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Medical marijuana dispensary review: Emerald Pathway in Glendale

This dispensary has closed.

Ganja prices have dropped at area dispensaries over the past few months, and quality has gone up as shops dial in their grows and start pumping out gorgeous, stinky buds. Emerald Pathway needs to catch on to that trend to survive, because selling $50 eighths of warehouse-quality herb won't cut it anymore.

Emerald Pathway Location: 4966 Leetsdale Drive, Glendale Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Phone: 720-389-7442 Website: http://emeraldpathway.com (website for the Ft. Collins store) Owner: John Opened: July 2010 Raw marijuana price range: $35 to $50 an eighth before tax for non-members. Other types of medicine: Edibles, kief, BHO. Handicap accessible: Yes.

The shop is in a run-down strip center just southeast of Alameda on Leetsdale. The secured area up front is bare-bones: Aside from a poster for RAW papers and a local ganja ice cream company, there's nothing to see other than the linoleum tile floor, three walls and the frosted-glass front windows. A manager named Tim later told me the front room is kept empty on purpose, since most people don't spend much time there.

I didn't have to wait long before my budtender came up, checked that I had my red card and ID, and buzzed me through to the waiting room. He then handed over a clipboard of paperwork to fill out and I made my way over to the living room-style lounge area. The waiting room is much more comfortable. As is the case at Altitude Wellness Center, the owners of Emerald Pathway fly their hippie flag proudly; the tan walls feature framed pictures of Jerry Garcia along with other jam-band concert memorabilia. A few couches are set up in the middle of the room, with the standard waiting-room pot mags and Westwords lying around. I was the only person in, so I didn't get too much time to peruse the place while filling out forms, but I felt comfortable and welcome.

The space is really large, which isn't clear from the outside. The owner says they grow all of their herb themselves. Paperwork was simple, and though staffers presented a HIPA release form, they don't insist that you sign it. (They must not regard the HIPA release very highly, either, considering the name of the dispensary is misspelled at the top of the form.)

After finishing, I walked the form to the reception counter, and my budtender led me into one of the small rooms just off the waiting area. Before pulling out jar after jar for me to check out, he pointed out that all strains are organic and soil-grown. Appropriately enough, the top shelf offered their "top-shelf" herb, which should all have been killer for the price tag of $50 per eighth or $15 a gram before tax. Unfortunately, nothing really was. Some things looked decent, like the Krypto and the Cantaloupe Haze and a healthy Super Silver Haze. But with so many shops capping at $45 with tax included these days, it was hard to get excited about spending that extra $5.

After going through their top-shelf product, my budtender went for the bottom-shelf buds, explaining that they're priced based on yield and not quality. He's right: Everything I saw was about the same middle-of-the-road dispensary-quality herb. At the lower price, though, some were worthwhile. The NYC Sour D, for example, had a light but solid smell out of the jar, and the buds looked well developed. Their Trainwreck had a great rose smell to it, and though wispy, like so many other strains they had in stock, this quality made the usually dense nug more appealing.

The shop also carries Cheeba Chews and a few edibles from Mile High Ice Cream, as well as Medicine Man, their own line of in-house baked goods. The budtender pointed out that the chocolate chip cookie they sell has approximately 140 milligrams of active cannabanoids in it. Just looking at that cookie got me stoned.

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The owner I spoke with after my visit says Emerald Pathway took over the location last July and has been working to dial in their crops since. He noted that growers don't run a perpetual harvest and instead crop every four months so they can do a full clean of their grow space. He says getting used to such large crops has been a task, including the drying and curing phase, and admits that the stock they have on the shelves wasn't dried properly, resulting in diminished overall smell and taste.

Not wanting to spend the money on the $50 strains, I grabbed a couple grams of the bottom shelf this time. The buds were packaged up in tiny black condiment packets that I hoped would keep in what light smells the buds did have. When I finally opened them up a few days later, I realized that wasn't the case.

Page down to see what William took home this week. Blueberry: $10/gram I usually avoid this strain, mostly because it's a warehouse staple and almost never is grown out to its full potential. Even when it is, it's a boring strain to me, and this cut was no exception. My gram featured a bunch of wispy, airy buds without much substance to them. The several ounces' worth in the jar at the store had a distinct blueberry smell, so I figured it was worth a shot -- but after a few days, the buds had a generic weed smell, like a bag of mixed fresh trim, and very little Blueberry smell until broken up. Even then, it smelled somewhat artificial, suggesting that the plants could have used a few more days of flushing. The taste was unimpressive and dull, though it left a surprisingly sweet perfume of smoke in the air of my office. By the third toke, though, the bowl went charcoal and made for some unpleasantly harsh hits. NYC Diesel: $10/gram In the big jar in the shop, this herb had a light but distinct diesel smell. The bud looked solid, too, with deep red hairs popping against the trichome-dusted, money-green herb. I figured this was the gem of the store, and the owner I spoke with said it is by far their in-house favorite. But after sitting in the tiny to-go jar from the dispensary for a few days, it lost the sour funk and was left with a dry hay finish. Breaking it up brought the same artificial chemy smell the Blueberry had. Unfortunately, tthe cut's taste was completely lackluster, and I don't think anyone would be able to determine this was NYC Diesel from the taste or the smell of the smoke. I mentioned my disappointment to the owner and he urged me to come back and check out a cut from their next harvest. If they can get the smell and taste to match the looks, I'd come back for it all the time. BHO: $40/gram I know some strains stay more liquid rather than going waxy, but this liquidy wax was just purged poorly. In the shop, the stuff was left to harden in a fridge, and when pulled out, you could see the variations in color and consistency running through the chunk they had. Left to warm up, it literally poured out of the container like used motor oil. There was a slightly green hue to the amber goo, and whipping it with a stirring stick in hot water helped to thicken it up. Still, my first dab popped and sizzled like CO2 oil normally does, sending hot splatter all over my pipe, hand and face. It smoked way too harshly, with an awful chemically taste up front that lingered in my throat and made my mouth feel sticky. Afterward, I was left with a resinous, hashy taste that even a bowl of tasty OG flowers couldn't get rid of. I got high, all right, but I'm not sure if it was from the herb or the butane.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Check out more reviews in our Mile Highs and Lows archive.

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