Medical marijuana dispensary review: Artisanal Medicinals in Denver

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It's not so much that Artisanal Medicinals looks sketchy from the outside. It's...ummm...okay, the place looks sketchy from the outside. It's in a forgotten corner of Denver that you probably only visited back in the day if you were buying paint, having a car repaired or spray painting murals at the communal permission walls. That's not to say it's a bad part of town; it's not. It's just commercial -- meaning there's a lot of commercial weed growing in nearby warehouses, including the one keeping Artisanal Medicinals stocked with hearty, stinky medical cannabis.

Artisanal Medicinals

2042 S. Bannock St. Denver, CO 80223 303-583-1358 Artisanal Medicinals Facebook.

Hours: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. Raw marijuana price range: $10/gram $35/eighth-ounce, $220/ounce. Members and first time patients receive discounted pricing. Other types of medicine: A few edibles, hash, BHO. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

Artisanal Medicinals' building is a squatty, tan brick building that, aside from the black "AM" logo over one of the windows, doesn't look any different than the other dreary, nondescript buildings around it. With the recent weather, the parking spots out front were muddy -- which matched the adjacent fenced-in lot, with its battered plastic greenhouse in one corner and large stalks and root balls of plants tossed out into the muddy middle of the property. All it was missing was a pissed-off, mean Doberman gnashing at the fence and a few shuffling homeless people to complete the stereotypical bad-part-of-town imagery.

Then you get inside, and it's nowhere near what you'd expect -- more like walking into a moody, dark art exhibit that showcases weed. Or a shoebox disguised as a clean, stylish dispensary. You walk in -- or rather are let in by whoever is taking red cards and IDs at the door -- and are basically sitting in the lap of the person ahead of you in line. And surprisingly, there were people in line, despite how difficult it was to actually find the shop, which opened less than three months ago.

There are no obnoxiously green color scheme or other obvious dispensary trappings, just a steel-gray paint on the walls and black-and-white chairs along one wall, with an end table stacked with pot mags in the corner. A large desk and filing cabinets take up the rest of the lobby/waiting room; a curtain separates it from the bud bar, which is less than ten feet away.

There's not much to the bud bar; you don't even need to turn your head to see the whole thing. It's three shelves stocked with square glass jars, each labeled with the strain name.

Edibles from EdiPure and CheebaChews are on the top shelf, and herb is kept on the two below. The hash selection isn't huge or diverse; the shop simply runs all of its trim together. EdiPure processes its $25/gram BHO, which looked clean and smelled like a chunk of mixed hash should, without any lingering chemical solvent odors.

I was more interested in the $12.50/gram icewater hash, which I was told was "dab-able" on a skillet or nail. It looked the part and was broken down into shiny, waxy pellets that melted and bubbled on top of a bowl or screen but didn't really hit the dab-able mark. Nevertheless, it's some of the best-produced icewater hash I've seen since I was up in Boulder a few months ago.

Considering there are two windows at the front of the west-facing building, both rooms were really, really dark. Spotlights hung in track lighting only lit half the space. That's not a huge issue when you're waiting around, but when you're trying to look at buds, it becomes a problem. So much so that the budtender handed me a flashlight with the first jar of some impressive Ogre 99. The buds smelled like vanilla frosting on a cupcake and were caked in trichomes.

My budtender was also the head grower, which was nice, because he was able to answer all of my questions about the buds and explain the center's grow. According to him, everything at Artisanal Medicinals is grown with natural and organic additives in either soil pots or an ebb-and-drain hydro system. He also noted that buds are hand-trimmed and cured for about three weeks before hitting the shelf.

Page down for the rest of the review and photos. Including the Ogre, my budtender's selections were all worth checking out, and several I still want to go back and grab, like the lemon-haze Critical Jack, skunky OG Chem Haze and a spicy phonotype of TGA's Ace of Spades. There was also a stanky-stinky Headband from Reserva Privada seeds. He wasn't that stoked on it due to the wispy, pod-like calyxes, but the richness in the odor was phenomenal. The harvest on hand now is the only batch of this phenotype, and the last of it as well; the mother's been scrapped for a 707 Headband that he says produces much larger, more pungent buds. The shop knows from solid genetics and certainly has a varied collection.

Artisanal Medicinal's Sour Joker really was an amazing-smelling flower, like a baby skunk sprayed with lemon furniture polish and rolled in fresh-cut-pine wood shavings. A mix of Amnesia Haze and East Coast Sour Diesel, the funk power was at near-Parliament levels. Very strong sativa appearance on the wispy, lanky, golf-course-green buds. The flavor was nearly identical to the smell, but with a much more pronounced haze finish. And it came through on every green hit, which was nice. But the buds I brought home also burned very harshly, ripping up my throat every time I packed a bowl -- even in a bubbler, which tends to knock the edge off of scratchy strains. Roughness aside, it burned to a fine white ash and had a sativa kick like a cup of strong black coffee. After buzzing around the house for 45 minutes or so cleaning up, I hit the pantry hard to curb the munchies it delivered.

I also ended up bringing home a strain the shop hopes to be known for: Bruce Banner #3. My budtender assured me that this was a cut given to him directly from the breeder and owner of the now-defunct Delta 9 Caregivers dispensary. A blend of Strawberry Diesel and (likely) Ghost's OG, this potent phenotype is very heavy on the kush characteristics, including the thick, pyramid-like structure on the buds themselves. There wasn't much to pick from in the jar, but my budtender sent me home with two crystal-slathered, well-dried buds that scoped clean and looked like miniature forests of amber-colored Velcro. Broken up, the buds had a strong, lingering lemony-soil funk that transitioned when smoked into a mild, earthy-strawberry tart flavor. Overall, it was a very good example of this unique strain, with a mellow, heady buzz great for the end of the day or after a huge meal.

Pricing is pretty mellow as well, with everything capped at $35 an eighth and $225 an ounce. First-timers and members get discounts, so I walked out with an eighth and a gram of hash for right around $40 and change. Even at full price, though, there would have been plenty worth taking home.

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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