Medical marijuana dispensary review: Greenest Green takes over BioCare in Denver

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This dispensary has closed.

Two years ago, I visited the Greenest Green in Boulder, and my review at the time was what most people would consider less than favorable. So when I heard Greenest Green had opened in Denver, I put it on my must-visit list.

The Greenest Green Denver

2899 Speer Boulevard 303-455-3187 www.greenestgreen.org

Manager: Samantha Beckmann Opened: September 2011 Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Online menu: Yes, but for Boulder location only. Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles. Handicap accessible? Yes.

Oddly, I actually really enjoyed a lot of what I saw at that original Greenest Green. As I said then: "I like how the girl at the counter welcomed us so casually. I thought the slamming bass from the sound system, the projection-screen Nintendo Wii on the wall, the contemporary psychedelic artwork and the Kidrobot toys lying around were all a good way to create a young, urban vibe." The shop also had some pretty good herb, as well as a captivating collection of genetics -- though that led to my biggest issue with the place.

At the time, the dispensary had a $70 price tag on its top-shelf, "private reserve" strains. And that was some bullshit: Even with Boulder's 8.6 percent sales tax (at the time) included, those prices were borderline criminal -- especially in a state where black-market herb never went for more than $50. I had a hard time considering Greenest Green a viable shop when profit was such an obvious factor in its business plan.

But things have changed in the nearly two years since my visit to Greenest Green's Boulder location. First and foremost, it's capped the price of its herb at $50 an eighth. While in the last few months I've taken a stand against paying that much, it's still within reason for a shop to charge that price if tax is included. I won't pay it, but it's still better than $70. And the lower-price strains were all much better quality, as well.

Second, Greenest Green has opened a location here in Denver in former home of the BioCare Colective, which Wildflower Seed once reviewed.

The shop has been revamped since BioCare was in control. Walls have been taken down, opening up the bud bar to a small lounge area. Like the Greenest Green in Boulder, the place has a very contemporary-industrial feel, with LED screens showing pictures of flowering plants in the orange glow of the warehouse, exposed HVAC systems and a sleek, poured concrete bud bar where patients saddle up to make their selections. If we were able to smoke on-site in this state, this would be a pretty cool micro lounge for toking up with friends -- as people now can hang out over booze in an upscale martini or wine bar.

Sample herb is still kept in small, opaque purple jars -- as I noted last time, it looks really freaking cool, but also makes seeing the buds from the counter nearly impossible. The plus side is that this presentation forces you to open the jars to smell and look at each sample closely. The shop is pretty well known for its OG cuts, so I started there and made my way through the dozen or so strains in stock with my budtender, a bearded guy around my age who was friendly enough -- but had clearly had a long day and was ready for it to be over.

Manager Samantha Beckmann later told me that the entire herb stock is grown in organic soil or an organic, soilless mix of coco fiber. Though she didn't have all the dirt on their genetic selection, the strains tend to be heavy on the kush varieties (Deadhead OG, Sour OG, OGER) -- with a delightfully nerdy affinity for anything with a Star Wars-related name. There was Skywalker OG and several spinoffs, including the Chewy OG and a strain dubbed "Ewok" with an earthiness mixed with an animal musk that is exactly like what I think an actual ewok would smell like. (I didn't get the lineage on that one, so if anyone has any insight, please let us all know in the comments below.)

Also intriguing were samples of Tangerine Haze and an offshoot dubbed Tangenisia. Both had the candy-like smell of mandarin oranges, though with a uniquely citrus-like haze kick that I haven't smelled before from this increasingly popular family of flowers. From what I saw, there wasn't much of a quality difference between the top-tier $50 herb and the $40 strains. Beckmann said that it generally is based on how much the plant yielded, hence the use of the term "private reserve."

The shop also took home awards last spring for its concentrates, and though the Denver location didn't have the winning Lemon G wax when I visited, it did have a wide strain-specific selection of hash oil to smoke on. According to Greenest Green's Boulder menu, the Lemon G wax apparently sells for $70(!) a gram while others go for as low as $35 a gram.

Ganja is still all pre-weighed, as it was when I first visited the Boulder store. I've never been a huge fan of this, mostly because the gram Skunk x Blueberry we brought home back then was just about three-quarters of a gram short. On this visit, though, everything weighed out on point, if not over. Still, I have a problem with gram prices being higher than what you would pay per gram if you bought an eighth -- even if it's only by $1, as is the case with the $14 grams for the $45/eighth herb. If everything is being pre-weighed to begin with, it's no more extra work. As I've said before, I understand discounts for buying in bulk -- but an eighth of an ounce isn't a bulk purchase, in my book.

This time, I walked out with selections from the $40 to $45-per-eighth tier. In order to get some variety, I had to purchase three grams that ended up coming out to more than I would have paid for 3.5 grams had I purchased an eighth. According to Beckmann, BioCare used to split eighths for customers and even sell them by the half-gram from time to time; she said that several customers have complained about the pre-weighed system -- so perhaps the shop will adjust its practices for the Denver market.

Otherwise, my two visits were as different as night and day. The quality at the Denver Greenest Green was up and the prices were down; this is definitely a place I would stop back by again from time to time to check out the selection. That said, though, it might not be in this location forever, since it's right across Speer Boulevard from North High School, and there are rumors of a coming federal crackdown on MMJ centers within 1,000 feet of schools. Beckman said the shop isn't worried about that move hinted at last week in separate CBS4 and Associated Press reports, but added that the business would do whatever it could to stay open, even if that meant moving.

Page down for pictures and reviews of the ganja William Breathes took home this week. Blue Dream ($40/eighth) Lavender fruitiness to the smell of the buds all the way across the board: in the sample jar in the shop, in the gram I took home, in the flavor of the smoke and the smell in the office afterward. Very impressive how the smell and flavor matched so well, backed with fruity notes through most of the bowl. It burned down to a nice white ash, though a bit harshly due to how dried-out the buds were by the time I got my hands on them. But that was minor, and the high was pretty major. Beckmann told me later that buds from this crop tested out as high as 30 percent THC, and it was evident from the minor amounts I had to puff on to go low-eyed and cotton-mouthed. Relaxing without being couch-locking, for me this was a Blue Dream I could have again. Tangerine Haze - ($40/eighth) Out of the sample jar in the shop, this had some of the most intensely fruity smell I've come across and beautiful, Broncos-esque orange hairs cowlicking out from some dark green, amazingly trichome-covered calyxes. Just looking at this cut screamed "SATIVA HEAD EXPLOSION!" The smell of the gram I took home wasn't as strong as the quarter or so I was sniffing on in the shop at first, but broken up it had a great stank to it that was nearly identical to a Sonic cherry limeade. It had a much more pronounced haze nose to the taste of the smoke as well. A great, uplifting and racy buzz from this sample had me talking a mile-a-minute at dinner with the in-laws, and going back for thirds thanks to a much-needed appetite boost. Chewy OG ($45/eighth) The best of the bunch and the worst of the bunch -- funny how that works out. Actually, I'm being a little harsh. It had a fruity yet rubbery OG scent and flavor, and was much nicer in appearance than some of the $50 strains I saw. But the gram I took home (as you can see above) was teeny, tiny, larfy budlets -- nothing that was a truly great example of the strain as a flower for me to check out. Nice trichome coverage, nothing funky under the scope...but nothing to drool over. And for a pot nerd like me (and probably you, if you've made it this far), that is half the fun. The upside was that it was less work to break it up and roll it into three nice and tight mini-cones to enjoy -- all burning down with decent flavor through the first three hits, then tapering off into a general ganjaness. Very balanced buzz with this sample of this cut, which Ry Prichard from KindReviews (and fellow pot-nerd like us) tells me is a pheno of the Skywalker OG. Sour OG wax - $35/gram Great color on this and an almost crunchy texture, like old-school pressed kief blocks cut with a razor blade. It looked like it had been drizzled into the jar to cure, and breaking up the chunks let out an almost artificial OG soil-like smell that tickled my nose enough to bring on a sneeze. It wasn't gooey and broke up into a kief-like powder in my fingers over a bowl. On a nail and dome, the wax hit harsh, with a straight burning THC smell and flavor up-front with subtle notes of the Chemmy OG-ishness of the flower. Very, very potent, though, and two dabs of less than two-tenths of a gram was more than more than enough to put me in my own tunnel-visioned space world for thirty minutes, before I came back down a few atmospheres to being really stoned and stress free.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for our medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews over at our marijuana blog, Mile Highs and Lows, and keep up with all of your marijuana news at The Latest Word.

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