Medical marijuana dispensary review: iVita Wellness in Uptown

Categories: Marijuana

With new management taking over less than two weeks ago, everyone at iVita Wellness seems to be about as new to the place as I am.

iVita Wellness 1660 Pearl St. in Denver

phone: 303-952-9150
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.

Location Info


IVita Wellness

1660 Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: General

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My Voice Nation Help

You should stop into Ivita, they are way better under Matt B. Management. Go see for yourself, I love it.....

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

I wonder how many times the previous owner got held up. There use to be a Conoco gas station at 20th St and Lawrence St that's now a Weed and Seed Station. An employee of the Weed and Seed Station told me he is constantly bothered, so many want free samples, he has been assaulted. Even though it's just weed, it's a dangerous business.

Roy M
Roy M

I used to shop at iVita but the herb sucked, no offense. I can go to CDS on Downing and get a eigth for under $20 or Grasshopper if I want to pay a lil more. Good luck but I prob won't be back.


Light Rail Tattler -

That's an interesting question. I haven't heard of increased crime in neighborhoods surrounding MMC's, and I certainly haven't heard the rate of robbery/attempts are anywhere near banks or other institutions.

I don't follow what the employee told you. Do you mean 'assaulted' by freeloaders with red cards wanting free meds, or an actual assault? Just curious.

William -

Thanks for the reply. I saw and read that article from Releaf, I wanted your opinion. Thank you.

William Breathes
William Breathes

I think it's more dangerous working in a bank in this town, but that's purely opinion....

William Breathes
William Breathes

I'm sure our paths will cross eventually, possibly in a smoke shack deep in the woods some winter afternoon.

William Breathes
William Breathes

Roy, it seems you weren't the only one who thought their herb sucked under the previous management.

thanks for commenting


It seems like there are still shops that are having issues with bugs, pests, and diseases.

Is there any way you can show us readers how you notice these things? I don't notice them in my bud or when I scope it, but sometimes I'll hear a pop when smoking and wonder if I missed something.

I understand not wanted to 'out' shops that have 'issues', but maybe throw an article up with pics, or even a tutorial, of what you do when you review a new shop. I have a scope and scope my meds, but I'm curious how you do it. Do you pick a small nugget and scope it, or do you go over the whole bud? Also, did you really pick out the bugs and still smoke the sample? That seems so beneath you!

I think it would help out a lot of patients, especially right now. There are so many places slinging warehouse crap. If there was a way for us patients to have a better idea of how to properly inspect our meds, we wouldn't have to be afraid of sketchy places.

I'm only discussing MMC's. I hope we can skip the 'Just find a caregiver' bickering that goes on in these threads.

As always, thanks for helping inform patients who might not get to sample the different places that you get to.

Are there any shops selling 'connoisseur' top shelf meds for $55 and up still that are actually top shelf? Or are private caregivers and off site grows still filling that niche?

Ry Prichard
Ry Prichard

Here is the scoping guide that we prepared, which covers spider mites specifically:

PM looks like low-lying snowy powder which sits below the level of the trichomes.  There are lots of random hairs that are a natural part of the cannabis plant (such as the shiny cystolith hairs which help the plant reflect additional light), so look for a more downy, irregular coating than uniform hairy growth when trying to spot PM.  You can at times see it with your naked eye (scan the bud for any white spots with the naked eye or a less-than-60X scope), then move in closer with a real scope at 150X or greater to get confirmation.Storage mold is normally deep in the recesses of the bud and looks like gray fiber wound up very tightly, sometimes with small spores dangling at the end of the fibers.  It's uncommon here in Colorado since we have a dry climate, but I've definitely seen it on large buds which were not let dry to an adequate level before being placed in curing jars.

William Breathes
William Breathes


Thanks for the comment. The bugs I saw were clearly visible under even a 60x scope. Sometimes a spider mite can be hard to spot, though. they can blend in well with richly amber trichomes and plant resin as well as other oddities within the plant (bits of soil, what have you). The folks over at ReLeaf center put together a short tutorial a few months back, you can find it here:

And yes, I picked off calyxes one by one that looked clean. It wasn't as tedious as it sounds... It normally would be beneath me, but I told myself that I would smoke at least one hit of everything I review just to be fair... this seemed like the most logical way to go about that the other (late) night when I was writing.

As for the connoisseur-level meds -- yes, I still see them in shops. sure, warehouse takes  up most of the shelf space, but there are some amazing cuts of herb out there. I still don't believe the 'every private caregiver is better than a shop' routine -- a quick search on craigslist will disprove that one alone. There's really good herb and really bad herb being grown by both dispensaries and 'private' growers.

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