Medical marijuana dispensary review: Earth Group Colorado in Denver

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In a way, I kind of miss the old Patients Plus. Not because it had good medical cannabis for sale. In fact it was quite the opposite. But I liked it because it exemplified the type of neon-green, warehouse-bud-filled dispensary I like to avoid -- and I would often point out the low-rent shop to visiting journalists I occasionally show around town.

I just can't do that with Earth Group. But I'm glad the space has gone on to owners who can do more with the shop than make it a stoner's dream hangout (minus the ability to actually get stoned).

Earth Group Colorado

4493 N. Washington St. Denver, CO 80216 303-295-0232 EarthGroupColorado.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $25/eighth-ounce, $140-160/ounce. Raw marijuana price range (non-members): $35/eighth-ounce, $180/ounce. Other types of medicine: CO2 oil, edibles Online menu? Yes, but it is not updated.. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

The biggest change for the new crew was toning down the outside. Before, the green and white paint made it obvious to even the most clueless passersby that the shop was a dispensary. But the new, subdued blue-and-green paint scheme once again puts the building in the landscape background: The McDonald's across the street and the Hispanic superstore next door garner more attention.

Inside, staffers have given the dispensary a coat of paint and done away with the stereotypical stoner trappings that the previous owner clearly loved. No more black-light poster gallery, no more library of stoner literature strewn about the straight-out-of-CU-Boulder hippie lounge. On top of that, the once-proud glass gallery is now down to a handful of scientific oil pieces.

Otherwise, the layout remains the same. The lounge is still directly in front when you walk through the security door from the receptionist's window. The bud bar remains along the same back wall, and budtenders continue to stand on a raised platform behind the chest-high glass display case full of buds and (occasionally) concentrates. The shop usually carries wax and shatter produced with CO2 by the folks at EvoLab, but it was out the day I stopped by. Earth Group is going recreational at some point in July, but my budtender said a completely new storefront will be opened in the adjacent space, with the existing side staying medical.

My budtender was about as far from a "clinical"-type marijuana dispenser as you can get. I have no problem with tattoos whatsoever. But I'm always taken aback by face tattoos, mostly because my instinct is to say something stupid like, "Wow, those must have hurt," instead of having a normal conversation. I also wonder if they realize my internal struggle to look them in the eye while also trying to check out the ink work. And it's purely internal. My budtender was a really nice dude and easy to talk to about strains and effects. I just kept getting sidetracked by his body art. At least until he pulled out the great equalizer: jars of cannabis.

Continue for more of the review and photos. Herb was kept in glass stock jars, with sativas and hybrids on the left and indica-dominant strains on the right. Jars varied in quality and fullness, and a few, like the White Dawg, looked slightly premature and undergrown. But generally speaking, the harvest at Earth Group was considerably better than the buds put out by the former owners and growers, even though a lot of the strains are the same (Hungarian Banana, True Blue, Green Crack). The one major issue I saw was that everything was completely over-dried.

My budtender pushed the True Blue, which was hardly the most impressive thing in the store. It had a general blueberry fruitiness to the smell when broken up, but the crispy dried buds burned with a bland, dull charcoal flavor and sparked more noises than a bowl of Rice Crispies in milk. The Hungarian Banana was another dried-out example, though the buds let out a potent black cherry odor when used for a doobie. Despite the crunchiness of the buds themselves, I did enjoy the heavy buzz from the Hungarian Bannana and the first green hit off a bowl was a cross between skunk butt and sipping on fruit punch Kool-Aid made with too much flavored powder.

Even the more appealing buds suffered from dryness, which doesn't have to be an issue depending on which way you look at it. I'll concede to the fact that you get a little bit more bud when they're dried out as opposed to paying for moisture trapped inside. But you also lose a lot of the flavors and odors. Sure, it still gets you stoned and does the job medically, but well-dried and well-cured buds make cannabis more than just a therapeutic substance and gives patients something to enjoy and focus on for those few minutes of the day when they can forget about whatever it is that ails them.

And buds like the White Fire x Tahoe OG would have been amazing if they had been allowed to finish properly. The flowers themselves looked solid, with tight calxyes and rusty brown pistils coated in a dusting of amber trichomes. The popcorn buds also had a great smell from the stock jar in the shop: a piney, richly earthy smell like the ground you dig up pulling out tent spikes in the woods. The eighth I brought home was stinky as well, but it faded quickly with the top off and the odor didn't take up my entire office like I know it could have. Pot nerd woes, I know. That aside, it was a solid purchase at $25 member pricing. The buds did snap and pop from being too dry, but if Earth Group fixed that, I'd be back at least once a month to snag a bag of herb if I wanted some variety. As for the strain itself, the White Fire and Tahoe OG are both really stoney strains for me, putting me in a dense, foggy mood for about twenty minutes before the sensation rolled down my body to kill my growing back pain (increasing proportionately with the weight of my kid).

The foxtailed, chunky, ripe Chemdawg x Bio Diesel cross was my pick for top in the shop. Crispy like the other buds, it still maintained its rubbery, fuel-like odors. The two chunks I brought home were fuzzy thanks to long, fat-headed amber trichomes; they left my fingers sticky after breaking up the buds for a bowl. As a bonus, the flavor was much more pronounced than the White Fire x Tahoe. Six or seven one-hitters from a clean bubbler bowl left me feeling no pain and started a trickle of appetite that led to a landslide dinner of home-grilled steak burgers and garlic aioli fries. Again, EGC could use some help keeping the harvest from drying out, but it's no reason to avoid strains like this.

First-time patients and members pay $25 an eighth. Nonmembers pay a little more at $35 an eighth, but there are coupons and discounts -- so paying full price probably isn't the norm. In all, I walked out happy with a $50 quarter-ounce of herb plus a few extra grams due to it being Tuesday, or a half-full Moon, or because I had on black shoes, or something like that. I usually don't question when people give me extra cannabis on top of what I pay for. And while it sucks that I no longer have Patients Plus to laugh at, it is good to see some bud worth buying finally coming out of that building.

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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