Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Herbal Wellness in Lafayette

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The lobby and bud-bar walls of Herbal Wellness are literally covered with framed head shots of random celebrities, all signed (I assume) to the owner, mostly from people who were big in the '70s, '80s and '90s. Some I got, like Cheech and Chong. But for most of them, I didn't understand the connection to legal weed at all. Like John Wayne and numerous 1960s-era baseball players.

I briefly wondered how someone like Dolly Parton would feel about her mug and autograph hanging in a weed store as if she'd been there and endorsed it. Then I figured she couldn't give two shits and probably sends the same "best wishes" photo to guys serving life in prison, too.

See also: First of Aurora's 21 Rec Dispensaries Set to Open Next Week, More to Follow

Herbal Wellness

400 West South Boulder Road, Unit 2700 Lafayette, CO 80026 303-665-5599

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range (nonmembers): $12/gram $40-$45/eighth-ounce, $200-$220/ounce. Raw marijuana price range (members): $10/gram $35/eighth-ounce, $170-$200/ounce. Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, caviar, edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? Yes.

Otherwise, the dispensary seemed normal. I walked in and was greeted by a pants-suited receptionist, filled out some quick paperwork in one of the comfy leather couches and handed it back. The receptionist then told me to go ahead through the medical door she had buzzed open. Before I opened it, though, I could hear the booming voice of the woman ahead of me talking with the lone budtender.

The shop is both medical and recreational. From what I could tell, the staff was split between two different bud bars -- which meant I'd have to wait as the boorish woman ahead of me went into a loud, detailed conversation with the budtender (but mostly herself) about her tolerance to every single edible product the shop sold, how high she gets and how much she hates eating food (she only likes getting high). It's one thing to talk meds with a budtender, it's another to chat them up for five minutes like a happy-hour drunk to a bartender. She didn't seem to notice that she was completely wasting time, until the lone budtender turned to me to finally say hello. At that point, she got flustered and told him to go ahead and take care of me.

That lasted about thirty seconds. I asked to see a strain -- a mediocre version of Grunk -- and before I could ask to see another jar of some fruity but leafy Blue Widow, the woman was all but shoving me out of the way to get to the medicated teas to my left (the same product she had apparently purchased numerous times in the past) and ask more questions. Not wanting to deal with more interruptions, I stood back and let her bull her way around. By this time, another person had been let into the cramped little space, creating a line that only made things feel more rushed. The woman ahead of me was clueless, though, and kept up her conversation at top-volume with the budtender who, to his credit, looked like he was hoping spontaneous human combustion was a real thing. But obnoxious customers are a part of retail life. That much isn't the shop's fault. I get it. But all this time, a man I have to assume was the owner was holding court in the lobby, answering the questions of three or four graying-haired women about the business side of things.

It wasn't him being nice to customers. He seemed to be wrapping up a tour of the facilities for what seemed to be clueless potential future marijuana business owners, politicians or media, and I couldn't figure out why he was shmoozing with them rather than jumping in and helping his clearly in-need employees. He had to have seen through the open door to the medical bud bar that a third patient lined up in the medical room.

Finally, after about eight minutes of me basically standing around, a second budtender came through one of the back doors (I assume from the recreational side) to help out while the owner continued his chatter in the lobby and the patient ahead of me kept talking about getting high. My new budtender was a friendly guy, but I got the feeling that he walked out, saw the line and was rushing me through to get to the next customer, who already had cash in hand. So needless to say, before I had even really looked at the bud on the shelves, Herbal Wellness was turning out to be more effort than it was worth.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. Things didn't get all that much better when I started sniffing around the jars, which is strange. I have to admit, the place came well recommended, and its online customer reviews aren't bad -- so I was frankly very surprised at the mid-grade level of most buds on display. Strains like the NYC Diesel and Blue Dream, which normally have a unique, strong odor, just fell flat. Same for the Sour Skies, which should have had a rich, OG-funk, not a hay-like scent with larfy little buds. The two strains worth bringing home out of the bunch were the Cheese and the Kandy Kush (OG Kush x Trainwreck), although the latter only won by default. Even then, the sample didn't have much of a strain-distinct odor out of the jar in the shop -- but it was just frosty and dense enough to have some promise.

At home, the buds broke down and let out a fruity, Smarties-like smell, yet still lacked any of the OG-like qualities it should possess. The density from the Trainwreck was certainly there, though, and the buds broke down like little crystallized pebbles in my fingertips. They burned cleanly, but with little flavor, and the buzz was mild. While stress relief was probably the biggest benefit of burning the bud, I did get a small appetite swell after having a small bowl in the mornings. But at $40 an eighth, this was hardly worth the time and gas money from Denver.

Meanwhile, the chattering continued from the woman ahead of me. At one point she was talking about buying a lot of the medicated teas so she could have a party and get everyone high. I did my best to ignore her and moved on.

The Cheese fared better. The sample had that stinky, moldy cheese funk it should out of the jar, despite being somewhat underdeveloped and leafy. The bud was fresh and the stems bent and peeled instead of snapping, but everything still burned down cleanly, with a skunky flavor. Potency wasn't great, but it did the job and was much better for appetite than the Kandy Kush. The Cheese also left me with a nice, even-keeled high that was perfect for daytime use. This was probably the one strain in the shop worth checking out, at least at first-time member pricing of $35 an eighth -- but, again, only if you're already in the area. Otherwise, you'll find equally as good herb in Denver or Boulder, likely for less.

The shop is also really big on the "infused flower" thing and had a selection of at least seven or eight strains of it. Some call it caviar, but whatever the name, the buds have been soaked in hash oil, then covered in kief. It's a novelty worth trying once or twice, but the coolness quickly wears off when you realize the little chunks hardly ever burn well in a bowl and you'd have been better off getting hash and bud separately and mixing them yourself. At least that's been my experience. For hash, there was a slim selection of wax from Venom, CO2 oil from Oil Stix and shatter from the Clinic's Lab, but none of it was done from HW's trim, so I opted to just stick with the herb this week.

After speeding through the selections, I paid up and scooted out past the still-yakking owner. The shop advertises member prices for first-time patients, but either my budtender didn't hear me say it was my fist time in (and completely ignored the customer data in the point-of-sale system computers) or was too rushed to care, because I paid full price for everything -- bringing my total for an eighth of herb to around $45 after taxes.

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

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