Medical marijuana dispensary review: Elevate Wellness Center in Denver

This dispensary has closed.

As I said a few weeks ago, if you're going to open your doors to the public, I'm not going to be concerned with how much time you've had to iron out the kinks. The bud is grown at that point, and there's no changing what's on your shelves until the next harvest. I still feel that way. But I still partially regret the timing of my visit to the newly opened Elevate Wellness Center, which seems to have lined up all the right factors for a great dispensary but didn't have a single nugget of its own herb on the shelf.

Elevate Wellness Center

1155 S. Cherokee Street Denver, CO 80223 720-484-6369 ElevateWellnessCenter.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range (members): $8-12/gram $25-40/eighth-ounce, $160-$240/ounce. First-time patients receive member pricing. Raw marijuana price range (non-members): $10-$14/gram $30-50/eighth-ounce, $200-$300/ounce. Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, kief, hash, edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

The shop is one of the nicest I've visited; it's very stylish and well done without feeling overly fancy or disproportionately extravagant. Walking in off the street puts you into a waiting room that would feel like the brand-new showroom for a counter-top/cabinet retailer if it wasn't for the smell of ganja lightly permeating the new-paint/new-flooring aroma of the shop. I wasn't there long, getting a brief look around from the hemp-like couch where I filled out three pages of paperwork. But the owners have clearly redone most of the space, adding a patient lounge with a granite-and-heavy-wood bar setup that looks like something out of a rental mansion on the creek in Vail.

Completing the forms was easy, and after signing and dating everything, I was led into the cozy bud-bar area. Inside, it's like a modern, hip Cherry Creek clothing boutique minus the clothes but plus a lot of cannabis gear. The new herringbone-pattern wood floor, the counters, the bud bar itself, the lighting and the awesome reclaimed-wood back wall are just that nice. All of which gives a certain dignified sense to products like RAW rolling papers, portable vaporizers and pot-butter machines.

Likewise, the antique stamped-metal-and-glass display made the cheap glass pipes seem more normal and less like items in a patchouli-smelling head shop. In short: The Elevate crew has done a great job of creating an upscale atmosphere that makes you feel less like a medical marijuana patient buying a bag of weed and more like a, well, regular consumer of a regular product -- and that's worth something.

Literally. It must have cost a fortune. But thankfully, the prices on products didn't completely reflect that. At least not the member pricing. The biggest issue was that out of the twenty or so strains, absolutely none were from Elevate's garden. According to the three amazingly welcoming (and appropriately fashionable) women running the shop, their growers only got clones in the ground -- actually, pots of coco fiber -- this week. So expect another three months or so of Elevate selectively buying and selling herb from other dispensaries.

That might explain how buds that would normally be selling for $35 an eighth at any other shop are going for $40 (before tax) or more. Got to pay that overhead. But with that in mind, the shop has done a solid job of keeping the quality relatively high despite the complete lack of control over the gardens from which the buds were harvested.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. Most of the top-tier selection was from L'Eagle, another shop we really enjoyed here at Mile Highs and Lows -- especially the hash. Bud quality was what I would expect from L'Eagle's wholesale: very well grown, lots of trichome coverage, but slightly rushed out, as the curing and strain-distinct odors on some of the buds, including the Banana Kush and the Strawberry Cough, weren't as spot-on as they should be.

That's not to say it was bad, though. I really enjoyed the Pink Kush I brought home; it just didn't stink up my office with the top popped off the jar. Broken up, it had a strawberry sweetness to the smell, and when burned, it had a sugary finish. The buds looked clean under magnification and were loaded with trichomes. All of which is great -- though you'll get the same buds for $35 a few miles to the north, where they were grown. (Prices did get better up to the ounce, which sold for $240.)

So the better value, it seems, would have been the mid- and bottom-tier buds selling for $30 and $25 per eighth, respectively; both went for a reasonable $160 per ounce for members and first-timers. Out of that batch, the $35 OG Cheese, with its stinky-rotten, earthy cheese, and the $25 Diesel-like but fluffy BioDiesel buds were a good buy.

Of course, I didn't go that route. I'm sometimes a sucker for a well-named strain, and the Jesus OG was the perfect balance of well-grown bud and humorous moniker, especially with the stoniest of Easter Sundays coming up. Like the Pink Kush, the flower itself looked amazing and was potent. It just lacked the kick to the nose from the smell department. But broken up, the buds let out a funky, rubbery tartness of the Hell's OG, with a funky, lemon-oil-cleaner smell of Jack the Ripper. Decent flavor on the buds as well, with a light aftertaste that lingered for a half-hour after my last bowl. This was a potent but really mellow bud to puff on yesterday afternoon after work and before dinner. Not bad for appetite, but great for relaxation and picking you up after a hard day.

For a shop that didn't have any trim to work with, Elevate does have some amazing concentrates on the shelf. My budtender started by showing me $25 grams of Mahatma's bubble hash that looked pretty damn good. Blonde, crumbly wax, but with a glossier, more oily finish. Elevate also had $35 grams of wax from Mahatma, but I would have gone for the bubble. Would have, that is, because I opted for a $55 gram of Blue Lotus shatter from the relatively new Green Dot Labs.

Green Dot is out of Boulder, and while the shop will run hash from outside trim, the hash makers also have in-house cultivation of some unique crosses and strains, like Yeti OG, Prayer Tower and Blue Lotus. As a matter of full disclosure: I've known one of the owners behind Green Dot for years now, but this is the first time I've actually seen the oil in person. That aside, this was some of the best, most oily and sticky shatter I've seen in a long, long time. Elevate keeps the terpene-heavy oil with strain-distinct odors in the fridge to keep the consistency hard. At home, the stuff was so sappy that it was nearly impossible to handle with your bare hands without making a mess. Dabbed on a nail in a bubbler, the vapor was like taking an ounce of flowers and condensing the flavor into a mouth-watering, single-hit bomb of lemon-berry awesomeness. The buzzy uplift was like sunshine breaking through a cloud halfway through a picnic. Very strong and very clear, a small, tenth-of-a-gram dab did me right for the entire morning. The shop also had $70 grams of "sugar" hash oil, which is basically cryogenically frozen plants milked of their resins in a super-geeky cannabis-connoisseur manner. I had to pass due to the price point, but it's tempting to go back and splurge.

And right now, if you're going to go (or go back), the main reason would be the hash. Yes, the buds are fine, and you'll be happy with what you walk away with. But something tells me the real treat will be when Elevate gets its own buds on the shelf -- as long as they match the quality of everything else. It would also be great if the prices went down slightly, at least for non-members, once the added cost of buying wholesale is eliminated.

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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