Medical marijuana dispensary review: Budding Health blossoms from Peace in Medicine

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This dispensary has closed.

​​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 Budding Health.

Budding Health 2042 Arapahoe Street 720-242-9308 http://buddinghealth.net

Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday. Owner: Josh Stanley Owner's statement: "We consider ourselves the friendliest center in town, a wellness center as well as a dispensary." Opened: April 20, 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $35-$50 eighths, members receive a 20 percent discount. Other types of medicine: Kief, oil/kief "melters," hash, edibles. Patient services and amenities: Physical therapy, massage, yoga. Handicap access: Yes.

Our take: This dispensary was the subject of our first Mile Highs and Lows dispensary review, published on September 9, 2009, and on the surface, a lot has changed since then. For starters, it got a new name, dropping the hippie-dippy "Peace in Medicine Center" for the more approachable though equally tongue-in-cheek "Budding Health."

It has also undergone a physical makeover. The initial review, penned by a Westword staffer writing under the pen name Mae Coleman, said that "its mismatched furniture, Mexican-blanket tablecloths and Grateful Dead posters remind us of a post-grad's first attempt at home decorating." Most of that is gone, though, as is the stay-and-hang vibe. This was once a place where you could load up a Volcano vaporizer and medicate, but new laws against on-site consumption have put an end to that. One of the main rooms off the waiting area still holds a pool table and foosball table, but the lights were down and the door leading into that room was half-shut the day I was in.

Another noticeable shift is the change in focus. A year ago, owner Josh Stanley said the center was all about health and that the marijuana was "secondary" -- hence the emphasis on massage, alternative therapy and multiple health seminars. Of course, a year ago people didn't really know what a dispensary or wellness center should focus on if it wanted to stay in business.

Now it's pretty clear that marijuana -- the medicine -- has to be the main focus. So I was happy to see that Stanley has transformed the bud-bar setup from an old metal teacher's desk in a back room -- "a bit of a let-down," Coleman reported -- to the focal point of the dispensary. A large, three-window bar now stands right in the middle of the room, sacrificing patient privacy for what are likely quicker transactions.

Still, some things haven't changed. One manager I spoke with said the shop still offers free massage and physical therapy for its patients. The sign out front still says "Peace in Medicine," and the place clearly still moves a lot of herb.

After filling out some paperwork on the couch, I was called over to the tiled bar by a tall blond woman working the counter. She introduced herself and asked what kinds of meds I was looking for, quickly suggesting the Green Crack when I said I favored sativa and sativa-heavy strains for nausea and cramping. She also suggested blending two strains, including some Purple Kush -- but neither were as good as the "GC," as it was labeled.

I didn't get to check out too many other strains, as only a few were in the small, display-size jars. The rest were stacked on the industrial shelving behind the bud bar, just far enough away that I couldn't get a good look. What I could see looked to be about what you'd expect from what our previous reviewer aptly described as the "SuperTarget of healing experiences" in the metro area. Not bad quality, but nothing seemed to be at connoisseur levels.

The managers I spoke with said many of the changes at Budding Health, including moving the bud bar, were due to picking up a lot of first-time patients over the last year. The managers also said they are starting to get their grow setups in line, and admitted they didn't always have the best-quality herb around. "We're able to do perpetual [grows] of our top strains now," one said. "We have much better control over the product. It's much better than it used to be."

Page down for the product reviews.

Green Crack Very dense, compacted herb that I was told was not-so-organically soil-grown. It was much better than what was regularly on the shelves a year ago, but was still about what you'd expect from a place that is essentially the McDonald's of ganja. Out of the bag, It had a strange, basil-like scent with a tangy, citrus punch; when burned, it had a light, skunky taste. It was also a bit harsh and could have been flushed better. (One manager said they have an organic version of the Green Crack from time to time that is better.) For me, this had an ADD-like squirrelly high, but I mellowed out quickly and was soon immensely hungry. Melters The best buy of my visit was the hash oil/kief mixture that Budding Health calls "melters," which the budtender said was made from the dispensary's blended oil and keif. In the jar, it had a honey-like, wet-brown-sugar smell; on top of a bowl and in the vaporizer, it left a sweet, perfumed finish to the smoke. As the budtender warned, a little bit goes a long way: I found that just a nail-head-sized piece was more than enough to calm down my pains and anxiety. It was just $45 a gram, and I've seen other dispensaries that carry this stuff -- sometimes called jelly and (incorrectly) peanut butter -- for as much as $60 a gram.

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

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