Medical marijuana dispensary review: VIP Wellness Center not very important

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In "Mile Highs and Lows," Westword offers a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind the locked doors of marijuana dispensaries, whether they resemble swanky bars or a dope dealer's college dorm room. See our dispensary list here, and keep reading for William Breathes's review of VIP Wellness Center.

VIP Wellness Center 2949 West Alameda Avenue Denver, CO 80219 (720) 379-3615

Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Owner: 
Carlos Solano Owner's statement: "Devoted to superb customer service and quality care, our first-rate staff will make sure you feel knowledgeable and confident with all your alternatives. From massages to meditation, delicacies to sweet cannabis, our staff is here for your VIP needs." Opened: December 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $35 $45 per eighth members are capped at $40 an eighth. Other types of medicine: Vendor-provided edibles, hash, hash oil Patient services and amenities: REIKI, massage, yoga Handicap Access: Yes.

Our take I've learned over time that anything containing the term "VIP" is usually not very important or for very important people. That's not to say I was biased going into VIP Wellness Center the other day, but they certainly didn't have a lot to live up to. For example, VIP bottle service at a club actually means you are paying at least four times what you would spend on your booze. And VIP service at concerts and festivals usually only means you have access to the slightly cleaner bathroom. VIP service at a strip club is essentially an invitation to throw way too much money away on a lap dance.

Let's face it: Anyone else using that term is clearly manifesting what it they think is very important -- and the reality is, anyone with money to spend is considered important. In short, very important people don't have to label what they are doing as VIP -- they just do it.

I pulled up to the shabby looking building and a dude with a rat-tail, tank top and cell phone attached to the belt of his jean shorts walking out gave me a "hell yeah, man" as he held the door for me. VIP Wellness is clearly trying to improve the space they are in, but I'm not sure if the cheap tan tile, sponge-painted green wall and interrogation-room two-way mirror separating you and the secretary were the right way to take things. Also -- and I may be wrong -- I don't think very important people are going to be impressed by Judge Judy re-runs on the flat screen or the second-hand metal and wood kitchen table chairs.

I liked how I didn't have to sign any forms or go through any rigmarole other than showing them my license application -- though I don't know if that's their policy, or if they were just being lazy because they were busy. I was led back by the secretary, who stared at me as I looked into the glass case along with the other customers. The room was loud, with the cheap tile creating an echo chamber against the bare walls that amplified every sneaker squeak and sniffle in the room.

VIP Wellness seems to have a decent amount of space in the building, but the bud bar still seemed cramped. With four other patients hovering over the glass counter and boxes of supplies strewn out across the floor, the place felt disorganized. There are side rooms, I would assume for massage and yoga, but the lights were dimmed in the hallway leading back and I'm guessing they go unused most of the time. The bud bar itself is a large glass case, one side with herb and the other side with concentrates and edibles. I may have missed it, but the one thing I didn't see was a menu with a price breakdown.

After looking at the dozen or so jars in the counter for at least two minutes while the budtender stared at me, I eventually had to initiate our conversation about the herb. She pulled out several jars, including Dumpster Diesel, Durban Poison, Mango Kush and Lemon Skunk -- but the most information I got out of her was the name of the strain and if it was a sativa or not. All of the herb selection had the same general wet-hay smell in the jars and nothing was worth writing home about.

The other two budtenders behind the counter weren't much help, either. In fact, I learned more from a patchwork-and-tie-dye-wearing fellow patient, who told me that the Chocolate Chunk was indica-heavy -- and even he was wrong. Owner Carlos Solano said that they don't have any house strains, and that their selection comes from "several different growers" -- though he noted that several strains are in the shop frequently. After going through a few more strains, I opted to split an eight of the two that looked the most appealing: Special Chocolate and Dankouver.

The Special Chocolate had deep orange hairs around it, bordering on milk chocolate colored. But generally, the flower was underdeveloped, with light, clear trichomes barely dusting it. Not much of a true taste to this herb. Actually, the only things I really tasted were the nutrients and salts left in the plant after poor flushing. I burned a spliff of it and got a spacey, dull high with some cottonmouth. Not much else. The cut of Dankouver was done a bit better, though it was still a rather stringy and leafy sample. Breaking it open, there was an orangey spice beneath the wet pine needle smell, and this strain was clearly flushed better than the Special Chocolate. But it still burned harsh from all of the fan leaves left on it.

The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. Read their bios here.

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