Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Satica Wellness in Denver

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Weedar: the sixth sense you have for finding quality herb. Mine usually operates pretty well and has come in handy both here in Colorado and during world travels, when finding the pot-friendly who can get the sticky-icky can come in handy. So either my weedar wasn't working over the last few years, or Satica wasn't good (or bad) enough to make a blip. It could also have something to do with location. I think you could throw a rock and hit Aurora from Satica's sidewalk. And not the Aurora you're thinking of, either. Nope, this is the boring, office-park-filled part that gerrymanders its way into the southeast part of Denver.

See also: "Recreational Marijuana Sales Outpace MMJ in August as Colorado Sets Another Pot Record"

Satica Wellness

3480 South Galena Street Denver, CO 80231 303-745-2873 SaticaMMC.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $5-$10/gram $25/eighth-ounce, $150-$200/ounce. Nonmembers pay about 10 percent more. Other types of medicine: O.Pen refils, "shatter" (see below), edibles. Online menu? Yes, but no pricing. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? No.

Inside, the place is warm, truly inviting and surprisingly clean -- or at least surprising compared to the run-down shopping center and skeezy all-nude strip club surrounding the dispensary. It's not a place I could see Grandma the Glaucoma Patient going to and feeling uber-comfortable, but that didn't seem to stop the flow of business when I stopped by. I waited behind two patients ahead of me in the waiting room, and two more walked in behind me as I sat down. The waiting room has an earthy African vibe going, with tribal masks hung on the earth-toned walls, a faux wood-thatch cutout ceiling, hand drums and dark leather chairs. It's well done and different, and I had plenty of time to spend getting to know it.

The wait was the longest part of the otherwise in-and-out dispensary trip. I waited around for more than ten minutes for the two guys ahead of me to finish doing their thing and chat with the budtender, who talked to both like a friend catching up after a few months away. But unlike the shop I reviewed last week, where I felt like an afterthought by being sent back to the bud bar too early, Satica offered me the opportunity to sit and read through the three or four ad-heavy pot magazines on the coffee table.

Finally it was my turn to head to the back. My budtender, Duke, met me at the entry, offered a welcome greeting and introduced himself with a refreshingly proper handshake, as opposed to the standard "Hey, what's up" I usually get from budtenders who never move from their perch behind the counter. Small things like that -- treating a dispensary like an actual business rather than an old-school pot deal -- will set a shop apart for a lot of customers. Continue for the rest of the review and photos. Duke gave me a quick rundown of edibles, hashes and bud and started pulling out jars as I asked for them. There were about a dozen strains on the shelf, though frankly only about half piqued my interest. Nothing was awful, but nothing really stood out as anything I'd be remembering in a month, either. Most of the buds, including the Bubba Kush and the Chocolope, managed to look the same, with little color variation between their dull, dead green color. Everything is grown in an organic soil/coco mix, according to my budtender, but I didn't get any of the strong, strain-distinct smells from anything that I should have -- like a fruity funk from the Jackie White or a grapey, rubber-soil stink from the Bubba Kush.

The White Diamond OG, while not very OG-like at all, was still enticing, thanks to the dried blood-red pistils and the silvery trichomes on the buds -- in the shop, anyhow. The dense nugs didn't break down with any further smell other than the somewhat bland, rusty odor it had in the dispensary. It burned okay -- a few pops and crackles here and there -- but with a salty, slightly harsh aftertaste. In general, the whole thing was just underdeveloped and overfed. At $25 an eighth for members and first-timers, though, it is what it is, especially considering Satica is pretty much the only dispensary in the area. But take a fifteen-minute drive to South Broadway and you could find better examples at a place like Wellspring for the exact same price. To be fair, I did end up smoking all of Satica's White Diamond and did enjoy the even-keeled buzz it gave. Not too strong on the appetite, but it did wonders for stress without making me a space cadet.

The Lost Coast x Headband cross I brought home should have been the stinkiest buds in the batch based on the rank lineage of Lost Coast OG and Headband, two strains that pretty much define the soil-rubber Kush odor. The buds did have a slight rubbery tartness to them in the shop, but it was nowhere near the nose-punching potency I'd hoped for. The chop-trimmed buds did break down with a much more pronounced citrus-diesel smell, though; it burned down much cleaner and was more well balanced than the White Diamond buds out of a dry pipe and bubbler. Still a little harsh on the exhale, the LCxHB did have a pronounced fruity flavor on top of a light, soil-esque flavor, and for $25 an eighth, it was about what I would expect in terms of quality. Nothing outstanding, but I did enjoy the borderline-euphoric buzz and barbecue-destroying appetite that a small spliff gave me. So the buds could use some work. That much can be fixed by Satica with a little time and patience. But what can't be fixed is the awful production quality of the shatter hash from the Growing Kitchen on display. The motor-oil-brown, single-gram containers were sealed, so my budtender could only show me an example that was already out. That sample looked like small, sharply angled fragments of an amber crystal, the exact way shatter should look. But what I brought home was a goopy, gross mess that smelled like schwag bud and looked more like the so-called "taffy" I used to see years before the shatter process became more refined and widespread. My house isn't warm -- it's set at 66 degrees -- and the stuff was still impossibly syrupy to touch with a metal dabber after being left out. It would have been impossible to get into a vape pen without a lot of careful prep work, and it left a black mess on my nail. Not worth the $40-per-gram price at all.

Overall, if you're in the area and all you care about is getting okay bud that smokes and gets you high, then Satica will do the trick. But I doubt my internal tracking system picks up on the shop again until it starts flying a little higher.

Read more reviews from Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic, William Breathes, in our Mile Highs and Lows blog.

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