Thank You for Buying Danktownes Phinest. Please Have Your Exit Bags Ready Before You Leave the Store.

March 2, 2018

exit bag 4

About 7 years ago, the newly-appointed director of the freshly rebranded San Diego NORML gave me a present as a gesture of gratitude. It was a black, smelly-proof backpack that he acquired from a client of his. I could think of a million times in the 90’s and early oughts that this bag would have been a lifesaver. By 2011, however, cannabis was my cologne. My car always smelled like it, my clothes always smelled like it, and I even developed an alter ego that shortened to Dan K. I was completely “out” as a stoner. And it felt great.

Then 2012 hit, and Colorado legalized recreational cannabis. The new law here in Colorado was full of padding and statements that minimal inappropriate impact in the community would come from these cannabusinesses. The exit bag was one of those statements. I was greatly annoyed when I bought my first bag in 2013 and had to buy an exit bag. It was usually a cheap piece of plastic that had a locking zipper on it. Extraordinary measures were taken to appease the suburban voter who actually counts by putting things like this mild headache in Amendment 64.

I was also aware that our tribe was walking a thin line; by legalizing herbs, Colorado was blatantly and aggressively weakening its drug laws in the face of the federal government. The generations of children who grew up under the clearly flawed rhetoric of the War on Drugs are locked in a battle of the educated elite vs the gun-toting white southerner. This is not something sacred and wholesome like a gun. No, this was a bonafide drug. And it was soon to be sold legally around kids. The KIDS!

exit bagSo I bought my exit bag for $10 or whatever. Everywhere I went, they dropped the hammer about the exit bag. It’s not like I can just go on craigslist and buy an AR-15. In fact, it is very much the opposite. These shops stick to the law like gorilla glue sticks to the linoleum. Some places even added their own little laws and said they could only allow their weed to leave in an exit bag that has their brand name on it. Other places were cool and just gave me one. (I have a ton of exit bags, as you can guess).

These bags also came in couple of styles. There were bags that looked like the Post Office Express Mail envelopes. There were others that looked like canvas wine totes. And then there was me, from the old school, with my empty Totino’s salsa jar that is ready for a refill. Cannabis is a consumer product now. The same people who brought you “meat is murder” are now shoveling petroleum products out the door (but that is a different story).

Things change fast in this new ganja game. They stick to the rules like they are the TSA, but the rules seem to change faster than the honest opinion of our President. I got some herbs yesterday, and my exit bag is now a brown paper bag with a staple in it. Maybe tomorrow I can bring my reusable jars.

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A hidden Gem Stashed and Surviving in the ‘Burbs.

Kosher Kush

Colorado Cannabis Connection
4550 S. Kipling St.
Denver, CO 80127

B

It has been a long time since I reviewed any of the Denver shops because it has been a long time since I have shopped in the city. Recently, I went to my local spot in Littleton called The Colorado Cannabis Connection to see what they got. It is close to my house, which is good. It is also in a strip mall, which I think is the ugliest example of American Capitalism and an absolute blight on the land.

But, I do live in the suburbs, and the vanilla of the neighborhood reflects the blandness to support suburban sprawl in the mini mall. Colorado Cannabis Connection cannot be faulted for the location; they have no choice. This is the ‘burbs. It is a planned community where Wal-Mart and King Soopers are the only businesses courted in the development.

Big Box stores and little box stores pock the landscape and their parking lots hold the long-antiquated petrol transport vehicles in their stalls. Those lines demarcate order in this chaotic world and are indicative of the vilest rule in corporate culture: Stay in your lane, worker.

Because of this, I have avoided the Colorado Cannabis Connection. I figured it was just another Starbucks of weed and that they had 1,000 (figurative, not literal) stores in the state. This is the only one, however, which makes it acceptable. When I went inside, the intake receptionist was answering questions that a customer had about some specifics of the plant.

He seemed to know what he was talking about, and I was even more reassured of the Colorado Cannabis Connection. They had a good assortment to choose from across the flower spectrum. They grew dense buds that were trimmed tight.  There was a nice, healthy odor to them, but it wasn’t too strong.

I got the Kosher Kush. It hit smooth, and the budtender was right; they do know how to cure their herbs. It is mild. It does not overpower and create couch-lock, but it does stick around just under the surface. Quality.

 

 

Glenwood’s Phinest Reprazent

Martins

216 16th St.
Glenwood Springs, Co 81601

303 Kush
Grade: A-
Rec only

Some areas of Colorado simply don’t allow you to be too choosy about where to buy cannabis. They are rec only- if they have anything at all. Glenwood Springs is one of those places. It is squarely in the middle of Glenwood canyon along the majestic Colorado river. It is crammed with six lanes of interstate and as much civilization as humanity can fit in 400 sq ft. of available canyon floor. Just off of one of the crazy, clustered roads, right in the heart of the clusterfuck is Martin’s.

Martin’s is a rec only spot that almost feels like a smoker’s club. The vibe was relaxed and welcoming, fitting of the name choice. It is like you are actually going into visit with your buddy Martin. When I walked in, the younger budtender was educating the older hippie budtender on conscious hip-hop (most hip-hop is not bitches and hoes), something the hippie had never heard of. They had a few varieties of shrubs. They all looked great. Although they were rec only, their prices were competitive enough to keep me there.

I ended up walking out with some 303 kush. It looked ridankulous and smelled just as great. The herbs are mountain grown and come from all over. Martins is a third-party shop that does not grow their own herbs. Instead, they have an intrepid entrepreneur who buys from growers and sells them to you. The classic All-American middle man. And based on the selection at Martin’s, he has some good connections too. The 303 kush did not disappoint. It was flavorful and smooth. The prices were competitive with medical shops, which made me feel even better about my purchase.

The best thing about Glenwood Springs to me is not the two-block-long hot-spring pool or the escape room, but the nature of the world all around these springs. Out there, a mile can be a 1000 ft incline that is dominated by crystal clear rushing waters turned blue in their agitation. Trails are in the middle of streams out here. Massive misplaced boulders stand, waiting for Mother Nature to unleash her wrath on them and send them to their next resting place somewhere downstream.

These lands are still wild yet incredibly confined. Everything looks pristine and untouched from afar, but mailboxes and gates are as common as packed trails and lots of cars. People come here to experience the wild, untamed world. The world is quite tame, though. There are few rocks unturned here, and our presence is etching into the canyon more and more every day.

martins 2017-07-09 at 10.21.02 AM

Bombtasty Blackhawk Buds!

Rocky Mountain Organics
5312 CO-119, Black Hawk, CO 80422

Mammoth

Grade: B+

Gilpin County is one of my favorite places to go in Colorado. Its history dates back to the earliest days of Denver and the land reflects its boom-and-bust past in its steep cliffs, ghost towns, and mountain canyons scarred from the pick axe. They found gold in these Ute hills in 1859, and settlers flocked here hopeful for a taste of that sweet, sweet gold dust.[i] Before the Georgia prospector John H. Gregory got his taste, this was just some inhospitable land that was in the Northwestern Kansas Territory. This town quickly grew to nearly 2000 people as news spread.[ii] It was only a taste, however. The gold dried up as fast as it was discovered, and so did the population.

If you have ever seen the TV show Deadwood, then you can certainly get the vibe that Blackhawk gives off. It is where brutality carved out the wilderness before law and order rode in on his white steed and “civilized” the land. Not long after Mr. Gregory struck gold, Gilpin County was established in 1861. By the time the ‘80’s got here, Blackhawk was reduced to a row of trailer homes along a dirt road. Today, 64 historic homes have been renovated and sit on 90% of the available residential land.[iii] And one dispensary occupies a stretch of road just outside of town, Rocky Mountain Organics.

Keeping true to the wild west tone, Rocky Mountain Organics is in a mountain-type strip mall in a little mountain alcove off of an amazing Rocky Mountain road. Rocky Mountain Organics shares a lobby with its liquor store neighbor and had a Rocky Mountain dude running the spot. He had thick, fire chops burning his cheeks and he wore a Crocodile Dundee hat.  I normally stay away from recreational-use only places because they are so expensive. But, after we chatted for a while,  he gave me a really good price, so I went for some Mammoth.

The Mammoth is an indica. The nugz are dense and rich with color. It almost smelled soapy to me. There is a hint of capsaicin in the background. There is not much flavor to it. The smoke is smooth, however, and its effects are sublime. It is also a good start to exploring the oldest “civilized” part of Colorado’s mountains. There is so much to do out here.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_353Gambling has been legal in Black Hawk since 1991.The narrow stretch of land in the steep canyon is dominated by flashy casinos. You can continue west to Central City (they have an amazing 4th of July fireworks show) for more casinos, or you can head south to play a round of disc golf in a ghost town. Head east, toward Denver, and you can find what was once the only resort west of the Mississippi that marketed to black people. It was called Lincoln Hills Country club, and it was in operation from 1925-1965. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.[iv]

The towns out here are unique in so many ways. I crossed paths with a jeep carrying a pirate flag on one of these dirt roads. Just to the north is Nederland an all the nuttiness that comes with that place. Or you could go fishing in one of the many lakes and creeks around here. Then there are the hiking trails and rock climbers that dominate some of these sheer cliff walls… Long story short, these mountains (and indeed this world) are to be explored. What are you waiting for?

[i] http://www.cityofblackhawk.org/files/7014/1343/9588/Walking_Tour_Master_2012.pdf

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=81&v=9DY4s3qBbLg

[iii] http://www.blackhawkcolorado.com/history.php

[iv] https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/13001035.htm

Simple is always the best

Simply Pure
2000 W. 32nd Ave
Denver, CO 82011

2/25/17

Simply Pure has been on my list for a few years now. I always catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye when I have to get somewhere so I never stop. I take a mental note, move on, and forget about it- until I pass it again as I rush past it on my way somewhere else. The name and logo are both simple and inviting, like grandma’s bakery. I am expecting a cinnamon roll and a pinch on the cheek too.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But I did get some herbs, so there is that silver lining. Louis XIII and Lucky Charms to be exact. These were just the kind of sweets I wanted. These are the kinds of buds that grandma would grow too. They are nice, solid, and dense balls of dankiness. The crystals coat the buds like they were the sugary top of a sugar cookie.

The buds looked good, they smelled good, and they tasted good as well! The aroma of the Louix XIII is complex, to say the least. It is a bit peppery and kind of musty. There is some citrus in there too. The Louis XIII broke apart in chunks and burned smooth. Oddly enough, it tasted a bit like meatloaf. Like some cured venison, It was dry, but it was not harsh.

While talking with the budtender, I was pleased to learn that Simply Pure is a Black-owned business. I am thrilled that the owners, Wanda James and her husband Scott Durrah, have been such strong fighters for the long cannabis war on alternative truth. Not only are they military veterans, but they have been drug warriors for decades. It is such a treat to see a black woman at the helm of this business. It was in February, so I got a discount for Black History Month! Fantastic!

Now I see what I like about Simply Pure. It is that “soul food” flavor that is embedded in the tastes of the owners. There is also an established history of focusing on quality. Simply Pure was an edible company from 2010-2013. They were the first in Colorado to use actual chefs to design and prepare their menus. As edibles became more mainstream and the prices dropped, Ms. James and Mr . Durrah decided to close up shop instead of reducing the quality of their product in order to stay competitive.

They decided to reopen again as a dispensary in December of 2015, and are rolling along now. I was not aware of the owners’ culinary creativity because I like to go into these places with a blank slate. I glazed over the edibles because they are always the same thing: cheeba chews, Dixie this or that, or Mary’s More of the Sames.

I want the homegrown, small-batch flavor, and so much of the same keeps me from even looking at edibles. I want to see a slice of pie with the chocolate glaze shimmering in the artificial light. I want the lobby full of guests excited with their new purchase as they make plans with their new friend over a cup of coffee. I think Simply Pure does too.

The new microdosing market is a great way to introduce edibles to people who don’t want the heavy sedative levels that edibles can get to. Why make a cookie so potent? then you can’t have another. I love my chocolate chip cookies. you can ruin a dish with too much cinnamon or nutmeg. Why not with too much cannabis oil? It can really dominate the flavor.

Edibles in the future will be more subtle and complex. Gummies have been around for a good long time. There is a great opportunity to make a pack of ten gummies be the same dose as one gummy is today.  The increased competition in micordosing edibles will inevitably create a different market that could include savory dishes as well. Simply Pure will undoubtedly be at the forefront of businesses that can legally (finally!) blend the café with ganja. I look forward to that day that I can get some of that apple pie, an ounce of Louis XIII, and a pinch on the cheek.

The Holistic Health Headband

3/18/17

Holistic Health
105 Edwards Village Blvd
Edwards, CO 81632

707 Headband

Grade A ganja

Edwards, Colorado is one of those mountain towns that looks like a photo of it belongs on a Christmas card. I visited a their recreational-only shop that is here last year, Roots Rx. I went there last year because it is hard to find medical shops in the area. Everyone out here is rec-only. It is great to see that there is a medical shop here in town.

It is apparent that Holistic Health has been around for a long time because it is so hard to find. (2006 or 2009?) Pot shops used to maintain low profiles because they did not want to shake up the status-quo. Like skid row, the canna shops used to really struggle to get a foothold in our cities and towns. The green cross was often the only cairn that showed you the way. This place seems to have been built with that caution in mind. Today, the pot shops are as bold and bright as a 7-eleven. They are as ubiquitous as the gas stations, to say the least.

Holistic Health is a reminder of how much things have changed.We can now ask google (or Siri) to find a place. In this case, maps gets you close, but not quite. Google maps puts Holistic Health in the middle of the street. Of course this isn’t true, and as I looked around, I spotted a green cross glowing on the second-floor hallway of the building to the right. There it is?

The cross is half the battle. Finding the front door is the other half. After parking and finding the entrance to the building, I had to go up some stairs, down a hallway to the end, where a poster guiding me the rest of the way. To the right, under a big vent, and then a door with a note. “back at 1:00” it said. I glanced at their hours, and they opened at 11 AM. OoooooKaaaaaay.

“Not today”, I thought, and went on my way.

So I went back the next day. Everything was golden, the sun was shining, spring was in the air, and I knew where I was going. After a quick rap on the door, I was greeted by a lovely young lady who was thrilled to help me with my purchase.

They had a wide assortment of flavors. They were a basic mixture of a few sativas, a few indicas, one CBD-rich strain, and a few hybrids. They all looked good. Their buds were nice and healthy, thick meaty morsels of cannabinoids and fiber. They are mountain grown too, so they grew up happy and stress-free.

The budtender is a nutritionist. She left a rec shop to come here because she cared more about the health of her customers than making a sale. I mentioned that I was going on a hike, and she had all sorts of ideas. 707 Headband is what I took home.

A good herb is like a good parmesan cheese or a nice glass of port after dinner. It only takes a little bit to accent the day fantastically. I don’t need to get stoned out of my mind. I dont want to get stoned out of my mind. I just want to enjoy a bit of a smoke and enjoy the day. This Headband certainly fits the category. It does not burn; rather it is smooth and light. It is like spring in the mountains, a breath of fresh air.

Indeed, this Headband fits in well with the crisp and thin mountain air and the rising elevation pushes the heart, which in turn pushes the legs, and a walk becomes a jog up the peaks of the earth. This weed is sublime, and a little bit goes a long way.

Some Sativa from the Springs Suburbs Cannabissary

Big Medicine Cannabisary

wp76ac833f_06

Wild Girl (S)
Grade: F

Big sky Cannabissary is another place that came recommended. Located in north- central Colorado Springs, it is in an unassuming stand-alone building. Their logo is a buffalo standing the way buffalo often do. They win just for that!

It was quiet inside. The girl behind the bar was real nice, and she is part of a rare group- the sativa lovers. It is such a rare treat to find someone who prefers sativa. Indica seems to be what everyone wants, and I have floated that way recently as well. So it was refreshing to get pushed into buying sativa for once.

The prices were crazy cheap, which is why my friend comes here. Some places are good, and others are cheap. It is rare to find something that is both good and cheap. Will The Big Medicine Cannabissary be that place? there is only one way to find out!

As the budtender led me along, she pointed out Wild Girl, their in-house strain. It smelled musty and dank and looked meaty and red hairy. It tasted peppery and a bit leafy. It has that subtle sativa style too. Speedy. It is stoney, but it is the undercover kind of stoney. There was something off about it. It was one of those headache herbs. This is going in the butter bottle. It is not for me.

South Park has a Dispensary!

Wise Cannabis CO
21950 Highway 285
Fairplay, CO 80440

Grade: A

It is Rec only. Is that still a dispensary?

A new dispensary in Alma inspired me to go on another mountaintop jaunt for herbs. Alma is a  short and beautiful drive from Breckinridge. It is just over the Hoosier (?) Pass and the road winds down the backside of the mountain.   As I approached the location, I recognized the logo to be one of the cleverly named strain wise dispensary logos. I was duped. I was this far, however and I wasn’t going back empty handed. There was a spot just south of FairPlay that I noticed recently; today was the day to see how it measured up.

I continued to South Park, hopeful and happy.

img_5394When I pulled up, I was mortified to see it was called Wise. I was instantly paranoid and ready to head back to Breckinridge empty handed. “Strainwise is down here too”, I thought “Damn”. Despite my hesitation, I went in and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

The inside space is quite large. The bud counter is against the back wall, and the main room had a couple of vertical display cases for their glassware. They had a lot of locally made things for sale. The walls all had locally printed t-shirts. They even had a coffee cup/pipe available for sale. The cup was quite hefty. You could prolly add dumbbell to its uses, especially with a full cup of coffee inside.

Wise is so new that they still don’t have their plants in dirt yet. But they are working on it. Fortunately, they do have friends all over these mountains. Their herbs came from local growers. These mountains are great places to grow indoor herbs.

The cooler temperatures and drier air make it easier to for the grower to maintain ideal conditions. I harvested in the Denver warehouses for a year and spent most of my time hanging nug branches in the dry room.  Every place I worked at had serious issues with heat. A room full of 1000 w lights in Denver in August is not a joke. In fact, Denver hit 60’s last month. The city growers can only expect increased hot months as this planet continues its warming trend.

Another thing that the sparse mountains have over Denver is the insect infestations. There is only so much industrial space in Denver. The bugs know that and these areas are now mega-cities for spider mites and russet mites. These grow rooms are also bombarded with cross-contamination. None of the grows in the city practice clean indoor gardening. There are owners showing off their set-ups to US Senators or potential investors.

If Attorney General Sessions (is still in power and) comes to Colorado to see our operations facilities, there is an excellent chance that he is not going to have to decontaminate himself (or his entourage) before entering the grow room. I’m pretty sure he is not growing herbs, and so there is virtually no chance that he will bring some pollen in on his shoulders. There is a good chance, however, that some little flying critters could hop on and come in.

The many employees can also contaminate these areas. Delivery drivers and growers from other locations come and go all the time. I was part of a harvest crew that went to at least 10 different grow houses in a month. I highly doubt that all the harvesters were wearing clean clothes. (I tried repeatedly to at least get a minimal source of protection: booties so that we would not track any plant matter outside after work. I am still not sure if they heard me.)

The mountains don’t have this problem though. They are sparsely populated. The air is cool and dry. The sun won’t bake the building and everything inside it. In fact, the herb that I got, Dank #5, was grown underground and is solar powered.

It was amazing. The buds were healthy and their meat filled out nicely. It smelled peppery as hell. Not much of a flavor. It was smooth and did not burn. The way good herb should be.

Centaur Hunting in the Collegiate Peaks

2/2/17

Buena Vista

centaur-crossingThe area:

The ghost towns are scattered throughout this part of the Rocky Mountain range. The Silver Rush turned the homesteading trickle into a flood. The dreamers and schemers dug out virgin alpine forests and used their woody flesh to construct sheds, mills, mines and main streets. Tent towns popped up all along the newly carved train lines. Many towns didn’t make it, and their rickety boardwalks were consumed by the landscape. Buena vista is one such town to survive the and thrive amidst the stampede west.

Like so many mountain towns, Buena (pronounced like the “beu” in beautiful because double meanings are always fun) Vista was a landing zone. The real action is out in those vistas. They are called The Collegiate Peaks in the Sawatch Range. Mountains Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and Harvard tower to the west of the town. You could see more of Colorado’s famous 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet tall), but these mountains are so massive that they cover up the view.

Of course, there were people here who have also named these mountains. They are the Tabeguache Ute. The Moache and Capote Ute bands also would have been in the area at times.[i] For them, these mountains are embedded in their creation. There are two more 14’ers just to the south of Buena Vista, Mountains Ouray and Chipeta. Ouray was chief of the Umcompahgre Utes and Chipeta was his wife.[ii]

If you have been to Colorado, then you have seen many Uto-Aztecan words. They are everywhere. Pagosa (Water that smells like sulfur)[iii] Springs, Tabeguache (a Ute Tribe), and Sawatch are just a few examples of Ute names still alive in Colorado. In fact, the Spanish word saguach comes from Sawatch and they both mean “blue-green” place.[iv]

buena-vista-range

The Herbs:

Natural Mystic Wellness Center
204 E Main St, Buena Vista, CO 81211
719-395-6226

Cosmic Brain Buds 70% (I), 30%(S)
Grade: B+- should have been an A, but the buds were entirely too small.

There are not any recreational shops here in Buena Vista, but there is a lone medical dispensary. It sits right next to an old-timey mountain tavern and is called Natural Mystic Wellness Center. It is nice and pretty and clean from the outside. Yet, I could not really tell if it was a ganja shop or not. The façade looked like I was walking into a massage center or an acupuncture studio. It could have been a naturopathic Doctors office or an aromatherapy place too. I had to triple-check the green cross on the window before I walked in. (but that is not always going to lead you to the right place either).

It wasn’t much clearer when I got inside. In fact, I was even more confused. It really didn’t help. The aromas of a ganja shop were there. But smell alone was not enough to rule out a massage or acupuncture studio. It was not until I was able to verify with the receptionist that I found the right place.

After all the formalities were finished, we headed to the display room. They had a ton of herbs. 40-50 varieties maybe. There was at least ten of each of the Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid varietals. They kept them in glass jars and weighed each order out, which is a huge bonus in my book.

The Cosmic Brain Buds have one hell of a name and came budtender recommended. The few nugs that are fullly intact are dense as a baby pinecone. Their meat is a strong purple color that made me feel like I was taking a color blind test when I looked into the jar. There are all sorts of colors, but purple really stuck out.

The Cosmic Brain Buds burned clean. The growers really know what they are doing. The budtender said that they cure for up to 8 weeks. This cool, dry mountain air is the perfect environment for a nice long cure to take place. It is far superior to the cures that growers in the industrial district in Denver have to deal with: swamp coolers and humidifiers are often needed to fight the incredible heat that these dry rooms face. These Buena Vista buds are far from those big city worries, and it shows.

The most fantastic thing about this place, however, is the big playground in the sky right outside their doors. The snowcapped mountains can blur the separation of land and clouds. 8 of Colorado’s 14ers are in the area. Buena Vista sits in the valley that the mighty Arkansas river carved out. It is indeed a beautiful view.

There are wilderness areas all around here. A short drive north will take you to Twin Lakes and a segment of the Continental Divide Trail. Or, you can go south and head into the San Isabel forest for some natural hot springs action and a creek-side soak all year long.

If water is your thing, then the Arkansas river is raging and ready for the best you got. This area is brimming with river rafting companies. You could also bring your own raft. Be ready, though, because this river has some serious attitude. Parts of it are the most dangerous level, class V. People die rafting this river every year.

If you don’t want to go that extreme, you could just wade into one of the tamer parts of the river and do some fly fishing. Get some of that River trout and let the shower of praises from your family for your killer instincts. Get wild in these hills.

___________________________________________

[i] Email correspondence with Liz Cook, Environmental Educator of the History Colorado Center.

[ii] http://www.ouraycolorado.com/about-ouray/history

[iii] http://cozine.com/1995-august/translating-ute-place-names/

[iv] http://cozine.com/1995-august/translating-ute-place-names/