Feb. 10 2016 11:41 AM

Checking out Colorado’s recreational marijuana scene

One of the premium products available at Colorado dispensaries is a pre-rolled joint wrapped in 24-karat gold papers.
Steve Green/City Pulse

The Green Report typically covers Michigan's medical marijuana market. Last week, however, I traveled to Colorado, one of just two states in the U.S. with legalized recreational marijuana sales. I was excited. I figured that I would see, try and buy the very best. I hoped to learn from experienced budtenders and bring that expertise back with me.

We stayed in Denver, which is home to over 200 dispensaries. While there, I visited 12 cannabis shops in the city of Denver and three more outside the city. I’ve visited over 500 shops in Michigan, and I know that not all dispensaries are created equal. I would revisit three of the 15 I went to in Colorado. The others lacked so much in customer service or product quality that I would not waste my time trying them again.

Kind Love, just outside of Denver in Glendale, stays open until midnight. (Shops within Denver city limits must close by 7 p.m. because of city ordinances.) The shop had fast and friendly service, good product selection and decent prices. I picked up an eighth of an ounce each of Larry OG and Super Lemon Haze strains — a good deal with buy one, get one half off pricing. I also grabbed a quarter ounce of Chem 4 Small Buds Special for $45. My total was under $100.

I was impressed by the Chem 4. Within a few minutes of smoking it, I found all of my worries drifted away. The strain provides a slight body buzz that can be effective for treating minor aches and pains. Its cerebral effects generally help with creativity and focus. (Full disclosure: It’s helping me focus on writing this review right now.) I would recommend this strain to patients with anxiety or trouble sleeping.

Peak, the closest dispensary to where we stayed, had good product selection and prompt, friendly service. I visited the shop several times because of its proximity. While I never got a product I wasn’t happy with, it was certainly not the cheapest shop.

We spent a little time in Breckenridge, so I decided to check out Backcountry Cannabis Club (formerly Breckenridge Cannabis Club). You may be familiar with the shop from it’s appearance on CNN’s eight-part documentary series, “High Profits,” which is now available on Netflix. The shop had a weak selection of buds, but the budtender explained that the shop had recently changed ownership and he expected the product selection to improve. Nonetheless, I picked up some marijuana-infused grape soda and a pre-rolled joint sheathed in 24-karatgold Shine papers. I will never again pay over $25 for a pre-roll, but hey, you only live once. I also snagged a transdermal patch by Mary's Medicinals. (Think of a nicotine patch, but for weed.)

The joint burned well, despite the fact that it was not packed well. I was quite surprised that there was no metallic taste. The grape drink had a nice taste, but with just 10mg THC in the whole bottle, it didn’t produce any discernible effects. I offered the transdermal patch to a fellow traveler who was experiencing back pain from the long car rides. She placed the patch on her wrist, and within 30 minutes her discomfort started to melt away. The patch’s relief continued for 12 hours.

Even as an epileptic patient, I was not able to benefit from the medical marijuana program in Colorado because the state doesn’t recognize outof-state medical marijuana cards. I often hear about businesses here aspiring to be like those in Colorado, but after my visit, I am thrilled and thankful to live in the great state of Michigan. It’s true that the packaging and investment in brick-and-mortar buildings is better there, because the shops in Colorado have more legal protections (but also more expensive licenses). But as far as the actual flower goes, most strains are available in both Michigan and Colorado, and Michigan wins the quality contest hands down.

Steve Green, who writes this column every two weeks, uses marijuana to prevent seizures. He has no business ties to any dispensaries or products.