Medical marijuana dispensary review: A Cut Above in Denver

It's been a long wait, but May flowers eventually came -- at least here at Mile Highs and Lows. It's been a month of mediocre dispensaries (and hailstorms), leaving us with nothing but a few nice buds among a lot of slightly busted flowers while we wait to meet up with our caregiver next week. To restock the jars, we checked in with a place that did us well three years ago and seems to have kept up its standards since then.

A Cut Above

1911 South Broadway Denver, CO 80210 720-536-8965 ACutAboveMMC.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Raw marijuana price range: $8.50-$12/gram $20-$35/eighth-ounce, $140-$200/ounce. Non-members pay about 10 percent more. Other types of medicine: BHO, shatter, edibles. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

A Cut Above has been in the heart of "Broadsterdam" for years now. But somehow, it's not like the other bargain shops nearby. Part of that is because the center is set back off the street in the rear corner of a pot-heavy shopping center; there are two other dispensaries within spitting distance. But really, it has more to do with the quality of the buds on the shelf.

Parking in the lot is fierce between the dispensary next door, ACA and the yoga studio. But after a few trips around the block during yet another Colorado hailstorm, I snagged a spot and ran inside.

I hadn't noticed before, but ACA is in what seems to be a former auto repair warehouse -- and there are a few hints of its former life, including the garage bay doors out front and the industrial, exposed wooden beams supporting the old building. A Cut Above's space is huge, and the staff has done a good job of making the most of it.

After being buzzed through from the cookie-stocked foyer, customers walk into a general area of the patient lounge stocked with magazines. Just beyond the receptionist desk, a rack of clothes takes up another chunk of space, and the lengthy, handcrafted bud bar occupies a large portion of the room. It's clean, young and completely non-clinical. That is, unless the employees at your doctor's office play Tool (and if they do, I want to meet your doctor).

First-time customers get treated like a member, but I'm technically a returning customer after stopping by earlier this year to pick up edibles for a review in the Chronicle -- so I was put into the non-member prize zone and barred from buying private-reserve buds like the incredibly frosty and chunky Las Vegas Bubba Kush and the mind-bendingly crystal-coated buds of in-house cross Underdawg. They are the type of buds that make signing the shop up as your primary center worthwhile, since ACA sells to members at the completely reasonable price of $35 an eighth and $200 an ounce.

But again, I couldn't have those. As a returning non-member, I was stuck with the middle-tier buds. Not that it was a problem, really. The reserve buds featured some more rare cuts, sure, and they clearly had been cured and dried better to preserve the odors. But even though some of the mid-tier buds were a little bland, they all looked equally well-developed. Aside from a few staples, a majority of ACA's selection comes from either Colorado's New House Seeds or ACA's own crosses, which have produced some awesome results.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. The two samples I brought home from the $32/eighth (non-member pricing) mid-tier represented the best of both worlds -- although I could have probably closed my eyes and pointed at random jars and been just as happy with what I purchased. The two Legend of '91 phenotypes were both amazing, with a kush tartness to the smell; the Chem 4 was like huffing a diesel paint can filled with lemons (how Chem 4 should be); and the Killer Queen is still calling me to come back and buy at least a half-ounce. But the first to catch my eye (and nostrils) was the New House Seeds cross of Tang Tang and William's Wonder, dubbed Highway Man in honor of the great Willie Nelson and the Highwaymen.

Nelson himself would be uber-pleased with his namesake buds, which looked like neon-green fuzzy alien fingers. The strength of the flavor was a little disappointing, and it had a more general hashy taste out of a dry pipe and bubbler than the lemony-sweet cedar odors let on. Nevertheless, the buds were extremely potent. It would be hard to not be, with that much trichome-on-trichome coverage. Breaking them up left my fingers coated in sticky trichome pieces. And it was heavy. A few bowls of this was the perfect way to cap off a stressful evening of screaming, crying, dirty diapers and all the other joys that come with being a dad. Down goes the baby, then down goes daddy's stress and related muscle aches and pains.

There were two phenotypes of the Upgradde on display, with one batch of slightly wispy early buds selling on the low-tier shelf and another that was light-years better in the mid-tier range. I opted for the more expensive one, which was the obvious choice considering the chunky, trichome-coated buds. It was like someone had rolled them in sparkly amber powder. The smell wasn't too powerful out of the jar, but broken up, the buds let out a rich, thick, piney odor. A well-balanced strain, it was nevertheless potent, and three or four hits in the afternoon was a great way to get the appetite going for lunch and give me some buzzy energy for the rest of the day without sending me into the stratosphere.

As I mentioned, I visited the shop a few months back to purchase edibles, mostly because ACA's prices on things like Cheeba Chews and IncrEdibles bars are as good as you'll find anywhere in Denver, and the shop isn't too far from the Westword office. ACA doesn't have a huge selection or any (relatively) fresh-baked goodies like cookies and cakes. But that clearly isn't the shop's specialty. The focus is more on the smokable/vaporizable side of things, so don't come in expecting a smorgasbord of THC-laced foods.

A Cut Above does its own in-house wax extractions, and grams of blended wax that looked more like high-micron icewater-extracted hash were selling for $30 for non-members, $25 for members. More enticing was the strain-specific shatter oil from TC Labs (a group that made it to the tops of our Top Hash of 2013 list). The different strains on display looked like chunks of shiny sea glass made from varying shades of tan and brown bottles. Pricing wasn't awful at $50 a gram for non-members, but much better at $40 a gram for members.

Outside, the hailstorm had cleared. So had a May of dispensary jars left mostly unused, for that matter.

Read more reviews from Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic, William Breathes, in our Mile Highs and Lows blog, and keep up with all your Colorado marijuana news over at The Latest Word.

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