Medical marijuana dispensary review: Bud Cellar on Santa Fe has bud, but no cellar

This dispensary has closed.

Given the cellar part of the name Bud Cellar (and my stoned imagination), I had grand visions of the shop. I imagined being led down a spiral staircase to a dank, stone-walled, dimly lit basement filled with chilled, curing jars of cannabis sitting next to aging cheeses and expensive wines. No such luck.

Bud Cellar

Location: 1450 S. Santa Fe Dr. (unit 102) Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Phone: 303-777-6644 Website: www.budcellar.com Owner: Ray Aguilar Opened: January 2011 Raw marijuana price range: $35 to $50 per eighth. Other types of medicine: edibles, hash, BHO, tincture Handicap accessible? yes

The shop is in a newish strip center off Santa Fe, surrounded by quick eateries and a liquor store. There's still a few vacant storefronts, so parking wasn't an issue even during rush hour. Employees should probably change the dispensaries carbon filters, because the smell of fresh cannabis being grown did more to lead me to the shop's back-corner location than the huge "Bud Cellar" sign hanging over the liquor store did.

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A woman greeted me from behind the glass, took my card and handed me a clipboard of paperwork to fill out. The small waiting area was bare bones, with earthy matte blue and green paint on the walls and a small flat screen rotating images of herb in one corner. The only thing that didn't work was the loud, smooth saxophone jazz playing overhead; it was like Kenny G playing on the far side of the room. The Bud Cellar's obviously going for an upscale feel, but you can still be classy while listening to KBCO.

I wrapped up the paperwork quickly and was buzzed through. The shop is all on ground level; it's well lit and features walls painted the same earthy blue as the waiting room. Stained concrete floors and minimal artwork on the walls give it a contemporary/industrial look. Behind the bud bar, several thousand watts of light poured out of an open doorway, illuminating the chest-high ganja plants responsible for stinking up the rest of the shopping center.

The custom wood bar has three glass display areas, two filled top to bottom with the shop's regular herb in jars and one with edibles, pipes and tinctures. Bud Cellar had a wide range of prices from $35 to $55, with members paying about $5 per eighth less than nonmembers. Prices were displayed on two flat screen TVs hung behind the bar, although my budtender made sure to tell me the price breakdown of every strain she showed me. The herb is kept in pop-top mason jars, so what you see is what you get. There was also strain-specific and micron-specific bubble hash selling for $25 a gram and one type of BHO earwax selling for $50 a gram.

The shop set aside separate rooms for "primo" grade herb as well as lower-shelf strains just to the left and the right of the bud bar. The idea, I guess, is to offer a sit-down, private consultation over the choicest nugs. But this must have sounded better in planning than execution, because the "Primo Room" was dark and closed off and all of the $50 to $55 top-shelf strains were out on the counter. Everything I saw, including the cucumber-green Pickle, was decent but no better quality than the regular strains; if anything, they'd been cured for a few more days. Fifty dollars I could pay, but I wouldn't spend $55 on any of the strains given the market out there right now. Unlike the top-shelf strains, the bottom shelf did not make the move to the main counter, but were kept in their own room. I didn't really venture over to see them until after I made my selection from the main counter. Even then, I only got a look at the leafy Triple Diesel selling for $35 an eighth at member prices.

For the most part, the strain selection was average -- with decent Blueberry, Island Sweet Skunk, Sour Diesel and several OG cuts. Everything looked like well-grown, warehouse-quality smoke, albeit without the super-distinct strain smells I hope for. What did catch my eye were the more unique strains they had, including several landrace strains -- ones that have grown naturally, without much human interbreeding. Back in the "old days," when marijuana in the U.S. was largely imported, locations stood in for strain names. But these days, with so much interbreeding of strains to create perfect indoor plants, you just don't see shops carrying true Cambodian, Mexican and Thai genetics of the sort Bud Cellar claims. The reality, is seeds from these strains are available online from breeders, and it's hard to guarantee their authenticity. But still, it's cool to see something different on a clinic's shelves.

Page down to see what old-school smoke William took home this week. Acapulco Gold: $45/eighth non-member "No stems, no seeds that you don't need, new Acapulco Gold is... badass weed!" I first heard this Cheech and Chong classic in junior high while driving to New Mexico for a ski weekend with my friend and his father. His dad thought it was hysterical and I just thought it was cool he was letting us listen to a comedy routine about weed. Either way, the little jingle stuck and I've been waiting to smoke real Acapulco Gold ever since. The buds I brought home were chunky and green, not unlike many cuts of Sour Diesel. They had a solid amber trichome covering and looked clean all over, except for one blade of one leftover sugar leaf that had a white, PM-looking dusting on it. It's odd, because I didn't see any popped ghost seeds that could account for the white dust. However, other leaves on the same fan were fine, as was the rest of the bud. The white spot is visible in the picture above. Beyond that flaw, the Acapulco had a very basic ganja smell with a light lemon finish. It burned smooth and clean in a bubbler, but went down best in an old-school joint. This strain was great for mood elevation with a very cerebral and enjoyable sativa buzz that didn't get too speedy. Thai Lights (Northern Lights x Thai Landrace): $45/non-member "Thai stick, man. You know, the stuff that's tied to a stick!" Once the Cheech and Chong quotes start coming, it's hard to stop them. While not a true landrace thanks to interbreeding with the Northern Lights, this cut smelled like pine sap out of the jar and had an enticing red hue. Tiny orange hairs wove in and out of the small but chunky calyxes on the leafy bud. No questionable white spots on this herb, just trichomes. Broken up, it had a light, musky haze finish to the sugary sweet odor. The resinous bud left my fingers tacky after rolling up a joint that quickly browned up with tar. I was expecting this to be the lesser of the two cuts, but I was really impressed by the rich, hazy taste and the spicy, rose-like smell it left in the office. The cut was surprisingly potent as well, leaving me with a Valium-like numbness in my body and in my head. Both the taste and the effects of this herb were perfect after dinner, when my belly is stretched and I just want to relax.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more dispensary reviews in our Mile Highs and Lows blog.

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