Medical marijuana dispensary review: LoDo Wellness Center in Denver

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There's a correlation between my increasing age and the decreasing amount of time I spend in downtown Denver. As I creep toward my mid-thirties, traffic becomes increasingly less tolerable, restaurants become more pretentious and overpriced, and parking becomes something I dread more than in-law visits. In short: Aside from the occasionally Rockies game during the summer, I'm never downtown anymore, and I'm just fine with that.

LoDo Wellness may change that, however.

LoDo Wellness Center

1617 Wazee St. Denver, CO 80202 (303) 534-5020 LoDoWellnessCenter.com

Raw marijuana price range (members): $9/gram $30/eighth-ounce, $195/ounce. Raw marijuana price range (non-members): $10/gram $35/eighth-ounce, $125/ounce. Other types of medicine: Wax ($25/gram), shatter oil ($30/gram), edibles. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? No.

The dispensary is down a steep flight of stairs from the sidewalk to the basement of the building. The dispensary takes up the entire floor, tucking patient lounges in between massive structural columns and pushing couches up against the massive painted bricks used for the foundation of the former paper mill. Much like Boulder Wellness in Boulder, the shop has gone for an Eastern Buddhist/Zen theme with low painted chairs, squatting Buddha statues and colorful framed posters with vaguely Hindu symbols. There was also a huge, seven-foot-tall antique-looking ceramic vase painted with what looked like a life-sized crane. In my head, I could see a massive cannabis tree fitting in perfectly.

What the smooth, peaceful vibe of the decor fails to do is mask the immense size of everything. I was the only person at LWC during my visit, but even if there had been a sizable line of three or four people ahead of me, I could have had an entire lounge off in a corner to myself. In a way, it felt like a marijuana dispensary pop-up shop had taken over a South Broadway antique store specializing in Asian crafts.

After a receptionist at a wooden desk off to one side of the expansive room quickly copied my paperwork, I was sent over to the bud bar through an open door in an adjacent room. As in the rest of the basement, huge foundation beams separate out some of the wall space and room. But the bud bar itself is set up on a set of antique, heavy wooden dining tables.

My budtender was a ponytailed dude named Ryan (I think), who let me have at the dozen or so jars stacked for display. Everything LoDo Wellness produces is grown in a coco/soil mix according to the 'tender, and all but two strains were from the center's garden. (Those two were from DANK, which got high marks back in July of 2012 when we last stopped by their shop in north Denver.) Indica-dominant strains are kept on the left, while sativas were on the right of the small tiered display. A Plexiglas case for hash was placed in the middle of the table and separated the two stacks of herb. Hash selection was slim pickings when I showed up, with only a single $35 gram of Kandy Kush shatter and a lone $30 gram of blended wax on hand.

But the single gram of golden, frozen oil, produced by Top Shelf Extracts from trim out of the LoDo Wellness garden, was some of the best I've seen from that company, and I instantly snatched it up. Very clear, very clean and very tasty, the oil burned with a kushy, earthy flavor on the head of a hot titanium nail. Small, BB-sized dabs were enough to put me right for a couple of hours, though the mouthwatering taste dictated that I always take at least two dabs at a time. I've been trying to stay away from waxes and oils in favor of icewater extractions lately, but I think I made the right decision this week.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. Good concentrates come from good plant material, and it seems that LoDo Wellness has that handled as well. Hashplant at most dispensaries is usually a toss-away for me, but LoDo's sample had solid buds that had a noticeably strong kick to the hashy/earthy smell and hints of dark purple in the forest-green herb. Easily a contender to come home with me. Then I popped the jar of ripe, crystal-coated Kandy Kush, with a nose-punch of Trainwreck followed by an OG rubber tartness and the chunky, calyx-stacked funk of the Larry OG, and I realized that everything was worth taking home. That includes Grape Stomper, a huge hit at the store -- and with ripe, golf-ball buds that instantly stunk up the inches between my nose and the jar, it's easy to see why.

Everything I checked out was from the top-tier pricing level. LWC does have bottom-shelf, discount strains, too, but at $19 an eighth and $140 an ounce, the shop sells out of it quickly, according to my budtender.

At the budtender's suggestion, I opted for the spicy, fuel-smelling Deathstar and all of its brain-rocking THC energy. The green, tan and red buds were dried and cured well, with a light, spongy quality when pinched, and they smoked down to a clean white ash in a bowl. Flavor was great through the first few green hits, and within five minutes, my head was lifting off like a weather balloon. Headband is great for mood elevation and pain relief, in part because it gets me nice and baked enough to stop caring about the pinched nerve in my knee or my aching back after a round of house painting. A solid purchase at $30/eighth member pricing (or even $35/non-member pricing); I have a feeling I'll be back for more when the urge for Headband creeps up on me next.

Bubba Diesel was a last-second swap I made, opting to delay my date with the Hashplant until another time. The Bubba Diesel buds were just so incredibly dark and dense that they almost looked black in the jar, not unlike a well-grown, old-school batch of Colorado Cough, as my budtender pointed out. But unlike the Cough's haziness, the Bubba Diesel had a sugary sweetness with an almost grapey finish that lingered around your nostrils for a few seconds after taking the buds away. What I thought was going to be a heavy-hitting, knockout hybrid wound up being e a potent batch of house-cleaning herb that delivered an energetic kick rivaling even the strongest cup of coffee. It also kicked my appetite well into gear, taking me from feeling indifferent about breakfast to cooking up stuffed omelets in under five minutes. Another great purchase for the week at $30 an eighth, and one I'll most definitely be back for.

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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