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Denver Dispensaries: A Beginner’s Guide

Shops to visit, whether you're looking to experiment or just highly curious (pun intended).

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Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Colorado is one of just four states in the country (and Washington, DC) where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Then there are moments when it’s impossible to forget—like when you get a nose-full of that oh-so-recognizable smell while strolling the 16th Street Mall.

Marijuana’s prevalence will likely continue to grow. In 2014 alone, Colorado took in $74 million in business fees and tax dollars thanks to legalization, and hundreds of recreational dispensaries opened across the state. Which is why—given Monday’s, ahem, holiday—we’ve put together this list of sellers we’d recommend, based on what type of experience you want.


For First-Timers…LoDo Wellness Center

Walking into a dispensary for the first time can be less than welcoming: security officers guard the doors, IDs are checked, and most waiting rooms feel more like a stuffy doctor’s office than a place where deadheads can find their favorite way to unwind. Not at LoDo Wellness Center, where the relaxing waiting area calms first-timer’s nerves. The medical-turned-recreational shop has the holistic yet hip vibe of a yoga studio; Oriental rugs, plants, and Buddhas decorate the space, and the staff is laid-back. Bonus: LoDo Wellness is locally owned by a mother-daughter team. Open daily, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 1617 Wazee St., Suite B, 303-534-5020

For Really Good Customer Service…LivWell

LivWell is a local chain, but we’re partial to the South Broadway location. The staff is always smiling and able to provide helpful information. (They also take their job seriously—which can’t necessarily be said for all budtenders.) LivWell sells different levels of flower, plus edibles and topicals in both sativa and indica strains, so you have more control over your experience. All its recreational stores also sell medical, which is usually cheaper and offers a larger selection for cardholders than rec-only stores. Open daily, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 432 S. Broadway, 720-428-2550

For Edibles…The Grass Station

Chocolate bars, Sour Patch-like candies, topical lotions, and Canna punches (think: juices with 30 mg of THC added) line the cases of this Globeville outpost. Edible THC products are usually divvied up into 10 mg increments—the suggested (and very important to follow!) dosage—so you can avoid a Maureen Dowd moment. Edibles also offer your lungs a healthy break from marijuana smoke, which may contain the same carcinogens and toxins found in cigarette smoke. Browse the shop’s non-flower selection online before you go. Open daily, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 4125 Elati St., 303-546-3626

For When You’d Rather Not Be Seen…Euflora

This 16th Street Mall shop is, quite literally, underground. (Unless you work in one of downtown’s nearby high-rises, you’re unlikely to be recognized here.) Each of Euflora’s strains is laid out in clear jars and paired with a mini tablet that functions as a sort of glorified nametag—it displays information, like whether it’s an indica, sativa, or hybrid, as well as its price, in an easy-to-read format. (The shop also has two Aurora outposts.) The cleanliness of the place and lack of pressure from immediate face-to-face interaction make it a great destination for out-of-towners and first-timers, too. Open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.; 401 16th St., 303-534-6255

For Your Medical Needs…Lotus

This LoDo standby is a favorite of the more corporate crowd, in part because its classy location (in the Elephant Corral Office Building on Wazee Street) feels more like a wellness spa than a stoner hangout. The staff is friendly, professional, and knowledgeable about all aspects of medical marijuana, and Lotus has been featured in national news stories about dispensaries doing legalization right. The shop’s inventory of bud, edibles, and other medical products is always robust and evolving. Management is weighing an eventual expansion into the retail market. Open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m.; 1444 Wazee St., Suite 115, 720-974-3109

For the Artwork…Illuzion Glass Galleries

OK, so maybe it’s not an actual dispensary, but Illuzion is worth a stop. The museum-like glass gallery has thousands (really, thousands) of glass-blown pieces, ranging from itty-bitty pipes to items that can only be described as artwork. Head there this weekend to admire the works—or to take advantage of their 4/20–weekend sales (items will be 20 percent off Friday through Sunday). Illuzion also hosts an annual 4/20 party, where you’ll find live glassblowing, a buy-one-get-one for $4.20 sale (get it?), and open doors until midnight. If you’re looking to imbibe, keep your eyes peeled for 15 percent off cards for Peak dispensary, which is next door, making this Broadway block a one-stop shop for smokers’ prep. Open daily, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 238 Broadway St., 720-420-0021

Got your own suggestions? Leave them in the comments below.

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