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 Wellspring Collective:
Wellspring Collective 1724 South Broadway 303-733-3113 www.wellspring-collective.com
Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Owners: Morgan Carr and Matt Huron Owners' statement: "Our overall philosophy is that our patients should have safe access to the medicine that the Constitution of the State of Colorado allows them." Opened: September 2009 Raw marijuana price range: $13 to $16 per gram, $40 to $50 per eighth. Prices updated daily on website. Other types of medicine: Clones, edibles, hash, hash oil, tinctures and topical lotions. Patient services and amenities: Massage, chiropractic, doctor referrals.
Our take: Some dispensaries along South Broadway seem to pride themselves on standing out among the antique stores and clothing shops. Wellspring Collective has taken the opposite approach and blends in with the rest of the businesses. Even with competition around almost every corner, owner Morgan Carr thinks the location is a perfect fit for the dispensary. A vocal proponent of the dispensary model, Carr has hosted numerous Denver City Council members and state legislators at his store. "At the end of the day, I want them to see a shop that is doing it right," he said over the phone.
Although the never-ending Broadway construction project runs in front of the dispensary; I found it easy enough to maneuver my way through the orange barriers to the on-site parking lot. Wellspring is ADA-accessible, has full-time security and sixteen security cameras that beam off site, Carr told me. Despite the noticeable security, the place didn't feel as sketchy as some of the nearby dispensaries. And inside, the decor looks like it came straight from an IKEA catalog -- if the Dutch company had a dispensary division (which wouldn't surprise me).
Wellspring has a lot of white space and natural light that could give it the feel of a medical research facility, but Carr has done a good job of funking it up with an orange accent wall and orange touches in the abstract artwork. The walls hold natural wood cabinets and a flat-screen with rotating pictures of ganja flowers; in front of those are four counters -- two for displaying the herb and two serving as register stands. There are also a few high stools and tables, as well as a Clementine-orange couch.
The shop displays single nugs of its strains in thin glass cases on the countertop, glistening in the overhead light in a way that made me think of butterflies and beetles pinned up in display cases in junior-high science class. There were more than a dozen strains in the case the day I came in; Carr said about 75 percent of the herb is grown in-house, while the rest is purchased from screened local vendors. It's also cool that Wellspring updates its website daily with the strains it has on hand, along with the current prices -- between $30 and $50 for an eighth.
The bud-tender was setting up for the day when I came in, so while he put away some edibles, he briefly ran over what the dispensary was offering. I hadn't even sat down on the stool at the bud bar before he passed a large Ziploc with several ounces of the indica-heavy house strain, Ingrid, toward me. "This is the best one," he said. "This is our hash strain."
I peered into the bag and grabbed a spongy nugget of Ingrid. For my tastes, the herb could have used some more drying time, but Carr said they actually work to achieve that moisture level through rehydration. Still, while it was a nice- looking bud, I didn't think there was anything overwhelming about the smell or appearance. I went through a couple of other strains with the tender, including the Super Skunk and the Bubba Kush, before deciding on a few things, including some Ingrid.
I still wasn't that impressed when I popped open the jar at home. The smell of wet grass was more overpowering than any distinct herb smell, and the taste was similarly dull, though with a lingering earthy-hash finish. But whatever it lacked in flavor, the Ingrid more than made up for in a ridiculous indica-heavy high. This was a pain-reducing, headache-ending knockout punch of a high that put me down hard for at least two hours. No television, no music, just me melting into the couch.
I'd also grabbed a gram of the amber and dark-green Chuck D. The indica/sativa blend of Sour Diesel and Deep Chunk smelled a bit of the Sour D spice and funk, but with an orange-citrus finish. The taste was surprisingly bland for the smell, but the buzz was just what I needed first thing in the morning to deal with nausea. It calmed the sickness in my belly and brought on an appetite -- and all with a small bowl that didn't stink up the entire house.
Wellspring had pressed kief and hash for sale, too, and at the bud-tender's suggestion, I'd picked up a half-gram of Jumpin' Jack Hash. Under the light, the little chunks shined with a golden-green hue; under the lighter, they burned smoothly and left a wonderfully sweet hash aftertaste. I used some of the flavor-lacking Chuck D as a base, and the two mixed very well for a couple of hunger-inducing hits at lunchtime. It's cool that they sell hash by the half-gram. A gram of hash for $30 can be a bit much, but somehow paying $18 for a half-gram seems more reasonable.
In fact, all of Wellspring's pricing works well. Nothing was over $50, and the dispensary was selling some strains for much less -- including some good Island Sweet Skunk for $40 an eighth and a "seeded" Granddaddy Purp for $30 an eighth. And signing up the shop as your primary caregiver will get you 10 percent off all purchases.
The Wildflower Seed and William Breathes are the pot pen names of our two alternating medical marijuana dispensary reviewers. http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2009/11/meet_our_medical_marijuana_rev.php
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.