Not to get all pot-snobby here, but buying pot legally at a dispensary has gone from a completely mind-blowing unique experience to one I equate with all my other weekly errands. That's not to say I don't enjoy it, but I've found that I treat it along the same lines as a trip to the grocery store. And as with the grocery store, I've found that the best time to hit up a dispensary is during Broncos games. No crowds, no traffic, and you can usually get in and out in time to catch the other three quarters and be off the roads before the drunks leave the bars.
Altitude the Dispensary (West)
1568 South Federal Boulevard Denver, CO 80219 720-708-5428
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $13/gram $42/eighth-ounce, $254/ounce. Raw marijuana price range (members): $11/gram $36/eighth-ounce, $230/ounce. (A manager said prices for larger amounts would be getting lowered soon.) Other types of medicine: Edibles, wax, shatter. Online menu? Not for medical. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? Yes.
Altitude the Dispensary's west location, on Federal, is in what I assume was a former used-car dealership -- mostly due to the proximity to the dozens (hundreds?) of other used-car shops nearby, but also because the shop has more parking than it will ever use. There isn't nearly enough space in the shop to hold that many customers.
Patients and customers walk right into the lobby and have a full view of the dispensary behind the protective glass window separating them from the receptionist sitting in her little cubicle. I was buzzed back to the more comfortable (and warmer) waiting room to hang while the two people ahead of me finished. It's a tiny space, but the staff has made it feel comfortable -- just as long as you're not in there with more than one or two others at a time. Otherwise, hope your fellow pot customers are wearing deodorant, because you'll be getting cozy.
The place is dual-use rec and med, but most of the shop is still devoted to medical, with three-quarters of the shelf space and bud counter set aside for patients. The recreational side has a smaller setup on the left and fewer jars, although Altitude did have a decent selection of maybe two dozen strains of herb going for $50 to $60 an eighth. There was also the high-CBD strain Harlequin selling on the recreational side for $30 an eighth and $240 an ounce; for people wanting to try pain-relieving cannabis without getting a medical card, this is noteworthy. It's nice to see that patient focus still in place -- but I won't really be surprised if Altitude switches that around eventually, as most dual-use shops have done.
What I saw on the medical side looked great, but what I smelled was popcorn, permeating the inside of Altitude the Dispensary like a movie theater. Everyone knows that shopping for food while hungry is a mistake you pay for at checkout. Same goes for grocery-getting while high. I've now realized that shopping for pot while hungry is equally difficult. What started out as a budtender's snack between patients became my single focus: buy herb, then get home and make stove-top popcorn with butter while catching the game.
My thought process went all scattery. Sour Diesel...smells great. But is that butter top? Ooh, fluffy nuggets of XXX about the size of...popcorn. Ugh. Okay, how about the Popcor...I mean Purple Urkle....
Continue for the rest of the review and photos. Admittedly, some of the flowers seemed to have been put through an automatic trim machine on the "molest" setting and a few, like the Power Kush, had more hay smell than pot smell. But distinct aromas coming from the fluffy nuggets in the majority of the jars were enough to keep me interested. Notably, the Durban Poison had a fully developed odor and small green fluffy cloud buds. The Headband was also worth considering based on smell alone, though I ended up with the truly grapefruit Grapefruit Diesel instead.
I hate actual grapefruit, but I loved this strain. Broken up, it had a really complex smell in which grapefruit, orange and concord-grape odors mingled together with a pine skunk that came through well in a clean dry pipe and even better out of a bubbler. The frosted buds had a light green/yellow appearance in places, left my fingers tacky to touch, and burned down to a fine white ash every time. I love Diesel-based strains because they not only give me an uplifting buzz most of the time, but they also tend to work great for helping me get and stay hungry and curb light nausea without sedating me, and this was no exception.
The OG Bubba was probably my favorite-smelling strain in the shop, even if OG Bubba they weren't. The perfumed, sugary-sweetness of Flo to the smell was unmistakable -- even more so than the jar of actual Flo on the shelf. No big deal, though, as whatever phenotype of whatever buds they were provided a great smoke all week, pairing a wonderfully calming, relaxing body buzz with a euphoric, even-keeled head high. I went for this strain often after work to forget about the hassles of the day and to de-stress before dinner. Anxiety and light muscle relief were the main benefits. That and the incredible flavor from the buds, which couldn't help but put any cannabis enthusiast in a good mood. The buds were a little shwappy and small, but otherwise were something I'll trek back over to Altitude for in the future.
Edibles on sale in the shop included plenty of medicated foods at $8-$15 for multi-dose bars, candies or baked goods. Hash was limited to $35 waxes and $40 shatters; I skipped out on them this week, mostly because I didn't need the extra-strength potency.
In all, Altitude the Dispensary (West) is one of the best shops I've found on Federal, and definitely one that should be on your radar if you're used to going to the cut-rate shops further north on the boulevard.
Just be sure you eat first.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.