Of all the dispensaries on Federal, Element420 is arguably the most obvious. If you've driven the strip between Alameda and 6th Avenue any time over the last couple of years, you've seen the large lime-green building, which sits higher than the nearby strip center and almost juts over Federal like a beach house without a beach. There are huge Evolab hash oil banners hung from the bottom of the porch and a handful of green crosses plastered in various spots around the place, in case you missed the point.
82 South Federal Boulevard Denver, CO 80219 ElementFour20.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Raw marijuana price range (non-members): $12/gram $30-$40/eighth-ounce, $190/ounce. Other types of medicine: CO2 oil, edibles, tinctures. Online menu? Yes.
I've consciously avoided the shop for this long mostly because I find going to shops so blatantly telling the world that they sell marijuana by way of an abundance of green paint and dozens of signs tend to disappoint. But like an annoying pop song on the radio that grows on you, I eventually had to stop in.
There's more of the same tropical, borderline-neon green in the lobby, with a black leather couch-and-chair setup by the receptionist window, where I sat while the twenty-something girl behind the counter took my information. Aside from the eye-burning green, the little waiting room was clean and tidy, with a faint smell of house cleaner and ganja fighting it out in my nose as I sat watching the never-ending traffic zoom past. Someone has a fascination with extraterrestrials, because there are pictures of big-eyed, gray aliens scattered here and there like in a South Park episode.
Compared to the loud waiting room and exterior appearance, the bud bar was a warm, inviting lounge pleasantly absent of almost anything green. Instead, a few posters (including more alien images) were hung up on the red, blue and gray walls, and the only green was the herb in the dozen or so jars occupying the black, glass-faced display cabinets. The shop's hydroponic-grown ganja is kept in one case, while edibles, pipes and a load of in-house produced concentrates are in another.
My budtender was well versed in what she sold and went into detail about the oils, which apparently are a huge reason people go to the shop. The MMC had a huge selection of strain-specific and blended-strain vials all the same color and consistency -- which seems strange to me considering all other hash and concentrates tend to vary in color depending on the color of the original strain. My budtender didn't go into detail on that, but she did make a point of saying other shops that sell CO2 oil dilute it with glycerol "to make more money off of it."
There were two consistencies: a semi-viscous oil and globs of waxy, cheese-looking budder. But I just couldn't bring myself to spend $35 to $40 for a full gram of CO2 oil when I've never really had that great an experience with it. Every time I've had it, the oil sputters and splatters on a hot titanium nail from too much moisture.
Meanwhile, the waxy globs selling for $40 looked unnaturally orange for a cannabis product. I know some people swear by this stuff, and maybe I should have given it a chance -- but it would have been much easier to do if ElementFour20 had half-grams for half the price. Yes, I'm cheap. So is most every other medical marijuana patient out there shopping around for cannabis on Federal.
The shop also stocks a lot of oil toys, including several e-pens and an oil rig with a titanium nail for a reasonable $150. The budtender said the rigs come with a warranty from the glassblower, who's also the inventor/seller of an electric-heated titanium nail called the ElectroDabber. We caught one in use at the High Times Cannabis Cup and it seemed to work pretty well -- as it should given the $400 price tag.
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So I decided to stick with the herb, which I was getting at member pricing for being a first-time patient. Top row was $30 an eighth, bottom row was $25.
A few jars instantly caught my eye, including the one labeled Golden Goat, which I'm 100 percent certain wasn't Golden Goat after smoking a bowl of the earthy, almost-kushy flowers I brought home. For starters, the bud lacked pinkish-red color on the pistils and had none of the mentholated baby-powder sweetness mixed with faint skunk Goat should have. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good. In fact, aside from a few banana seeds here and there, it had a cool, earthy skunkiness to it when smoked and produced a nice mellow, introspective buzz that was great for an afternoon trip to the library. But it just wasn't Golden Goat, whatever it was.
Also on view was a huge jar of Bruce Banner #3 -- nailing the mark with the uniquely lozenge-like haziness that pheno of the strain usually has to offer. I almost went that direction, but opted instead for the more visually appealing L.A. Confidential.
The dark purple of the LA Confidential really set off the light, sandy trichomes caked on the leaves and calyxes like rhinestones on the iPhone of a Beverly Hills zombie-trophy wife. But like said hypothetical, silicone-injected and brainless fembot, the bud was all flash and no substance. The smell wasn't close to the kushy-piney sweetness LA Con normally boasts; it was more like that first fertilizer whiff you get walking into a plant nursery or garden section of a Home Depot. It didn't burn very smoothly, either, scratching at my throat on the first hit. All of that is unfortunate, because it was a beautiful flower. The slathering of THC crystals were potent and gave me an uber-mellow, tension-relieving buzz. But it really could have used a few more days being flushed before being harvested, dried and cured.
Then there was the White Fire x Tahoe OG, which looked brilliant in the shop, with big juicy buds crawling with crystals -- except that the buds didn't have the knock-to-the-nose sour soil scent right up front. Giving the jar a shake around brought it out some of the aroma, but it wasn't until I had brought it home and left it in a cellophane baggie that its pencil-eraser-dipped-in-turpentine pungency really came out. I left it in the morning -- nothing. Come home at night? Delicious OG from the first crack off the stem to the exhale from a fresh, green bubbler snap. It burned smooth and left me wanting another bowl based on flavor alone. Three or four sizable hits had me floating around the room pain free after a long day of dealing with in-laws, work, traffic and life in general. After a solid two hours, the buzz tapered off mentally, but the body relaxation continued for another 45 minutes, making it a great strain to smoke before bed. You just lay there and peacefully drift off to sleep.
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Other strains, like the Headband, had the looks but lacked the distinct Headband soil/rubbery-tartness. Same goes for the White Fire OG and the Sour Diesel -- both of which looked outstanding but weren't the most robust in the olfactory department.
In all, Element420 exceeded my expectations -- which admittedly weren't very high to begin with. I'm still debating going back for some of the orange wax, though, even if it does confirm my bias against CO2 extracted hash oil.