Medical marijuana dispensary review: The Health Center in Uptown

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The Health Center is a tiny center in a tiny house on a tiny block in the Uptown neighborhood.

What isn't little, though, was the selection of unique strains more than worth taking home.

The Health Center Uptown

1736 Downing St. Denver, CO 80218 303-758-9997 www.thchealth.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Other types of meds: Hash, tincture, cooking oil, BHO Online menu: Yes. Handicap accessible? Yes.

The little Victorian home-turned-MMC is hard to miss, since it stands alone on a block with an empty lot next to it. The shop's parking lot is accessed through the alley, as is the entrance to the MMC, through what was formerly the back door of the house.

Inside, what was either a mud room or the kitchen has been turned into the small patient intake area. There's really not much to the space other than the purple walls and window into the receptionist area, but take a second to check out the old pictures of the building hanging in a frame on the wall near the door. At one time, it looked more like a crack house than the oversized dollhouse it resembles today.

No forms to fill out. I just handed my paperwork over to Julia, the bubbly, friendly woman behind the counter, and was buzzed back to the patient waiting area inside while she copied everything and entered me into the center's system.

The inside of the house is as small as you would expect it to be -- probably not more than 900 square feet in total. But it's a very swank 900 square feet. First decorated by original owners CDS, The Heath Center has left things pretty much the same. Dark wood floors contrast well with the stark-white window trim and baseboards, as well as the Colorado flag-blue paint on the walls, while the huge (for the building) windows let in loads of natural light. The shop was also decorated well and avoids any claustrophobic cluttering by keeping the antique furniture and decorations minimal, simple and (appropriately) small. It felt straight out of Modern Home and Living magazine or a Home Depot catalog, frankly. Very clean and professional.

The seating area for the patient waiting room is built into the large bay-window kitchen, with a small coffee table stacked with magazines as well as a book containing information on the strains the center carries, plus a price breakdown for members and non-members. Eighths are capped at $35 for walk-ins, and signing the shop up as your caregiver knocks about $5 off at that level. Ounces are capped at $200, and at least one strain gets moved to the $150 ounce shelf each day.

Unlike the last few weeks waiting on patients taking forever ahead of me, I made it up to the bud bar in decent time despite being two back in line. The bud bar isn't cut off from the rest of the house, just tucked into an alcove in the former living room and separated by an antique wood and glass countertop showcasing concentrates, foods and other cannabis accoutrement.

Edibles were mostly kept to bite-sized baked goods and candies from Edi Pure, Dr. J's and Mountain High. The center also had a Kool-Aid-like powdered 50 milligram cannabis drink mixture that I regret not picking up for the $5 pricetag. The shop also carried tinctures and cooking oil for you do-it-yourself pot foodies. BHO made by an outside shop from the MMC's trim is on display in $40 gram and $20 half-gram containers, with about seven or eight strains to choose from, almost all coinciding with strains of herb on the shelves. Icewater hash was priced at the same level in price, but $40 for a gram for what looked like rolled chunks of dark bubble was too high.

Because of the rush before me, the staffers hadn't had time to get out all of their latest strains out of Ziploc bags and on to the shelves yet. But my budtender let me go through the baggies as he entered them into the inventory, just as with the already-shelved jars. Herb is broken down into three price tiers designated by shelf level, though my budtender reminded me of prices each time I asked for new strains to check out.

Buds all looked well developed, but some strains, like the King's Fire and Limon, needed some more time curing. Out of the bag, they had a mix of delicious spicy and citrus aromas, respectively, but there was also the more generic drying cannabis smell. Nothing awful -- more of a "Damn, we've got to get some herb out on our shelves"-cure instead of a well-timed drying.

And I know the shop can get there, because other strains, such as the Platinum Alien and the Tangerine Diesel, made me do the double-sniff (like a double-take with your nose) and were awesome examples of unique strains in the shop. In between the two levels of quality were the Headband, Chem 4 and the $150 ounce Durban Poison, among others.

I spoke with The Health Center's master grower, Jeremy, after my visit, and he told me that the shop has a link to a second-generation cannabis breeder who has been giving them strains like the Tangerine Diesel to play with in their organic, semi-soilless garden. Jeremy said he was looking forward to a batch of new strains with Chem Dawg lineage coming out soon, adding that the garden has been focusing on unusual genetics -- sometimes despite the yield. "Like that Tangerine Diesel is a horrible yielder, but it's a wonderful product," he noted. "So we just had to do something with it."

Me too: Smoke it. And with the patient-priced first-timer discount, two half-eighths of the stinkiest samples came home with me (along with a half-gram of some wax) to pack my pipes for just over $42.

This is our review of The Health Center Uptown, post your take in our Denver MMJ directory


Page down for strain reviews and photos.

Tangerine Diesel: $32/eighth and $200 ounce In case you didn't get it from the review, I was impressed by this strain. With a smell like someone dropped a few buds of Sour D in an old-school McDonald's orange soda, I set this jar aside in the shop immediately. Very large, round calyxes with appropriately orange pistils that stacked on top of each other, giving the bud a compact but fox-tailed look. Out of the jar at home, the buds let off the same sweet smell, but snapping off a small chunk from the bud let out hidden pockets of Diesel funk. The taste was equally impressive. A few minutes after the Blood Orange-sweet bowl finished, an aftertaste of Sour D came creeping back along with the uplifting Sour D buzz. Appetite was out of hand with this and munchies lasted throughout the afternoon after a poorly-timed post-lunch session the other day. A very cool strain, and even cooler at less than $35 an eighth or $200 an ounce. Platinum Alien: $32/eighth and $200/ounce For the most part, I'm usually sold by the names Platinum Kush and Alien OG. Mix the two and it's pretty much assured I'll bring it home. Trimmed down well to golf-ball-sized nuggets, the buds were almost all little clones of one another, with fat, chunky calyxes forming pinecone-like shapes. The smell was also easily the most impressive OG in the shop, with an almost dark coffee acidity to the rubbery tartness. Broken up at home, the buds left a waxy stickiness on my fingers after packing up a bowl. The flower burned clean to a white ash in a bowl and was loaded with sharp, nose-tickling tartness and mouth-watering, rich earthiness. It's buds like this that make me think back on all the other vile-tasting stomach medicines I've had in the past and realize that there's so many reasons why medical marijuana is better. Great for easing cramping and muscle pain as well as putting me to sleep after a long day, I'd head back to The Health Center for more of this, for sure. Blended OG wax: $40/gram I went with this at the budtender's suggestion for a strong, pain-killing indica strain. He was right about that much: it was potent. But it also wasn't perfect, which BHO should be if you're going to smoke it. Nothing awful (it didn't go up in flames or anything like that), but it left a little bit too much residue on both glass and titanium nails when dabbed and a few hits came out tasting and smelling like burning plastic. Center grower Jeremy told me that this is a new company for the shop, which is just now getting into selling butane-extracted concentrates. Staffers send out their own trim to be used, which is great -- but the purging and production needs to improve. Not the best buy this week, but then again, the $40/gram bubble hash wasn't much of an option either.

Read more dispensary reviews from William Breathes in our Mile Highs and Lows blog and keep up with all your marijuana news over at The Latest Word.

This is our review of The Health Center Uptown, post your take in our Denver MMJ directory


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