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Medical marijuana dispensary review: Native Roots II in Lakewood

This dispensary has closed.

Whereas the original Native Roots occupies almost a quarter-floor of a high rise in Denver, its Lakewood location is sandwiched between other stores in a small strip center next to a McDonald's on Wadsworth. Fitting, as Native Roots is one of a handful of dispensaries not only staying afloat but opening up chains sporting their names across the state.

Native Roots II

1890 S. Wadsworth Blvd Lakewood, CO 80232 303-986-8800 www.nativeroots303.com

Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Online menu? Yes. Other types of medicine: Edibles, tincture, ointments/creams, hash, wax, BHO

The Lakewood location is clean, slick and artistically simple -- much like the 16th Street Mall branch, but in a much smaller space. Native Roots II has been open over a year and the outlet has done a good job of mirroring themes from its Denver spot, like the natural stone counters, earthy green paint on the walls and half-circle interior windows linking each of the rooms together. Both MMCs also feature oil paintings and other art from local artists on the walls. One thing that isn't tied to the old shop is the computer system, so I had to fill out paperwork and hand over my red card and ID for copying before I could do any shopping.

Whereas the Native Roots location in Denver enjoys bright sunlight from its fifth floor perch, the Lakewood store is the complete opposite. The back bud bar is a windowless space with dark, rich wood floors underfoot and black ceiling tiles overhead that shrink the space and make it feel much more cozy. The bud bar is made up of six steel-and-glass cabinets that take up almost the entire back wall. Two of the cabinets held bell-shaped jars with buds with labels in front with the strain name. The other cabinets were for edibles, hash and a few smoking accessories like $10 glass pipes and papers.

The waiting room consisted of five or six chocolate-brown leather dining chairs lined up facing the bud bar where I sat and waited. And waited. And waited. Two patients ahead of me were both filling rather large orders and the budtender was a friendly guy who was talking it up with both of them during their visit. On average, my dispensary visits last about fifteen to twenty minutes, but I hadn't even been to the counter yet at the quarter-hour mark in Native Roots II. I ended up knowing one of the patients, who joked with me afterward about making me wait and taking all of the best shatter hash before I could get to the counter.

After spending plenty of time contemplating the paintings and mentally debating the merits of a backcountry skiing trip versus a few days laying on a beach for my next vacation, I eventually was called up to the bud counter. After the stretch of customers before me, I could tell my budtender wasn't ready for a third lengthy conversation. When I told him I was looking for some indica-dominant strains, he pulled out a single jar of the shop's extremely frosted Ultimate Indica to look at. The buds looked great in my short inspection and had mild, brown sugar sweetness to the smell.

The rest of the strains didn't stand out as anything connisseur-grade, but a few were better than others on first impression, including the Poison OG, which was leafy but had a spicy OG finish to the smell. The Super Silver Kush was a much more visually appealing bud, with nice Christmas-tree-shaped spears of buds. The Lemon Sweet Skunk was another strain that caught my nose and eye, but I eventually went with an in-house cross of Durban Poison and OG Kush -- the result of which is a Frankenstein bud with haze-like high notes.

The edibles selection was more diverse than the herbs, with candies, savories, snacks and tinctures from a wide range of edible makers, including Tastee Yummies Canna-oil, peanut butter bars from Gaia's Garden, cheesecakes from Twirling Hippy and one of my all-time top-ten favorite edibles, baklava made by Native Roots' sister company, Conscious Confections. The recipe for this buttery, flakey $10 chunk of awesomeness has been in the owner's family for generations and would be equally as amazing without the cannabis oil oozing out of it.

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One big change in the two years since I last reviewed Native Roots is that the hash has become noticeably better. Not that the chunky AK-47 I brought home in 2010 was bad, but the shop now has micron-specific as well as strain-specific bubble hash processed down to fine, un-pressed pellets of resin. The shop also contracts out with Top Shelf Extracts for waxes and shatters. I was particularly drawn to the Blueberry for its color and consistency.

Prices at the shop are solid for members, though I wouldn't have placed all of the buds at the top-shelf, non-member price of $40 per eighth (as you'll see on the next page). Prices for patients are listed online, and the shop does give breaks when purchasing more than just 3.5 grams. Member ounces are capped at $200. The shop also carries shake from time to time and features $20 and $25 sale strains. The White Widow sale strain I saw wasn't bad, just underdeveloped. Waxes and hashes sell for $15 to $35 depending on extraction and quality.

Page down for strain reviews and photos. Colorado Native: $40/eighth This strain, bred in-house by Native Roots, was the most haze-dominant flower on the shelves during my visit. The smell was a mix of citrus zest and shoe polish, like someone buffed out a pair Cole Haans with a lemon. Gone is any trace of the peppery Durban Poison from which this strain was bred. When broken up, unfortunately, the buds let out a funky stink bordering on powdery mildew that stuck to my fingers and overpowered any of the flower's funk. Though nothing was extremely bad, I did see a few patches of nastiness in the leaves and ended up giving up on this strain without smoking much of it at all. But even sans the questionable PM, the flower wasn't exactly worth the top-shelf designation. The buds had decently filled-out structure and the trichomes were all well-developed, fat-headed pins -- but the bowls I did smoke were unimpressive and burned without much flavor or smoothness. For such a cool blend of strongly distinct strains like an OG and a Durban, what I brought home didn't impress. Ultimate Indica: $40/eighth Coated in crystals like the tip of Charlie Sheen's nose, these chunky buds came home with me at the suggestion of the budtender. Nothing outstanding in the olfactory department, and the buds really smelled more like the generic recycled air of a grow warehouse. Breaking it up brought out a light, stereotypical ganja smell that took me back to high school days of separating seeds out of bricked Mexi. And that wasn't the only thing bringing me back: Included in my buds were dozens of tiny, immature seeds. Filtering through them became too difficult, so most of my bowls were left much more percussive, with occasional snap, crackles and pops. As you would expect when frying up beans along with bud, the Ultimate Indica I brought home burned harsh. But I have to give some credit to how developed the trichomes were, because despite the underwhelming buds, I was left with a head-heavy buzz and nice relaxation across my body -- and I bet this could make some pretty decent wax. But as a flower, it didn't belong on the $35 top shelf. Blueberry Wax: $30/gram Making my way through the wax selection probably took more time than the bud, but I eventually settled on the BlueBerry due to the flaky consistency, clean smell and blond keif coloring. The wax burned clean on a titanium skillet, sizzling down with only small amounts of burned plant material left behind. Flavor was more of straight burning THC than anything strain-distinct, but what it lacked in taste it made up for in strength via a head-punch of bubbly Blueberry buzz. It was also great for motility in the morning, getting my stomach growling after a small dab and setting me right through lunch.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for our medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews in our marijuana culture blog Mile Highs and Lows and keep up with all your ganja news over at The Latest Word.

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