My first real experience with cannabis genetics involved smuggled Northern Lights seeds from the Picasso coffee shop in Amsterdam.
Though I was just a kid and what I grew wasn't anything to brag about, the experience gave me a new love for the plant.
2045 Sheridan Blvd. Edgewater, CO 80214 303-274-6495 www.nlnaturalrx.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Edibles, concentrates, tinctures, drinks, lotions Handicap-accessible?: Yes.
Likewise, Northern Lights Natural RX co-owner Eva said that an almost life-long love of cannabis and a trip to the cannabis-tolerant coffee shops of Amsterdam years ago led her to consider opening a medical marijuana dispensary here in Colorado.
But what motivated her were the dozens of shops she visited that didn't make her feel comfortable. "Sometimes I'd be out front like: 'I'm not going in there, I'm scared,'" she said. "I thought that people were missing the point of this. I wanted a place I could bring my mom."
I think Northern Lights Natural RX has achieved that. I stopped by in the evening, but the shop was well lit and clean, with some acoustic guitar music playing softly over the stereo. Another patient was ahead of me, so I kicked back on the couch with Mary Jane, the appropriately named shop dog, at my feet begging for a pet on the head. The waiting room -- and the whole shop, for that matter -- is detailed with nice accent pieces like heavy leather couches and chairs. There was also plenty of reading material, ranging from the newspaper to books on cannabis, stacked up on nearly every surface, as well as quirky folk art scattered everywhere.
Even more cannabis literature, plus a community message board, could be found on a shelf near the receptionist counter, where I handed my paperwork over to co-owner Mitch. For decoration, the shop has several pieces from a local artist who uses reclaimed junkyard parts like carburetors and transmission gears to create statues of birds and people. A bad-ass dinosaur in the shop was built in part from the block of an old Honda motorcycle.
While Mary Jane and I became buddies, Mitch and I chatted about the surrounding neighborhood and the shops that share the strip center with Northern Lights. He suggested I try the tamales next door and put in a good word for the bar around the corner as well. From our discussion, I got the impression that the shop has fit in well with the area and is mostly seen as just another Edgewater business. We also talked about growing, and he mentioned that everything in the store was grown in soil.
Eva has nothing but positive things to say about working with Edgewater -- something that doesn't always happen with its big-city neighbor. "They've been so open to this industry," she said. "Edgewater has always been a little rebellious, I think."
The shop's idyllic location on the edge of Sloan's Lake has worked out well so far, she said. But Eva also admitted that the threat of federal letters going out to shops near parks scares the shit out of her. Moving within Edgewater's three-quarter-square-mile boundaries would be out of the question, and she says she isn't sure about other options.
After the guy in front of me wrapped up his purchase and paid, Mitch led me to the bud bar in the back and gave me a brief tour of what Northern Lights had to offer. The bar is a simple little room, with custom wood and glass counters that become the focal point. Mitch is an easy-going guy, happy to chat with you about the pipes in stock and how the edibles are made, and he's very knowledgeable about the strains they on the shelves.
If the posters on the wall didn't tell you, it still would be hard not to notice that the shop is an official distributor for TGA/Subcool seeds. Not only did the shop have a wide range of $70 TGA seed ten-packs in stock, but its shelf also boasted flowers grown from the seeds, including the Jack's Cleaner, Vortex, Kaboom, Chernobyl, Space Jill and Dairy Queen. The first three all had amazingly fruity smells out of the jars and the buds looked candy-like and sugary. No huge colas, just pretty little buds.
Not everything was Subcool stuff. The center had a few other strains, including a cut of Death Star that I ended up taking home with me for the week. Most was decent, but nothing worth writing home about. And given the shop's name, I was also slightly disappointed that it didn't have any Northern Lights for sale.
As we told you earlier this week, seed sales are now considered a gray area, with no official approval coming from the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. That said, the shop also sells rooted clones for $20; just call ahead and give staffers a few days heads up if you want a clipping.
For concentrates, the shop carried BHO from iVita Wellness and in-house icewater hash made strain specific by Mitch. It came in huge flat chunks and sold for $20 a gram. Though enticing, I didn't feel the urge to bring any home with me. For edibles, the shop carries a decent array from Simply Pure, Mile High Suckers, Twice Baked, Colorado Cannabis Company and Dr. J's, with most treats averaging around $8 for a package containing several doses.
Eighths come out to $40 after tax for non-members. Members get 10 percent off edibles and concentrates plus two-for-one eighths each month and receive daily patient deals ranging from $5 off an eighth to extra half-grams in your bag. I felt good about the eighth I had split. Nothing was going to win first place at the Cannabis Cup, but it was all well grown from what I could tell during my limited time in the shop. Unfortunately, I was in for a few dozen little surprises when I got the herb home.
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Page down for strain reviews and photos. Kaboom: $40/eighth Since the shop's a TGA Seeds vendor, it was almost a given that Northern Lights would run some of Subcool's seeds. Though there were a few other lookers on the shelf, this cross of Jack's Cleaner and Vortex was by far the prettiest. Full, bulbous calyxes had room to spread out and develop and were coated with long, slender trichomes that gave the crevices a sugary appearance. Light orange pistils lightened up the the otherwise emerald green appearance from a distance . The strain name alone was enough to catch my eye, but what really got me was the lemony pine-scented, sweet-hazy smell out of the jar. Breaking up the bud brought out a pungent, dry-erase-marker high note -- it was like a hippie had bathed in a mop bucket of Clorox PineSol, then danced around my office drawing peace signs on whiteboards. As I hoped, the taste was nearly identical to the smell when smoked and it left a pleasant, sweet perfume around my house. Medicinally, this was a THC-racing sativa hybrid that woke me up like a can of Coke, and a bowl got the stomach grumbling and churning in anticipation of the dinner-destroying munchies.
(My apologies for the clearly lackluster Kaboom photo. My camera somehow erased the shots I took pre-smoking and I was left with only a small chunk to photograph by the time I realized the error.)
Death Star: $40/eighth Capable of obliterating an entire planet with one blast of the laser beam, the Death Star is a formidable fortress, albeit one defeated by a very precise shot from an X-wing fighter down an overlooked security hole in the form of a vent chute (I know, I know, it's absurd). The strain, on the other hand, is capable of obliterating your entire afternoon with one bowl. What can defeat it you ask? Seeds, and this sample had enough to blow up my bowl several times over. Keep in mind that what I found weren't huge beans, but tiny underdeveloped seeds that were harder to spot and pick out. I spent a good five minutes packing my one-hitter bowl and still managed to get a few snaps, crackles and pops when lighting. It's a real shame, too. Aside from being somewhat underdeveloped and wispy, no doubt due to energy going to seed production, the bud's lemon-rubbery, Chem smell, strong taste and trichome development were on their way. When I called the shop for a follow-up, the owner I spoke with said she hadn't had any of the Death Star recently and was unaware of the underdeveloped stowaways. Now the staff is, however. So hopefully that problem will go away, or at least this strain will be put in a lower price bracket.
William Breathes is the pot pen name for our medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews in our Mile Highs and Lows archive and keep up with all your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.