Medical marijuana dispensary review: Herbal Remedies in Denver

While recreational marijuana sales still offer the thrill of buying pot legally for those not accustomed to it, a trip to the medical marijuana dispensary for longtime MMJ patients tends to be about as mundane and normal as a trip to the grocery store or cashing a check.

Which actually makes the bank-like interior of Herbal Remedies in Denver (pretty much Lakewood) that much more appropriate.

Herbal Remedies

5109 West Alameda Avenue Denver, Colorado 80219 303-742-0420 HerbalRemediesDenver.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends. Raw marijuana price range: $10/gram $25-$40/eighth-ounce, $175-$225/ounce. Members receive additional discounts. Other types of medicine: Edibles, concentrates, tinctures. Online menu? Yes, though it was sixteen days old as of April 24,2014. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

I'm surprised I haven't been to Herbal Remedies yet. Frankly, I thought I had been, but I was clearly confusing it with Natural Remedies, Herbal Cure, Herbs 4U, At Home Remedies, Lincoln Herbal and any other shop containing the overused and generic "herbal" or "remedies" in its name.

Inside, the shop is slightly generic as well. After getting my ID and red card checked in the small entryway security area, I was buzzed back to the spacious, neat and tidy dispensary. The shop has a main counter with what look like a bank-teller station setup that nearly spans the width of the store. Massive, blown-up photos of cannabis flowers and buds adorn the walls, just in case you forget where you are. It's clean and effective, and the crew has done a good job. It's just not unique in any way.

But the one thing that didn't blend together with other shops in my mind was the strain selection and overall decent quality of the buds on sale.

Interestingly, bud isn't kept at the main counter. Instead, the shop has all of the sample jars of herb on a smaller metal-and-glass display cabinet to the left. Bud is kept in jars labeled on top with the strain name and separated out by sativa dominants on one side and indica dominants on the other. While I get the continuing need to do this on some level, I think it's time we start looking at plants in a much less binary manner. For example, plants that genetically should be a "sativa" often don't have any of the "sativa" effects. I'm not sure what the answer is, but lumping everything into sativa or indica -- or the even less-telling term "hybrid" -- doesn't seem to mean much anymore. Nothing against Herbal Remedies; I'm just ranting here.

My budtender was an energetic dude who knew a lot about the strains he had on the shelf as well as offering personal insight into their effects. It was my first time in, so he gave me a little primer about how things work, including a price breakdown.

Basically, the shop has four price ranges. The $25 pre-packaged eighths are kept in baggies, $30-$35 mid-range bud is in jars on display; and a private-reserve list of rare genetics (like Pickle, Strawberry Diesel and King Tut) that have been cured for at least three months run at $40 an eighth and come in a fancy-shmancy glass jar. The latter buds looked and smelled nice, though I didn't see any overly huge trichome production on them versus the $30-$35 range of herb -- so I opted for the cheaper shelf to save a few bucks. There are also some good first-time patient deals, including a sample pack of grams from four different strains for $20.

For concentrates, the shop had Huxley's "honey oil" syringes for those of you into loading your own vape pens (I wouldn't suggest dabbing that stuff myself). The shop also has housemade wax and shatter, with some very pretty dark-amber grams of glass-like Jillly Bean going for $40. I didn't snag any, though, as I'm still working my way through the last gram of hash I bought; I'm trying to keep my hash consumption down so my tolerance doesn't shoot up. But next time I want to re-up on some oil-rig food, Herbal Remedies will be getting my business.

Edibles didn't seem like too big of a focus. The center had a tiny display case with the mega-potent CannaPunch drinks, as well as some of the lower-dosage sodas and carbonated drinks from MarQaHa. Tinctures were also selling for $25-$30 for 15- to 200-milligram bottles. Herbal Remedies also stocks a lot of other gear, including the top vapes from Cloud, Atmos and Essential. Included were pre-loaded THC oil cartridges selling for a decent $40 for a 500-milligram cartridge.

Continue for the rest of the review and more photos. While I didn't see anything grown at a truly connoisseur level, the buds were all relatively ripe, and I would have been happy bringing home most all of them. The Bruce Banner was stinky, with a strong fresh-soil undertone to the eucalyptus-like menthol the buds produce. The shop's Flo was also notable, if only for the distinctive Flo odors coming from the otherwise normally developed buds. Other flowers that stuck in my mind were the spicy Sour Alien, the chunky Booger and the leafy but stinky Great White Shark. Herbal Remedies entered its Sour Kush in the High Times Cannabis Cup, and my budtender was talking it up plenty. But, of course, none of the buds were in the shop for sale the day I stopped by. Womp. But no matter; I found plenty to enjoy out of the two dozen or so strains on display. The Sour Grape was one of the first batches I was shown, and the sweet, chocolate-grape smell lingered in my nose for the rest of my visit. The buds themselves aren't the most developed-looking things, and the thread-thin orange pistils give them a wispy appearance. But they were much plumper than they seemed, and were blasted with a medium coating of fine silver trichomes. I'm not a huge fan of the (usually) weak buzz of purple strains, but this flower seemed to take all of the flavor and smell from its grape lineage and leave the buzz to the Sour Diesel. The mildly strong uplifting, energetic buzz from one bowl was more than enough to get my stomach through the afternoon without any cramping or nausea. By lunch, a recharge hit or two had my belly rumbling and my mind sputtering around like an old Volkswagen. At the budtender's suggestion, I also tried the lemon-haze-stinking Lemonhead. Opening the jar was like a blast to the face with lemon Pledge furniture cleaner, with an overwhelmingly tart citrus smell that tickled my nose to the point of sneezing. The buds looked dusted with a light, sandy coating of trichomes and an interesting Sour Diesel-like BB calyx structure. Whereas the Sour Grape produced a normal, happy buzz that came on with a predictable flow, the Lemonhead was a rocket ship to the upper stratosphere of my mind. Within five minutes of puffing a series of six delicious one-hitters, I was bouncing around the room on a cleaning kick that started in my basement and somehow ended up with me clearing out the garage before I snapped out of it. While I would have preferred one or two actual buds to the crumbs I brought home, it was still a decent strain to puff for the week. It's most likely due to the pre-packaged gram I picked up, but the Cali OG was probably the least developed strain I brought home. Everything on the bud seemed so small. The leftover sugar leaves looked wispy and tiny, the calxyes underdeveloped and puny. But the smell was still large and in charge, and the sample blended the earthy, spring-soil smell of an OG with the sharp, fresh green aroma of cut grass. Not dead, wet grass like uncured pot can sometimes have: I'm talking the fresh-cut grass smell that makes you want to fly a kite in the park or toss the ball for your dog for an hour or more. Unfortunately, the wispy bottom buds I brought home would have better been used to make hash -- and I also found two or three questionable white spots on the buds that looked to be an overgrowth of mildew (you can see one spot on the bud at the bottom of the photo). Fortunately, the issue didn't invade the smell or taste, but it's something staffers should certainly know about and correct if they are going to sell this, let alone sell it at full price alongside everything else. Otherwise, the mellow, stinky Cali OG is a strain worth keeping and perfecting for Herbal Remedies.

Overall, the visit was non-eventful. Staff was great, I was in and out, and the bud fell in a range of being not good enough to rave about but not bad enough to remember. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. I don't really want an eventful trip to the grocery store or the bank, either.

Read more reviews from Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic, William Breathes, in our Mile Highs and Lows blog, and keep up with all your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.

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