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Medical marijuana dispensary re-review: Two years later at Walking Raven

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Aside from 4/20, there's really no better day for celebrating cannabis than Thanksgiving. A good spliff goes great with stuffing, potatoes and entire turkeys waiting to be devoured. So to get your munchies going, here's our Thanksgiving day Mile Highs and Lows dispensary review of Walking Raven.

Walking Raven Dispensary

2001 South Broadway Denver, CO 80210 720-327-5613

Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Online menu: none. Owner/manager: "Luke" Raw marijuana price range: $35/eighth for members ($10/gram), $40 for non-members. Tax included in price. Ounce specials as low as $200. Other types of medicine: Edibles, hash, tincture, BHO Handicap Accessible? Yes.

Walking Raven has the distinction of being the first place I reviewed for Westword. After my last visit, I wrote that "Walking Raven feels like that hippie [sic] kid's hangout in high school." Now, two years later, the place feels like that high-school hippy has moved on and is now in his first post-dorm house at a pot-friendly liberal arts college in Vermont.

Over the past two years, the shop has become a visible fixture on the corner of East Asbury and South Broadway. They have also taken on a few more pot-shop neighbors, including Little Brown House just across Asbury. If you've ever driven Broadsterdam in the last year and a half or so, you've likely noticed the ongoing price war between the two shops -- with both offering deals for $25 eighths or cheaper now and then.

Manager Luke, who didn't give his last name, said that there is some friendly competition amongst the MMCs, but that overall, everyone has been good neighbors. "We're definitely cool with the shops, but, yeah, it can be cutthroat. We're always keeping up on the specials, and someone is always undercutting each other."

The building itself has received a stucco facelift and turquoise paint job on all of the trim, though the dusty, pitted parking lot still looks about the same. Inside, though, layout changes have made it a much more patient-friendly experience. Back in 2009, when all of these pot shops were popping up, many were taking their design cues from shops in California -- where security glass and bullet proof windows are more prevalent. You'd step in to Walking Raven's main office (which was the former used-car-lot office, wood paneling and all) and hand over your paperwork before being buzzed back to a closet-sized booth, where you'd conduct business with a budtender on the other side of a novel-thick piece of plexiglass. At the time, the safety measures made sense to me, but in retrospect, it felt like they assumed everyone was a criminal.

Walking Raven has opened up a lot since then. Now patients step into a small, secured area to present their paperwork and are let back into a much more spacious dispensary. Walking Raven got rid of the claustrophobia-inducing bud window setup and has since gone with a wide-open glass bud counter. Otherwise, the shop still has the thrown-together look of my digs during my junior and (two) senior years as an undergraduate. Like a lot of the budget places, it has a well-worn feel to it. Fingerprint-smudged glass counters, trichome-hazed sample jars and the hodgepodge of posters and decorations on the wall.

There was one customer already ahead of me with a budtender, but a bro in a flat-brimmed New Era cap who was cleaning up behind the bar gave me the "What's up, dude?" nod, and I walked over to a clear spot on the counter. Buds are kept in tiny sample jars on the top, with no more than a dozen strains out on my visit. The sample jars were all hazy with trichomes after being used to often, so it was best to just pop the tops and check out the buds one by one.

The manager I spoke with said they used to have "a lot of different people" running their warehouse. Now things have been scaled back, and the shop has taken control of its herb farm with dedicated growers. I don't have pictures of what I brought home two years ago, but the herb in the shop now was easily better than what they used to have in stock. The OG cuts seemed to be dialed-in well, with a healthy look to the flowers and a spot-on smell.

At dude's suggestion, I made my way through a pungent Blue Cheese, a fruity Jack Flash that had a hint of the musky haze, and several sweet and tart OG cuts, including a very appealing Rascall sample. They also had lower-quality buds and shake from the same harvest selling for $25 an eighth. Aside from herb, they had a small assortment of edibles, mostly from EdiPure, and a few blends of hash and BHO. Nothing looked awful, but nothing caught my attention enough to want to take home. Signing up the shop as your caregiver will get you strains at $10 a gram. Non-members pay right around $40. All average prices for the quality, and tax is included.

Keep reading for pictures and reviews of the strains William Breathes took home this week. Sour Diesel In the sample jar at the counter, the emerald-green, fuzzy nuggets looked like they had been tumbling around in the jar for a while, though still with enough of a solid dusting of amber trichomes to be appealing. Popping the top off, it had distinctly Sour D smell to it that made it immediately more appetizing. Unfortunately, things dried out over two weeks or so in my medicine cabinet, and the buds I brought home lost some of their initial smell. But pinching the nugs in my fingers and crumbing them up in the palm of my hand a few weeks later, the tennis ball can-funk of the Sour D came rushing back. The buds dusted my desk with trichomes when cracked apart and burned smooth and full of flavor. Not a heavy buzz from an average-sized bowl, but enough to give me a bit of the stoner ADD for 45 minutes before things evened out into a mellow spaciness. Not the prettiest Sour D in Denver, but looks aren't everything. Hong Kong Diesel Very long, skinny calyxes on this cut that blended in with the leftover sugar leaves from the tight trim job. You had to look close to see the few burnt-orange hairs on the bud, but it had a heavy dusting of amber to clear crystals that popped in the right light and looked like minute caviar eggs attached to some seaweed under a scope. It did have a light odor of the generic hydroponic nutrient-rich smell broken up, but mostly, it was a salty, soy-sauce smell with the sweet notes of diesel when breaking it up. It it left my fingers with a waxy finish after rolling up a joint. The herb burned clean, but lacked the potency in taste that Walking Raven's Sour Diesel did. It had some of the lemony tartness, but mostly fizzled out to a more generic ganja taste in both a dry pipe and a joint. The high was uplifting to a point, but much more mellow than the Sour Diesel was overall. I didn't get the racing head buzz; rather it settled me into a relaxing, creative mood and gave me a light case of the munchies.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for our medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews in our Mile Highs and Lows blog and keep up with all of your ganja news at The Latest Word.

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