Medical marijuana dispensary review: Southwest Alternative Care
Like an award-winning chef is to a restaurant, a good cannabis grower (or growers) can make or break a dispensary. Which is why Truman, the current owner, bought Southwest Alternative Care and tracked down a grower known as "Scott from Stone Mountain."
Southwest Alternative Care
Location: 1940 W. Mississippi Avenue, Denver.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Owner/Manager: Truman (name has been removed since original posting at the owner's request)
Opened: New owners took over in June 2010.
Raw marijuana price range: $40/eighth cap
Other types of medicine: Various levels of bubble hash, Co2 hash oil, edibles.
Handicap accessible? No, but owner said patients can call ahead for accommodations.
This isn't the first time I'd searched out this guy's herb. I drove all the way up to Loveland's Stone Mountain Wellness last year in search of herb grown by Scott. He didn't need a last name, apparently: His ganja was identity enough. Ganja that, at that point, had reached almost legendary status for its high quality and amazing flavor from those who had been up to get it. Hell, even my caregiver said the guy could grow some good herb -- and he never says that about other people's meds.
Unfortunately, Scott had parted company with Stone Mountain a few months before my visit and I was left with some mid-grade for $45. "Heh, you're a few months late on this one, man." one reader wrote. "Hey man, you should have went when the true owner of Stone Mountain Wellness, Scott, was there. He always had top-shelf stuff and was always giving good deals to his clients," wrote another.
Scott says he sold Stone Mountain in part because the stress of dealing with the city of Longmont was keeping him unhealthy as he underwent chemotherapy treatments. For a while he ran a consulting business, until reaching a deal with the folks at Southwest Alternative Care. There, he could have his own room in their grow space to do his thing. According to him, the change contributed to his becoming healthy and winning his recent battle with cancer.
Southwest Alternative Care is above a bumblebee-yellow mattress shop on a run-down section of Mississippi near a Colorado driver's license office (also known as the second level of hell). The building the dispensary is in has seen better days. It's got iron mesh over the windows, and there's a chipped asphalt parking lot out front, albeit one with plenty of open spaces. I found a spot near a Civic with a mattress being tied to the top. The woman who apparently owned the car balanced a baby on her hip and stared at me like I had two heads as I walked not to the mattress store but to the little door on the right of the building for the medical marijuana shop.
The smell of chronic greeted me on the other side of the door and got stronger going up the stairs to the dispensary. I rang a doorbell and was buzzed back through the security door to an empty waiting room featuring some overstuffed couches and a table full of cannabis magazines and Westwords (which some might think are the same thing these days). A woman entered from a doorway on the other side of the room and welcomed me to the shop, asking for my card and ID, which she handed over to another employee for copying. I didn't get much time to look around the place before a woman greeted me and walked me further back into the dispensary to the office. But I could see that the place is cozy, and aside from a few pictures of flowering ganja plants, I didn't notice much artwork on the walls.
After the brief paperwork shuffle, I was led back further into the building to the bud bar. There was some pipes and edibles in the cabinets, and some larger water pipes on the shelves behind the counter, but I didn't really pay attention to that. Sitting on the glass counter were 35 baseball-sized sample jars full of different, delicious-looking strains. The jars are labeled with colored bands: blue for indica, yellow for sativa and green for hybrids (blue and yellow make green, get it?). Pricing is $40/eighth across the board for members and non-members, as well as $200 ounces and free meds each month if you sign them up as your caregiver.
My budtender was friendly and chatty, asking me what my smoking preferences were and suggesting some strong indicas and indica doms like Jorge's Diamonds and some nose-tickling Abusive OG Kush. The Platinum Purps had an orange-rind tartness to it, which would have gone great with the sticky-sweet smell of Tangerine Haze. There was also a solid Triple-D, very floral Flo, and some well done Trainwreck renamed Charlie Sheen, appropriately enough. Other more unique strains out of Scott's coco mix garden, including Scott's Blue, the Tange and the Face Wreck Haze, smelled so good I wanted to make a potpourri bowl out of them for my office.
The large number of choices made me choke, and I ended up reaching for the two nearest strains that looked the best and going with them. And while the Bubba Kush was among the top I saw, there were several better picks I could have made than the Sour D. Still, neither cut was bad. That's the way it goes with Southwest Alternative Care's selection, which makes you regret buying the ganja you picked out a minute afterward, because everything in the shop seems so tempting. I even kept looking through the merchandise as the budtender weighed out nearly two grams of each strain into separate pill jars for my $40 "eighth." I'll head back soon, because their menu was just too broad to really get a true taste in one visit.
Page down for pics and reviews of the meds.