Medical marijuana dispensary review: The Dandelion in Boulder

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For being so out in the open, the Dandelion, located in Boulder, is relatively low-key.

No neon green paint on the walls or massive pot leaves on its signs. Instead, the shop fits well with its funky off-Pearl Street surroundings.

The Dandelion

845 Walnut Street Boulder, CO 80302 (303) 459-4676 www.thedandelionco.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Edibles, keif, hash oil. Handicap accessible? Yes.

The shop is next door to the funky Nepali/Tibetan restaurant Sherpa's, itself a quaint house-turned-business along a stretch of Walnut; it's painted blue and white and adorned with Tibetan flags. In comparison, Dandelion's small green cross, unassuming sign and scattering of wind chimes and chairs out on the old front porch don't really stand out much at all.

Which is nice. Walking in off the street doesn't seem to garner any "They're going to buy some weed" stares from passersby. Of course, that could just be ganja-tolerant Boulder in general (recent 4/20 events aside). But the shop feels like it's at home in the community.

The old traffic-worn wood floor of the stucco-coated house creaks a bit when you walk in, signaling your arrival. To the right is a receptionist desk where a friendly blond woman was sitting clicking around on a computer. I handed over my red card and ID to be copied and ambled around what must have formerly been the den back when the building was someone's house.

A nice multi-component stereo is set up along the back wall in between two three-foot-tall purple geodes, and bookshelves house cannabis-related books and magazines. I didn't have time to sit down and check out much more, as I was the only person in, and before I knew it, the receptionist was sending me to the bud bar in the back of the shop.

My budtender met me halfway in what I guess was the old dining room; it's now a space devoted to a second patient lounge on one side and glass pipe sales on the other. Nothing spectacular in the glass cases, but a sign says everything is made locally, and small spoon pipes were reasonably priced at $20 or less.

The bud bar is a simple, clean space with a few landscape paintings on the beige walls and antique-style wooden and glass countertops. My budtender was probably in his mid-thirties. He was friendly but got down to business quickly without giving me the usual first-timer rundown of everything in stock. Just a quick "So what are you looking for?"

Herb is kept in heavy glass jars on a shelf behind one of the display counters. Inside the counter were jars full of pre-rolled cones as well as a wide range of medical goodies, from edibles to discounted bags of flowers.

My budtender pulled down the jars one by one, showing me a range of the roughly fifteen strains. Most impressive were the chunky, sweet-smelling Blue Dream, sweet-tarty Chemdawg coated in trichomes, and several drool-inducing ounces of 303 Kush. Other strains, like the thin-but-stinky Golden Goat, were solid buys at $30. The only thing that seemed off was the Jack Flash; it smelled and looked way more like Tangerine Haze than any Jack Flash I've ever come across.

As for hash, the shop carried a wide range of strain-specific butane oils made in-house using flowers from Dandelion's garden. But after last week, I was somewhat gun shy about checking out any BHO. The oil at Dandelion didn't look bad, but it had a more gooey, liquid look to it as opposed to the waxy consistency I look for -- so I didn't end up bringing any home with me this week.

But surprisingly, the guy wouldn't split an eighth for me -- even with herb on the same pricing tier. Nothing is pre-weighed: Staffers just apparently don't want to spend the extra minute weighing out a second strain for you in person. I mean, it's his shop and his prerogative. But you're going to be stuck paying, on average, $3 more per gram for a half-eighth. On the plus side, though, herb is capped at $40 an eighth, and most strains ran around $30.

Page down for pictures and reviews of the meds that William brought home this week. 303 Kush: $40/eighth Lots of long, slender trichomes under a scope -- most with translucent white heads and a few missing trichome heads. Not as punch-you-in-the-nose strong as samples from the strain's original local breeder, Hill Billy, but still a pleasantly earthy aroma when pinched. Broken up, it let out a stronger Chem-like citrus blast that stuck with my fingers for a few minutes after. The flower burned with qualities similar to the taste -- OG-like earthy-richness with hints of a delicious Lemon Pledge zest through the first few hits. It wasn't overpoweringly good, but it was strong enough to leave the flavor lingering for a few minutes after the bowl kicked. Potency was certainly there, although the high was very spacey and sativa-like, with not as much of the weighty Kush effects I get from other OG crosses. Golden Goat: $3/joint, $30/eighth This is where the reviewing became difficult. Sure, I saw the Golden Goat in the store -- and, yes, it had the familiar orange-wispy appearance with long, slender pistils. Not the best sample of Golden Goat by most assessments, but decent nonetheless. At $10 a gram, I probably could have come home with an actual bud. But something about having to pay the per-gram price if I wanted any less than a four-gram "eighth" bothered me, even if it is a $3 difference. So instead, I opted for the pre-rolled joints. Now, there's no doubt I was getting lesser-quality buds than what I would have bought off the shelf, but I was surprised to find that the Golden Goat spliff I brought back wasn't filled completely with trim. What came out looked like ground bud worth putting in a pipe, which is exactly what I did after ripping open the pre-fabricated paper cone. The smell of this strain is unique, and I can't quite pin down what exactly it reminds me of. This week, I'm going with Wrigley's spearmint meets #2 pencil shavings. And yes, it retained a lot of strain smell despite being rolled up in paper for a week. Overall, it was more dull than I expected on the taste as well as the buzz. No surprise, as pre-ground herb tends to lose kief in the process. But it burned to a clean white ash, and the $3 I spent packed about five bowls -- pretty much the same as I would get from a $10 gram. Blue Dream (pre-rolled buds): $3/joint, $30/eighth Breaking down the joint and letting the herb sit in a sealed clean jar overnight brought out the lovely lavender smell to the shake. Unfortunately, it didn't come through very well in the taste. What was left of the sweet flavor was overpowered by the leaf material, and the bowl burned harsh with a thick smoke as a result. Definitely Blue Dream, though, coming on with a wave of tension relief over my entire body within the first five minutes and plateauing to a manageable head and body high for a good hour and a half. Decent for my nausea as well, curbing an early-morning sour stomach while easing the stress that often accompanies my ailment.

William Breathes is the pot pen-name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews in our marijuana blog, Mile Highs and Lows, and keep up with all your ganja news over at The Latest Word.

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