Medical marijuana dispensary review: Preferred Organic Therapy in Denver

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If there is a hell, its soundtrack would undoubtedly include hours of recordings from a busy corporate guitar store. On a Saturday, the places are awash with a horrid mix of out-of-tune "Smoke on the Water"/"Stairway to Heaven"/Metallica medleys -- someone thumping with no rhythm on a cranked-up bass and kids crashing around on the cymbals in the drum room....

Preferred Organic Therapy and Wellness

1569 South Colorado Boulevard Denver, CO 80222 303-867-4768 www.preferredorganictherapy.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Raw marijuana price range (non-members): $30-$45/eighth, $200-$325/ounce, tax included. Raw marijuana price range (members): $25-$40/eighth, $175-$275/ounce, tax included. Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles.
 Online menu: Yes.
 Handicap-accessible?: Yes.

The headache that comes from just five minutes buying strings in one of these places can be unbearable. Which is why I think Preferred Organic Therapy and Wellness chose its location kitty-corner to Guitar Center on Colorado Boulevard near I-25.

Ears still ringing, I dodged a few blue-hairs in Buicks on their way to IHOP and made my way across the parking lot to the lower level of Preferred Organic's building for something to help drown out the din still in my head. The southern sun was blazing through the windows into the shop's wide but shallow front room, turning the place into a large, IKEA-furnished sauna. Thankfully, my budtender, a blond woman in her mid-to-late twenties, didn't take long to process my red card and ID and buzz me back into the cooler confines of the dispensary itself.

The first to greet me as I stepped through the door was the shop mascot, a friendly border collie puppy named Lucy, who came strolling up for some attention. After fulfilling her wish for a belly rub, she ran off and jumped on one of the four brown ottomans in the middle of the much larger lounge.

In part thanks to the laid-back touch a dog can bring to an office, the place feels comfortable, fresh and airy, like a stylish Boulder acupuncture studio, or maybe the set of a WB Network comedy about a quirky psychologist into new-age healing, hydroponic herb and animal prints. Stenciled bamboo shoots line the pastel-green walls of one side of the room, and a little lounge area is set up in the back, with a few zebra chairs and a couch around a low coffee table.

The bud bar is separated from the waiting room by a set of double doors, and the shop makes a point of advertising its privacy, as well as private consultations, if needed. My budtender (who later mentioned she is also an owner, along with her husband) copied my stuff quickly, and before long, we were headed back past a tail-wagging Lucy to check out the meds. The dispensary is as clean and cool as the rest of the space, with two birch-and-glass cabinets put together to form the bar. Ganja is kept on a few shelves on the wall behind the counter next to a mural of a giant, joint-smoking (and therefore borderline cannibalistic) bud of marijuana wearing a stethoscope.

Continue for strain photos and rest of the review I was the only person around the day I was in, so there was plenty of time to make my way through the dozen or so different strains the center had on deck. My budtender told me that every strain in stock is done in a hydroponic setup. That explained the candy-like, nearly artificial-looking flowers in Preferred Organic Therapy's jars. But as was this case with the otherwise chunky, grape-smelling stalk of Grape Stomper, the flavor levels in hydro buds can sometimes be a letdown compared to their soil-grown counterparts. That's not to say it had a bad taste; in fact, it was a very smooth burn in a pipe and had cane-sugar sweetness in a vape. But I didn't get the Chemdawg-dipped-in-grape-Kool-Aid fullness you hope for with this strain. It did make me hungry as a hippo, though, so the potency was certainly on-point.

The shop had different price tiers depending on the strain. On the high end, non-members are shelling out $40 for a little over 3.5 grams and as high as $250 an ounce for buds like the Grape Stomper. First-time patients get tier-one pricing for the first thirty days after their visit, putting strains like the tart Master Kush and a fluffy batch of MTF in a good price range -- $30 an eighth and $200 an ounce -- considering how clean and well grown they were. A few strains, like the Hashberry and what was left of the AK, were so-so. Nothing super-eye- or nose-catching, but still far from being bottom-level bunk warehouse crap.

I also really liked the NYC Diesel, which had more of a strain-distinct flavor through the first two hits than the Grape Stomper did. Despite being too leafy and needing a better trim, it was shining with amber crystals. Crunched up, it left my fingers tacky and stinky with a mix of hippie B.O. and an oddly sweet mix of fresh-picked cherries and potting soil. The bud burned clean (minus some large sugar leaves) to a white ash and packed a potent, energetic punch after only three or four hits that left me borderline spacey for a good half-hour before the energetic side of this strain kicked in. It was noticeably more flavorful than Preferred Organic's Grape Stomper, especially out of a bubbler, but still didn't live up to the robust, mouth-watering flavor I wanted out of it.

And it's not quite what Preferred Organic wants out of it, either. After my visit, I spoke with an owner, Andy, who said that the staffers tore down their entire grow in July and started over after being disappointed with their yields. They've been working off older product, but starting December 1, the shop is going to be stocked full with the same genetics, except with a new harvest grown in the center's coco-fiber, organic garden. I'm glad POT made the switch, though it once again proves I have the worst timing for my visits.

When it came to cannabis-infused foods, the selection was pretty standard. Lots of candies and cakes from Dazy's, Dixie, Dr. J's and Blue Kudu, with a good selection for $10 or less for members and first-timers. The shop also carries syringes of CO2 oil from Organa Labs that is good for both edibles and smoking -- though mostly for the former, from my experience. It's expensive, though: Grams of refined oil sell for $60 a pop.

Preferred Organic Therapy had in-house bubble hash a few dollars overpriced at $25 a gram for members and $30 for non-members. But on the flip side, the center was selling grams of wax produced by Denver-based Healthy Creation Edibles for only $25. I opted for the wax for its powdery consistency and price. It had a dried-kief blandness to the smell and didn't have much flavor, either, but it burned clean on my skillet and left a hazy, allspice-like smell lingering around the office. It's nothing for you oil heads to rush over and check out, but I figure regular pot patients looking for a little extra boost to their bowls enjoy having high-powered hash on hand.

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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