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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Golden Meds in North Denver

The thing that's going to turn people away from Golden Meds isn't the shop or the herb. It's the parking lot. Even with nobody around, it's a mess of broken concrete, potholes filled with oily water and bags' worth of garbage blowing around and stacking up on the curbs. Neither does it help that Golden Meds' neighbors include a cut-rate pawnshop and the center as a whole is in a forgotten corner of Montbello on the north side of I-70 that seems to be mostly populated by big rig trucks, fast food joints and gas stations. You probably wouldn't have moved to this area of town to buy cannabis before a state-legal medical cannabis dispensary opened up. That is, unless you had a sketchy dealer who liked to meet in what he thought was a stereotypically sketchy drug-dealing spot.

All of which doesn't set up high expectations for the dispensary itself, frankly. But that's also what made finding the surprisingly high-quality buds inside that much more rewarding.

See also:Heartbreaking Testimony About Caregiver Cap at Board of Health Hearing.

Golden Meds

4620 Peoria Street Denver, CO 80239 303-307-4645

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range (members): $10/gram $25/eighth-ounce, $160/ounce. Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, edibles. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? Yes.

I still wasn't sold when I walked into the lobby, though. I stared at myself in the two-way security glass covering almost the entire wall of the entryway, wondering if anyone was on the other side looking at me or if I should ring the doorbell. After buzzing, I heard a woman's voice through the small pass at the bottom of the window asking for my ID. The shop is also a recreational store, and I think she assumed I was a rec customer like most of the other five people who walked through the doors while I was shopping. I handed my card along with my ID and was buzzed back through to the dispensary room itself.

The space is oddly shaped, with most of the room's large, open section devoted to recreational sales, including shelf upon shelf of EdiPure edibles. The buds were pretty much the same offerings as the ones for medical patients, but the prices were generally double. A $25 eighth for medical patients of one strain was selling for $50 recreationally. The shop did have ounces at $225 for recreational customers, however, which seems fairly reasonable for non-medical, even after taxes jack it up to about $275. That is, until you realize the same ounce would sell for around $175 after taxes on the medical side.

And by "side," I mean small nook in the corner of the yellow, high-ceilinged, echoey space. The medical counter was easily one-quarter the size of the recreational one, but there seemed to be about the same number of raw cannabis strains on the shelves, as well as plenty of BHO and CO2 concentrates by Mahatma and R & R. I didn't have a great experience with Mahatma shatter last week -- it left too much gunk on my nail and the taste was plastic and artificial -- and I didn't think the R & R wax looked special enough for me to shill out $30 a gram. Fine for vaporizer pen food I'm sure, but nothing I felt compelled to bring home and repeatedly dab on a nail.

The buds, though, made me do a double-take. With the slightly cold reception, shady parking lot, location right off of I-70, and dual-use aspects all weighing against it, the quality herb on the shelf instantly balanced the scale. We started with a silver-coated batch of bb-calyxed Chemdawg 4 buds, the four or five ounces in the jar stinking up my face when she pulled off the lid. I set it aside instantly to bring home with me.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. Up next was The White, a funky, soil-stinking batch of chunky, grape-sized nuggets, and the jaw-droppingly stinky jar of Venom OG. I remember distinctly going from "This shop is all right" to "Damn, why haven't I been here yet?" when my budtender popped the lid off the latter. The selection wasn't huge, with only eight or nine strains in the small glass display counter. For sativas, the Facewreck had a deliciously sweet haze, even if the buds were a bit lanky. The Grape Ape, a strain I would normally ignore, also was noteworthy in that the golf-ball buds smelled more of the brown-sugar sweetness associated with Girl Scout Cookies than a grape drink. Finally, the Lavender was probably the one strain I regret not bringing back. The grass-green buds smelled like freshly turned, organic garden soil in the spring.

The not-very-talkative woman who was budtending for me was nice, though by the time I was done looking through their selection, I could tell it was at that point of the day where she didn't necessarily want to be at work. For the last two strains I wanted to see, she seemed to see it as a hassle to show them to me. For a second, I felt like I was putting her out of her way. But she's a budtender and that's her job. Maybe she'd simply reached her limit for dealing with recreational customers and their wide-eyed excitement at paying way too much for herb. But even a sour day can't explain why the Chemdawg I brought home wasn't anything like what I thought I wiould.

I'm pretty sure there were two jars, and I'm not sure if mine was pulled from the jar filled more with shaky bits, as opposed to the one full of chunky, stinky buds that drew me to the strain. It's also possible that what I brought home was pulled from the bottom and simply lacked any odor potency. Whatever the case, there was more of a hay smell than any of the Chemmy, tart goodness I expected. Broken down in my fingers or in a grinder, the smells filled in a bit, but I was disappointed every time. The flavor was the same: there, but not really there. I got a more generic, skunky flavor out of a dry pipe, but the Diesel flavors came through somewhat more from a bubbler and a vaporizer.

I was also put off by the amount of shake I got. Considering there was a jar of cheaper mixed shake of about the same quality on the counter next to all the strain-specific jars, I expected buds. If I wanted shake, I wouldn't have paid full-price.

Thankfully, the herb did retain some potency and this house-cleaning, sativa-leaning strain was an energetic boost to smoke. It got my appetite soaring and worked great to relieve stress without some of the low-level sativa anxiety you can get from more racy strains. At $27.50 plus tax, it was still under $30 for an eighth, which is reasonable enough. But make sure you do what I didn't: keep an eye on what you're actually getting and don't settle for shake. Or if you are settling for shake, pay the shake price. At $7 a gram, it's not that bad of a deal -- especially for those of you who don't smoke but prefer to make your own edibles instead.

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Fortunately, the Venom OG I brought home was undeniably from the same powerfully stinky buds I salivated over in the shop. The rubbery, lemon-citrus odors made my office smell like a just-opened can of tennis balls for a few days. The buds had a full, enjoyable flavor as well, with a rich, soil flavor up front and a lemongrass lightness at the end of the exhale. Buds like these make medicating enjoyable not just for the flavors, but for the potency that comes with them. I liked the Venom OG's middle-of-the-road buzz. It wasn't too stoney nor was it too speedy. It was a perfect OGs blend that makes you feel relaxed but still energetic. Stress is a thing of the past for a couple of hours, but you're still able to focus on the task at hand. For me, mid-afternoon was a good time for this strain. Mostly, it helped deal with my increasingly chronic back pain without making me feel too lucid or give me a strong desire for a pillow and blanket.

Pricing isn't bad, although I didn't get member deals for being a first-timer. Not a big issue, as non-member pricing is only $2.50 more per-eighth. But considering the shop advertises member prices for first-time patients on its Weedmaps.com menu page, I was expecting it. And since my budtender was the person who took my information and had to enter me into the system as a new patient, it seemed oddly intentional. It wasn't, I'm sure, but either way, it doesn't do much to woo you back. Thankfully, the cannabis they sell manages to do all the selling necessary.

Too bad the weed can't pick up the parking lot....

Read more reviews from Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic, William Breathes, in our Mile Highs and Lows blog.

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