Medical marijuana dispensary review: iVita Wellness in Uptown
iVita Wellness 1660 Pearl St. in Denver
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Owner/manager: Matt Bencivenga
Opened: November 2010; new ownership took over July 2011.
Raw marijuana prices: $25/eighth bottom shelf, $45/top shelf. Members receive 15 percent discount
Other types of medicine: Edibles, waxes.
Handicap accessible? Yes.
Owner Matt Benciventa says he and his partners took over the shop just a few weeks ago after the previous management let the shop slide in quality and customer care. He feels the location and atmosphere of the shop are perfect, though, and he'll soon be stocking the shelves with 100 percent organic, coco-grown herb.
Only thing is: All that was on the shelves when I stopped by was leftover product from the previous management and herb bought wholesale. Bad timing on my part, but I don't call ahead and make sure it's a good time for my visit, either.
The dispensary's building is a strange, one-story commercial job from the Sixties that's been brightened up from the outside with a coat of neutral tan paint and a spray-painted mural of a blue, elfish creature releasing a handful of butterflies. It's across the street from the Uptown Tavern, which coincidentally has a mini-bowling alley that is ridiculously fun to play when ripped on a good sativa, not to mention a well-ventilated patio. But I digress...
I walked in through the iron-clad, double-glass doors, which open into a long, narrow waiting room. The iVita website gives off more of an art-gallery vibe, but there was only a single painting hung on the wall during my visit. Seems like the old owners took the art with them. Otherwise, the room felt open and cool, with light wood floors and earthy green and gray paint. Beyond a doorway in back wall of the waiting room is an equally large space that the shop uses for massage therapy. To the left is the receptionist desk, where my budtender was waiting with a clipboard holding a page of standard lawyer-language. She copied my ID and paperwork while I filled things out and I was on my way back to the bud bar within a few minutes.
Compared to the front waiting area and massage space, the bud bar seems small and cozy. Asparagus-green paint on the walls with a few pictures of past harvests hung under one of the small, high windows. To the right when you walk in is a second, smaller patient lounge with two love seats facing each other and a small table with a few old magazines on top. Across the room is the bud station, featuring simple glass and birch wood cabinets.
The shop was low on stock the day I was in, but my budtender was making the best of it and cracking jokes about some of the product left behind by the former managers. She and another woman working that day were a lot of fun to hang with while shopping, making me feel more like a friend than a customer. She pointed out things on the shelves she liked and didn't like, and assured me that bigger and better things were to come with the new management.
After my mini tour of the space, my budtender got down to business. She asked me what my ailments were before reaching for a few jars of top shelf herb at $45 per-eighth, including Flo, Blue Dream and Golden Goat. The Blue Dream was slightly leafy and the Golden Goat was lacking the distinctly pungent, tarty sweetness, but overall, they looked to be grown, dried and cured well. The shop also had its more shake-filled jars of Tomato, God Bud and AK-47 priced down to $25 an eighth. None of them were outstanding in quality, but they were all easily as good as other $25 bags I've seen in shops recently.
One of the big changes already in place at iVita: The new owners have signed the guys from Top Shelf Extracts as their primary wax and oil makers. Only a few examples of their work was on view, including some beautiful blonde wax, as well as some more oily amber wax. Products made from iVita's herb should come in a few weeks, according to Benciventa.
After talking out my options with the ladies, I ended up going with their two suggestions: Blue Dream for my aching back and Flo to deal with a recent downturn in my stomach health that has me feeling pukey every morning. I also had a gram of Top Shelf Extract wax, but realized at checkout I was low on cash and didn't have the $25 to spring for a concentrate this week. I told the budtender that despite how enticing the wax was, I was broke. Without missing a beat, she told me she had a sample in the back that she could kick me down. I've never seen a budtender be that generous to a first-time customer for no reason, and I thanked her at least ten times in a minute before heading out.
The employees clearly want to make the shop a fun place to be, and despite the lack of in-house herb on the shelves, I left impressed. All that said, I'll have to do a follow-up review on these guys to see how their herb really measures up.
Page down for this week's strain reviews and photos.