Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: The Clinic Cap Hill in Denver

Consistency and quality. Those two things are what keep most businesses afloat. A quality restaurant that can't consistently deliver top-notch meals will fail. Likewise, a consistently bad restaurant doesn't stand a chance. The same is true in the medical marijuana dispensary world, where shops consistently lacking in quality have found themselves run out of business or sold to another owner.

That said, there's a reason the Clinic hasn't changed since opening the doors to its first shop in 2009. It hasn't had the need.

See also: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Mile High Dispensary in Lakewood

The Clinic -- Cap Hill

745 East 6th Ave. Denver, CO 80203 720-536-5229

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Raw marijuana price range: $37-$46/eighth-ounce, $280/ounce. Nonmembers pay about 15 percent more. Other types of medicine: BHO, CO2 oil, kief, hash, edibles, tinctures, lotions, drinks. Online menu? Yes. Handicap-accessible? Yes. Recreational sales? Yes.

The Cap Hill location, one of six for the chain, is a strange little building, clearly once home to a mechanic's garage. For a while it sat abandoned, except in late November, when the Christmas-tree guy would set up shop. Then, a few years ago, it got a coat of paint on the outside and Pain Management of Colorado ( one of the earliest shops we reviewed) put up a sign. PMC never opened, to the best of my knowledge, and the Clinic eventually moved in and remodeled the space into the slick yet shoebox-sized dispensary operating today.

Inside, the place is as small as it looks from the outside, though staffers have done their best to keep it from feeling cramped or confined. The waiting room and lobby of the dispensary is small but still open and inviting, thanks to the clean white furniture and the huge glass windows drowning the room in sunlight. The walls are painted in green -- a staple of the Clinic stores -- but somehow it works without feeling like yet another dispensary that felt compelled to go green because that's the color of weed.

Sign-in took just a minute, and before long I was buzzed back through the locked security door, through the small receptionist area with a display case filled with glass pipes from local shop Heady Glass and vape pens from Cloud and Altitude, and into the dispensary itself -- which isn't much larger than a walk-in closet. A birch and glass display case runs the length of the room, stocked with display jars of buds and concentrates. The counter is split into two halves, with recreational sales on the left and medical sales on the right.

While both sides were stocked with at least two dozen strains of herb, I never made it over to the recreational side to see if it was the exact same selection as medical. The prices scared me too much: They were too high on day one of sales and, frankly, they are still way too high ($70 for an eighth-ounce and $140 for a quarter-ounce before taxes). That said, the past two times I've been in the Clinic's Cap Hill location, I've watched recreational customers happily shell out the dinero for the high-priced and high-quality flowers. (Granted, they were all shopping on the relatively lower-priced $60/eight tier.) No doubt some of these tourists and occasional tokers had tired of their dude's homegrown and were enjoying the best herb they've ever had.

As a medical patient, I've shopped at the various Clinic locations over the years when I wanted a bag of something caregiver-level. Despite the fact that the Clinic always has some of the highest prices on medical cannabis compared to other dispensaries, it is worth it now and then for quality meds when my caregiver is unavailable. While the staff is friendly and the shops are some of the nicest in Denver, it is the consistent quality that keeps me coming back. But that quality doesn't come cheap, and you'll consistently shell out more than at other dispensaries. Non-members pay about an extra 15 percent, so the $37 eighth for a member is about $42 and change. Add taxes and you're paying $45 an eighth. The top-tier buds shoot up to $55 after taxes. But apparently I'm in the minority of customers who feel that way, because the shop does good business. Drive past the Cap Hill location after work any day of the week and there are people in the waiting room. I've watched people happily pay full price for two ounces of bud and walk out with a smile. Member pricing, available by making the shop your primary center, is clearly the way to go if you're going to make it a regular stop.

Continue for the rest of the review and photos. With two dozen uniquely different strains to choose from, making the Clinic a primary center is worth considering. The selection is far from standard. Grower Jay Price runs a breeding program, and the results are largely on display. One entire breeding series for the last few years was devoted to an LA Confidential male plant mating with high-quality females from across the spectrum. The Citrix, a Grapegruit cross, smells like rotting grapefruit and tastes like an orange popsicle, for example. Whereas the Lucy, an OG-heavy cross, retained a lot of the rubbery, earthy kushiness. The Grape God smells like a freshly popped can of Hawaiian Punch and is a staple of the dispensary, though my pick is usually the shop's OG crosses and phenos. The grapey, piney Pre-98 Bubba Kush has taken home high-CBD awards in the past and is usually a good choice. So are the Ghost OG and Raskall OG cuts that the shop has in stock. I've also trekked to a Clinic for an eighth of Headband when I get an uncontrollable urge for the lemon-fuel flavor and the raging appetite it fuels.

This time around, I went with a heavier indica in the Phishhead Kush. This OG Kush cross with the uber-heady name was among the most frosty and stinky in the shop. The round, marble-sized buds all had small, tight calyxes with a sugar coating of trichomes tucked into every nook and cranny. At some angles, the buds looked almost white. Dense, the flowers seemed to double when broken down, and the new leather/fresh pair of sneakers/grape Pixie Stix smell filled up my office. The buds burned with a full flavor through two or three hits, yet I mostly took this in one-hit bowls to savor the taste. A real heavy strain, this was the knockout punch I needed to end morning cramping. In the evening, it was a tasty and enjoyable way to wrap up a day while zoning out after kiddie bedtime. Expect to see a new seed line of Phishhead Kush crosses in the near future.

And though it was up on the highest tier (creeping into the $50-an-eighth range) and well into the realm of "This shit is way too expensive," I couldn't stop my inner Star Wars nerd from getting at least a half-eighth of the X-Wing, a very unique phenotype of the Skywalker OG. The oak-like smell of the buds wasn't the most appealing in the shop, but the neon-green calyxes slammed with amber crystals called to me. The flavor was surprisingly full, with a true OG richness that came through in a dry pipe and bubbler. Potent, the buds delivered a much more cerebral high than the body-buzz Phishhead, lasting for a good two hours-plus. It was also much less couch-locking, and a few small tokes actually gave me a boost of focused energy.

Concentrates are another huge focus for the Clinic, which has its own division (dubbed "The Lab") devoted to it. The shop has won several awards for its hashes, waxes and shatters, and is among the few producers to consistently preserve the strain-specific flavors and smells of the buds being extracted.

The Clinic is also pushing the science of extracting live plant resin, which results in some amazingly pure shatter oil with an unbelievable amount of terpene preservation. Like the buds, you pay for the level of craftsmanship, though. Waxes start around $35 a gram, and the high-end Headband shatter sets patients back $65 a gram, which is high -- but consider that the high-level extractions only return a few grams of hash from an entire plant, and it makes more sense.

It really makes sense when you try it. The Headband shatter was spot-on in the flavor department -- like sucking down an entire Headband plant, top bud to roots, in one hit. There was a little residue left in my nail, but it was negligible. The amber-glass-colored oil was incredibly potent, as expected, and small dabs of no more than one-twentieth of a gram were enough to lift me into the clouds and turn my stomach settings to "devour everything."

Even if you are a home grower and have no need for buds, the Clinic should be on your radar for the genetics. The shop is the home to Reserva Privada Colorado seeds, with packs of LA Confidential crosses like the Lohan (Trainwreck cross) and the fruity Citrix going for just under $40 for seven beans. The center has also recently started carrying clones again, with select strains selling for $25 a pop.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it: You'll break your wallet shopping at the Clinic. Two-hundred eighty dollars for an ounce is the summit of what I would pay, and even with most strains priced below $38 before tax, you're still walking out having spent $40 for a pre-packed 3.5 grams of bud. Same goes for the concentrates. The $65 gram of Headband shatter was way too much to spend, and I still get an uneasy feeling in my stomach when I think about it (it was my doing, as the Clinic did have lower-priced waxes and shatters selling for a more reasonable $40 or less). There are other places that have very good cannabis at $10 to $15 less on the eighth and $50-$75 less on the ounce. But for the consistent selection of unique and rare genetics and the overall quality, you'll get your money's worth at the Clinic.

*Note: In the interest of transparency, I've known Clinic grower Jay Price for years now and have profiled him in several stories regarding the Clinic's year-round fundraising for the National MS Society. I've also known general manager Ryan Cook for several years, meeting him soon after my first review of the Clinic's Colfax dispensary in 2010 while filming a WeedMaps strain-review video. Like all shops I review, neither they nor the employees knew I was stopping in for a review of their store, nor did I encounter either of them during my visit.

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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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes