Medical marijuana dispensary review: DANK Colorado in Denver

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I had some friends in town from Texas last weekend. And while concerts at Red Rocks were the reason they flew into town, you wouldn't have known it by their excitement over buying recreational pot legally in the United States for the very first time.

I didn't go with them -- that was their moment to enjoy. But when they came back to my place with jars of herb from DANK, I realized I had missed out. Two years have passed since I first visited the shop, and it's apparently grown up. A lot.

DANK Colorado

3835 Elm Street, Suite B Denver, CO 80207 303-394-3265 Dank-Colorado.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $10-$15/gram $25-$35/eighth-ounce, $150-$230/ounce. Members receive 10-15 percent off purchase. Other types of medicine: Wax, hash, oil, hash, edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

The shop is in the same low industrial building, tucked away in a warehouse park in north Park Hill. There are still no huge obnoxious signs out front, and visiting the place remains a discreet endeavor. But unlike before, when I was the only person around for blocks, the traffic in and out of the door during my re-visit was brisk. I waited in line behind two different groups of people to show my red card and ID to the security guy standing at the end of the hallway.

At that point, the crowd split. The two groups in front of me shuffled back to the recreational portion of the shop, while I was told to turn around and buzz the bell at the door on my right for access to the medical side. It's all the same bud, as the garden is situated in the warehouse located behind both shops. When shopping for buds, you can get a glimpse of the occasional worker shuffling back and sending rays of glowing orange light into the room.

Gone is the "400-square-foot green box" of a dispensary with one tiny display, eighth-size sample jars and a budtender hidden behind a stand-up service counter. It's a slick operation now instead of the 2009-era pot shop it was before.

Okay, so it's still a big green box. But at least the crew has cleaned the place up and styled it with raw, graying wood trim-work and an actual bud bar set up, with a lone budtender serving medical patients. It was quiet on the medical side, but through a small hallway connecting the rec and medical bud bars, I could hear a small crowd and lots of talking -- mostly a budtender explaining strains to a fedora'd group of young women hardly a day over 21.

Back on my side of things, my budtender let me browse through the small display jars set up on the glass countertop at my own pace while she took care of my paperwork. There were about a dozen strains on the shelf, and most were really well grown -- and well priced. Nothing is above $35 an eighth or $230 an ounce, and there are plenty of lower-priced buds selling at $25 and $30 an eighth and down as low as $150 an ounce for buds like the Master Kush -- which I thought was good enough to bring home.

Continue for more of the review and photos. The huge chunk of Master Kush I brought home wouldn't be my normal choice. An indica this heavy isn't that useful to me most of the time, but I've needed a strong mental break at the end of the day lately -- a puff to put my mind on "pause" for an hour or so in between baby bedtime and the moment that I pass out from exhaustion. The bud itself had a rich, earthy skunk smell to it that reminded me of good blended hash. There wasn't much of that in the flavor, though, and the buds burned with a thick, ambiguously flavored smoke. It was potent, and I went from ball of stress to bag of noodles within just a few minutes of a four-hit bowl. When I was in the shop, the bud was priced on the top tier, but looking at their menu today, it has dropped to the $25 mark.

I also had a hard time picking between the neon-green, diesel-funky Kandy Kush buds, a batch of chunky, buttery-lemon Trainwreck and a fuzzy, stinky Kush Cleaner that was loaded with long, spindly trichomes. One of my friends had already brought home some of the Trainwreck, though, and I figured I'd already seen enough of it.

Not everything was great, though. Notably short of the mark was the Space Queen, which -- at least in the tiny display jar -- had a funky, mildew-like odor that put me off immediately. Same for the Green Crack caviar that smelled oddly like a day-old red wine spill found the day after a party with friends who shouldn't be allowed to drink red wine indoors. There was also a cut of Tangerine that was not Tangerine. The lightly purple hints and sweet, sweet kushy smell was distinctly Flo. Name issues aside, it wasn't bad at all. Just don't go expecting a good Tangerine buzz or taste from it.

The Kandy Kush won out in the end, mostly due to the room-filling rubbery-tartness of the buds. My budtender was also kind enough to take my bag straight from the display jar I was drooling over, so I didn't get any bait-and-switch action. At home, the amber-trichome-coated buds burned clean down to a white ash, and a few bubbler loads left me buzzing like an electrical transformer for a couple of hours. This was also a great appetite strain for me, and small, measured single hits did a lot to get my stomach grumbling without leaving me too spacey for the rest of the day. At $35 an eighth, the buds were on the high end of pricing at DANK, but still well worth the money. DANK had a decent amount of concentrates on hand. For $50, there were grams of in-house, cough-drop-shaped chunks of glistening shatter oil that looked great. But I was more interested in some Essential Extracts hash. It's been a while since I've splurged on icewater extracts, and one look at the fine grains of waxy THC sold me instantly. We've gone on at length about Essential Extracts stuff in the past, so we won't do it now -- but do yourself a favor and pick up some next time you are out. Yes, it's spendy at as much as $50 a gram, but it is a treat worth giving yourself. Edibles selection was pretty robust, with enticing 500 mg Cherry Bombs and Peach Banana Rings going for $45 and cheaper, and lower-potency edibles from Canna, Wana and Mile High selling for $10 or less.

For the medical user, DANK is certainly worth giving a chance. Members get 10 percent off pricing and daily specials through the week. On the recreational side, though, you're going to be paying a lot more -- $20 more on the eighth before tax. That's a lot, and yet another reason I'll keep my medical card instead of using recreational stores for my medical needs.

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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