Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Cannabis For Health in Denver

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For being so out in the open, the dispensary is really quite hidden on a small retail stretch of Pearl Street at East Alameda Avenue, anchored by a convenience store across the street that doubles as the cash-only dispensary's ATM. I've probably driven past it 1,000 times in the last five years and never noticed the tiny, two-story gingerbread house -- which I realized instantly was a real shame when I finally stepped inside. See also: Five Years Later at Walking Raven in Denver

Cannabis for Health

285 South Pearl Street 720-542-3437 CannabisForHealth.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $11.15/gram $23.23/eighth-ounce Raw marijuana price range (non-members): $12.08/gram $32.52/eighth-ounce Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, kief, hash, edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks. Online menu? Yes (you can even order online). Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? No.

I parked down the street in front of someone's house and meandered along the sidewalk and through the front door; the smell of ganja wafted around the tight little hallway. Bathrooms were up the narrow stairs and the lobby was to the left, in what had once been a living room. I was taken aback by the eight other people already waiting to get back and buy meds, but figured if the line was that long the place must be worth it. I muttered something sarcastic about everyone else getting the same invite for the party, which drew sideways looks from the aloof kid on the couch and a blank stare from the one other person over the age of thirty, who was working on his crossword puzzle.

After college, I had a friend who would call four or five of us over to his house in Boulder to each buy a few ounces after he picked up pot from his grower friend up in the hills. A few hours later, his apartment living room would be packed with guys crammed on couches, taking bong hits, picking over old Cannabible books and playing with Nug the dog while waiting as bud got weighed out.

The nineteen- and twentysomething-year-olds in the lobby of Cannabis for Health all anxiously waiting to get the latest shatter in from Green Dot, White Mousse, The Lab and TC Labs reminded me of those days.

The bearded hipster with plugs in his ears was cheerful for how busy the shop wasy; from behind the glass wall, he asked me how my day was going. I filled out a clipboard of information, handed it back and took the first empty spot that opened up, dropping nearly to the floor on a leather couch so worn that ARC would have a hard time giving it away for free. I looked around the dark, tinywaiting room and couldn't find much to read but a six-month-old Time magazine. But for all of that, the place felt homey, cozy and welcoming, especially with the cold blast outside. It wasn't clinical, but it didn't feel run-down, either -- just worn-in.

People in the waiting room knew each other, and talked about tagging each other on Instagram photos of sick glass pipes and bubblers; I got the impression that they meet there occasionally to buy shatter -- which the dispensary apparently had a reputation for. A small chalkboard set up in the old fireplace listed a menu of shatter from some of the most well-known and well-respected concentrate companies in Colorado, like Green Dot, White Mousse, The Lab, TC Labs and Native Roots.

Despite the crowd, things went by pretty fast -- I think the people ahead of me had all called ahead to see what the latest shipment was. They were going into the back in groups of two or three, and I ended up waiting only five minutes before someone called my name and I headed to the skunky and tiny bud bar. Bud was slightly obscured through the glass cabinet and glass jars, but I could still see instantly how good the herb was. Buds were in huge, shiny chunks and jars were filled to the brim without much shake. My budtender was a smart guy; without my asking, he rattled off strain lineages for things like the Canatonic, Glass Slipper, Trainwreck and East Coast Alien -- all super-fine examples that looked like someone had sprayed green and tan nuggets of gems with glue and then rolled them around in tiny glass crystals. The Flo was also some of the best I've seen all year, and I thought the Durban Poison was some sort of alien-morph of that strain with supersized calxes stacked on top of each other. They were dense and thick with a chunky, Kush-like appearance but a full Durban spice smell. Page down for photos and the rest of the review.

The shop also had some waxy-looking Harlequin that hadn't been tested specifically, but it is known as a high-CBD strain and my budtender said samples from their grow have tested out at a 1:1 ratio with about 10 percent CBD and 10 percent THC. Heavy stuff. And it all went for $35 an eighth for non-members and $25 for members, $20 on Tuesdays. They also sell their concentrates at a ridiculuously low price. There are grams of trim-run shatter for $15 or $20 and grams of bud-run for up to about $40, but most are around $30 a gram. All of the shatter and waxes were on display in small, clear vials on the top of the counter, making it easy to figure out which one you wanted to take home. At my budtender's suggestion, I went with the mind-blowingly racy Durban Poison bud-run from Cannabis For Health buds made by White Mousse.

The result? I hadn't been this high in a while, actually. There were uncomfortable levels of speedy anxiety at points that, at points, I could only alleviate by going on a mad-dash cleaning spree in my basement and raking/blowing every single piece of yard debris from my back yard before my in-laws came to town. The flavor was intense, too, like sucking on a peppery plant of Durban. The golden amber chunks evaporated on my titanium nail, leaving nothing behind. Best of all, it kicked my appetite into hyper-drive.

I now have my portable oil rig and torch packed up for Thanksgiving dinner with my brother-in-law: The Durban is my secret weapon in my war against the turkey.

As for the bud, it was as potent as it looked in the shop. In fact, it's been a while since I'd gotten a good buzz off of just bud, like I got from my first bowl of the rubbery, tart Rare Dankness OG. This cut is the basis for a lot of the original Rare Dankness stuff, and examples like this make it clear why Scott kept it around. Great floating headbuzz with noticeable pain relief within the first ten minutes of puffing lasted for a solid two hours before tapering off. The flavor wasn't completely overwhelming, and I think it had something to do with the flushing; what I didn't catch in the shop was a light but noticeable fertilizer odor lingering on the buds, namely the Rare Dankness. It wasn't anything offense, but it shouldn't be there and all it takes is a little more time and care.

The Lavender Jones, though, was spiced orange rind through and through. This Soma Seeds staple was an enjoyable indica-leaning hybrid puff for the week that helped balance out the speedy Durban shatter oil I'd brought home. The buds broke down, leaving my fingers sticky to the point of needing an alcohol-rub and smoking down to a fine white ash. That's not to say they couldn't have been flushed better; I got a slightly chemy aftertaste from the buds every few bowls. But at $25 an eighth for members and $35 for non-members, it's the type of bud you won't need to smoke a lot of -- but you'll end up doing so, anyway, because it was just that good.

I left $70 lighter and walked out with a quarter-ounce of bud and a gram of some of the best concentrates I've found all year. But I doubt I'll be back to this shop. Not because of any problem with the bud or the shatter, though. According to my budtender, Cannabis for Health is moving to a new, larger shop out west on Colfax.

One that I'll find much, much faster than I did the original.

Read more reviews from Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic, William Breathes, in our Mile Highs and Lows blog.

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