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, sterile dentist's offices or a dope dealer's college dorm room. See our current dispensary list here, and keep reading for William Breathes's review of Denver Relief.
Denver Relief 1 Broadway #A150 303-420-6337 www.denverrelief.com
Hours of operation: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. every day Owners: Ean Seeb, Kayvan Khalatabri, Adam Johnson Owner's statement: "Denver Relief has one goal, and that is to provide safe and readily available medicines and other wellness services to state of Colorado registered Medical Marijuana Patients." Opened: May 25, 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $45-$55 eighths. Member prices capped at $49/eighth. Other types of medicine: In-house edibles, hash, hash oil, tincture, pre-rolled joints. Patient services and amenities: Wellness services in upstairs facility. Handicap Access: Yes.
Our take: I walked into Denver Relief a few months ago to check out some good things I had heard about and pick up a bag of their Colorado Caregiver's Cup-winning strain, Bio-Diesel. A few days later, I got a call from a mutual friend of Denver Relief co-owner Ean Seeb and myself telling me that I shouldn't wear the Rockies cap seen in my recent CNN appearance into dispensaries anymore if I don't want to be recognized.
The jig was up with Denver Relief, so-to-speak. Now, I won't do this often if at all -- I don't plan on making a habit of introducing myself before I write my review of a place by any means. But still, I felt Denver Relief was worthy of pointing out.
Denver Relief is located in the Baker Neighborhood on Broadway, four doors down from a Denver Police substation. Admittedly, it's a bit awkward to walk out of a dispensary and see a cop walking your way, but Seed said they have been supportive of Denver Relief so far. Two couches fill the small waiting room, with plenty of reading material on the table and some low-playing jazz on the tiny boom box in the corner.
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I had to show my doctor's recommendation since I still have yet to receive my medical marijuana license in the mail (38 days and counting), but the guys in the reception area said it wasn't an issue since I had my proof of mailing. Denver Relief started as a delivery-service, but after a co-owner was car-jacked a few months ago for several hundred dollars and a few grams of ganja, the guys opted for a safer way of distribution.
The storefront, by contrast, is Fort Knox compared to public meetings with strangers. To get to the bud bar, customers have to be let in through two heavy locked security doors. The first door leads you from the waiting room into a small retail space with a single glass case for displaying various pipes and Denver Relief merchandise. Seeb says he hopes to build out the room more to showcase local glass artists work.
Moving through the second security door leads you into the dispensary. The bar itself feels like the lobby of a bank, with a high marble counter top that is separated by wooden partitions, as well as a lower counter for wheelchair access. Blown up pictures of the shop's grow operations hang near a small fridge in the corner that holds the clinic's in-house edibles. Seeb said the faux-brick façade and wooden paneling on the walls and ceiling give the room a clean and contemporary but still slightly rustic feel that he felt mirrored many of the rehabbed vintage homes in the surrounding neighborhood.
The same professional but relaxed atmosphere is carried over to the Denver Relief Wellness Center in the building upstairs from the dispensary. A small, four-room office space has been converted to a waiting room, two massage and physical rehabilitation rooms, and a small conference room where Seeb says he plans to hold wellness and growing clinics. Seeb said they wanted to physically separate the wellness services from the dispensary so that non-medical marijuana patients could have access to them. "We didn't want this to just be about the medicine, because there is a lot more to wellness than just that," he said.
But while they pride themselves on offering wellness and community services, the real focus of the shop is the ganja up on the shelves. I was blown away by the quality of the dozen-or-so strains they had on hand. Nearly everything that came from their warehouse grows was connoisseur-quality and the top shelf strains -- including Bio Diesel and Blue Dream -- were nearly glowing in the large apothecary jars along the back wall. I've seen similar quality easily sell for ridiculously high prices (up $70 an eighth) in other clinics.
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Seeb also took the time to talk to me about the genetics and grow process of every strain -- including the select few they purchased from vendors. He also took the time to talk me through the line of edibles they make and the different levels of hash and hash oil each type contained. Granted, he knew I was a reviewer at this point, but I get the feeling they welcome discussing their products in detail with anyone who wants to listen. I could have walked out with any of the strains and been happy -- but I chose two top-shelf strains that run at $55 an eighth.
While the name isn't one of my favorites, the Dopium was one of the best looking strains I have seen yet in a dispensary. This cross of Sour Diesel and Chem Dawg was grown extremely well in organic coco and dried and cured perfectly. In the light, the herb looked fluorescent green, and it burned clean with a tangy diesel funk all the way to the end. Though it has some indica qualities to its effects, I was impressed most by the energetic, mind-racing sativa qualities of it.
I also split the eighth up and also grabbed some of the fruity and spicy, sativa-dominant Durban Poison. I have really come to like this strain lately because it is strong medicine for my nausea and appetite, but it doesn't pack the strong high that could leave me worthless after a mid-day puff. Equally as impressive of a cut as the Dopium, the Durban burned to a clean white ash with spicy flavor down to the last draw.
The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.