Medical marijuana dispensary review: Hawaiian Herbal Health offers the islands at a mile high
In "Mile Highs and Lows," Westword offers a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind the locked doors of marijuana dispensaries, whether they resemble swanky bars or a dope dealer's college dorm room. See our updated dispensary list here, and keep reading for William Breathes's review of Hawaiian Herbal Health:
Hawaiian Herbal Health
1337 Delaware Street, Suite 2
Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.
Owner: Margaret Kimokeo
Owner's statement: "Living life naturally."
Opened: March 2009
Raw marijuana price range: $30 to $50 per eighth
Other types of medicine: Assorted hash ($25-$35/g), topical lotion, tinctures.
Patient services and amenities: Glass/smoking accessories, massage and therapy referrals.
Our take: In Hawaii, the word "aloha" is not just a way to both greet someone and say goodbye. It's also a way to describe your approach to day-to-day struggles, how you care for your body, soul and mind through good food, good friends -- and, perhaps, good herb. Though Denver is landlocked and a mile high, the owners of Hawaiian Herbal Health are living aloha, spreading the island vibe, Colorado style. Junior, a manager I spoke with over the phone after my visit, said his family is originally from Hawaii, but that they all call Colorado home now. "We just wanted to have the whole living-aloha thing here," he explains.
The clinic is at the end of bail-bond row, in a simple beige building. From the outside, the place looks like just another bland Denver storefront. But inside and upstairs, the clinic has been decked out in an attempt to re-create the breezy feel of the islands. The walls are lined with bamboo shoots, and a faux grass-hut roof juts out over the receptionist's window. The relaxed air carries over to the paperwork: Rather than giving me any to fill out, they simply copied what I already had. And after I waited a few minutes on the couch, watching surfers shred the tops off of waves on the flat-screen TV hanging in the corner, the door to the dispensary opened.
A huge, Samoan-looking dude walked me back to a long, narrow bud room, which had the same island vibe/Tiki-hut decor. Natural light beaming through the windows made it feel airy and open; surfboards and a wooden marijuana-leaf plaque proclaiming "God made it, Hawaiians perfected it" hung from the otherwise uncluttered space; the thumping reggae bass of a Peter Tosh album played on the stereo overhead.
I was told to feel at home and browse the jars of pakalolo -- Hawaiian for marijuana -- for as long as I wanted. The prices were posted on a whiteboard behind the register, and the budtender helpfully pointed out that strains priced at $40 and strains priced at $50 were kept at separate counters. There were roughly ten strains in the $50 range and four or five in the lower price bracket. Some of the $50 strains were indistinguishable in quality from the cheaper strains, while others were definitely worth a double take. The shop also had three kinds of hash, including some amber shatter hash they called "glass hash."
Half of the bud room is unused right now; Junior explained that they plan to use the space to showcase some new-to-the-scene strains in upcoming months. The shop is currently growing strains that are known as classics in Hawaii but are relatively rare on the mainland. Such strains as Tuna Butter, Galactica, Hona Gold and Maui Crip should all be ready in the next few months. "These are the real deal, yeah?" said Junior, his Hawaiian accent showing through. "That taste. The fruity mango taste that you get from real Hawaiian."
Unfortunately, none of them were available on my visit. Though the shop was welcoming (I spent the rest of my day in an island state of mind, sitting in the sun listening to old reggae and ska albums), I felt like I might have missed the best of what Hawaiian Herbal Health really has to offer. Even though what I walked out with was relatively above average, I was expecting more. As Junior noted, what really sets Hawaiian Herbal Health apart is the island vibe -- and walking out without any true island strains was disappointing. Still, I'll swing by again in a few months when the snow is starting to pile up outside to see if Hawaiian Herbal Health has some true island style by then.
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