Medical marijuana dispensary review: Boulder RX

This dispensary has closed.

Based on Boulder RX's location, pretty much in the heart of the tourist-trap Pearl Street Mall, I figured it would be another high-priced, low-quality bud shop relying on location alone to sell herb. But while the prices were high, everything else about the shop was much, much better than I had imagined it to be.

Boulder RX

1146 Pearl St. Boulder, CO 80302 720-287-1747 www.boulderrx.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $8-$15/gram, $30-$50/eighth-ounce, $150-$250/ounce. Members receive 10 percent off. Other types of medicine: Bubble hash, wax, shatter, cookies, candies, chocolates, pre-rolled joints. Online menu? Yes, but no prices are listed. Handicap-accessible? No.

Boulder RX is in a great spot, located just to the left of a head shop and just below a bagel store -- so pretty much anything you could need to accompany your bag of Chem's Sister is right within reach. The shop is down in the basement level off Pearl and Broadway, just out of the way enough to be inconspicuous, though I'm sure everyone knows exactly what goes on down there.

The waiting room is a funky triangular/oblong shape with a few couches thrown along the back wall and an acoustic guitar and some magazines to keep patients busy while they wait. I was the only person in during my visit, so I didn't get to spend much time in the cozy, subterranean space. After my red card and ID were checked and copied, I was buzzed through to the back dispensary, where the smell of high-powered cannabis instantly hit my nose.

The bud room itself isn't very fancy. A TV is hung on one wall, some shelves stocked with empty jars along another, and that's pretty much it. The real focal point, it seems, are the jars full of cannabis lined up on a shelf along the back wall behind the glass bud bar. But the space is clean, with blond birch wood panels lining the walls and a minimalist aesthetic that helps keep away any dungeon feelings from the basement storefront.

Only two staffers were in the shop during my visit: my budtender, Scott, and the owner, Aaron. Both greeted me warmly for being a first-time patient and were excited to show off the strains they had cultivated themselves out of the Boulder RX garden, describing everything with a slight stoney drawl that tells me they know their product intimately. There are also a few edibles, and the shop does carry hashes and concentrates. But for the most part, they seem to focus on their flowers.

Aaron admitted that if I had stopped by three years ago, I probably wouldn't have come back. He says he didn't have a clue what he was doing in the garden. Apparently, he got one between then and now, though, because everything he pulled off the shelves that was grown from Boulder RX's coco fiber, all-natural garden was top-tier quality. He was so pumped on his garden, he insisted that as a first-time patient, I take home a variety pack of half-gram- to full-gram-sized buds (hence the teeny nuggets in the pictures).

The jar of Amnesia Haze, for example, was filled with musky, almost chocolate-smelling mini-Christmas trees like the ones in the photo. The pretty, sugarcoated little nuggets had a lemony, fruity finish broken up and left my fingers sticky and stinky for a good hour after my session. Burned, the herb had a much more robust, earthy flavor than I expected, with the real nose-tickling haze flavors coming through on the tail end of the exhale. It's a very powerful and potent strain: Just a small bowl in the morning was enough to put my appetite into hyper-drive until well after lunch.

The shop also seemed to specialize in Chemdawg crosses, with a number of variations on the earthy, fuel-like strain, including a jar of Star Dawg with easily the most stinky, appealingly rubbery jet-fuel smell I've found all year. The single bud I brought home was sticky with resins and amber trichomes and was the perfect density thanks to a Kush-like conical structure. Broken up, it reminded me smell-wise of a brand-new pool float being blown up. That scent came through perfectly in the flavor, and the aftertaste alone made me want to smoke more. Medically, this sativa-leaning hybrid behaved more like an indica, putting me physically down for the count for about two hours after a hefty bowl. Mentally, the bud is a real mood elevator, and perfect for de-stressing at the end of the day.

Continue for the rest of the review, with more photos. Also worth noting was the Chem's Sister, with her similar bud structure and funk as overpowering as the Star Dawg. It treated me much better as a daytime smoke; it was more uplifting and energetic. I can already tell that one of these two will no doubt end up on my 2013 top-ten list.

Aaron also insisted that I take home some of the White Master Kush, which was down to the last quarter-ounce or so of buds. The sample I brought home was nowhere near as stinky or flavorful as the other strains, with a faint licorice tart on top of an otherwise heavy, hashy smelling bud. It was clearly well grown, though, with the tan and dark-green calxyes and sugar leaves looking like they were double-dipped in THC goodness. Smoked, the buds had more of the sugary, anise flavor I was getting from the smell through to the last, ash-white hit. A very stoney strain, the White Master Kush was the answer for my ongoing strained-back problems -- especially at night, when the extra potency was perfect for putting me to sleep and keeping me snoozing.

Basically, everything Boulder RX's budtender pulled from the garden looked and smelled amazing. I didn't even need to look at the bottom-tier, $40/eighth buds brought in from other shops. Why bother?

Unfortunately, all of that great chronic doesn't come cheap. In fact, it's quite the opposite. At the top-tier level, buds sell for $50 an eighth for non-members, with no price break if you buy in quantity. I know Boulder is a completely different market than Denver, but this is the second time in the last six months I've seen top-tier herb selling for so much money. Dropping all of the shelves down by 10 percent would put the shop into a more reasonable range.

Owner Aaron admits things are a little high and says he's trying to bring his prices down. But with only 24 lights in his garden, he says pricing is a part of keeping his limited herb harvest in stock. He says another grow facility is in the works, and prices should dip below $45 an eighth-once that's up and running. Middle-tier buds will run you $40 to $45 an eighth and $250 an ounce, tax included. At the low level, the shop sells wholesale-purchased strains for $35 an eighth and $200 an ounce. Signing the shop up as your primary center gets you $5 off on every eighth and $20 off an ounce.

But still, it's hard to argue with the outstanding quality of the flowers at Boulder RX. And to be fair, the shop does put a new strain on special daily, knocking things like the Chem's Sister or the Star Dawg down to $230 an ounce and $125 a half-ounce. Still, a visit here could break the bank if you're not careful. That said, I'll be back by here again the next time I make it to Boulder.

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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