Medical marijuana dispensary review: Herbs4You in Denver

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I've admitted in this blog to being bad about judging books by their covers -- and dispensaries by their names. And frankly, Herbs4You sounds more like an insane Japanese game show that puts contestants through rounds of eating semi-poisonous plants than a medical marijuana center.

I can just picture the tuxedo-clad host screaming "HERBS FOR YOU!" into a camera at the top of his lungs while four poor saps choke down greens behind him. It's just me, I know. But that's the single reason I've avoided a shop that is two blocks from my office for the last year and a half.


20 East Ninth Ave. Denver, CO 80203 www.herbs4youdenver.com 303-830-9999

Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles, tinctures, medicated drinks. Online Menu: No. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

Inside, Herbs4You could be the front office for just about any small, private business. Stock office furniture and couches occupy the small, forgettable waiting room, and the only indication that you're in a medical marijuana dispensary is the name of the shop, the secured entryway, and the dozens of Amsterdam-related items hung on the otherwise bare white walls. They range from flags to T-shirts from the various world-renowned coffee shops and seed companies that call the Dutch city home.

My budtender was a large, imposing man with an accent like a supporting actor in a James Bond film; he didn't smile or say much to me during my ten-minute tour other than what was needed to get business done. I was the only customer there, so after checking in through the shatterproof-glass window in the entryway, I was led straight back to the bud bar to look at the meds.

The shop is clean, very clean. OCD clean, even. The glass was unsmudged, the waiting room was spotless and organized, and the entire shop was brightly lit and welcoming. The staff has even attempted to scrub the air clean, apparently. Most dispensaries I've been in over the last two-plus years have at least a faint whiff of dried herb floating around, but not Herbs4You.

Instead, the place smelled like one of those Glade Plug-Ins. And not just like one or two had been placed around the dispensary for good measure. I mean the place smelled like it actually was a giant, peachy, flowery Glade Plug-In. Sniffing buds out of the jars became a task of separating the chemical room perfume from the smell of herb. The Plug-In scent was so potent that it lingered in my nose for a good hour after I left the shop. It must be nauseating to work in that for hours on end.

And it might even explain why my budtender wasn't the most talkative guy. I think in total, he said a dozen words to me. Considering it was my first time in, I wasn't given much of a rundown of the shop -- just told that indicas were in the glass counter on my left and sativas were in the counter on the right. Herb is kept in screw-top jars, and everything looked to be well-stocked, so it was easy to get a look at the buds from a distance.

I started out with the sativas, going through a Pineapple Punch that was fruity but slightly on the underdeveloped, airy side. Next up was the Flo, which looked like it was completely overlooked by whoever does trimming at the shop. But despite the outer shell of sugar leaves that would have been better turned to hash, the strain had a knockout smell of mixed jelly beans and potting soil, and I left it out for further consideration. Other strains in the cabinet weren't too enticing, so I moved over to the next cabinet and went through about ten more strains on the indica side.

Out of those, the standouts were a hearty Lifesaver, spiced Bubble Star and Dinger-colored Purple Passion. But after a few jars, I began to get the feeling that homeboy behind the counter was not all that pumped to pull out more jars for me to stare at, sniff and then hand back to him to check out something else. That's not to say that everything looked worth going over, either. A lot of strains -- like the wispy, underdeveloped Jamaican Pearl and a dull, browning OG Bubba -- wouldn't have made it out regardless. But there were one or two strains I noticed while the budtender was doing his thing, like the chunky LA Kush, that I wouldn't have minded checking out. Labels on the buds I brought home list the only growing ingredients as ProGrow, ProBloom, Organic Honey, Cal Mag and AZA May. Oh, and water. Gotta have water.

I ended up going with the Bubble Star at the budtender's suggestion ("I like that one") and the Flo due to the potent smell and crystal-coated buds. Nothing in the Herbs4You cabinet goes for more than $30 for four grams, with most strains selling at $25 (at least, that's what I understood from my budtender). Pre-weighed ounces packed tight in Mason jars were selling for between $140 and $170 -- including the stinky (but extremely leafy) Flo. Pre-weighed $20 grams of strain-specific bubble hash are kept on top of the counter in baggies hanging from a rotating display and $25 grams of BHO were just below on a counter's glass shelf. The BHO had a really wet look to it that didn't jibe with my sensibilities as much as the crumbly, waxy-looking bubble hash did, though.

I left with just over an eighth of herb and a gram of hash for under $49 after taxes. And though a good amount of the selection was not up to standards, it's worth the nose full of air freshener to check out the shop for those three or four strains being done right .

Page down for strain reviews and photos. Flo: $25/eighth I'm all about leaving a Colorado trim (as my California friends call our loose trimmed herb) on buds. But this was too much. I don't think anything aside from plucking the large fan leaves was done to trim up these chunks. Sure, the sugar leaves are coated in trichomes -- but that shit should be trimmed and made into top-notch hash and not left to add weight to patient's herb. Granted, it's not much weight on a two-gram bag -- but in an ounce, that will start to add up. But for all that complaining, the strain did only cost $25 for an eighth and beneath the greenery was an amber crystal-coated chunk of delicious Flo. The buds held a very good smell after a few days in the medicine jar and the taste came through perfectly with a light, almost menthol hint to the dank, hashy finish. A great strain overall, the Flo was uplifting and helped settle my stomach a few mornings this week when I woke up feeling shitty. During the day, it provided a great boost of both appetite and creativity that tapered off evenly over the course of two hours. Leaves and all, this cut of Flo from Herbs4You was a few bucks I didn't feel bad about spending this week. Bubble Star: $25/eighth The buds were shaped like small, round shrubberies strung up with dark-orange hairs that gave them a reddish hue. Broken up at home, they let out an old-school indica hashiness with a strong turpentine high note that added to the exotic spice smell. Smoked, the herb burned thick and expansive, leaving a more generic bud taste. I got a few tastes of the spice, and the cut left a pleasant, incense-like smoke in the office, but overall the flavor wasn't all there. The herb wasn't as strong as I had hoped, but found it was good for cramping relief without putting me on the couch with the dogs listening to Zeppelin while eating a plate of cold cuts and cheese. Not that this has ever happened.... There's not much to write home about with this Bubble Star, really. But at $25 an eighth, there's not much to complain about, either. It's pretty representative of the general selection overall, actually. OG Bubba Kush/Durban Poison 73 micron bubble hash: $20/gram Though the OG Bubba on the shelves wasn't going to win any beauty contests, the hash that came from the trim of that and Herbs4You's Durban poison caught my eye almost immediately. The hash was waxy on some of the larger chunks, and all seemed dried and cured well, with the Durban coming out in the battle for strongest smell. It broke down easily to a crumbly, brown-sugar texture over a bowl and sizzled down on top when hit with a flame. It wasn't so waxy that it created huge air domes or burned down on a skillet. But it burned clean by itself on a titanium screen in a pipe. The particular blend I brought home was a balanced mix of speedy Durban and stoney Bubba that was best saved for the evenings after a large dinner and before dessert.

Read more dispensary reviews from William Breathes in our pot blog, Mile Highs and Lows, and keep up with all your cannabis news over at The Latest Word.

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