Medical marijuana dispensary review: THC -- The Herbal Center in Denver

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Once again, the holidays have me broke. Between buying flights to see family and gifts for my wife and nephew, the wallet is a little thin. But as the song says, "First take care of head." So I shot down to South Broadway's Discount Dispensary Land to cash in on some meds without breaking the bank.

THC -- The Herbal Center

1909 South Broadway Denver, CO 80210 303-719-4372 www.THCTheHerbalCenter.com (website hasn't been updated in years)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Raw marijuana price range (all patients): $10/gram, $35/eighth, $230/ounce; daily specials for $25/eighth and $190 an ounce. Member ounce specials as low as $160/ounce. Other types of medicine: BHO shatter, edibles. Online menu: No.
 Handicap-accessible?: Yes.

Out of nothing more than convenience, I parked out on the street amid construction vehicles and orange cones and walked into the Herbal Center with no idea what I was getting into other than $25 eighths of herb.

Dude behind the receptionist desk in the lobby watching YouTube videos turned, smiled and welcomed me into the shop before I had a chance to walk through the door. There's a small lounge set up, sectioned off by brightly colored, gaudy plastic circles and hoops hanging from the walls and ceilings.

The election was still on everyone's mind at the time, and he said the shop would be making the move to being a general retail store as soon as possible. He didn't keep me long, and after copying my paperwork and ID, he directed me to the bud bar in a room off to the side.

The bud bar felt cluttered thanks to the numerous cabinets, the flat-screen TV in the background, all of those damn plastic circle things and two or three budtenders all milling around not really saying anything. The space is loud, dramatically lit with track lighting, and filled with generic cannabis smells. Put them all together, and THC feels like how I imagine legal pot shops in New Jersey will look someday: vaguely like a casino, with a hint of disco culture for good measure.

For a few seconds, I stood on the edge of the small patient lounge, marked by chrome-and-leather furniture and more acrylic circle designs, feeling somewhat overwhelmed, as if I'd just walked onto the set of a '60s-era late-night talk show. Finally, one of the budtenders noticed and waved me over to his station at the far end of the glass cabinets, lined up in a snaking row. There are three budtender stations in total, each with the same set-up of herb, hash and edibles.

My budtender was a laid back guy who gave me the first-timer tour through everything before displaying jars for me to scope out. For the most part, the bud selection was standard warehouse dispensary fare. Some buds were better than others, but generally, most things fell into mid- to decent quality. He started with jars of Super Lemon Haze and Durban Poison -- the two discount, $25/eighth special strains for the day.

The Durban Poison had a strain-distinct smell, with nearly none of the spear-like, orange-colored qualities I'm used to. There are a lot of versions of this out there (for a good write-up on the variety, check out our friends at KindReviews.com), but they all tend to have the same speedy, energetic buzz and that signature African pepper-spice bite in flavor. To me, that translates into a ravenous appetite perfect for destroying all remaining Thanksgiving leftovers in one sitting with no cramps afterward. THC's Durban Poison was fluffy and green, with BB-sized calyxes and an almost OG Kush-like appearance. What I brought home was on the dry side and wasn't as full in flavor as I'd hoped, but it was still intensely potent.

Page down for the rest of the review and strain photos. Surprisingly, the other discount strain, Super Lemon Haze, was among the top lookers in the shop. Under the scope, the bud looked like it had been bedazzled with amber globes on top of crystal-clear stems. It dried out a lot in the baggie I brought home, but cracking open the bud a week later reminded me of why I picked the tart, lemony buds to begin with. Like the Durban, it wasn't a mouthwateringly full flavor, but had enough taste to make a point. Where THC's Super Lemon Haze really impressed, though, was in potency. Small bowls of this well-balanced hybrid were great for taking the physical and mental edge off of a long day without tranq-darting the smoker straight to a couch nap.

During my visit, there were only four or five other strains, all priced at the top level of $10 a gram and $35 an eighth. Among them was a diesel-smelling Maui, an outdoor Cough that could have used a haircut (it was from a vendor), and an OG Kush that even the budtender warned me to stay away from ("Not this batch, man"). I always appreciate it when a budtender is that honest about the product. Instead, he pointed me to a stinky Blackwater Kush that was down to the last quarter of the jar and a more full sampling of the ChemWreck on display.

As the name of the latter implies, the smell out of the jar was a near half-and-half blend of citrus-sour Chemdawg and buttery pine-cone Trainwreck. While small and somewhat wispy, the calyxes were dusted in a fine silver mist of trichomes. Broken up, the buds left a pile of kief on my desk large enough to scrape up and put on top of the bowl I had packed in the vape. Everything went smooth through the vape, and I got a lot of the Trainwreck flavor. It burned on the harsh side through a dry pipe, however. Like a distant freight train coming closer, the buzz crept up on me for a minute or two but then blew in quickly and left me spacey and numb for an evening, culminating in a log-sawing-night's sleep.

On the plus side, literally, my grams all weighed out a half-gram over. So, for the price of three grams, I walked out with 4.5 grams. My budtender told me that was always the case at THC. "If we throw a few extra buds on there and the scale comes up over, we usually just let you have it," he said while weighing out my order.

In all, it was a short visit. In and out without any meaningless chit-chat. I get the feeling that most of the people that stop by there probably don't give a shit about that stuff anyway and really just want to pick up some cheap herb and be on their way. The main draw for THC is its highly visible spot at one of Denver's more famously cannabis-green street corners -- which the low, low prices and spotty bud selection validate. But the few strains we brought home were worth our trip down Broadway to save a few bucks.

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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