Medical marijuana dispensary review: Back to the Garden in Denver

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Back to the Garden is in a cool spot on South Broadway, well north of the epicenter but still situated in the funky confines of Antique Row. Unfortunately, someone has apparently had their back to the garden instead of being back in the garden.

Back to the Garden

1755 South Broadway Denver, CO 80210 720-583-2119

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. seven days a week. Marijuana prices for members: $25 for 3.5 grams, $160 ounces. Taxes not included Marijuana prices for non-members: $30-$35 for 3.5 grams, $175 ounces. Taxes not included. Online menu?: Yes. http://legalmarijuanadispensary.com/dispensaries/colorado/glendalewa-park-west-dispensaries/6128 Handicap-accessible?: Yes.

The storefront is in an old strip center on South Broadway, and it's among the smallest shops I've visited. The entryway/lobby/reception desk area has just enough room for three or four people, and that's assuming you've all become comfortable enough to sit hip to hip on the antique-style fainting couch across from the reception window.

The place is clean and simple. Decorations are minimal in the gray-and-white waiting room, limited to a few mass-produced Italian wine posters that college girls buy at Target and put up in their first apartment. But whatever: Traffic on South Broadway is infinitely more interesting to watch, and the entire storefront affords that view from inside.

A board with pricing on it was well placed near the receptionist desk, so I got a good look at what the center had to offer while I waited for the budtender to copy my ID, red card and paperwork that I was asked to fill out. Members get their first eighth for $10.99 plus tax. Otherwise, non-members are capped at $35 for an eighth and $175 for an ounce. After watching cars on Broadway zoom past while people in front of me took care of their business, I was let in through the security door to the bud bar.

Back to the Garden had the same problem I encountered recently at Buds4You: The smell of sweet, sweet cannabis was overpowered by some fruity air freshener -- or that's what I thought. It just as easily could have been that the budtender was wearing way too much perfume that day. Either way, it reminded me of being back in high school, when girls smoked cigarettes off campus at lunch but thought nobody could tell because they doused themselves in body spray and hand lotion before they made it back for last period.

Same here. Not that I'd want the place to smell bad, but if your customers can't handle the aroma of herb, they probably shouldn't be using it as medicine. And either way, it was hard to get past the scent of Herbal Essence or whatever it was floating around the shop and actually get into the smells from the jars.

Of course, that was also partly due to the bland odors emanating from the leafy buds inside.

Buds are kept in Mason jars in one of two glass counters. Sample jars with individual nuggets are set on top of the counter for easy patient access. I really dig this setup, because it lets patients pick and choose without feeling like they are overwhelming a budtender. To the left of that counter is another, smaller glass display with edibles, pipes and topical lotions.

Page down for the rest of William Breathes' take on Back to the Garden, including bud reviews and more photos. The day I stopped by, Back to the Garden's stock was dwindling. Apparently, the MMED website has been down, and staffers weren't able to bring in their reserves, because every gram of marijuana being transported has to be registered with the state. Not the shop's fault, but I also don't think that having a greater selection would have been that much of an improvement over the meds on the shelf. Buds like the Island Sweet Skunk and the Afghani were enough for me to pass over on looks alone, and the leafy AK looked like a shaggy dog.

Just a half-step up in quality from jars of shake (well-priced at $4 a gram) was the skinny and leafy Sour Diesel. The buds had almost no smell to them other than a musty, old jacket scent. Very small calyxes, blond to white pistils (hairs) and low trichome development didn't do much for the potency, either. It took a few bowls of the bland, hay-like herb for anything to really click upstairs, and by then, I had moved on to some stashed-away homegrown Tangerine Haze.

The Chemdawg was more fully developed than the Sour D, but it suffered the same bland fate. Opening the baggie after a few days let out an unwelcome hay-bale smell. Broken up, the sample gave off a completely uncharacteristic Dove soap smell instead of the sweet, soil-like goodness of a Chem pheno. No taste to speak of, and it burned harsh through the initial hit for strike three.

The Blackberry Kush smelled like someone dropped a blackberry-flavored blunt wrap in the harvest and let it sit through curing. Even after a few days out of the shop, the buds still smelled artificially fruity. It smoked cleaner than the other strains, with a less harsh burn than the Chemdawg and more flavor than the Sour D -- even if it was just a generic ganja taste. The dusting of amber trichomes throughout made it the most potent of the bunch, too. But this was really as far up as their top shelf went, and I've been to other shops lately selling better buds for the same non-member prices.

There wasn't any hash to choose from other than the Moon Rocks brand BHO that a number of shops carry. I have tried some from friends and haven't been impressed enough to pick it up for a review, especially at $40 a gram plus tax -- the price at Back to the Garden. Otherwise, the budtender told me that the shop normally carries hash and kief.

Edibles selection was pretty damn good, though. It's mostly stuff from vendors like Dr J's, Cheeba Chews, Edi-Pure, Dazy's and Gaia's Kitchen. But the center also had a few I hadn't seen before, like the Healthy Creations mini-s'mores with 100 milligrams of THC in them, and the new lozenges from Cheeba Chews called Trics that have 275 milligrams of different cannabinoids in them, including 70 mg of THC. Prices were under $10 for all but a few 200 milligrams-plus goodies.

As I mentioned, first-timers get their first eighth for $10.99 plus tax. The downside is that anything else you buy in that visit goes straight up to non-member pricing. As I mentioned, the shop keeps things extremely low, and members walk out the door with everything at $25 an eighth or $160 for an ounce. But for now, someone needs to get back into the garden before I get back to Back to the Garden.

Read more medical marijuana center reviews from our in-house cannabis critic William Breathes over at Mile Highs and Lows and keep up with all of your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.

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