Medical marijuana dispensary review: Back to Boulder for a climb to 14er Holistics

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In "Mile Highs and Lows," Westword offers a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind the locked doors of marijuana dispensaries, whether they resemble swanky bars or a dope dealer's college dorm room. See our updated dispensary list here, and keep reading for William Breathes's review of 14er Holistics in Boulder:

14er Holistics 2897 Mapleton Avenue, Suite 800, Boulder 303-539-6525 www.14erHolistics.com

Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday Owner: Evan (did not give his last name) Owner's statement: "Our mission is to treat our patients' minds and bodies as a complex unit requiring far more consideration than the traditional medical community offers." Opened: February 2010 Raw marijuana price range: $12-14/gram Other types of medicine: Hash, tincture, lotions, assorted herbal treatments Patient services and amenities: Nutrition counseling, massage, yoga, substance abuse counseling Wheelchair access: Yes

Our take: I've been to Boulder to try out medical marijuana dispensaries only once before. Last winter, I visited the electric-lime Green Room, as well as the Greenest Green, which apparently is greener than anything else (and more expensive). There's no green in the 14er Holistics name, though. Nor is there green on the outside of the building, or the sign. There was some good green inside, however, and it didn't take much green out of my pocket to walk out with it.

The clinic is at the back of a long, narrow industrial complex northeast of downtown, just out of longboarding distance of the dorms. As you walk in, there's a wall-sized board directly to the right filled with customer comments and thank you notes. An asparagus-colored wall at the far end of the entryway is the only green shade in the otherwise blue-gray place. I walked in as a new patient (completely green, as it were) and one of the managers gave me the tour.

I told him that I had heard and read good things about the shop; he told me that it relies on word of mouth in the community for business. At that, a mop-haired customer in his early twenties who looked like he had already been well-medicated that day chimed in: "Dude, I tell people all the time to not be fooled by the prices. They come here and they don't go anywhere else." Good to see the place gets the green light from customers.

The waiting room featured a peaceful nature theme that wasn't too new-agey -- there's a fine line between decorating with tasteful photographs and paintings and recreating your strange aunt's cabin with howling wolf portraits hanging everywhere. There were no airbrushed lupines at 14er Holistics, though -- just pictures of mountain lakes, foggy redwood scenes and other assorted prints. Colorful chairs, tan leather couches and houseplants were spread out in the softly lit waiting room, making the place feel more like the lounge at a day spa than a dispensary.

For that matter, the shop doubles as a sort of spa, with two dedicated rooms for massage therapy. The management wanted to create a space where both employees and customers could feel comfortable. "I just wanted to make this place nice," my tour guide told me. "If I have to spend more time here than my own house, I want it to be nice."

The walls changed to bright yellows and red as we went back to the bud bar. The manager walked me back and went over the menu and labeling system while also offering both staff and patient recommendations. The herb was displayed on a brightly lit, white display shelf behind the chest-high counter. I saw -- but didn't use -- several magnifying devices to get a bug's eye view of the herb (hopefully not of any actual bugs). The jars are labeled with the strain name and a colored band. Red- and yellow-banded strains are from 14er's garden, and orange-banded strains are purchased from outside growers. Pricing is between $12 and $14 a gram, tax included. "I always tell people, don't let the price deceive you; the price totally reflects what it actually costs us to get it into the store," he said.

The manager spent about ten minutes going through several of the jars, including some Island Sweet Skunk, Banana Kush and a house strain called Monkey Bite. The jars' labels had pictures corresponding in some way with the strain names: a monkey biting someone's nose for Monkey Bite, Bananas on the Kush jar, etc. I later spoke with the owner, Evan, who said that the shop opened in February fully stocked from its own garden -- but demand is so strong that the 6,000 square-foot grow is expanding to meet the budding demand. Herb is dispensed in glass jars that are redeemable for fifty cents off per purchase -- a cool program that discourages throwing disposable pill jars into the landfill. I walked out with two cuts, both different shades of (you guessed it) green, and a half gram of butane honey oil.

Page down for product reviews/pictures.

Somango (SOMA's Mango)

This strain was fruity with a skunk finish to it out of the jar. Light green fan leaves with scraggly orange hairs were sticking out all over it, and it had an almost white appearance where the trichomes had built up. As the budtender suggested, when smoked, this indica-strong strain actually had more energetic sativa qualities. Burning it, I got a strong body buzz for about ten minutes before evening out with an uplifting head high. It was great relaxation for my eyes, and the tension was gone from my neck after fifteen minutes. It was a somewhat heavy hitter at first, but faded down to a tolerable level after an hour.

Great Northern

There was very unique, rubbery sweetness to the smell, with a nutty finish that reminded me of Cheerios. A more compact strain that the Somango, the Great Norther nonetheless had a fluffy popcorn-like texture with medium density throughout. I got a clean, energetic buzz from this; the strain is good for all-day use without making you feel geeked-out the whole time. For me, appetite increase was the main medical benefit from this strain -- and it kept me hungry throughout the day.

Sour Diesel Hash Plant Butane Honey Oil (BHO)

Also called Butane Hash Oil, this had a very good consistency and could be managed without bare hands getting tacky and messy. The yellow clay color became dark and cedar-spicy when pulled apart. On top of a bowl, the oil melted cleanly through and left the bowl thick and coal-like. Paddle hits of just the oil were clean and instantly medicating -- a good bang for the buck for people who don't want to smoke much to medicate strongly.

William Breathes is the pot pen name of our medical marijuana dispensary reviewer. You can read his bio here.

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