Medical marijuana dispensary review: 3D Denver's Discreet Dispensary

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Denver's Discreet Dispensary is anything but discreet. Though the huge, old, brown-brick industrial building it occupies off Brighton Boulevard does blend in with the warehouses, auto body shops and junkyards that surround it, the huge green crosses on the front and the smell of skunk in the air from the grow-room vents are a dead giveaway as to what is going on inside.

3D Denver's Discreet Dispensary 4305 Brighton Blvd. 303-297-1657 http://www.3dmmc.com Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Owner: Toni Fox Opened: November 2010 Raw marijuana price range: $20/$35 per eighth for members, $25/$40 for non-members. Other types of medicine: Wide range of edibles, hash, hash oil. Handicap accessible? Yes.

I stopped by the shop after seeing pictures of its waiting room, featuring a window allowing patients to get a look into one of the MMC's grow facilities. I've been to shops that have left the doors to grow rooms open, but this was unique. As noted, the shop is pretty easy to spot, and parking doesn't seem to ever be an issue, as the place is surrounded by acres of blacktop lots.

The owners said they didn't want to give it the stigma of being illegal or criminal, so they eliminated the appearance of harsh security, including bulletproof, glass-encased receptionists and interrogation-room-like waiting areas. When you walk into Discreet Dispensary, you are walking into the actual dispensary.

After greeting me, the receptionist at the desk to my right handed over a clipboard of paperwork to fill out. I didn't see anyone puffing away on a Marlboro or any smoke lingering in the air, but the shop reeked of cigarettes. For all I know, the smoking area is beneath the intake for a vent fan. Either way, it was overwhelming if you're like me and get grossed out by the dingy smell of stale cigarette smoke.

Paperwork completed, I was given a brief tour of the dispensary by one of the employees. I've been to plenty of dispensaries with large, nice lounges before, but at nearly 2,000 square feet, Discreet Dispensary has easily the most gargantuan waiting area I've visited. It has more square footage in this particular space than I do in my entire house, but the owners have done an excellent job of making it feel like a cozy mountain cabin.

The shop is decorated with Southwestern rugs, mountain-landscape paintings and a large, beautiful shot of Denver with snowcapped peaks in the background. The room was warm, with sunlight from the massive skylights in the ceiling bouncing off the hardwood floor. A few other patients were sitting on the couches, reading magazines.

All shop owners will tell you they wanted to create a spot for patients to feel comfortable and hang out, but talking with Discreet Dispensary manager and grower Mike Marley, I got the feeling he meant it. He said he hoped the shop would not only serve as a dispensary, but also as a community center where patients can learn about the plant together. The folks at Discreet Dispensary have done a good job of that, and if medicating were still allowed on site, I could see this being a big patient draw.

My tour guide led us to the back of the store, where the huge grow room pictured on the website can be seen. There were four or five windows cut into the long wall, including one lower than the others for wheelchair patients. The herb in the room was still lanky and in early flower, but that much herb is always quite a sight. I've seen dozens of large grows over the past few years, and each one has been as impressive as the next.

Finally, we made our way over to the bud-bar room, which was just off the main waiting area. To the left as you walk in is a large, mirror-backed bar area with four or five large shelves. Filling them were nearly sixty large apothecary jars full of pre-weighed, sealed bags by the gram, half-eighth, eighth and quarter. Marley later told me the grow uses 100 percent organic soil, and everything is done on site at Discreet's two grows.

Sample jars with a few grams of each strain were kept in the two glass-and-wood cases across the room, opposite the bar. I told the budtender my preferences, and he pulled out his picks from the top-shelf, $40 range, including the Alaskan Ice, an orange Chemdawg and Killer Queen.

All three were touted as being some of the best in the shop by the budtender, but none were anywhere near impressive. Most looked like trim-machine-tumbled pebble nuggets, and they all lacked any real discernable strain smells. I sniffed through several other jars, including the OG Kush and Sour Diesel cuts -- two strains that should have an undeniably unique range of smells to them -- and all I got was a dull, barnyard scent.

The day I was in, there were only four or five discounted $25/eighth strains, and two were heavily seeded. The Chocolope looked more like a mini-grapevine than herb plant, with all of the seed pods. The dispensary also had not-very-appealing in-house BHO that was the color and consistency of used 30-weight motor oil. I ended up taking home two of the budtender's first suggestions, the Killer Queen and the Alaskan Ice, though I really wanted to walk out without buying anything.

When I told this to Marley on the phone yesterday, he told me the Sour Diesel had come from a vendor, and since my visit, all the strains I mentioned have been put down to the $25 level. I think that's an appropriate price for that level of quality.

Marley said he finally got around to testing a lot of the strains that had made their way to the shelves, and they weren't up to his standards -- even the Alaskan Ice, which the budtender said was being featured in an upcoming edition of Kush magazine. Marley also pointed out that the shop will return any herb that doesn't satisfy a patient. I haven't been back to check, but its two-day-old menu on Weedmaps.com lists strains like the not-so-sour Sour Diesel, Killer Queen and Alaskan Ice at $40 an eighth.

Page down for reviews and photos of the meds. Alaskan Ice: $40/eighth (when I was in the shop) I didn't pick this one, the budtender did. He told me it was the dispensary's top strain and that it offered a super-potent buzz. He was not right. And that's not just my take on it; head grower Marley agreed that it was subpar, which is why it's since been relegated to the $25 shelf. It had a hay-like smell with a hint of gamey ungulate, not unlike the camel pen at the Denver Zoo. It was trimmed tight, likely by a machine, and then compressed in the tight plastic baggie. I didn't see anything offensive under the microscope, save a few mangled trichome heads. Despite the improper cure to the herb, it burned surprisingly smooth and down to a nice white ash, telling me that it was at least flushed well. Genetics are strong on this, and I did get an uplifting buzz for about 45 minutes before it tapered off. Killer Queen: $40/eighth (when I was in the shop) Unlike the Queen song, I would not recommend this Killer Queen at any price. Killer Queen has been one of my top strains for two years running, ever since a friend brought over his first harvest of it for my birthday one year. To say I'm a huge fan would be an understatement. Nothing has been better for easing cramping and pain for me. The sample buds in the jar weren't much better than what I took home, so I can't say I didn't know what I was getting. But it was still disappointing to bring home underdeveloped, wispy buds when I know how luscious and big this queen can get. A light, piney scent to this, but mostly just a wet hay smell from being rush-dried and uncured. Broken up, it had a bit of hippie body-odor funk, but nothing strain-specific that I could notice. I did find three fully developed seeds in my half-eighth, which makes this the third completely seeded strain the shop was selling the day I was in. Having that many seeded strains tells me the folks there don't have their grow in as much order as they say. If there was such a thing as light versions of strains, like with beer, then this would be KQ Light: not as strong and not as full of taste as the original.

William Breathes is the pot pen name of Westword's medical marijuana clinic critic. Read more from him here in our Mile Highs and Lows archive.

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