Mile Highs and Lows: Herbal Wellness

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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's review: Herbal Wellness. See our review after the jump.

Herbal Wellness 3870 N. Federal Blvd. Denver, CO 80211 Herbalwellnessinc@comcast.net 720-299-1919

Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday Size: 1,450 square feet Date opened: May 1, 2009 Clients: 1,500 as of October 2009 Patient services: Not handicap accessible but will accommodate those customers if they call ahead. No delivery Doctor evaluations on site: No Must customers make the dispensary their designated caregiver: No, but offers free half-hour massage and 10 percent discount to those who do Raw marijuana price range: $100 to $120 per quarter ounce Other types of medicine: Lotions, edibles, hash oil, hashish, clones, lollipops Amenities: Full-time massage therapist, art gallery, consulting wing that helps others open dispensaries

Our take: Can there be too much of a good thing? Even if that "good thing" is marijuana?

That's the question one faces at Herbal Wellness. Walk into its pharmacy and you'll be confronted with a glass display case jam-packed with jar after jar after jar of marijuana. Fifty varieties in all, according to the rainbow-colored sales board overhead. The bountiful inventory is both intoxicating and overwhelming -- sort of like being a little kid and stopping by Toy R Us just before Christmas.

Herbal Wellness is located in a second-floor office in the middle of the Santa Fe Arts District -- right above the Colorado Democratic Party headquarters, as Herbal Wellness employees are quick to point out. An unintentionally appropriate green-hued hallway leads upstairs to the dispensary, a sizable place featuring an outsized flat-screen TV, cushy leather couches and local artwork on the walls.

Employees seem friendly, though the documents they require customers to sign set off some alarms. While most dispensaries these days make clients sign forms agreeing to let the business act as their "primary caregiver" just for the duration of each visit (a legal maneuvering around the state law that's yet to be vetted in court), Herbal Wellness takes that arrangement one step further. Their paperwork indicates that Herbal Wellness will act as a customer's primary caregiver until the customer sends a letter to the state canceling the relationship. That's a pretty stringent arrangement for a place that says it doesn't require patients make the operation their designated caregiver. When asked about the form, an employee promises, "We're not out to screw you," and that the paperwork is submitted with the state. If it isn't, though, why the austere language? It all seems a bit suspicious.

Customers might forget such concerns once they behold the aforementioned pharmacy. There's practically a field's worth of marijuana on hand; thankfully the pharmacist, who doubles as the dispensary's on-site massage therapist, is friendly, patient and knowledgeable. Prices are a tad on the steep side, though a few strains are always offered at a slight discount (possibly because there isn't enough room left in the display case to hold it all). Beyond the small forest of raw weed, Herbal Wellness offers many other forms of cannabis, from tinctures and chocolate truffles to med strips -- thin little flakes that melt on your tongue.

In other words, there's apparently a medicine here for every ailment. Maybe there's even one that helps people recover from the shock of seeing all that pot.

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