Mile Highs and Lows: Sunnyside Alternative 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 Westword's directory of dispensaries for one near you).

This week's review: Sunnyside Alternative Medicine. See our review below.

Sunnyside Alternative Medicine 1406 West 38th Avenue Denver, CO 80211 303-720-6761

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Size: 500 square feet Date: Opened: September 23, 2009 Clients: 35 as of early October 2009 Patient services: Handicap accessible and handicap parking out back. Delivery service available. Doctor evaluations on site: No, but they refer to outside doctors Raw marijuana price range: $100 per quarter ounce, plus tax. Other types of medicine: Edibles, candies, clones and hash. Amenities: None; not a wellness center. All major credit cards will be accepted soon.

Our take: The state's medical marijuana scene is still in its nascent stages -- though these days it seems to be on Miracle-Gro. The largest, most established dispensaries around are just a few months old. New ones are popping up by the handful every week, started by folks with little more than access to weed and an entrepreneurial streak. Some of these upstarts will no doubt make it, becoming popular, reputable operations. Many others, however, will probably wither away as the industry shakes itself out.

Count Sunnyside Alternative Medicine among the start-ups, a place that's struggling to find its place in the ganja boom. It's just a few weeks old at its current location, a storefront along the less gentrified stretch of West 38th Avenue, across the street from back-to-back furniture rental companies. A few weeks earlier, the operation ran ads in Westword calling itself Capitol Hill Alternative Medicine, but Aaron, its owner and sole employee, couldn't find the right spot downtown, so he changed its location and name. Unfortunately, the cell phone listed on those old ads doesn't seem to work in Sunnyside, so those who call up the old number end up listening to snippets of conversation.

It's clear Sunnyside Alternative Medicine just opened from the moment a customer walks in the door. The waiting room features nice wood floors and newly painted walls but is devoid of decoration and décor. Bags of Skittles and M&M's sit on a mini refrigerator in a corner. A few magazines and pot books are available for perusing, which is nice since, as a one-man operation, it might be awhile until Aaron wraps up, one at a time, with other customers and vendors who've stopped in.

This back room is as bare-bones as the rest of the operation, with none of the bells and whistles of some of its bigger competition. A glass display case shows off seven medicine jars of weed, all going for $100 per quarter ounce plus tax. For those looking to pinch pennies, there's also a bag full of bottom-of-the-barrel and poorly cured medicine for $40-a-quarter-ounce. That stuff ain't great, but hey, neither is boxed wine. The proprietor seems knowledgeable of his strains, though mostly in terms of how high it'll get you -- as in, "This stuff will get you really high," and "This other stuff got me high for four hours last night." He couldn't say much about the pot cookies and THC-infused lollipops he had for eight bucks a pop, since he hadn't actually tried them yet.

The most redeeming quality of Sunnyside Alternative Medicine: Its owner. Aaron, comes off as earnest and friendly, never once bugging patients to sign him up as their caregiver. He promises good things down the road, like art on the walls, a credit-card machine and an official sign out front. He's the sort of guy who almost makes you forget you're standing alone with him in a nearly empty, cramped room talking about purchasing quasi-legal narcotics. Almost.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Mae Coleman