Medical marijuana dispensary review: Emerald City Organics in Denver

As strip malls go, the one Emerald City calls home is about as run-down as it gets.

I'm sure that the surrounding small businesses -- at least four Hispanic-centric Westernwear and boot stores, two sports bars, a liquor store and some taco joints -- all have positives behind their doors.

But collectively they don't project the most upbeat and inviting of images.

Emerald City Organics

5115 N. Federal Ave. Denver, CO 80221 303-458-1210

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $20-$30/eighth-ounce, $130-200/ounce. Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, edibles, drinks. Online menu? No. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

These qualities are made even more evident by the grandeur and splendor of the Regis University campus, nearly glowing in the distance about 800 yards across the shitty, torn-up parking lot. I must not have ever been over to Regis before, because I think I would have remembered how much it stands out in the neighborhood. One of its soccer fields alone probably costs as much as the physical structures marking Emerald City's center.

Inside, the folks at Emerald City Organics are trying. But the rough neighborhood is echoed by the uniformed security guard taking cards behind the thick glass window while patients stand in a Barney-purple waiting area. It looks like quite a few blue-collar work boots have trampled through it on their way home.

After a quick look at my paperwork, I was buzzed back to the dispensary, and for the second week in a row, I encountered a wall-sized mural -- this one depicting something of a cross between The Wizard of Oz and Cheech and Chong via the Emerald City and some huge cannabis leaves. It's well-done but hokey, though no telling what happens if you put on some Pink Floyd.

Edibles are clearly a big deal at the shop, with a full cabinet and a display fridge devoted to cookies, candies, granola bars and (occasionally) medicated popcorn. A woman there told me the pot popcorn they usually stock is the most popular edible in the shop. That point was emphasized by the disappointment of the woman in line ahead of me when she was told the center was out of the microwaveable treat.

The bummed customer was standing at the glass cabinet on the left side of the room after I walked in, trying to decide what she should purchase -- which is pretty amusing considering the shop only had two jars of cannabis on hand. Add the jar of mixed shake and another jar of seeded Lemon Skunk, and that's it. The budtender said that Emerald City had been hit pretty hard by the 4/20 "holiday" and had yet to recover in the nearly three weeks later. That would suck if you are one of their regular patients needing your specific strains.

I was pretty much done with my browsing before I had even stepped up to the counter. Most patients would (and should) just walk out if the selection isn't up to their needs, but I had made the drive and wasn't leaving empty-handed.

Up first was the jar of Flo, and it was honestly a lot more appealing than I thought any of the shop's bud would be. There were some pretty purple buds floating around in the gallon-sized glass stock jar, with the distinctly mentholated Juicy Fruit/fresh-cut-cedar smell permeating it. Cured and dried well, the bud was spongy but still crumbled up between my thumb and index finger before being packed into a bubbler and vape. It burned mostly clean, with a few buds charring up to a black mass, while others burned down to a white powder. A great strain for relaxation, stress relief and (for me) settling an upset and cramping lower intestine. At $20 an eighth for members ($30 for non-members) and around $150-$180 an ounce, it wasn't a bad purchase.

Continue for the rest of the review. The Tangerine Haze, on the other hand, wasn't the best example I've seen of this otherwise awesome strain. Stronger on the musky haze smell than anything tangerine-related, the wispy and airy buds had the fresh green look of buds cut down before their prime, and the silver trichomes under the scope confirmed it. Packed in a bubbler, the bud burned harsh and without much flavor. Potency wasn't high on this one, either, though it still worked as a light appetite stimulant after the two-bowl tasting session I had with it. In general, though, this is about the level you expect when you hear about $20 eighths.

As for the seeded Lemon Skunk, it was so bad you could see the beans from three feet away through the crystal-crusted display jar. My budtender said the shop had bought the bud wholesale. The owners should have asked for their money back. Even if the seeds hadn't loaded up the buds, they burned with lots of brown spots and dark-red pistils the color of dried blood. On the plus side: If you miss the old-school days of sorting seeds from weed or you're in the market for some Lemon Skunk seeds, you can snag an eighth for just $15.

Wax selection was small, but the center had a lot in stock. At $30 a gram, the price was appealing, but I popped a few lids, and most were too chemical-smelling for me. I've become super-picky about wax, and it has to be really, really well done for me to snag it these days. The one strain that actually had a strain-distinct smell was labeled as shatter, but it was about as clear as a chunk of brown sculpting clay -- not a good sign of quality control. There were also syringes full of artificially flavored hash oil, which sounds about as appealing as smoking a pine-tree car air freshener.

As I was wrapping up, another regular customer came in and started sniffing at the jars and commenting on the low stock. He said he's been going to the shop for a while and was used to coming in and seeing thirty strains lined up. The small number Emerald City had on display was out of the ordinary, he said.

There's a total of four dispensaries linked up with Emerald City, including Lucky 7, Rocky Mountain Medical Marijuana, Green Express and The 303 -- all of which seem to have restocked menus as of today per Leafly. Unfortunately, Emerald City looks to be the bastard child, lacking an online menu. So if you're going to stop by, you might want to call first and make sure there's pot on the shelves.

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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