Medical marijuana dispensary re-review: Colorado Alternative Medicine in Denver
For years, Colorado Alternative Medicine has been known as the place to pick up some of the state's best-grown meds. By December 2010, when I first visited the tiny South Broadway duplex, even growers were known to shop there between harvests. And based on my latest visit, little has changed.
Colorado Alternative Medicine (CAM)
2394 South Broadway
Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday noon to 5 p.m., closed Sundays.
Raw marijuana price range: $45/eighth, $320/ounce, tax included, for non-members; $40/eighth, $300/ounce, tax included, for members. Daily specials as low as $25 an eighth all the way up to an ounce.
Online menu? Yes.
Other types of medicine: Hash, BHO, small selection of edibles, ointments.
Handicap accessible? Yes.
A few things are different, though. Like the stretch of Broadway out front, for example. Technically, it is in the process of changing right nowwith a headache-inducing repaving job that has locked South Broadway businesses in a vortex of never-ending construction. There's a parking lot out behind CAM, though, so approaching the place from the rear might be a better alternative for saving your sanity.
Inside the shop, it's the same place we visited nearly two years ago. The waiting room looks exactly the same, if a little bit more lived in. Artwork hasn't changed at all, and the place still has a wide-open feel despite its tiny size. In short: Things don't have to change here to be relevant. The shop is still chill on the inside while maintaining a professional, clean vibe. No stoner's bedroom here -- but not a slick, fake pharmacy environment, either. Instead, CAM is something right down the middle -- which is a perfect balance for this industry.
The bud bar is still the same, as well: two glass and wood countertops pushed together at the corners to make an "L" shape, with herb kept in labeled jars beneath the glass along with a handful of edibles. There's also a rotating glass display on top of one counter featuring topical lotions and oils. The bud bars look like they haven't been cleaned since I was last in, based on the caked-on layer of keif and resin filling the cracks and crannies of the wood and smudging up the glass. Not complaining, though. When your herb is as caked with trichomes as CAM's, it's hard not to spill crystals when breaking up buds.
Hip-hop blasted from the stereo, and you could tell my budtender was having a good time catching up with a staffer between pulling strains for me to check out. I don't really mind, as I'm sure a dispensary is a pretty fun place to work. But after a while, she was a little too into her conversation with the employee and another patient who had come in behind me, and I felt like I was interrupting her from time to time just to ask to see things or place my order.
But all that can be overlooked when you consider how good the cannabis in this shop is -- the same quality level I've seen the few times I've stopped by CAM's booths at High Times events.
The genetics and strain examples were outstanding, starting with a huge, chunky batch of Golden Goat that looked more like pieces of shiny orange, deep-sea coral than cannabis. I've seen the best of the strain from its creator, and this freakishly crystallized batch definitely compares, but with an added boost in size and sugary, tangy smells. And for OGs, the shop had a stinky, diverse collection ranging from the golden Deadhead OG to a jar of soil-smelling Cataract Kush.
Also impressive was the Kizzle, which looked like tiny, green, spear-shaped rocket ships out of the jar and had a crazy, almost mint finish to the smell. The Tangerine Haze was nearly the same size and smell of actual tangerines, and the Sour D x Chemdawg was ridiculously stinky and dusted with amber trichomes. I could go on and on, because everything in the selection was all worth talking about. But I did have to choose eventually, and I went with the Super Silver Sour Diesel Haze and the Deadhead OG.
An employee I spoke with after my visit told me that CAM is running in a soilless medium and keeping things "as close to organic" as possible. She also mentioned that the growers flush for a minimum of two weeks. And clearly, curing is a strong suit for the shop, as all of the buds had potent smells and great density and dryness.
I didn't get much of a rundown on the hash selection, though CAM seems to offer a decent variety. My budtender basically put the tray of small jars up on the counter and told me which ones were icewater hash and which ones were BHO. Labels were on the side, thankfully, and I ended up going with a half-gram of (I think) San Fernando Valley OG butane-extracted hash. Grams of BHO sell for $40, and grams of icewater sell for $20.
The one thing that has almost stayed the same at CAM is the pricing. Call it a function of being spoiled by low prices, or call it me being cheap, but $45 for non-members is too spendy to make this place a regular stop without designating it as your primary center. And even then, being locked in at $40 an eighth and around $300 an ounce still seems high. The shop does have specials for both members and non-members that bring at least one strain a day down to $25-$35 an eighth, however, and with CAM's quality, that's a solid buy.
But, hey, the shop seems to still do fine with business. There were two people ahead of me in line, and a third person who was up at the bud bar when I was checking things out. People shop at Whole Foods and pay way more for better organic versions of the same stuff that Safeway has. CAM seems to be filling that same niche among medical cannabis users, who know you'll get what you pay for.
Page down for strain reviews and photos.