Medical marijuana dispensary review: Greenest Green takes over BioCare in Denver
Two years ago, I visited the Greenest Green in Boulder, and my review at the time was what most people would consider less than favorable. So when I heard Greenest Green had opened in Denver, I put it on my must-visit list.
The Greenest Green Denver
2899 Speer Boulevard
Manager: Samantha Beckmann
Opened: September 2011
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.
Online menu: Yes, but for Boulder location only.
Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, edibles.
Handicap accessible? Yes.
Oddly, I actually really enjoyed a lot of what I saw at that original Greenest Green. As I said then: "I like how the girl at the counter welcomed us so casually. I thought the slamming bass from the sound system, the projection-screen Nintendo Wii on the wall, the contemporary psychedelic artwork and the Kidrobot toys lying around were all a good way to create a young, urban vibe." The shop also had some pretty good herb, as well as a captivating collection of genetics -- though that led to my biggest issue with the place.
At the time, the dispensary had a $70 price tag on its top-shelf, "private reserve" strains. And that was some bullshit: Even with Boulder's 8.6 percent sales tax (at the time) included, those prices were borderline criminal -- especially in a state where black-market herb never went for more than $50. I had a hard time considering Greenest Green a viable shop when profit was such an obvious factor in its business plan.
But things have changed in the nearly two years since my visit to Greenest Green's Boulder location. First and foremost, it's capped the price of its herb at $50 an eighth. While in the last few months I've taken a stand against paying that much, it's still within reason for a shop to charge that price if tax is included. I won't pay it, but it's still better than $70. And the lower-price strains were all much better quality, as well.
Second, Greenest Green has opened a location here in Denver in former home of the BioCare Colective, which Wildflower Seed once reviewed.
The shop has been revamped since BioCare was in control. Walls have been taken down, opening up the bud bar to a small lounge area. Like the Greenest Green in Boulder, the place has a very contemporary-industrial feel, with LED screens showing pictures of flowering plants in the orange glow of the warehouse, exposed HVAC systems and a sleek, poured concrete bud bar where patients saddle up to make their selections. If we were able to smoke on-site in this state, this would be a pretty cool micro lounge for toking up with friends -- as people now can hang out over booze in an upscale martini or wine bar.
Sample herb is still kept in small, opaque purple jars -- as I noted last time, it looks really freaking cool, but also makes seeing the buds from the counter nearly impossible. The plus side is that this presentation forces you to open the jars to smell and look at each sample closely. The shop is pretty well known for its OG cuts, so I started there and made my way through the dozen or so strains in stock with my budtender, a bearded guy around my age who was friendly enough -- but had clearly had a long day and was ready for it to be over.
Manager Samantha Beckmann later told me that the entire herb stock is grown in organic soil or an organic, soilless mix of coco fiber. Though she didn't have all the dirt on their genetic selection, the strains tend to be heavy on the kush varieties (Deadhead OG, Sour OG, OGER) -- with a delightfully nerdy affinity for anything with a Star Wars-related name. There was Skywalker OG and several spinoffs, including the Chewy OG and a strain dubbed "Ewok" with an earthiness mixed with an animal musk that is exactly like what I think an actual ewok would smell like. (I didn't get the lineage on that one, so if anyone has any insight, please let us all know in the comments below.)
Also intriguing were samples of Tangerine Haze and an offshoot dubbed Tangenisia. Both had the candy-like smell of mandarin oranges, though with a uniquely citrus-like haze kick that I haven't smelled before from this increasingly popular family of flowers. From what I saw, there wasn't much of a quality difference between the top-tier $50 herb and the $40 strains. Beckmann said that it generally is based on how much the plant yielded, hence the use of the term "private reserve."
The shop also took home awards last spring for its concentrates, and though the Denver location didn't have the winning Lemon G wax when I visited, it did have a wide strain-specific selection of hash oil to smoke on. According to Greenest Green's Boulder menu, the Lemon G wax apparently sells for $70(!) a gram while others go for as low as $35 a gram.
Ganja is still all pre-weighed, as it was when I first visited the Boulder store. I've never been a huge fan of this, mostly because the gram Skunk x Blueberry we brought home back then was just about three-quarters of a gram short. On this visit, though, everything weighed out on point, if not over. Still, I have a problem with gram prices being higher than what you would pay per gram if you bought an eighth -- even if it's only by $1, as is the case with the $14 grams for the $45/eighth herb. If everything is being pre-weighed to begin with, it's no more extra work. As I've said before, I understand discounts for buying in bulk -- but an eighth of an ounce isn't a bulk purchase, in my book.
This time, I walked out with selections from the $40 to $45-per-eighth tier. In order to get some variety, I had to purchase three grams that ended up coming out to more than I would have paid for 3.5 grams had I purchased an eighth. According to Beckmann, BioCare used to split eighths for customers and even sell them by the half-gram from time to time; she said that several customers have complained about the pre-weighed system -- so perhaps the shop will adjust its practices for the Denver market.
Otherwise, my two visits were as different as night and day. The quality at the Denver Greenest Green was up and the prices were down; this is definitely a place I would stop back by again from time to time to check out the selection. That said, though, it might not be in this location forever, since it's right across Speer Boulevard from North High School, and there are rumors of a coming federal crackdown on MMJ centers within 1,000 feet of schools. Beckman said the shop isn't worried about that move hinted at last week in separate CBS4 and Associated Press reports, but added that the business would do whatever it could to stay open, even if that meant moving.
Page down for pictures and reviews of the ganja William Breathes took home this week.