Medical-marijuana dispensary review: 420 Highways

This dispensary has closed.

As Colorado's medical-marijuana industry grows, marijuana dispensaries of all types and sizes are proliferating around the state. Some resemble swanky bars or sterile dentist offices; others feel like a dope dealer's college dorm room. To help keep them all straight, Westword is offering a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind these unusual operations' locked doors in "Mile Highs and Lows," a regular online review of dispensaries around the metro area and beyond. (You can also search our directory of dispensaries for one near you.)

This week, the Wildflower Seed reviews 420 Highways:

420 Highways 201 East Simpson Street, Building B Lafayette 303-665-1035

Hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Owner: Veronica Carpio Owner's statement: Before opening the dispensary, "I prayed a lot, honestly. God opened the door for me. I was born on 4/20. All my areas of experience have kind of converged." Opened: September 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $7 to $20 a gram; $35 to $50 an eighth. Other types of medicine: Hash tootsie rolls, candy, tinctures, hash, hash oil, caviar. Patient services and amenities: Regular specials, online ordering, delivery service, bodywork referrals, doctor evaluations on-site, ADA accessible.

Our take: When the brunt of winter is behind us and spring begins to breathe a little warmth into the earth again, I seek out pleasant spaces to enjoy the welcome weather. The little town of Lafayette in eastern Boulder Country is pretty this time of year, as flowers begin to emerge and the antique shops open their doors. The Coal Creek Trail in the south part of town is always beautiful and under-populated. I've witnessed majestic moments there, with horses roaming free against a backdrop of prairie and breath-taking mountain views.

Lafayette has a storied past. Its quaint old town, with rows of Victorian and prairie-style cottages -- some gorgeously xeriscaped and remodeled, some downright dilapidated -- holds the secrets of Colorado's coal mining history, and women feature prominently in some of those stories.

The town's founder, widow Mary Miller, raised six children while developing Boulder County's richest coal seam: The Simpson Coal Mine shaft was first sunk into the fourteen-foot-wide vein on her farm in 1889. She then sold 150 acres of her land, plot by plot, to miners and the like, naming the new town after her deceased husband, Lafayette. Mary later founded the community's first bank; she was the only female bank president in the world at the time. Later, when a 1927 coal miners' strike erupted into a massacre that left five Lafayette miners dead, another woman -- Josephine Roche -- stepped in and bought a controlling interest in her father's company, which owned many of the area's mines. Josephine improved conditions for workers, and her mining operation became the most labor-friendly in the nation at the time.

So it is a symmetrical twist of history, then, that the owner of 420 Highways is yet another wild western woman. Veronica Carpio, like the women before her, runs a smart operation, having opened the first dispensary in Lafayette just before a moratorium prevented others from following suit. Moratoriums in neighboring towns also sprang up, sending patients Carpio's way from around the area.

I've frequented this little dispensary since the very first day I became a notarized registry paperwork holder (I'm still waiting for that card in the mail...), and returned on one of the first nice spring days. The shop had been spruced up since the last time I was in, with a comfy, if thrift-store-esque, waiting area and a nicely reorganized dispensing room. A long wood-and-glass counter allowed two bud-tenders at a time to discretely accommodate patients, so although a steady flow of customers came and went that Sunday afternoon, the wait was not long and I never felt rushed at the counter.

The very knowledgeable budtender told me the specials of the day, including a sale on hash that worked out to $15 a gram. At home, I had a handful of mediocre greenhouse grass, so I figured some decent hash would be a nice way to make more potent use of what would otherwise be an emergency stash for times when I run out of cash and herb on the same day. The hash varieties, Carpio said, had been produced from Nederland greenhouse crops, via the ice-water method. I bought a soft, spongy Bubba Kush chunk of mind-numbing deliciousness, along with some Mr. Nice Guy hash (a practical favorite, due to the lovely taste and the able-to-work-pain-free-but-not-brain-dead high), some Honeycomb Keef and the Caviar, a splurge at $30 for a half-gram. But the budtender whooped when I ordered it, and the other tenders cheered on my choice.

The Caviar was a base of Sour Diesel nuggets saturated in a rich, tasty hash oil -- the kind of stuff that puts down even the heaviest toker with a few deep hits. My husband and I were headed home to work on our garden, and when I mentioned we were erecting a greenhouse ourselves, the entire staff cautioned us not to attempt any heavy lifting after consuming the Caviar. I promised we would save it for when our hard work was over, a reward for a job well done, and we did. It was well worth the wait, producing a steady, heady, relaxing high.

Some say Colorado's new marijuana economy is like the days of the wild, wild, West. Veronica Carpio and 420 Highways, then, should fit in nicely. "My family is in Lafayette. My ancestors were coal miners here," she said. And the history of Lafayette's wild, successful women continues.

Bonus Feature: How to Make Your Own Hash

It's easy to make your own hash if you have the right equipment. At the recent Colorado Cannabis Convention, I spotted the Boldt Bag, which is perfect for turning your trimmings and skuff into a treat that you will be enjoying in nearly no time at all. These bags are very similar to Bubble Bags -- I'm taking a giant leap here and assuming the "Boldt" is short for Humboldt County -- and after some haggling, I was happy to grab a set for $40.

Back home, I was soon crafting my own homemade bubble hash. I filled a brand-new bucket with the Boldt Bags and ice-cold water, then grabbed several handfuls of beautiful, dark green Romulan trim from my gifted-and-talented caregiver. I love to bake and normally use the trim for that purpose, but I was feeling a little maxed-out on my weight limit, so this was a nice way to experiment and condense my holdings at the same time.

After a deep breath (would this really work?), I tossed in the trimmings and covered the entire thing with ice cubes. Then I grabbed a huge wooden spoon and started stirring. And stirring and stirring. (Next time I'll use a hand mixer for a much higher yield and fewer aching muscles.) The bag set came with three screens: The 220 grade screen acted as the filter; the 73 produced a nice, light-green lump of trichomes, with barely any visible leaf matter; the 25 produced a fine, nearly white bubble hash that actually bubbled after it was pressed and dried.

I was quite proud of the results.

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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