Medical marijuana dispensary review: Lakewood's Compassionate Pain Management

It used to be that buying a bag of herb (medicinal or otherwise) was a simple transaction. Dollars went from one person to another, while the cannabis went the opposite way. But these days there are customer appreciation programs, daily specials and buy-one-get-one-free offers that complicate the process of simply getting your pot, taking it home and smoking it. Take Compassionate Pain Management, which has so many special pricing offers and add-ons that I'm still not sure exactly where my money went.

Compassionate Pain Management

1585 Quail St., Unit 13B Lakewood, CO 80215 303-232-3620

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Raw marijuana price range: $10-12/gram $30-$35/eighth-ounce, $179-$200/ounce. Members receive 10 percent off purchase as well as other frequent discounts. Other types of medicine: BHO, icewater hash, edibles. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

I stopped by a few week ago during the middle of the day, when it was quiet in the neighborhood. Parking isn't an issue: There are acres of spots in the dying shopping center. I walked in and was greeted by a guy working the receptionist desk, who took my card and handed over the usual paperwork for me to initial and sign. The little green waiting room is slick, clean and nondescript. Aside from the weed mags, it could be the front lobby of a timeshare business or the office of an aging hippie acupuncturist.

I was buzzed back by the receptionist, who handed me a stack of coupons, a welcome brochure and two 20-percent-off coupons to use. He then told me to head around the corner to the tiny bud bar, which was more like a pot consultation office. The room is small, with the budtender seated behind a desk surrounded by marijuana products. Edibles to his right, stock jars of cannabis strains behind him, a trash of hash and concentrates at his right hand and a stack of display nugs on a tiered rack just within arm's reach to his left. Patients come in one at a time, which is nice for privacy or if you simply can't stand having someone else reach for the nug jar you were about to grab yourself.

Pricing is written out on white cards above the hash tray, which my budtender pointed out before going over the pricing on his own. Basically, there's member and non-member pricing, with non-members capped at $40 an eighth and members capped at $35. There are also discount bags of herb selling for $25 an eighth, though I didn't check any of those out. But for the pricing, there are also all of the discounts that my budtender explained and I promptly forgot. Basically, if you're paying full price here, it's because you want to be doing so. Otherwise, you can bring the cost of everything down. A gram of herb, for example, is about $10 to $12. But add a gram of any strain on to your eighth and it's only $6.

I opted instead for the tried-and-true dispensary strain, Sour Diesel. I was talking about Sour Diesel the other day with a fellow toker, and we agreed that it is the french-fry-test-equivalent strain of dispensaries. Some do it right, some do it wrong, and some are just forgettable.

By this measure, Compassionate Pain fell somewhere in the In-and-Out Burger range, thanks to a huge, plump display bud with picturesque golden calxyes, orange pistils and contrasting green sugar leaves left behind. The stock jar was down to the tail end, so my budtender ended up giving me the photogenic sample bud that I had been ogling. Yes, it was slightly airy, but I thought that was due to the tiny jar being opened and closed so much. And it might have been, but I never really got that smell back. The bud was dried out and burned quick, too -- but that's what you get with the last of the batch. Smoked, the buds had a light, skunky/soil flavor that came out slightly more in a vaporizer. Potent, though, and I made the mistake of smoking this hunger-kickstarter before grocery shopping twice. But it's hard to say if the bud was worth the price: As I said before, I'm not quite sure if I was ever really clear on any of the pricing.

Continue for the rest of the review, including another photo. Qleaner is one of SubCool's that I don't see around much and can't recall ever trying, so I snagged an extra gram for $6 (normally priced at $10 or $12) on top of my eighth as yet another promotional/add-on/special deal the shop offers. The little bud looked like it was lit up by neon, with fat, tentacle-like orange pistils woven in and out. Very fruity, with a banana fruit-smoothie tartness to the flavor and a ripe, almost rotten-grapefruit smell. Ah, the smells and flavors only cannabis users can appreciate... A couple of small bubbler bowls of this left me foggy and stoney, the perfect combination for a pain-relieving, stress-busting day-ender. If you're getting it at $6 a gram, it was certainly worth it.

What I really dug, though, was the blended bubble hash that looked phenomenal and smelled like a jar of mixed buds from a hippie's closet, so I snagged a gram for $30. No,, wait: It was $30, but you get 20 percent off hash for being a first-time patient. Or maybe it was for wearing orange or being left-handed; I'm not really sure anymore. Either way, the crumbles of hash looked a lot softer and meltier than they really were -- not so much melting down into the bowl as they burned up. But they had a lot of flavor and added an indica-heavy body buzz. I had to try and stop myself from topping every bowl with it, and ended up not doing a very good job. It was way better than pressed black hash most places sell now as an afterthought, and something that is definitely lacking at dispensaries in the hash-oil-heavy medical market.

In all, I left with about 4.5 grams of cannabis and a gram of hash for just over $50. I'm not sure how we got to that point, but it seemed fair, so I went with it and walked out before realizing that I never actually handed anyone a coupon. If they aren't checking coupons, why even do the specials and sales? Why not just lower your prices across the board and cut the gimmicks? The herb was decent enough, and it would sell itself if priced appropriately.

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 Colorado marijuana news over at The Latest Word.

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes