Mile Highs and Lows: Delta 9 Alternative Medicine

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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 Westword's directory of dispensaries for one near you.)

This week: William Breathes reviews Delta 9 Alternative Medicine.

Delta 9 Alternative Medicine (formerly Delta 9 Caretakers) 2262 South Broadway, Denver 720-570-2127 www.delta9caretakers.com

Hours of operation: "12ish to 8ish every day." Owner: Jason Holck Owner's statement: "To bring safe access to quality medicine every single day." Opened: October 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $40 eighths, $280 ounces for members; $50 eighths, $350 ounces for walk-in customers. Other types of medicine: Edibles, hash, kief and oils. Patient services and amenities: Growing classes, garden supplies, massage and chiropractic referrals.

Our take: When I first checked out Delta 9 a few months ago, there wasn't much to it. The waiting area was sparsely furnished, the walls were bare, and the two side rooms off of the main entrance were works in progress. Still, I was impressed with the selection, price and quality -- including Delta 9's highly touted and award-winning Bruce Banner.

When I stopped back last week, though, I found the shop in full swing. The colorful (and fragrantly skunky) waiting room is like a lounge, with a massive HD flat screen and large-format pictures of flowering ganja plants on the walls. The owner, Jason Holck, has also converted the side rooms into a small glass shop and a section for growers with lights, soil and clones on display. And employees Jeremy and Bill, who were listening to some chill hip-hop, welcomed me like a friend they hadn't seen in a while -- even though we'd never met.

Bill and I chatted about nuggets (both herb and the team) and the power of a good mustache as I filled out my paperwork and waited on another customer to finish in the dispensary room. The guys are laid-back, for sure, but Delta 9 doesn't have the feel of a candy store run by the kids. The herb they feature is serious stuff, as is the business they run -- with each customer's orders tracked into a POS system for future reference. All of the herb is organically grown, either by Holck himself or by a crew of local growers he's known for years. Holck also takes pride in teaching people how to grow, and he offers classes every month.

A whiteboard on the wall has a price breakdown of the more than thirty strains the shop carries. No strains cost more than $50 per eighth or $350 per ounce for walk-ins; considering the caliber of the homegrown herb, that's a good deal. And signing up with the shop as your primary caregiver gets you a pretty great price break. On the day I went in, the menu included Buddha's Sister, Island Sweet Skunk, Sour Diesel, Grapefruit and bubblegum, as well as at least fifteen other strains. Delta 9 also had standard shop edibles, two kinds of hash and some pressed kief chunks.

The one thing Delta 9 didn't have? The elusive Bruce Banner. Although I'd missed out on the last of the latest crop by a few days, I overheard an employee telling a caller that they were expecting some more of their prized strain soon.

I perused the jars for about ten minutes while Jeremy talked me through the highs and lows of each strain. I liked how the shop uses chopsticks to pick up the buds, as well as how they have a large magnifying glass to examine them under. I finally settled on a sativa-heavy strain called Snow Cap, one of the best samples of this strain I have seen. The bud was dark green with light tan tips and densely crystallized; it smelled musky at first, but when you cracked it open, it had a sweet, pine-sap bite.

When I smoked it at home the next day, the musky scent came out a bit stronger in the taste, but it had a finish that was like wild, sweet sage. I was instantly head-high from the herb, but it was still a very functional buzz: My aching belly was calmed within twenty minutes of taking just three hits, and within an hour I was able to eat breakfast and get on with my day. The Snow Cap burned to a snow-white ash -- a sign of good flushing and curing -- and it was strong enough that I only smoked half the bowl before putting it down.

Although the bud-tenders also suggested the pressed kief, the $30-per-gram blended-strain bubble hash was calling my name. I try to keep some hash around the house because it works well on my bellyaches and nausea -- but it's also a great way to unwind on the couch after a long day at work. Delta 9's bubble is a bit pricey for not being full-melt, but if you're like me and use it only on occasion, then paying a few dollars more every now and then is okay. (For the price-conscious, Delta 9 also had lower-grade hash for $9 per gram.)

As Jeremy bagged up my greens and hash, our conversation drifted from the finer points of hot-knife hits before breakfast to getting old and fat with Al Bundy-sized beer bellies. As a result, I ended up hanging out at Delta 9 far longer than I'd anticipated. The guys made a point of making me feel at home, and the place almost felt more like a medical pot club than a medical pot dispensary. And that's the way they want it.

Business has "been pretty good," one employee told me. "But it never really seems busy, because I don't ever feel like I'm working."

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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