Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Doctor's Orders in Denver

Even the name of Doctor's Orders seems gimmicky to me, especially paired with the cartoonish image used by the shop, featuring a burnout hippie doctor who writes pot recommendations for any ailment under the sun. I know that goes on; I'm not naive. But it doesn't represent the majority of the medical patients or the doctors I've met over the last five years while doing my job. It gives an image of the shop as just a place where people with a red card who don't even pretend to need the herb for medical reasons go.

See also: "Pot Lies Being Used to Justify Police Shootings of Young Black and Brown Men, Advocate Says"

Doctor's Orders

1406 West 38th Avenue Denver, CO 80221 (303) 433-0276

Hours: 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $25-$35/eighth-ounce, $220 ounce. Members and nonmembers receive varying daily discounts, including $150 ounces/$20 eighths. Other types of medicine: Eddibles, wax, "flake," shatter. Online menu? Yes, but it does not appear to be updated regularly. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? Yes.

I'm clearly not the only person who gets that impression. The shop itself has printed notes that look like they were recently taped on the wall that politely ask customers to please stop reselling marijuana out on the street outside or risk being banned. I guess there's nothing wrong with reminding people of that, but it's also not a sign I see often.

The day I was in, the place was loud thanks to music and a group of talkative regular customers ahead of me. That included a guy who couldn't stop talking at full volume about how effed-up he was going to get this weekend with his friends and how drunk they were the previous one. It was like listening to a group of high-school seniors who just discovered drinking, especially when the dude started laughing about how he was in a car drunk-driving down a one-way street. He went on to talk about the bud he was going to buy and invited the budtenders to come get stoned with him after work. I guess a dispensary can't help who comes in the doors, but this guy wasn't helping my impression of things, either. I blanked him out and turned to the young woman helping me out.

My budtender was friendly, but didn't seem to know much at all about the herb she was selling. When I asked about the lineage of the "Blake BK" strain, she paused, said it was an indica, and then stared at me blankly. I'm assuming the "BK" stands for Bubba Kush, though the wispy strain itself didn't resemble anything Bubba Kushy I've ever seen. I didn't expect much from her after that, and made my way through six or seven strains without any input from her.

For the most part, the OG selection missed the mark in the smell department every time, and the tiny popcorn buds in most of the jars didn't have very good bag appeal. The Captain Kush was lemony, the Diablo OG was spicy, and the crystallized marble buds of the Tahoe Dream didn't have much of a smell beyond dry hay (no kushy diesel fumes, no lavender oil from the Blue Dream).

It wasn't all that way, though. Strains like the stinky, grapey Purple Purple Kush required a second look. I don't know the last time I saw a bud so consistently purple. I also did enjoy the Lemon ISS I brought home. Out of the stock jar in the place, that one was the immediate winner because of its truly sharp lemon/skunk odor. The buds were coated in trichomes, and a single bowl-pack gave me noticeable appetite improvement. I've had a shitty stomach the past few weeks, and it was good to find something that helped me do away with nausea for a few hours. At $35 an eighth, tax included, it's about as high as I'd go for the quality.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. The WiFi OG was decent, too, though nothing I'd seek out again. Out of the jar, these were the stinkiest, stickiest, most on-point OG buds in the store. But the tiny nugs I brought home didn't let off much an odor whatsoever, even when broken up. They did burn with a very light, classic, rubbery kush flavor, but it was overpowered by a noticeable perfume and ambiguously hashy flavor. Potency wasn't an issue, though, and I got a solid hour and a half of muscle-relaxing goodness out of a small bowl from a clean hand pipe. The buds burned down to a white ash with a few chunks of black charcoal in the end. In all, it was uneventful, and at $35 an eighth, one could do better at three other dispensaries within spitting distance along 38th Avenue.

It's also worth noting that Doctor's Orders has a cut of Harlequin, a lesser-known higher-CBD strain than Charlotte's Web, but one that medical patients still swear by. The buds I saw were fluffy, dark green and waxy -looking, as they should be -- though I didn't catch a whiff, because drunky to my right had commandeered the jar for his own perusal. (I didn't have the heart to tell him he wouldn't be getting too high smoking the stuff.)

As for the space itself? "Cluttered" would be the best description. Signs and posters are hung on the walls everywhere; displays of papers are on one side of the room; bongs and pipes are in other cases, with little order or reason. Doctor's Orders even has one of those marijuana vending machines. But the rows of mechanized slots where pre-packed weed should go to be spit out were pathetically empty save three or four that were half-filled with edibles -- the same edibles you could have asked a budtender to grab for you from behind the counter. Now that I've seen one of the vending machines in person, I can honestly say it's nothing more than an investor scam. I doubt whether even the owners of the place can truly justify the machine's existence in their store at this point. The thing was literally collecting dust while taking up a huge corner of the room.

It wasn't the only thing that needed sprucing up, either. The store could use a cleaning crew. The glass pipes that filled the bottom level of the display cases were covered in a layer of dust and dander. Paperwork was scattered all over, with random notices to patients scotch-taped up on random pillars and cabinets. Even the tiny trays that the buds are weighed out on were coated in old brown kief so compacted that it had basically formed into hash. In other words, it didn't look like they tidy their stuff very often. Look, I'm not a neat freak, and my office and desk should be declared a national disaster -- but I also don't invite everyone into my work space, and I'm also not selling consumable things out of my drawers. It's a basic rule of customer service in the service industry: Impressions matter. If the space on display for the public is dirty, how clean are things being kept behind the scenes?

But apparently I was the only person shopping there who seemed to care. The patients ahead of me and behind me all seemed to be regulars, and to their credit, the staffers were beyond friendly and made everyone feel welcome. They greeted half of the customers by first name the instant they walked in the door. They also take out any unwanted stems for you, and I was told that if I didn't like the strains I bought, I could bring them back for an exchange. Nice people, every one I met. They've got the Cheers thing down, that's for sure. It's just Doctor's Orders itself that needs some work to bring it from pot dealer to professional storefront.

Or maybe it's just the doctor's way of ordering me to shop elsewhere.

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

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes