Medical marijuana dispensary review: LivWell Broadway Wellness in Denver

LivWell is one of the larger Colorado dispensary chains, with seven affiliated dispensaries scattered from Colorado Springs all the way up to Boulder, including PostModern Health and Denver Patients Group here in Denver. The Broadway shop I visited is combined with the old Broadway Wellness that moved from its location last year because it was too close to a school. The center's slick advertising is always offering $125 ounces -- a good price, but is the herb worth the money? That depends on what shelf you purchase from.

LivWell Broadway Wellness

432 S. Broadway Denver, CO 80209 720-428-2550

Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $5-11/gram, $20-$30/eighth-ounce, $125-$175/ounce. Members receive 10 percent off purchase. Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, kief, hash, edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks. Online menu? Yes, though it hasn't been updated in a few weeks. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

The shop is clean and really, really upscale, with wide-plank hardwood floors and clean, molding-topped tan walls uncluttered with pot posters and product advertisements. Walking in off the street puts you in the lobby and waiting area, right in front of a sharp-dressed secretary sitting behind a large computer desk. It could easily pass for a Cherry Creek real-estate office or an empty art gallery waiting to hang the next show. The dark-wood floors and high ceilings inside the old building give it an echoing, empty feeling at first, but the bright sunshine pouring in from the western-facing front windows and mellow electronic music give the place some life.

While the receptionist copied my card into the system, I was told to head on back to the bud bar, which featured the same rehabbed industrial feel of the front room, but with a massive, exposed red-brick wall on one side of the room. Framed bud pictures hang on the opposite, cream-colored wall, but otherwise, the space was left empty, and the bud -- stacked along the bottom shelf of three glass cabinets -- was the main focus.

Edibles selection was relatively large, too. To the left of the bud shelves was a cabinet full of tinctures, candies and cookies from Grandma's, marQaha, Mountain High, Incredibles and Cheeba Chews. Beyond that, a display fridge kept drinks and other treats cold.

Bud is broken down into three price ranges: green, gold and platinum. Herb on the platinum shelf is hand-selected, hand-trimmed and sells for $175 an ounce and $35 an eighth for non-members. There's some decent stuff here, including a Purple Diesel that looked like it was hand-painted with a sugary grape Kool-Aid mix. It had beautiful, plump, round calyxes, like grapes on a vine, and the smell was a mix between classic, citrus-earthy Sour D and Welch's grape soda. There was also a jar of sweet, tangerine-tart Jillybean that the budtender said she had been enjoying recently.

I opted to go with a Chemdawg x Biodiesel cross that had a licorice twang to the diesel-fuel/potting-soil rawness of the Chemdawg roots. Broken up at home, the strain smelled almost exactly like a fresh-popped can of tennis balls. The buds were on the wispy side, but the ones there were well developed, with sandy amber trichomes covering the skinny little calyxes and caught up in the rust-colored pistil hairs. The taste wasn't all there, though, and I was getting a more dull and generic hashy flavor out of most of the bowls than any mouth-watering, rich Chemdawg skunkiness.

Page down for the rest of the review and photos. The buds on the gold shelf, the next tier down, were noticeably lower-quality than the ones the platinum shelf held. Nothing offensive, but if you're not looking for the bargain, it might be better to stay on the platinum level. Strains like the not-so-Kushy 303 Kush and the hazeless Amnesia Haze looked pretty from behind the glass counter, but they lacked any of the nose-punching olfactory goodness that would make them really stand out.

Some were the exact same strain, like the Purple Diesel, but were clearly rush-trimmed through a machine -- left really leafy and probably denied much curing time. My budtender confirmed that a lot of the repeat strains from shelf to shelf were from the same harvest, but were the less-desirable bottom buds from plants that didn't develop as well as others for one reason or another.

The Banana OG looked decent, too, but the (nearly non-existent) trim job clearly relegated it to the gold level and below. From a distance, what I brought home looked more like a chunk of dried sage than herb, with the number of long, skinny sugar leaves left behind. I usually don't mind a loose trim, but this was too much, even at $25 an eighth. Yes, there was a slather of trichomes, but the sample made for some pretty rough bowls of herb until I pulled out my Fiskar scissors and trimmed it down myself -- shedding probably half of the bud's weight in the process. Despite that, the potency was high, and so was I after finishing a bowl of the glistening calyxes.

Probably the most intriguing thing on the gold-level shelf didn't stand out for its looks or smell, though. According to my budtender, the dull green and red, marble-sized CBD 3# buds had a three-to-one CBD-to-THC ratio -- though I didn't see any tests that actually confirmed that, so who knows what the ratio was on the buds I brought home. Like other high-CBD strains, the CBD #3 was very waxy and left my fingertips feeling like soapstone for a while after packing up a bowl. As promised by my budtender, there was little buzz accompanying this strain, and a lot of pain and muscle relief for my snowboarding-sore knees and back. If you're looking for a high-CBD strain, this one is definitely worth a shot at $25 an eighth and $150 an ounce.

The lowest price level is for buds on the green shelf. I didn't get too much into these, as they looked like even leafier versions of the gold-shelf strains. I did take a look at the Tesla, an in-house strain that wouldn't have been a bad purchase if my top priority was a low, low $125 price on an ounce. For concentrates, the shop carries BHO and seemed to also have a large selection of pen-vape refill cartridges. But the wax looked too chunky and waxy for me, and at $30 a gram, I wasn't going to gamble on buying another batch of concentrates that I end up throwing away pretty much unsmoked.

The majority of herb I saw was what you would expect from a bulk-growing, bulk-selling dispensary. Nothing out of this world, but still enough decent bud on the shelf that you can walk out with something worth puffing on for a week. Bulk is clearly the way at the shop, as gram prices are higher than the per-gram price of an eighth, and the budtender told me LivWell wouldn't split eighths between two strains -- all of which makes getting a variety of meds to take home that much more pricey. In all, I walked out with about six grams of cannabis for $48.

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