Green Solution anchors a run-down strip center filled with discount stores, nail salons and a coin-op laundry. It's nothing impressive, and my initial reaction was to begin questioning my decision to drive to the 'burbs in the first place. (Like most people I know who grew up in the suburbs, I do my best to avoid them.) But the professional, medical atmosphere and clean modern decor inside the shop are a stark contrast to what's outside.
470 Malley Dr. Northglenn, CO 80233 303-990-9273 www.tgsmedicine.com
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Edibles, concentrates, tinctures, drinks, lotions Handicap-accessible?: Yes.
There's a large and comfortable patient waiting area at the Green Solution, staffed by a redheaded receptionist behind a tall counter. When I visited, she smiled and gave me a "give me a second" look while she finished helping an older man in a paint-stained sweatshirt fill out his change-of-caregiver form.
After finishing up with the other customer and directing him to the leather couches on the other side of the room, she turned to me, smiling. "You must be new here," she said with the sweet welcoming tone that seasoned receptionists acquire. "I don't think I've seen you in before."
I handed over my paperwork, which she promptly copied while I filled out a few release forms. When I was done, she handed me a ticket with a number on it from an old-school raffle dispenser and explained how my budtender would use it to call me back for my order. I didn't quite get what she meant until we were buzzed through the security door to the Sam's Club of medical marijuana dispensaries. I was one of only a handful of customers during my visit, but the shop looks like it's equipped to handle a Harborside-like load at any given time in the recently remodeled space
Though the dispensary is confined to one green and dark-wood-themed room, services are broken down into different stations along the back wall. There's a section for cheap glass pipes and vaporizers, a concentrate and body lotion counter, the massive medical marijuana island that juts out into the middle of the room, the edibles counter with display cooler and freezer, and even a hothouse room for clones large enough to allow four rolling racks' worth to bask in warm humidity. There's also a nook set aside for "Grown Locally" hoodies, caps and sweatshirts, as well as non-medicated hemp body products.
It's ganja sensory overload at first, especially with the half-dozen or so huge flat-screen TVs set up with revolving patient prices and specials. The receptionist guided me over to a small cafe setup with free water, tea and snacks for patients as well as a few high tables and stools. Beyond the lounge were two glassed-off partitions that looked like casino cashier booths. The bubbly receptionist told me the booths were where I would pick up my medicine when I was finished.
Budtenders in collared shirts and ties were scattered around behind the counters, helping the three patients ahead of me with their shopping. Interestingly, I felt like the youngest person in the shop, and I'm in my early thirties. An older woman around my mother's age was sorting through the edibles section and talking about how she doesn't like smoking her medicine, while a man probably in his early fifties was snagging a bag of indica for his aches and pains.
After I stood around for a minute, feeling slack-jawed at the (for lack of a better word) California-ness of the place, a short blond woman came from a back room and introduced herself as my budtender. As a first-timer, I got the full fifteen-minute rundown of the shop, starting at the THC deli.
As far as I could tell, Green Solution has damn near every food product infused with cannabis made in Colorado. Everything from medicated barbecue sauce to your standard mind-numbing candies made by companies such as EdiMeds, SimplyPure, Julie & Kate, Gaias Garden, Dr. J's, Rest & Relaxation, Dixie, Bakked, Mile High, Cheeba Chews, Mountain Medicinals, Beyond Mars, Twice Baked, Sweet Earth, Mary's, Twirling Hippy and Granny T's. Even better, my budtender knew detailed information about everything. I've made it pretty clear over the last few years that I'm not the biggest edibles guy due to my stomach, but if I ever wanted to start experimenting, this is where I would stop first. For those of you who like to make your own edibles, they also sell ounces of sugar trim for $45.
Herb is showcased behind the custom glass-and-wood bud bar. Each strain has a representative nugget in front of a digital picture frame detailing the name and some strain information. It's a completely over-the-top display and adds an almost comical element of two-dimensional technology to something so organic and sensory. On the other hand, it's pulled off well and is completely unique to Green Solution. My budtender asked my preferences and medical needs, then went to work picking strains for me to check out based on the cannabinoid makeup. The shop does all of its strain testing in-house. Cannabis testing can be a sliding scale depending on who is actually doing the testing. But since everything in the shop is being tested against each other, regular Green Solution customers can presumably get an idea of what one strain will do versus another.
It took about ten minutes to find that the Mars OG wasn't very OGish, as well as to check out a hazy G-13 Haze and Purple Diesel that lacked the Chemmy funk. Other strains, like the Pineapple, God Bud and Chernobyl, were decently grown and appealing enough to want to take home. Overall, it's decent bud. Nothing I saw was at a connoisseur level, nor were any of the strains necessarily rare or unique -- but everything I saw was clean. Most were fruity hybrids with a hydroponic sugariness, and out of the two-dozen strains I went through, there was a noticeable lack of any Chem-related strains and OGs. Herb sells for just under $40 an eighth on the top tier, right around $30 for the mid-tier, and as low as $25 for the daily specials.
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I made my picks, and my budtender scurried off to fill my order. I grabbed a cup of water and a pack of snack crackers from the free patient zone while I waited, and after a few minutes, a doorbell noise sounded over by the cashier windows and my number was displayed on the light board above one of the windows.
First-timers get a hefty 20 percent discount on their purchase, which brought my eighth of herb and half-gram of wax to a very reasonable $44 and change. Signing the shop up as your primary center gets you 10 percent off every purchase, with a few 20-percent-off days each month. There's also a point system that earns you free stuff with purchases, which is nice, because the shop keeps track of it for you.
Page down for strain reviews and photos. Chocolope: $36.50/eighth This strain was purely my budtender's suggestion, and she said it should help my appetite and nausea issues due to the balance of THC and CBD. The small sample buds I was able to sniff in the shop were lime-green and leafy, with a pleasant but general fruitiness to them -- obviously some of the best of the batch. What I brought home were smaller, crispier buds that burned quickly in the bowl. Not really a full bait-and-switch, but that's going to be the problem when you keep the stock you are actually selling in the back room away from the patients. The herb had a dark, almost-rotten blackberry smell at first, with a rich haziness to the bud broken up. The taste was mild, though, with a barely noticeable sweet molasses flavor on the exhale. Because of the dryness, the bud burned quickly and became harsher out of a dry pipe by the third hit or so. Medically, the sativa hybrid was a mild stimulant for my stomach. I haven't been battling nausea this week, so I didn't get to try out the meds on that ailment. But a couple of bowls helped bring on the munchies, which for me is medically beneficial enough. From my point of view, the buds were about $5 overpriced due to the rush cure and dryness, but still clean and well-maintained. Chernobyl: $24.50/eighth This was my pick, mostly due to what appeared to be very solid, fat calyx development with light-green-to-yellow sugar-leaf development and a few dark maroon pistils here and there. It had a robust, almost dark-cherry smell to the buds in the jar at the shop and even at home a few days later, after sitting in the not-so-airtight small jars I was given to bring home. Like the Chocolope, the Chernobyl was dried and crispy, but denser bud development meant the bowls burned slightly longer. Unfortunately, there were dozens of small immature seeds tucked away in the bud. None were big enough to be an issue on their own, but packing a bowlful of them certainly altered the flavor and smoke. The fruity sweetness was there and it left an enjoyable aftertaste, but it was harsher than it should have been. Mentally and physically relaxing without putting me to bed, this strain would have been good for mid-day cramping had I had any this week. For the slightly seeded quality, this was appropriately priced on the lower tier at $30 an eighth. Purple Diesel wax The shop's wax selection was relatively large, with strain specific waxes selling for $15 for a half-gram. Though Green Solution doesn't produce the wax themselves, the shop does have it made from Green Solution trim and also sold a higher-quality wax called "flake" for about $5 more on the gram. All the wax had a good Swiss-cheese look to it and was the consistency of a crumbled Crayola. After a few minutes of deciding, I ended up with the Purple Diesel because it was the most smell-attractive strain in the bunch. The wax burned clean on the skillet at home, with a citrous-like aftertaste and a racy, speedy buzz for a good two and a half hours off of a BB-sized dab. At $30 a gram, it's well priced, and I look forward to trying more of the center's strains down the line.
William Breathes is the pen name of Westword's wandering medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews in our pot blog, Mile Highs and Lows and keep up with all your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.