This dispensary has closed.
The intersection of 29th and Colorado is looking run down. Cora Faye's café is still cooking soul food, but otherwise the landscape is dominated by empty storefronts in decades-old buildings, a Taco Bell/KFC and a Dollar Store.
The only other thing that stands out (and it stands out) is the year-old Herbal Care dispensary on the southeast corner. I first noticed the glowing orange display window with a four-foot pot leaf behind iron security bars about a year ago when driving down Colorado to get to I-70, and every time since, I think (or mumble) to myself, "How does someplace that sketchy-looking stay in business?"
Joy's Nutrition Herbal Care
Location: 2866 Colorado Boulevard
Website: No website.
Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Owner/manager: Vince Austin
Mission statement: "Patients first, quality medicine."
Opened: December 3, 2009
Raw marijuana price range: $10-17, $45 65 for caviar.
Other types of medicine: Hash, oil, caviar, edibles.
The center's barred-in entryway was grimy, with linoleum flooring and walls both stained and greasy, like a smalltown auto-parts store, and a sign at the entrance to the back room read, "NO HATS -- NO HOODS." The girl behind the window greeted me, checked to see that I had my card and then buzzed me back to the sauna-hot bud room. Inside was more of the same dinginess. The lighting inside was hangover-dim and the few scattered decorations on the wall consisted of tacked-up posters and seemingly random framed pictures. I sat down at an out-of-place, strangely ornate couch that separated the room in half. The rest of the space was left unused aside from storing a bike.
One manager I spoke with later said the place was about to undergo a large remodel and money that would have gone to fixing up the space earlier went toward complying with state laws. He also said that because they are across the street from both a church and a school, that they weren't sure for a long time if they would be able to remain in the space. As he succinctly put it: "It looks like shit in here and we know that," confirming that I wasn't the only one who thought it. Herbal Care will be improved, he says, by replacing the peeling linoleum with wood floors and adding another flat screen in addition to the one set that currently faces more toward the budtenders than the lounge area.
The manager noted that their main focus has been providing "wholesale to the public," and to he and his staff, that means keeping prices low for patients. Quarter-ounces of all strains, except the budget $10 gram strains, are $80. To do that, they grow at a wholesale-level in a 40,000 square-foot facility for their Denver and Colorado Springs locations. He said they specialize in TGA/Subcool strains (like two dozen other shops in town), and soon would have as many as sixty house strains at a time.
As expected from such a wholesale operation, Joy's Nutrition is pulling down some wholesale-quality herb. The bud bar is a row of glass cases lined up together. One had a few pipes in it, while others held glass cookie-jars of herb, hash and $60-per-gram hash-oil dipped "caviar" -- something I still fail to see the value of when a gram of pure oil the bud is dipped in is often nearly the same price.
The girl who checked me in helped me out at the bud counter, walking me through indica strains to ease the back pain from my first few day of riding for the snowboarding season. Yeah, I know. Hurt snowboarders with a medical pot card is a bad Colorado cliché. But to me, medical uses like this are exactly why medical marijuana should be more accessible.
We went through about ten or twelve different strains, and jar after jar smelled and looked the same. To be fair, it was hard to see anything in the dimly lit room. But filling every jar were shake-y, small buds of FLO, Train Wreck, Vortex and some $10/gram brown called Couch Slouch, as well as small humidifier eggs keeping the herb moist. I'm of the opinion that properly dried and cured herb doesn't need humidification. Of course, back in college, when I was in the wholesale business with profit as my goal, I wouldn't have minded keeping some water weight in my herb, either. The shop doesn't sell in eighths. The three grams I walked out with were $40.50.
Page down to see what William took home this week.
Querkle No smell to these marble-sized dark green and purple buds other than the wet-hay aroma left over from sitting moist in the jar. No real taste, either. Seriously, this was the most bland herb I have had in years and I'm left with no other ways to describe it. Not very potent, this cut left me mildly dull and wanting a bowl of something else. The Void Much like the Querkle, these tiny buds were unimpressive. More of the same wet-hay smell, more lackluster shape and appearance. The Void did have a more distinguishable fruity smell when broken up, but the bad trim job made it harsh in the bubbler and it burned to an uneven, chunky black ash. The humidifier eggs clearly aren't doing the actual curing any favors. I've seen shops sell herb this quality for $30 an eighth, and with more dispensaries than there arefans of Josh McDaniels in this town, I'm not sure how herb like this isn't just turned into hash. Blueberry The most impressive of the three strains I took home, though that still doesn't say much. In the jar, it had a weird plastic finish, like the way a new GI Joe toy smelled out of the box as a kid (I doubt anybody else remembers that smell but me). Broken up, the wispy, small nuggets had a mellow spicy/fruity scent that came through as a light haze flavor when burned -- very un-Blueberry. Tolerable in a joint until midway through, when it became to harsh for me to finish. The Blueberry was more potent than either of the other two strains I walked out with, for sure, though I won't be stopping back by anytime soon to re-up on it.
William Breathes is the pot pen name of our medical marijuana dispensary reviewer. Read the William Breathes bio here and be sure to check out our archive of Mile Highs and Lows medical marijuana dispensary reviews.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.