Medical marijuana dispensary review: Cannabis Station

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I've always been impressed with the way the Cannabis Station took over an old automobile service station without forgetting its past. For example, the old sign out front that once displayed prices for gallons of diesel now shows prices for ounces of Sour Diesel. And an artist has incorporated a few red Mobil Pegasuses (Pegasi?) and old-school red script lettering of its painted name above the two old garage bays.

Cannabis Station

1201 20th Street Denver, CO 80202 303-297-9333 www.1800medicalmarijuana.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Online menu? No. Other types of medicine: hash, bho, edibles, tincture Handicap-accessible? Yes.

But the folks at Cannabis Station have also made the location their own and given it a ganja-friendly twist, painting large murals for RAW rolling papers on one side of the building and another two designed to look like windows into the shop where the former garage doors were.

The waiting room of the place has a very '70s vibe, and as I handed my paperwork over to the receptionist to be copied, I half expected to see a squinty-eyed Ron Slater lookalike walk out the bud-bar door bobbing his head to a classic-rock anthem playing only in his head. Wood paneling and exposed brick keep the place dark and moody, with a few retro-styled art pieces like a series of convex mirrors hung around the walls.

No paperwork to fill out, and before I could get a good look at the small waiting area that used to be the filling station's office, I was led back through a door of the workshop-turned-pot shop by my budtender, Brian.

Inside, Cannabis Station is a lot like the Rocky Mountain High shop we visited last year in Cherry Creek, and I later realized it's because they are owned by the same company: 1800MedicalMarijuana.com. Both shops offer vintage-style clothing, collectables and housewares as well as herb, edibles, pipes and papers. According to what we were told during that earlier visit, the company owner is already independently wealthy and has set up the shops as a way to raise money for cancer research in honor of his wife, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2008.

However, Cannabis Station's retail aspect is more toned-down than was the case at Rocky Mountain High. The center's got the same Maui Wowie T-shirts and a few other tops featuring the shop's logo stacked in a large criss-crossed shelving unit along one wall, and I also saw a few pairs of what looked like studded Chuck Taylors in another spot. But for the most part, Cannabis Station feels more like the lounge/hangout for a bunch of gearhead stoners. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a '55 Chevy with the hood up out on the open back patio.

All of which creates an awesome atmosphere -- but ambience only counts for so much. What really matters is the meds, and frankly, the amount of care put into them seems less than the attention to decor.

There's not really a bud display, as everything on the shelf is pre-weighed into eighths, grams and ounces -- which made looking at the buds more difficult than it should be. Instead of me walking up and looking at large jars and selecting from there, Brian had to pull down the opaque plastic box containing the pill jars filled with buds for me to check out every strain. Without large jars to pull from (and allow shake to sink to the bottom of), the pre-weighed eighths and grams were full of a range of buds, from shake to large chunks.

I only made my way through about half of the two-dozen or so strains on the shelf, mostly due to my own impatience. Brian was very helpful and friendly, though, pulling down the buds I requested and giving me his take on the medical properties of each strain as I peeped my way through the jars. A few looked and smelled good, including a fruity-smelling batch of Super Girl, a lightly spicy Sour Kush and a tangerine-sweet Agent Orange. While others were just mediocre, including the barely sour Sour Diesel I brought home and a few OG phenotypes that didn't have any of the must-have visual and olfactory qualities I love in OGs.

To the shop's credit, nothing smelled moldy or gross -- just rushed and unloved, like warehouse buds can be (though they don't have to be). Cannabis Station also kept things fair on pricing for the most part, including listing eighths and grams at the same cost per gram. And ounces were as low as $175. (The majority of the herb was selling for about $25-$35 an eighth.) My only gripe was the top-shelf eighths for $40; from what I saw, the cap should have been kept at $35. None of the prices include sales tax, but first-time patients get a 10 percent discount.

As for concentrates, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade -- and when your garden does the same, make some decent hash. For $15 a gram, Cannabis Station's strain-specific, crumbly icewater extraction was on the money for the quality. The shop also had some BHO on the shelf for $35 a gram, but something about the old-fashioned bubble was calling my name this week.

In all, Cannabis Station has the foundation for being a really cool medical cannabis shop, with a great downtown location, solid pricing and a fun atmosphere. But some more time in the garden is needed before I'll fill up there again.

Page down for this week's strain reviews and photos. Sour Diesel: $40/eighth I was reading reviews online that said this was the top strain in the shop. I'm not sure if that means I visited in the middle of an off-harvest or that the people reviewing the shop online haven't smoked perfectly grown Sour Diesel. The coloring and trichome coverage was nice, but the smell out of the three or four jars I popped open in the shop just wasn't there. The two dense buds I brought home had an extremely tight trim on them and only when I squished up the tips of the buds in my fingers did a tangy zest of Sour Diesel come out. So did a seed, for that matter. A fat, tiger-striped one ready for planting, at that. Smoked, the herb lacked any strong Diesel taste as expected, though it did burn down to a powdery, white ash and left me with a Sour D head rush and mild case of the munchies. But you can find this quality Sour D for much cheaper than $40 before tax around town these days. Super Girl: $40/eighth Unlike the Sour Diesel, this strain had a nice smell going for it -- one with a cherry syrup-like sweetness that perfectly matched the red hues of the small round buds. Broken up, the dense buds released a skunky, red-wine-funk scent. But disappointingly, neither taste came through when smoked. Instead, it was a more generic, piney skunk. Again, the buds burned down to a clean white ash, and I didn't see anything questionable in my brief scope of the nugs -- and the subsequent buzz was a great balance of muscle and nerve relief without giving me the desire to lay down in a hammock and fuck off the rest of my day like skunky indicas sometimes do for me. From what I saw and what I picked out, this was one of the top selections -- but it's nowhere near hippie-basement quality. Shelling out $40-plus for an eighth again would be tough. OG Kush icewater hash (73 Micron): $15/gram The first time I ever smoked truly good hash was way the hell back in the '90s after a friend in Amsterdam sent a small chunk through the mail home to himself. The color and consistency stuck with me to this day, and it was nearly identical to the picture above. Now, I know that it's nothing more than average bubble hash, but the personal connection is hard to break when I see light tan hash like this. This sample was somewhat over-dried and the smell wasn't all there, but undeniable hints of earthy OG came out when crumbled down and it smoked with a rich, hashy flavor on top of a bowl or by itself. Nothing superb, but sometimes a bowl of concentrates like this is just what the doctor ordered. Or, better, recommended.

Read more of William Breathes' dispensary reviews in our Mile Highs and Lows blog and keep up with all your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.

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