Medical marijuana dispensary review: Sweet Leaf in Denver

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All right now. Won't you listen? Or read, as the case may be? Black Sabbath may be one of my earliest musical obsessions -- something that had a lot to do with the theatrics of Ozzy Osbourne and his slaying guitarists. The most memorable to me is Tony Iommi. Specifically, his cough at the beginning of what is easily my favorite Sabbath song: "Sweet Leaf."

So I was instantly a fan of this shop. But it was actually another musical encounter that brought me through its doors.

Sweet Leaf

5100 W. 38th Ave Denver, CO Denver, CO, 80212 303-480-5323 SweetLeafInc

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Raw marijuana price range: $10/gram $30/eighth-ounce, $200/ounce. Members receive daily discounts as well as daily specials for $150 and $125 ounces. Other types of medicine: Shatter, wax, icewater hash Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

A grower friend who knows his cannabis casually told me about Sweet Leaf between hits of herb at a concert recently. When you're used to growing your own herb and not paying for it, finding a place to get a cheap ounce between harvests can be a tricky ordeal. You've obviously got your preferences as to how things are supposed to be grown and what types of strains you like. Sweet Leaf was his go-to spot for $125 ounces that are "good -- not amazing, but dependable" when he needs to re-up or just get some variety on his coffee table.

I probably have driven past the shop at 38th and Sheridan a dozen times in the last year, but the jewelry shop next door, Joyeria El Ruby, is what catches my eye every time, thanks to its diamond-shaped awning and 1980s McDonald's paint scheme. Comparatively, the stucco-beige and earthy-red Sweet Leaf next door looks tame and normal. Parking for Sweet Leaf is behind the tiny home-turned-dispensary, in a lot shared with the gold shop.

A front mud room of the little one-story building has been sectioned off with a tiny glass window that peers into the receptionist area on the other side of the security wall and door. I stood around for a second or two before the window opened and a woman's voice called out to me for my red card and ID. The shop usually takes credit cards, but there's no ATM if you've forgotten your cash. After filling out paperwork, I was let through the security door by a tall, twenty-something woman with curly blond hair who handed me off to my budtender, another gal in her twenties, who instantly gave me the first-timer, two-second tour.

The setup is simple: Bud is kept in square jars viewable through the glass front of the wooden bud bar, which takes up pretty much the entire southern side of the room. There wasn't much decoration from what I remember, just some update remnants of the old built-in cabinets and mantels from when the place used to be a home. What probably held a china set now is home to a huge flat-screen airing shots from every single security camera at Sweet Leaf.

Continue for the rest of the review and cannabis photos. Edibles are kept in the glass display on the top of the cabinet along with hash -- though the shop didn't have hash of any kind the day I stopped by. When hash is in stock, according to my budtender, shatter oil made by Top Shelf Extracts sells for $35 a gram, icewater hash is priced at $15-$20 a gram, and waxes occupy the middle tier at $25-$30 a gram.

Bud prices are pretty clearly spelled out in front of you on a white board, but my budtender took a second to point out all of the strains on sale, including one of those $125 ounces I heard so much about -- marble-like Flo buds with the sort of strong, earthy/creamy lavender odor Flo should leave behind. I almost told her to wrap that up without seeing what was left. Almost.

The rest of the stock was -- as promised -- really good ganja that you don't necessarily expect at warehouse prices. Okay, it isn't homegrown basement-quality, and there were a few strains that didn't even need to be pulled out of the case. But for the most part, I was really digging the quality and selection.

What I liked most about the Hong Kong Star was the description from the budtender: Basically, I could expect to do nothing with my afternoon after smoking a chunk of the ripe, sugary (and almost grape-y) buds except enjoy a pain-free three hours on the S.S. Mellow. A vaporizer-full, along with some stretching, was the perfect combination for a stiff back. It wasn't the greatest strain to smoke and then try to write a strain review, however. Keystrokes felt like lifting small weights and falling asleep on my keyboard became a very real possibilittzzzzzzzz....

Conversely, the Sour Diesel was a great way to pick me up after a heavy night of cannabis-induced sleep.

I know it was a boring choice considering there were several other sativas worth checking out, including a musky, wild Super Lemon Haze, funky Cheesel, furry orange (and stinky) Durban Poison and a strain called Smile that promised to pack the giggles. But the Sour D seemed like a good barometer for how good the shop was overall. In the jar, it smelled like a cocktail of gasoline made from pine trees and a dash of lemon zest -- you know, exactly how Sour D should smell. The tiny, light-green calyxes were surprisingly dense, and the buds broke down into tiny BB-like trichome-laden bowl fillers.

As expected, the buds had a decent flavor through the first half of a joint, the first two hits of a bowl and most of a vaporizer, while giving a zippy, enjoyable sativa buzz full of munchies and crunchy vibes. All for $25 an eighth at patient pricing, or just $30 an eighth for non-members. You never know, it could even be the $125 special. Call ahead to be sure, though.

With no hash to choose from, I ended up taking home just a quarter of kind. Thankfully, the bowls haven't needed an extra boost this week, and I'm just fine toking from them.

And rocking out to some Ozz.

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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