Mile Highs and Lows: Pride in 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 our directory of dispensaries for one near you.)

This week, William Breathes reviews Pride in Medicine:

Pride in Medicine 731 West Sixth Avenue 303-999-0441 www.topdenverdispensary.com

Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Owner: (Did not want name published.) Owner's statement: "We tell people to take pride in their medicine, not to have any shame for using one of the oldest known medicines on earth. We truly believe in it on a medicinal level." Opened: January 2010. Raw marijuana price range: $10 to $20 per gram, $40 to $55 per eighth. Other types of medicine: Edibles, hash, hash oil, tinctures, topical lotions, lip balm. Patient services and amenities: Art gallery; yoga, tai chi and capoeira lessons; growing classes. UPDATE (2/18): It seems Pride in Medicine has shuttered. The sign out front is gone and the number has been disconnected.

Our take: The first few times I drove past Pride in Medicine, I figured some Boulder trustafarians had started a Rasta-themed dispensary, complete with their dorm-room Bob Marley tapestry. Thankfully, I was wrong.

The owner is a really soft-spoken guy with a huge twist of dreadlocks on his head straight out of Rockers. Although he's from D-town and not Trenchtown, there's a sense of authenticity when he refers to his greens as Jah herb. The space he oversees is tiny, about as big as the bud room of larger dispensaries -- but it's cozy and comfortable, nonetheless. The dispensary also serves as an Afro-centric art gallery, and he and his friends were setting up for Santa Fe Drive's First Friday celebration when I dropped by. The white walls are lined with paintings of such countries as Ethiopia and Brazil, as well as portraits of their residents, all done by the owner and his friends. The concept is a good one, although I can see how it might not appeal to people who want a dispensary with a clinical feel.

The herb bar is behind a simple partition, and the owner often serves as bud tender. Our casual conversation about his place and his art quickly moved into a deeper discussion of his belief in what he is doing, and how it is rooted in his own experiences. "Being a local here and just loving cannabis since the days, and serving my community by slinging bags and eighths since I was a young boy, y'know?" he said, sounding like a character in a Russell Banks story. "I was in a horrible car accident, and I have metal in my body, and I actually went through a crazy, sixteen-day coma in my life. I'm a firm believer that since I was a cannabis user, it is what restored my brain and allowed me to retain my memory and many other things. It really helped me bounce back."

He was kind enough to pull out almost the entire selection of herb in the display, and he assured me that it all comes from Colorado growers, with 80 percent grown by the dispensary itself. Pride in Medicine also makes its own hash and tinctures. After browsing the jars and discussing nearly every one -- including Grandmamma Purps and Ayoda -- I settled on some delicious-looking Headband. I'd heard a lot of buzz about this strain and the indica-heavy power the OG Kush x Master Kush x Sour D blend can have on people, and was glad to finally have a good-looking sample to try out. The dense herb was coated with amber crystals and had a light, indica smell in the jar; in the pipe, it had a rich, almost hash-like taste. It was harsh, though, and sent me on a coughing spree; the plant probably could have been flushed for a few more days before being cut. Even so, I went into a stoned haze for about twenty minutes before leveling off at a pretty functional high that would be great for body aches, headaches and simply mellowing out. I was also impressed with how much the Headband increased my appetite.

The owner had offered to split an eighth between two strains, so for my other half I went with Big Wreck, a Big Bud and Trainwreck cross. The nuggets in the jar looked like dark-green cattail tips and smelled strangely sweet, like fresh Bic pen ink on a notepad. The taste and smell of the herb in the pipe were nowhere near as pleasant, though. Again, I thought the herb could have used a better flushing, as any Trainwreck taste was overpowered by the taste of burning plant matter. I tried the Trainwreck before a flight, to help with travel anxiety that can cause stomach cramps. After a bong hit, coughing bout and head rush, my body was numbed, and I found myself stoned in the most traditional sense possible. My limbs were heavy, and my stomach started grumbling for food after ten minutes.

Pride in Medicine breaks down its prices with a Rasta color-coded system of bands around the jars that's explained by a sign on the counter. The red- and black-banded jars are the top strains, which go for $50 and $55 an eighth, respectively, and the yellow and green strains run between $40 and $47 an eighth. Signing up the dispensary as your caregiver drops the prices on all levels by about $5. Everything seemed very well priced -- the Blueberry selling at $80 a quarter would have gone for $100 in plenty of other shops -- and the different effects and medicinal uses for each strain were written on the jar. That's helpful for people interested in expanding on how they use medical cannabis, a very multi-faceted plant, in their lives.

"To me," the owner says, "it isn't just recreational. It is spiritual. My ancestors in Africa used cannabis on a spiritual level, and it's a real means of connecting with that. So, you know, we can take it in many different realms, but always just respect it. That is the mission."

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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