Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Cannabis For Health in Denver

For being so out in the open, the dispensary is really quite hidden on a small retail stretch of Pearl Street at East Alameda Avenue, anchored by a convenience store across the street that doubles as the cash-only dispensary's ATM. I've probably driven past it 1,000 times in the last five years and never noticed the tiny, two-story gingerbread house -- which I realized instantly was a real shame when I finally stepped inside.

See also: Five Years Later at Walking Raven in Denver

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Five Years Later at Walking Raven in Denver

Like most people, I fondly remember losing my virginity -- not that things went perfectly the first time out. The experience was stumbly, fumbly and over in less time than it took to write this sentence. But still, somehow in my mind, it was one of the greatest life moments ever. Even now that our paths have diverged, with me married and the young woman in question probably living in a trailer somewhere in west Texas, borderline obese and stripping for redneck oilfield workers, there's still a soft spot in my mem'ried mind for her, to paraphrase a great hero of mine, Willie Nelson.

I look back on my first review -- published exactly five years ago today -- of Denver's Walking Raven dispensary in much the same way: Even if the shop isn't exactly how it used to be and I've found plenty of better places to shop in five years, it still stands out.

See also: Marijuana: Pot Sales Down, Patient Numbers Up in September

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Herban Medicinals in Denver

Herban Medicinals takes up the basement of the building at 70 Broadway, just down the street from Sweet Action Ice Cream. Coincidence? Likely. But I stopped in for a pint of the pumpkin pie ice cream, and I'll bet I'm not the first medical pot patient to wander south a few doors. I suggest you do the same, actually: Stop by the dispensary and the ice cream shop (even in these freezing temps).

See also: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: A Cut Off the Top in Denver

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: A Cut Off the Top in Denver

I used to smoke cigarettes when I was a dumb teenager. I quit, though. And while I try not to pass judgment on my friends who still smoke them, I find burning tobacco to be among the most foul and offensive odors ever. I'm not alone. It's why we have bans on smoking cigarettes in bars, restaurants and most businesses. Those that do allow smoking make it very clear, so people like me can avoid them. Most smokers will even admit they prefer the clean air, too; I don't know many cigarette smokers who smoke inside their homes, for example. All of which made seeing someone with a lit cigar behind the receptionist window at A Cut Off the Top -- a medical dispensary -- that much more surreal.

See also: "Dear Stoner, Can I Grow Pot at a Co-op?"

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Doctor's Orders in Denver

Even the name of Doctor's Orders seems gimmicky to me, especially paired with the cartoonish image used by the shop, featuring a burnout hippie doctor who writes pot recommendations for any ailment under the sun. I know that goes on; I'm not naive. But it doesn't represent the majority of the medical patients or the doctors I've met over the last five years while doing my job. It gives an image of the shop as just a place where people with a red card who don't even pretend to need the herb for medical reasons go.

See also: "Pot Lies Being Used to Justify Police Shootings of Young Black and Brown Men, Advocate Says"

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Green Tree Medicinals in Northglenn

Green Tree Medicinals/James Long.
Green Tree's Northglenn location is in a former used-car dealership, which is somewhat confusing, since the other auto dealership next door parks cars for sale in Green Tree's parking lot.

I couldn't tell if I was about to walk in the front door and be offered weed, or the Jeep on the stand out front with high miles and a dented bumper.

See also: "Family Friendly" DIA Plans to Ban Marijuana-Related Souvenirs

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Satica Wellness in Denver

Weedar: the sixth sense you have for finding quality herb. Mine usually operates pretty well and has come in handy both here in Colorado and during world travels, when finding the pot-friendly who can get the sticky-icky can come in handy. So either my weedar wasn't working over the last few years, or Satica wasn't good (or bad) enough to make a blip. It could also have something to do with location. I think you could throw a rock and hit Aurora from Satica's sidewalk. And not the Aurora you're thinking of, either. Nope, this is the boring, office-park-filled part that gerrymanders its way into the southeast part of Denver.

See also: "Recreational Marijuana Sales Outpace MMJ in August as Colorado Sets Another Pot Record"

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Herbal Wellness in Lafayette
The lobby and bud-bar walls of Herbal Wellness are literally covered with framed head shots of random celebrities, all signed (I assume) to the owner, mostly from people who were big in the '70s, '80s and '90s. Some I got, like Cheech and Chong. But for most of them, I didn't understand the connection to legal weed at all. Like John Wayne and numerous 1960s-era baseball players.

I briefly wondered how someone like Dolly Parton would feel about her mug and autograph hanging in a weed store as if she'd been there and endorsed it. Then I figured she couldn't give two shits and probably sends the same "best wishes" photo to guys serving life in prison, too.

See also: First of Aurora's 21 Rec Dispensaries Set to Open Next Week, More to Follow

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Helping Hands Herbals in Boulder

Tangerine Sunrise from Helping Hands Herbals.
I'll admit it: Although some shops do a better job than others (hence, what I do), the majority offer the same two- or three-dozen strains as everyone else. It is not necessarily a bad thing (and I know I sound spoiled even mentioning it), but after a while, I can get slightly bored by the same Kush crosses and classic Dutch flowers. It's rare to find a dispensary with unique in-house strains and crosses -- and that's exactly what makes Boulder's Helping Hands Herbals such a refreshing place.

See also: Marijuana: See Campaign Clips in Colorado, Rhode Island That Court Votes With Pot

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Whole Meds in the Highlands

The purple paint is gone from the exterior, as is the "Kushism" sign that was once on the front porch. But the reminder of the shop that starred in one of my worst reviews ever (and the dirt weed the shop was selling at the time) still makes me shudder. Whenever I drive past 3355 West 38th Avenue, I get a bad case of MDTSD: Marijuana-Dispensary Traumatic Stress Disorder. That is, up until a few months ago when I noticed some other business had moved in. It dawned on me that even if the new shop was half-assed, that would still be enough to outweigh the negative impression left by the former tenant and I could get on with my life in peace.

See also: Marijuana: Have 19,000 Patients Dropped Off MMJ Registry This Year?

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