Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Herban Medicinals in Denver

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Herban Medicinals takes up the basement of the building at 70 Broadway, just down the street from Sweet Action Ice Cream. Coincidence? Likely. But I stopped in for a pint of the pumpkin pie ice cream, and I'll bet I'm not the first medical pot patient to wander south a few doors. I suggest you do the same, actually: Stop by the dispensary and the ice cream shop (even in these freezing temps).

See also: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: A Cut Off the Top in Denver

Herban Medicinals

70 Broadway, Suite 50 Denver, CO 80203 720-343-4372 HerbanMedicinals.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Raw marijuana price range: $8-$10/gram $25-$30/eighth-ounce, $165-$200/ounce. First-time visitors get five visits at member pricing. Non-members pay about $10 more. Other types of medicine: Edipure, Incredibles, Mountain High, infused butter, hash oil, wax, vape pen refils, tincture, lotions. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? No.

The lobby of the Herban Medicinals building is nondescript, and despite having a marijuana grow the size of a small boardroom just below, there's absolutely no pot smell or indication that it's anything other than a midtown office building. A short trip down a floor in the elevator drops you directly into the lobby of the dispensary, where an orange glow fills the otherwise clean and simple waiting room. I could see through the glassed-off receptionist window to the buds on display on a counter in the back, where two budtenders were standing around talking. One saw me and walked over to check my card and ID before buzzing me through. Inside, there's a second waiting room for patients, with leather couches and Alex Grey paintings on the walls, though I was immediately distracted by the source of the orange light on the other side of the room.

Herban Medicinals has glassed off an entire wall into their grow room, where three or four dozen plants were all basking in artificial sunlight. My budtender said they were about three weeks into flower and were already stretching chest-high in the room. Like a moth to a flame, I buzzed over to the window to watch while a gardener tended to some watering. If you're anything like me, checking out cannabis grows never gets old, and it's nice to see a clean, tidy and efficient garden that is producing the meds you consume. The plants were all being grown in coco fiber and looked good but still gangly and awkward-looking in their early stages, like a puppy learning to run.

Meanwhile, my budtender was finishing up my paperwork and had walked over to the counter where the buds were on display. A few rows of cabinets run about half the length of the room, with the cash register and vape pens from Micro G and O.Pen on one side and buds, edibles, concentrates and more paraphernalia on the other. For all the counter space, the bud and hash are kept in a small zone at the end of one cabinet.

My budtender, a tiny woman whose head was at the same level as the bud jars on display on the counter, was an encyclopedia of strains, and I really enjoyed talking bud with her. Unlike at just about every other medical cannabis dispensary, she didn't stand behind a counter but instead hung out next to me, and we went over the strains in jars on a tiered display together. It felt much more relaxed than having to ask a budtender to turn around, grab a jar, show it to me, cap it back up, put it away and move on to the next one.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. There were a few standards on display, including a solid Cindy 99 and a really smooth, fruity Maui that was the best I've seen in years. The Flo was also spot-on, with a baby-powder/lavender ripeness. But a few strains I hadn't seen before, like the Astronaut, Moon Walker and Cosmonaut -- all phenotypes of a Pineapple Express X Jilly Bean/Bubblegum cross -- were what makes the shop worth visiting. The Astronaut was nice, with fat buds and a sweet, light Durban smell, and the Moon Walker looked pretty decent as well, with a more earthy odor and color.

The Cosmonaut was the chunkier and fruitier of the phenotypes, with a true fruit punch/bubble-gum smell that lingered around in my nose and made me want a daiquiri. The bud structure was a lot like the Bubble Gum I've seen around Colorado for years, but with much larger calyxes and a forest of amber trichomes throughout. Broken up, it truly smelled like those old-school pink bubble-gum chunks you could buy from a neighborhood grocery or Hispanic convenience store. The citrus of the Jilly Bean and Pineapple came through in the flavor, and the buds burned down to a fine, white ash. Potency was great as well, with a speedier, uplifting buzz like Jilly Bean that made shoring up the storm windows and shoveling walkways less of a chore this week. It also helped me with appetite, though it didn't kick in right away. The buzz moved from my head to my belly after about 45 minutes. Still, it was a great combination and something worth putting Herban Medicinals on your quasi-rare-strain radar for.

I also had to take home the Sour Grape X Durban Poison x Jilly Bean cross dubbed PB and Grape Jilly. When I was a kid, I'd eat PB&J sandwiches every day, nonstop. Similarly, all I wanted to put in my pipe after work was that strain. The smell out of the jar was really complex, though the first and most noticeable smell is the rich, peppery spice of the Durban. But the sweetness of the Jilly Bean and the dark grape notes of Sour Grape follow close behind, and when you break it up, you can get just a tiny hint of sour from somewhere deep in the flower. The bud boasted tightly packed calyxes, and the flower was dried and cured perfectly, breaking down into waxy little chunks that left my fingers tacky. The flavor was nearly identical to the smell, with a rich Durban poison/soil/haze flavor. Potency was great as well, and a four-hit session from a bubbler loosened up my stomach and helped me focus on something other than pain and nausea during a flareup this week. At $30 an eighth/$200 an ounce for members and even $35 an eighth for non-members, this was a great find.

Hash and concentrates were kept in a small counter to the right, with displays of about four or five strain-specific "flake" waxes, all the color of Hawaiian beach sand. The shop also had three blends of shatter hash. The stuff looked like frozen dark honey and was priced well at $30 a gram for members and first-timers ($35 otherwise). At home, it dabbed well on a titanium nail and left only minimal residue. There wasn't much of a flavor to speak of, but just a tenth of a gram of the "Wakey Wakey" sativa blend spread out over two dabs was enough to put my head miles above terra firma for an hour and a half. Lesson learned: Have something to occupy yourself with and keep a stocked pantry if you bring some of this batch home. I was buzzing around my house like a child with ADD and an empty stomach.

I left the shop about $60 lighter for an eighth's worth of herb and a gram of wax and for the first time in weeks, I didn't feel like I'd thrown my money in a trash can. First-time visitors get a card for five member-pricing visits, which is far better than at any other shop I've seen, and it allows you to make it back and check out everything without thinking you've got to get it all at once.

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

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