Medical marijuana dispensary review: Botanico Care in Denver

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Although they snagged their renovated, turn-of-the-century storefront on Larimer Street during the Great Dispensary Rush of 2009 at close to the last minute, the owners of Botanico Care say that over the past two years, they've grown to love the RiNO arts district.

And the neighborhood is full of patients they consider regular customers.

Botanico Care

3054 Larimer Street Denver, CO 303-297-2273 Botanicocare.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

The waiting room is spacious and sparsely decorated, with an L-shaped leather couch in one corner and various pieces of abstract art and photography from local artists hung around the brick and yellow-painted walls. Other touches, like leaving the wooden ceiling beams exposed and using stained concrete as flooring are in keeping with the industrial-turned-residential feel of the neighborhood.

Later, Melissa, one of the Botanico owners, said that their reason for opening the shop was to create a clean space in which an older crowd would feel comfortable. "As a cardholder prior to this, I'd gone to number of shops that resembled frat houses," she told me. "I grew up working in restaurants, and to me, cannabis is a consumable product. So cleanliness is very important."

I stopped by during a slow time at the shop. The two employees were relaxing at the receptionist counter, reading books and listening to hip-hop over the Internet. I handed my paperwork to one of them and checked out the meager selection of glass pipes, vaporizers and bamboo bongs in a glass display case next to the corrugated-tin receptionist counter. The glass wasn't anything amazing, but the prices were cheap, with small spoon pipes selling for around $10. After the minute or two it took to get my information entered into the system, my budtender walked around the counter and led me toward the back of the shop.

Botanico isn't just a medical pot outlet. While many dispensaries have let other patient services fall by the wayside, Botanico still has a dedicated room for massage, rolfing, shamanic healing and even a detoxing foot bath (whatever the hell that is). While I'm not the type of person who goes to my local pot shop for a massage, Botanico had a clean, neighborhood health-spa vibe about it that could make me reconsider my position.

The bud bar room is a small, single-counter operation with about a dozen jars of different strains on the top shelf, $15 to $30 hash and concentrates on the shelf below and a few assorted extras like pre-rolled joints and big, fat pre-rolled blunts with chunks of buds spilling over the top. To the right of the bud counter is a small glass display of edibles from companies like Edi-Pure, Cheeba Chews and Marqua on top of a cooler full of THC-infused drinks from Dixie. Prices are posted on a small board hung on the wall to the left of the bud counter. Buds start as low as $20 an eighth for non-members and is capped at a very reasonable $25 and $200 an ounce. Signing the shop up to grow for you gets you specials at $20 an eighth and $160 an ounce. The owner said that the center primarily grows in coco fiber with a combination of nutrient "cocktails."

Strains like the Lamb's Bread, Cindy '99 and ATF were all good-quality, some with more strain-distinct smells than others, but all generally worth the price at $25 an eighth. Some, like the Golden Goat and Killer Queen, looked great but lacked an olfactory punch when I opened the jar. Discounted strains like the Violator Kush were wispy and underdeveloped, but selling for $20 an eighth somewhat redeemed them. Others, like the Black Bubba and the Chem 4, were not right. The underlying rubbery sweetness they should have was accompanied by a nose-turning funk somewhere between fresh-turned soil and the hot insides of a carved pumpkin. Even the budtender admitted that the Chem they had on the shelf -- usually one of her favorites -- was nowhere near on point.

Strain-specific bags of shake sell for $12.50 an eighth, or about half of what buds sell for. From what I saw, the bags held loose bits of buds, calyxes and sugar leaves as opposed to pure trim, and would make some decently strong butter or cooking oil -- or even smoking for those of you trying to stretch your weed budget. In-house bubble hash sold for around $15 a gram and was divided up into indica-heavy, hybrid and sativa blends. Botanico also carried BHO from Mahatma Extreme Concentrates, which comes with a detailed card listing all ingredients used in plant production.

Patients are served one at a time to ensure privacy, which is a great thing for those of you uncomfortable jockeying for space at a busy bud bar. Unfortunately, that also means a backup in patients can develop. By the time I walked out to pay at the front counter, there were three people in line behind me all staring at me with a 'Did you have to take so damn long?' look on their faces. My apologies, fellas. In all, I walked out with an eighth of herb I enjoyed smoking over the last week, plus a half-gram dab of oil that I was still working on as of this morning.

Page down for strain reviews and photos. Lambs Bread: $25/eighth Tapping into my inner Rasta this week, I went with this strain and its reported Jamaican heritage. In Jamaica, the term "lamb's breath" was used to describe high-grade ganja (pronounced "lamb's bret" in Jamaican patois, hence the Anglicization to "bread"). Countless reggae artists have sung its praises, and its myth includes rumors that Bob Marley himself favored this sativa-strong island strain. All that (and the odds that this strain likely isn't true Jamaican landrace) aside, what got me were the big green buds swarming with tiny dots of trichomes and the sweet, skunky and almost Kushy smell out of the jar in the shop. At home, the first bud I broke open dropped a big, fat seed out on my desk. I'm not complaining here, as the rest of the buds were pure sensi, and I ended up with some new genetics to add to my growing collection of unintentional beans. I would certainly give this a whirl if I were growing. Decent flavor with an almost stereotypical ganja aftertaste, but it inspired the meal-destroying sativa appetite I look for in my herb and packed an uplifting and energetic buzz to boot. Great for dinner and the movie afterward. Maybe a little too dry, and it burned very quickly in a spliff, but otherwise a very good buy this week for the $25 price tag. Killer Queen: $25/eighth To quote Freddy Mercury, this strain is "guaranteed to blow your mind" (cue Queen). One of my all-time favorite strains from my former caregiver, I've always used the KQ for bedtime relief of cramping, nausea and, most important, to put my ass to sleep. Botanico's Queen wasn't quite up to the basement-level grow standards I'm used to, but it wasn't a bad example, either. The Queen had well-developed buds with stacked calyxes and tiny, curly orange pistils that give the bud an orange appearance at first glance. There was nothing notable about the smell out of the jar, but it was very fruity when broken up -- like a rum punch with extra grenadine. Flavor was mild with a lightly sweet aftertaste. This is a relaxing strain that takes over the body pretty quickly, and it left me with a cold-medicine-like floating-head feeling for a few minutes after my bowl. Clean-burning, affordable and strong, it's recommended at the price. Wanna try? You wanna try. Tangerine Dream honey oil (Mahatma Extreme Concentrates): $15/.5 grams. This is the first I've seen from the Mahatma Ganga company. The owner I spoke with at Botanico said she only recently paired up with Mahatma but has been very pleased with the company's work so far. The Tangerine Dream oil I brought home had a great waxy consistency and a eucalyptus-citrus aroma to the penny-sized dab. It burned clean on the skillet with a taste nearly identical to the smell. Very potent, and only a small amount set my stomach right for at least three hours in the morning, when I feel the most pukey.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. New reviews are out every Thursday at 4:20 and you can read past reviews in our Mile Highs and Lows archive.

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