a grow run by renowned breeder and grower Philip Hague of TR Seeds. Back then, Gaia was in transition. Now the shop has come into its own and the new name is fitting for the quality available to the public. If you’re like me and haven’t been by since the shift, make the trip down East Colfax (or to any of the other three locations across the state) in the near future.