Medical marijuana dispensary review: The Healing Center of Denver off Colfax

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The Healing Center advertises the dispensary as having "THE BEST OG in DA MIDWEST."

That might be true based on the herb I saw. Nothing was really awful. But Colorado isn't in the Midwest last I checked, and it takes a lot to lay claim to the best OGs in this state.

The Healing Center of Colorado

1452 Poplar Street Denver, CO 80220 720-389-9285

Owner: Did not reach owner. Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles. Handicap accessible?Yes


The MMC is in the corner spot of an old strip center on Poplar that is hidden away from the view of Colfax traffic by a U-Haul office. Unfortunately, the location gives the dispensary a back-alley feel, as the front door is obscured by a handful of silver, white and orange rental trucks and trailers. The parking lot was full, though it was all customers for the handful of nearby Hispanic businesses, as well as Union Cab drivers eating at Senor Pepe's.

I parked on the street and ambled through the front to a bare-bones waiting room with gray linoleum floors, chipped white walls and a few signs warning that the joint is cash only and that cameras are in use. There were ten or so old plastic and metal office chairs lining three of the walls, with an old tube television in the corner tuned to some COPS-like show. I walked up to the small bulletproof window and waited around for a minute before a smiling face came into view from around the corner of the little receptionist area behind the glass. The dude snagged my paperwork and ID and told me to have a seat. No sign of dankness yet, not even the faint whiff of a skunk fart.

After a minute or two of waiting around listening to the echoing police chatter from the TV, I was let through the security door into a second, more comfortable waiting area. More comfortable by comparison, that is. The back of the shop is almost the same size as the sketchy waiting area out front, but in it they've crammed a patient lounge, a miniature glass shop with one display case full of inexpensive bongs and pipes, and a sectioned-off bud bar.

The cramped quarters were made even smaller by the massive fifty-inch-plus TV in one corner and leather couches set up in an "L" shape in front of it. The walls featured standard-issue dispensary-green paint, and I saw a few bud pictures up. But I was the only one in the shop, so I didn't get much time to stick around and check it out. Not that I'm some neat freak (as my wife would gladly tell you), but cleaning things like dirty floors, smudgy glass and scuffed paint around the shop could help with the off-Colfax feel of the joint.

There were two guys working the shop the day I was in, and both introduced themselves with a handshake and a smile. Danny took care of my paperwork and handed me off to my budtender, Paul -- a tall dude rocking a flat brim and a hoodie, with the type of permanent, friendly grin only achievable through years of ganja smoking and handling herb. The bar was borderline claustrophobic, but Paul hit a switch and bright beams from overhead spots came on and instantly improved the feel of the space.

A bar created by two cabinets separates patients from the budtender, with a whiteboard gridded out with strains and pricing by the gram, eighth, half and ounce hung on the back in a spot easy enough for patients to see. For the most part, prices averaged in the $35-$40 range, with two top-shelf strains selling for $50 an eighth. I made a point about that last week, so I won't go into it here. But I will say that they were charging as much as $18 a gram for their bud, which is about $3.71 too high if the eighth price is only $50. I get buying in bulk for a discount, but an eighth of weed isn't bulk.

Paul asked me what was up and I gave him my health spiel, but I added that the online claim of having the Midwest's best OG is what brought me through the door. Dude gave me a stoned and knowing grin before reaching down into the glass-top bud cabinet for a few of his favorite Mason jars.

It was clear off the bat that the shop does try to specialize in OGs. Most seemed to be above-average dispensary quality in looks, with healthy, fat buds coated in delicious crystals and a great genetic selection of various phenos and crosses (Tahoe OG, Alien OG, SourD x OG, Private Reserve OG and several chemdawg/diesel variations). But overall, they appeared to have been grown more for bulk than for connoisseur quality.

Top-shelf flowers like the Alien and Skywalker OGs were the fire, though, with bulging, fat-budded flowers that smelled like someone threw a skunk, a tire and a shovel of wet soil into a bag. But those sold for $50 an eighth, and I'm pretty much over that price -- even on rarities like this. Of course, the center also sold $25 to $35 bags, and the Hawaiian I saw at $35 was well worth the price on all fronts.

My budtender was brief with his descriptions, mostly letting the looks and smells speak for themselves while I looked through the jars. The shop also had BHO from a third-party vendor for $40 a gram. I would have grabbed a half, but it was pre-weighed in sealed containers -- so I stuck with weed this week.

The center's Weedmaps says anyone who walks in and spends any money with the shop walks out with a glass pipe and hemp papers. Spending over $50 gets you a $1 gram, a glass pipe and papers. At least that's what it said. I didn't get papers or a pipe, and I walked out spending $40 on a split eighth. That said, the guy did weigh out my bag to four grams even, which gave me a couple extra bowls to puff on through the week. That's advertised as being standard for the shop.

Not to say the herb isn't worth checking out and that staffers don't have the genetic ingredients to make it happen. But the Healing Center can't lay claim to the best OGs here in Colorado just yet.

Page down for photos and strain reviews. Platinum OG: $40/eighth First thing I noticed in the shop was the distinct OG look of some of the buds, while others seemed to be too closely trimmed (like the bud in the foreground of the picture). It was easy to see that it was grown well enough, but the chop job on the trim really ruins the beautifully chunky, amber crystal-covered flower. Smell-wise, the bud had the OG funk to it, but it wasn't as pronounced as their Jedi OG cut was. And I'm not talking about strain differences, either. The Platinum was clearly not as well-cared-for as the Jedi was, hence the lower price range. The rubbery earthiness of the strain was there, but it was overpowered by a grass-like fertilizer finish when broken up, with a coffee-like finish lingering for just a second in the nose after. Same goes for the taste. It had a light tanginess that no doubt comes from the strength of the genetics, but that was washed out by a more generic plant taste that says to me the whole growing and drying process wasn't given enough time. It had an even, creeping buzz that settled in about twenty minutes after my last hit of a medium-sized spoon pipe. Like most OGs, this one did well for easing a tight, cramping stomach and relaxing built-up tension and stress that sometimes comes with my nausea. For $40, the herb was well priced, and I think they're on the right track to some killer herb. Still, a little more TLC would have made this Platinum OG sparkle. Deathstar: $40/eighth Big, fat pistils that looked from burnt orange to something like dried blood in color. A little bit of foxtailing, which, generally speaking, is when the calyxes grow in a more stretched manner on the bud as opposed to close together and dense. Really nice coating of silver to amber crystals all over the plant, with some delicious sugar leaves left behind on what was a much looser trim than the Platinum OG I brought home. I've always enjoyed this strain because it tends to be uplifting and energetic without the caffeine-like buzz of other sativas. Sour Diesel comes out strong in the smell, while the bud structure and coloring of what I brought home leaned more toward the Sensi Star. It had a tartness broken up that reminded me of when you open a packet of pre-made lemonade powder and accidentally breathe in the fine mist of condensed sweet-but-acrid flavoring. It was waxy, too, leaving my fingers tacky and stinky like I'd been making hash stick men. (You know you've done it -- and if not, you will now.) Spicy diesel taste from the intake of the first hit, but the exhale had more of the fresh cut grass taste that I got from the Platinum. Nothing very harsh, but I was hoping for more due to the condition of the flowers and their strong smell.

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

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