Medical marijuana dispensary review: Grass Roots Organica in Denver

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This dispensary has closed.

Grass Roots Organica sounds like the name of a noodle-dancing hippie jam band out of Boulder -- and as such, I've avoided it. But they were still around on July 1, so I figured it wasn't just another fly-by-night dispensary hoping to cash in before regulations shut it down.

Grass Roots Organica

Location: 399 S. Harrison St. Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Phone: 303-362-0145 Website: www.grassrootsorganica.com Owner: Amber Cook Raw marijuana price range: $35 cap on eighths. Other types of medicine: Edibles, hash, tincture, BHO Handicap-accessible? Couldn't reach the owner, but there were no handicap ramps leading to the door.

My visit also means I'm officially "in the system" now, whatever that may mean. According to some people, I should now expect Denver police, the DEA, Chris Romer and a troop of Boy Scouts at my door within 48 hours to arrest me for purchasing 3.5 grams of cannabis and a gram of hash in a clamping-down of medical cannabis from all angles. Others say it's just hoop-jumping business as usual -- more regulations to comply with on our way to eventual freedom. I'm not too cool with the database system, but then again, I haven't seen any black helicopters flying over my house (yet).

The shop is in an old duplex in a lost little neighborhood surrounded on three sides by strip centers, business parks and Alameda Avenue. The secured waiting room was empty, and it took a minute for someone to come to the other side of the bulletproof window near the locked dispensary door. I handed my red card and ID over to a guy behind the counter, who looked it over briefly and buzzed me back through the door.

Grass Roots is similar to other house-turned-dispensaries in layout. The living room is now the lobby; one bedroom is a waiting room with big leather couches and a flat-screen TV, and the other two contain the bud bar and therapy room. The walls are painted in shades of earthy green and tan, with a few nature photographs and art pieces hanging on the walls. To be honest, I had expected it to be more of a stoner den and was surprised to find it a welcoming and bright wellness center instead.

I filled out my paperwork while slowly sinking into the large leather couch in the patient lounge. It was a tight fit with the sofa, coffee table and television stand all in the room, but no worse than the tiny downtown lofts where some of my friends live. I finished up my paperwork and got briefly sucked into some baby-mama drama on the talk show playing on the flat screen. If medicating was allowed on site, I probably could have rolled up a joint and finished it out to see if the guy with the mullet really was the father of three children by three different women.

My budtender made quick photocopies and then gave me the brief tour. I was in early, but Grass Roots Organica was already busy, with a silver-haired woman headed to the bud counter and another patient headed back to the therapy room for some sort of Eastern spa treatment. My budtender, a soft-spoken guy with an accent, told me staffers actually see a fair number of patients for the reiki and massage sessions. Yet another surprise from Grass Roots Organica, as many dispensaries have dropped any sort of wellness services over the last year, saying nobody ever uses them.

Before taking me to the bud bar, my budtender showed me the clone shop they had going in another former bedroom. He said Grass Roots used to sell everything from rooted clones to "huge monsters" that were ready to be put into flower, but new laws changed that. Now, the center is only able to sell plants up to about eight inches tall.

The patient in front of me finished up, and I was led to the bud bar. The budtender gave me a quick rundown of where the indicas, sativas and hybrid strains were in the glass counter, what different hashes, oils and waxes were on hand, and where I could find the edibles. There were no more than ten different strains in large jars, several of which were only half full.

The budtender said Grass Roots tries to have a lot of waxes and extracts on the shelves, since it's something in which the shop specializes. But there were only three strain-specific extracts when I was in, as well as some extremely viscous honey oil. My budtender was honest enough to tell me that he wasn't pleased with the honey oil and wouldn't be making it after that batch. "It still works, but I just don't think the extraction is as good," he said.

I told the budtender about my raging battles with nausea and stomach cramping for a minute, and he went to work pulling strains up. The stock was low, but cuts like the appealing Pineapple Express and fluffy Killer Queen x SFV Cross looked decent from my side of the glass counter. My budtender suggested I treat my nausea with Grape Ape, a strain I haven't really gone to in the past but figured was worth a shot. Overall, the limited selection wasn't too much of an issue, and the herb I saw was well priced at $35 an eighth. Some were better than others, but almost all of the strains seemed to have at least one worthwhile trait to them.

I walked out feeling pretty good about my purchase and the shop overall, but things weren't as good when I got home. In short: Grass Roots Organica is doing great with patient services but has a little work to be done on the cannabis itself.

Page down to see what William took home. Grape Ape: $35/eighth I had never seen or smelled Grape Ape that looked this good in the shop jar. It had a funky, sautéed-mushroom funk mixed in with a Sour Diesel finish, and very appealing dark, raisin-purple calyxes hid under the few errant fan leaves and fire-orange hairs. As my budtender said, the bud helped me with nausea most of the time, although the two bowls I packed up with seeds in them left me kinda gaggy -- and unfortunately, I found two more mature seeds and several more tiny immature ones breaking up the rest of the bud. Looking online at reviews of Grass Roots Organica, this doesn't seem to be limited to just their Grape Ape. It's unfortunate, because otherwise this was an enjoyable smoke for the flavor and for the medicinal qualities. Bright side is that I can always grow my own now. Killer Queen x SFV OG Kush: $35/eighth I snagged this one because of its alleged cross between two of my top strains. The Killer Queen has long been my go-to, knockout-punch strain when the only cure for feeling sick is to pass out in a pain-numbed haze. By comparison, the SFV (San Fernando Valley) OG is a more mentally uplifting strain that I really enjoy for the flavor. In my head, the cross between the two would be amazing, but what I brought home fell short of what I'd imagined. My purchase featured small, popcorn-like underdeveloped buds that lacked a discernible smell of either Killer Queen or SFV. Broken up, it had a fertilizer spiciness that came out as a throat-scratching harshness in the bubbler. A bowl left me foggy for an hour, and I've been sitting on the rest ever since. Killer Queen wax: $30/gram In the shop, the chunks of dark wax looked like the chunky and well-purged blobs of oil a friend used to make. I grabbed a gram based on the look and herb-like smell of the wax, but at home, I found it to be more green than dark amber due to a lot of plant material in the mix. Some chunks were better than others, but most had a weed-butter green look under bright light. It burned a bit rough, with a lot of bubbling and popping, but had a definite Killer Queen aftertaste. The budtender said Grass Roots does a vacuum pressure purge and a heat purge on its wax, and that may be true. But from the looks of this, staffers could let it purge for a few more minutes. I spaced getting pictures of this before losing it in my office. **update: found the wax, though I moved it out of the little twist-top plastic container GRO sold it to me in.

William Breathes is the pen name for Westword's roving medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more reviews in our dispensary blog, Mile Highs and Lows.

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