Medical marijuana dispensary review: Grassroots Grown in Denver

This dispensary has closed.

I couldn't have visited Grassroots Grown at a worse time. No, the shelves weren't bare, and although the herb on the shelves could use some lovin', that wasn't the problem, either. Unfortunately, Grassroots will probably have to move, since it's one of 48 shops (so far) to receive a federal shutdown letter.

Grassroots Grown

3867 Tennyson Street Denver, CO 80212 303-420-6279 www.grassrootsgrown.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Online menu: Yes.
 Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles.
 Handicap-accessible?: Yes.

An owner by the name of Fred told me that Grassroots Grown is very close to securing a new location that isn't within 1,000 feet of a school. He hopes to reopen again soon.

Which sucks for the owners, who clearly have put a lot of work and time into creating a funky, bright and welcoming space for patients. Out front is a large deck for chilling while waiting for customers ahead of you to finish. Of course, the space goes mostly unused, since there is no medicating on-site; laws prohibit patients from relaxing while eating one of the cookies or brownies they just purchased inside.

The lobby of the place is clean and green, with alternating lime and white paint on the walls, along with quaintly mismatched furniture and trim. A small receptionist counter is situated in the back right of the room near the door that leads back to the bud bar. Some artwork from local artists is hung around the walls, giving the place a funky coffeeshop feel, with the smell of fresh herb replacing freshly roasted beans.

All that can be replaced in a new shop. But it would be a shame to see one of the few shops running its farm in a sustainable manner go by the wayside. Grassroots Grown raises all of its plants outdoors in greenhouses on a seventy-acre farm north of Boulder. Fred told me it's one of the only licensed outdoor grows in the state, with everything rooted in organic soil to keep things natural. He says this past year, staffers were able to run harvests all year round -- even starting some plants two days after the winter solstice, when the sun is at its lowest angle in the sky (around 22 degrees, if you want to be nerdy). He admits that the harvest turned out a bit airy compared to the dense, full buds off of twelve-to-fifteen-foot plants.

In the summer months, Fred said employees light-deprive the plants to force them into flowering. It's a very labor-intensive operation. But the bonus? No paying huge electrical bills for hundreds of thousands of watts in artificial light. Fred admits that outdoor plants just don't compare to indoor hydroponic and bucket grows in terms of frosty looks, but sometimes looks aren't everything. And I agree. Some of the best haze-based herb I've had in years was last April in Jamaica. It was a bit dull to look at, but it was mind-racing and powerful in a spliff. Grassroots Grown has some work to get to that point, but outdoor growing takes time to get right, and I see a lot of promise in the center's approach.

I was the only person in during my visit, so after signing the shop's release form, I was ushered straight to the back by my budtender, Josh. He told me that he recently took over as manager and that he was working to build the edibles selection as well as help keep the herb quality more consistent.

I'm not sure how bad it was before, but the edibles selection was decent enough. There were a few medicated drinks from two or three manufacturers in the fridge along with cakes and brownies. The shop also had a rack of medicated candy from Mile High Suckers and sold boxes of the At Home Baked pre-made pot brownie mix for $50 -- about $10 lower than a lot of other places I've seen.

There were about twenty strains in stock the day I was in, split by indica-dominant on the left shelves and sativa-dominant on the right. Some buds looked more full than others, but all had a similarly dark, hearty look as opposed to the fragile, crystallized indoor buds we are so used to up here a mile high. Josh ran me through some of his favorites on both sides of the spectrum, including a decent Sour Diesel, stringy Amnesia Haze, sugary Colorado Cough, plump Master Mars and musky Sweet Skunk.

On the good side, the herb sells for no more than $200 an ounce, and some strains were selling for much, much lower. The buds sell for $25 an eighth on the smaller side, and first-time patients receive half off. But relying on the sun for power also has its drawbacks. What was left on the shelves this early in the spring was almost all from the winter harvest. As Fred pointed out, strains like the Sour D, Cough and Amnesia Haze looked a bit lanky, as if they were reaching out to get whatever winter sun they could in the shortened days of December, January and February.

Fred said that the shop likely won't do a winter harvest again, instead changing the planting times to avoid the darkest time of the year and building up the summer and fall harvests to carry through the winter and early spring. I hope the shop stays around long enough for that to happen.

Page down for pictures and reviews of the outdoor herb William took home this week. Amnesia Haze: $25/eighth As we've already said, it's not as pretty as indoor, fertilized herb -- that much you can tell by the picture. But solar-powered herb I've had in Jamaica and California over the last few years had similar dull characteristics and still packed a surprising punch. Samples of this I've seen in friends' indoor gardens have much more contrasting colors compared to the dark, jungle camouflage-like greens and tans. Under the scope, the buds were more appealing, with loads of amber-to-dark tan trichomes with huge, fat heads and skinny stems scattered throughout the bud. Broken down for a bowl pack, the herb let out a piney sweetness with a faintly noticeable musky haze. The taste wasn't much different. Nothing exciting or eyebrow-lifting, just sweet, nondescript ganja taste on the inhale and exhale. Medically, it was mildly potent with a heavy narcotic feeling through the first 45 minutes. For $25, this Colorado-grown outdoor bud wasn't terrible to have around; it's just not what I would normally have in my jars. But I would love to see what a fall harvest of Amnesia looks like. Cough: $25/eighth Cough is one of the few Colorado-based strain known for being grown outdoors. In fact, one of the legends of how this strain got its name comes from its extremely long flowering time -- sometimes as long as three months. (That meant in years when Mother Nature didn't cooperate, it had to be brought down early without enough time to flush.) The other origin story? The amazingly rich and pungent haze characteristics caused a lot of people to go into coughing fits. I know I've been there myself a few times. But it's a very unique, distinct strain either way. The round, marble-like buds on my purchase were thin but still fully developed and coated in small, dark trichomes. In the shop, the buds together had a distinct mild haziness to them, but after a few days in the baggie, the sample buds I brought home lost a lot of their smell. Giving the buds a pinch brought out some of the rich scent, but it was nowhere near as impressive as it should have been. Same goes for the flavor, which was less than memorable for what is normally a very robust, thick smoke. Having seen great outdoor Cough over the years, this sample didn't stack up aesthetically. But it did pack a Cough-like punch that left my mind foggy and my stomach grumbling for food, and it burned down clean and smooth in a clean pipe, a spliff and the bubbler. OG Kush: $25/eighth Some of the best looking buds in the store, though I could tell from my first sniff of the jar that looks were pretty much all they had going for them. No smell, really, and marginally wet, the buds could have used some TLC over the last few months before hitting the shelf in terms of drying and curing. Too much moisture left the buds with a moldy stink that didn't belong -- a shame considering how well-developed the flowers were. I didn't see anything odd on my scope of the bud, but sometimes the nose knows what the rest of the body doesn't. After a few days drying in a kief box, the buds dried to a smokable consistency and if I tried hard enough to convince myself it was there, I could detect some mild, rubbery Kushiness to the flavor. Medically, the strain behaved like a lot of OGs, giving me an enjoyably euphoric head buzz with moderate pain relief on the side.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read back on two-plus years of his reviews in our Mile Highs and Lows blog and keep up with all your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.

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