Medical marijuana dispensary review: Patients Choice on South Broadway

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Patients Choice is one of Denver's oldest and longest-running dispensaries. Opened in March 2009, the shop hasn't moved from its end-cap spot in a little brick-faced strip center just south of Evans on South Broadway, putting it near the southern boundary of the Green Mile along with Colorado Alternative Medicine.

Patients Choice of Colorado

2251 South Broadway Denver CO 80210 303-862-5016


Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Raw marijuana price range (members): $6-$7.14/gram $20-$29/eighth-ounce, $140-$170/ounce. Plus price breaks on quarter- and half-ounces. Raw marijuana price range (non-members) $7.50-$8.57/gram, $20 -$24/eighth-ounce, $145-$170/ounce. Plus price breaks on quarter- and half-ounces.

Other types of medicine: BHO, hash, edibles, drinks. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

Technically this is a re-review for Mile Highs and Lows. Westword alum Joel Warner was actually the first to visit Patients Choice in September of 2009. About two months later, I was hired to take over for him as the dispensary critic since he wasn't really a cannabis consumer to begin with.

But for me, it was the first time I'd walked through the doors into the center's clean and very green reception area. The woman behind the thick glass window smiled and asked for my red card and ID while I sat in one of the chairs and filled out the single page of paperwork. As I was scribbling in my information, a young guy who looked like he'd just come from work at a garage stepped in the door and handed his red card and ID to the woman. He told me he was a regular at Patients Choice, which he sees as the best place in the area for quality for customers who don't want to spend a lot of money.

Eventually the woman came around from her little sealed-off office and let us both through to the larger, more comfortable waiting room, where I sat and waited, again -- which seems to be one of the gripes about this place in user reviews online. Thankfully the place was comfortable and clean, with a few chairs lining the perimeter of the green waiting area and a circular array of seats in the middle. Aside from the smell of herb, it could have doubled as the lounge for a Cherry Creek acupuncturist. A huge-screen TV hangs on one wall, displaying a full menu complete with pricing. The member tier is on the left in one color, and the non-member tier is on the right -- slightly higher in price, but not by much.

I took a walk around the room, snagged some water out of the cooler and sat down. The dispensary area is just off the waiting room, and I watched while the three budtenders scrambled around in back to serve the patients already at the counter. The kid I talked to in the entryway was staring at the bud menu for the day and started giving me advice of strains to try out -- saying that the Death Starita was not something to leave the shop without. A few minutes later, the guy ahead of me finished up and my budtender came around the corner to get me.

I was given a little tour, with my budtender showing me the fridge full of edibles as well as the hard candies on display before pointing toward the menu board and asking me what I'd like to see. I started with the highly recommended Death Starita, which was certainly worth checking out. Though the herb in the jar was mostly made up of small marble buds like the ones I brought home, it had a citrus aroma on top of the rubbery, OG-esque earthiness. While the buds weren't hugely fat and plump, they were coated in silvery trichomes that pop in a flash. But smoked, the buds had some harshness to the hit, with a few snaps and crackles. Although they burned clean otherwise and managed to maintain the rich flavor, they could have used a few more days of flushing, it seems. At $25 an eighth for members and just over $30 for non-members, I can see why homeboy in the waiting room was stoked on this strain.

I moved on from there to a few of the other strains that I could see in jars sitting on a back counter, including the Brainstorm Haze, a cross between a landrace Thai mother and a Stargazer father that was loaded with crystals but didn't have any of the standout musky haze I look for. There was also a fantastic batch of Skywalker OG and the Patients Choice OG, which was a pretty cool OG phenotype with a black-pepper spice to the tight, compact little popcorn flowers.

My budtender was a nice guy -- not rude or anything like that. But I got the feeling he was more interested in moving me on my way and getting to the other three people in line behind me than going through much of the selection. I would ask to see a strain from the menu on the screen above the counter, and he would pull it down and then look at me with a look like, "So that's the one you want, right?"

Page down for the rest of the review and photos. He did make one suggestion: the Grape Diesel. He said it would be a good, balanced hybrid with a nice mental sativa kick and a body-buzzing indica feel. The chunky buds looked very Sour D in color, but with a much more plump and round cone shape. The Grape Ape in this mix gave it a rather distinct and enjoyable grapey-purple smell and flavor. Just smelling the bud made me relax. Cracking it open over my desk left a kief trail from the jar to my bowl, and the potency was on par with how crystallized the bud appeared. The buds were slightly on the dry side, which just means that much more herb instead of water weight. As promised, this hybrid was a great balance to both help with nausea and give me some appetite and relax the body after a long day of skiing or shoveling snow off my deck.

The shop had a tray of BHO made by Colorado Concentrates selling at $20 a gram for members and first-timers, $25 for non-members. The small jars were pre-sealed, so getting a whiff of them beforehand wasn't possible, but the consistency of the flakey hash and the peanut-butter hash looked good enough to bring home. Popping open the tiny jar justified my purchase instantly, with a true blended hash smell wafting up my nasal cavity. The chunk looked and felt like a small square of milk chocolate, and it cleanly vaporized on a nail, packing a mind-racingly strong head buzz for the first half-hour that mellowed out into an all-afternoon bout with the munchies.

What seems to be holding things up is that Patient's Choice has an antiquated bud bar set up. Instead of one or two main counters all together, the serving area is divided into small bank-teller cubicles taking up half the shop's back section, with a second, closed-off bud bar making up the other half. It's the same approach a lot of early shops took and eventually dropped.

The approach could still be viable if examples of each strain were kept on display at each of the stations, but they weren't. Budtenders were crisscrossing back and forth from station to station to snag the steam-pot-sized jars of the strains patients wanted to look at. Every time you wanted to see a strain, the budtender would have to go find it. With an arrangement like that, I can't blame the guy for not wanting to run around and grab a few of the better strains in the shop. It's an easy fix, though: Get sample jars for each counter. As it is, the only thing that seemed to be at every station were edibles by Dabba, EdiPure, North Shore, CheebaChews and a few other candied-cannabis treats.

After about five minutes of checking things out, my budtender asked me if I was narrowing down my selections -- which I took to mean I should hurry up so they could get to the growing line behind me. So after looking through only seven or eight sativa and sativa-strong hybrids, I made my picks and paid up.

As my fellow patient said, pricing is very solid at Patients Choice. Ounces for members are capped at $170, with some strains as low as $140. The herb quality overall wasn't bad, either. There were some good examples from what I saw, though the shop's biggest issue -- the bud-bar setup -- prevented me from really getting into their full menu.

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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