Mile Highs and Lows: Altitude Organic Medicine

This dispensary has closed.

As Colorado's medical-marijuana industry grows, marijuana dispensaries of all types and sizes are proliferating around the state. Some resemble swanky bars or sterile dentist offices; others feel like a dope dealer's college dorm room. To help keep them all straight, Westword will be offering a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind these unusual operations' locked doors in "Mile Highs and Lows," a regular online review of dispensaries around the metro area and beyond. (You can also search our directory of dispensaries for one near you.)

This week, the Wildflower Seed reviews Altitude Organic Medicine:

Altitude Organic Medicine 1716 Boulder Street, Denver 720-855-6337

Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Sundays. Owner: Brian Cook. Owner's statement: "I had an alternative health interest. [Marijuana] was an honest-to-God treat for people. It really did help them sleep. It really did relieve pain. It really did affect nausea." Opened: December 1, 2009. Raw marijuana price range: $20 per gram/$55 per eighth (including tax.) Happy hour daily specials (like free joints); caregiver pricing for two of the best strains: $39 eighths, $78 quarters, $320 for whole ounce (includes tax). Other types of medicine: Edibles like ice cream, hard candy, banana bread and whipped cream ($8, contains .5 grams of herb). Tinctures, joints, capsules, hash and clones. Patient services and amenities: Free chiropractic session on site Monday and Friday, free yoga class at Root Yoga. Doctor on site Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Longevinex and other vitamin and nutritional supplements. Credit cards accepted.

Our take: I am all about the organics.

I seek out organic food, so searching for the finest in organic medication seems only natural. Seems to me that if you take this plant into your body as a curative, then hormones, chemical fertilizers and pesticides should be just as unwelcome in your herb as they are in salad greens.

Don't get me wrong: I appreciate the consistent bulk and beauty of well-done hydroponics, and I smoke them all the time. At this point in the dispensary business, growers are cognizant that patients want their herb flushed and sweet, and most of the hydro herb I've smoked of late has tasted very nice. But there's just something special about organics.

So as I make my way through the Highland neighborhood, now awash in a sea of new dispensaries, I don't stop until I land at Altitude Organic Medicine -- a neat, contemporary setup that promises a huge selection of high-quality organics.

Many shops claim their wares are "100-percent-grown-in-Colorado-soil." But how are patients to know which shops are truly offering the dope organics? And what makes marijuana "organic," anyway?

"The nutrients," replies Brian Cook, owner of AOM. "Truly, organic has to be grown in soil, not hydroponically." This means no hormones, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. And organic is desirable, he says, because it results in better medication for the patient. The high is also stronger, and longer-lasting. He points to the growing rate of prescription-drug overdoses, which are fast overtaking automobile accidents as the number-one cause of accidental death in our country, as a primary reason to stress organics, and for turning to marijuana as a health choice in the first place.

To discern a better product, "I look at the color," he explains. "You gotta look at it. You gotta smell it." Organics generally have a darker color, while hydroponics have "a more chemical smell to them -- although your diesel strains are going to have that, anyway." Originally, Cook says, his shop was stocked with Colorado greenhouse, but the herb it now sells is a much higher-quality product, grown organically indoors.

This shop is one of three Altitude Organic Medicine dispensaries in the metro area (there's also one in south Denver and in Boulder), all franchises. "So," I have to ask, "are you from California?"

Cook laughs. He grew up in Colorado Springs and attended Colorado State University, and sold vitamins and minerals wholesale before he started his dispensary franchise, his "brainchild," right here in Denver -- and though he'd be open to expanding into other states, such as New Jersey, right now he's focusing on Colorado. "We're a seventy-day-old business," Cook says. "We've been scrambling to meet the City of Denver's regulations every week now!" Still, he says the city's reception has been "awesome. People can see that we're not a problem."

At Altitude Organic Medicine, patients can choose from a menu that includes Blue Dream, Romulan Diesel, Banana Kush, Cheese, Bubble Gum, Maui, White Rhino and Snow Cap. Cook's favorite is Island Sweet Skunk. "I can smoke it all day and actually still calculate," he jokes.

I pick up a nice Juicy Fruit and a rather lovely Stevie Wonder -- both aromatic, indica-sativa hybrids. The Juicy Fruit has a pungent gum/gas scent, a very smooth smoke and a bright, long-lasting high.

And I've sort of fallen in love with the Stevie Wonder. Laden with tufts of extremely long and fuzzy red hairs and coated with sugary crystals, it smells just like summer camp: earthy and pure, the way plants are supposed to be. When burned, it produces a beautiful, sweet incense that lingers on the lips. I now think of this as my "Five-Hour-Energy" marijuana, because I can smoke it, stay stoned for hours and get tons done without any energy crash.

So how do you ensure that your meds are free of stuff you wouldn't put on your salad? Cultivate a relationship with a caring caregiver (or two!).

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

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The Wildflower Seed