I still grin like a kid in Wonkaland when I lay eyes on a bud bar. Yet, as dispensaries go, there are the good, the bad, and every shade of green in between. There are those that sell amateurish product resembling something grown in your 8th-grade cousin’s closet, and others who vend bud that assuredly needs to be in a hall of fame. It’s an adventure, for sure. As 303′s MMJ dispensary blogger, I’ll be seeking out and reporting on the best our city has to offer. I hope to become your trusted source in separating the kind from the shake.  -CC

Along with my partner-in-crime Mr. Chronnoisseur, I have what is affectionately referred to in our house as “Bike-dar.” It’s like Gaydar, but with – you guessed it – anything two wheeled. We can spot cruiser bicycles anywhere – the older, the better – and this affliction tends to cost us money. A lot of money, in fact, since it’s kind of required to “rescue” any cool bicycle we see for sale.  And, unlike many afflictions that can be helped by MMJ, a little smoke makes it flare up even more. I try to think of it as kind of a superpower, but in reality it’s my arch-nemesis. See, it’s not uncommon to want to spend money on yet another bicycle instead of food. But, in a strange twist, this is what also brought me into what I believe is one of Denver’s finest dispensaries – Grasshopper Alternative Medicine on East 17th Avenue.

I almost got whiplash the first time I drove past Grasshopper. In the front courtyard were three bicycles, all of them cruisers, all of them gorgeous. Subsequent trips by revealed several other bicycles. I took this as a sign, or something like that … or perhaps curiosity got the best of me. Either way, I decided it was time to go for a visit.

Opening all these jars was required. At least for me it was...

The 17th/18th Street corridor, with its craft beers, eclectic restaurants and funky shops has quickly become a favorite since moving to Denver last year. As a general rule, the whole place has a laid back vibe … and smack dab in the middle of it all, housed in a single-story, whitewashed ranch-style building that quite resembles a small café or restaurant, is Grasshopper. The aforementioned courtyard out front provides a perfect place to park a bicycle, sit outside in the spring sunshine and people watch. Inside, the cozy waiting room is furnished with cushy leather chairs that threaten to couchlock anyone who sits in them. Seriously, I’m not known for being the most patient of gals, but I’d wait for hours for a budtender to call my name as long as I could remain curled up in one of these glorious seats. The narrow room is bookended by a large-screen TV on one side, and a glass case full of pipes, pokers and other paraphernalia on the other.

But what sets this place apart is the super-friendly staff.

Now don’t get me wrong – I have not yet met a budtender I didn’t like. The majority of dispensary staff is super friendly … really, stoners tend to all be pretty chill folks, right? But there is a special something that elevates Grasshopper to another level. It’s hard to put a finger on it, exactly … but as clichéd as it may sound, by the second time I went here I felt like family. I observed patients all being greeted on a first name basis and conversations taking place between staff and patients with genuine personal interest. Even the diverse group of people in the waiting room – some in business suits, some in sweat pants – all chatted with each other. I was half expecting someone to break out in a round of Kum-Ba-Yah by the time I was welcomed into the back.

Grasshopper's Shiva Skunk.

The medicine room has three stations to serve multiple clients at once, although each time I’ve been in there has only been one budtender on duty. My first visit included a walk-thru of the immense selection of edibles in stock – brownies, cookies, candies, sodas and granola bars, to name a few. Owner Dave Kilroy– a fellow bike lover, natch – doesn’t stock anything that isn’t labeled with the dosage strength, putting Grasshopper ahead of the game in the regulatory game for edibles.

A menu of the day’s strains – always posted at the front counter and at each station – revealed some old favorites and a few surprises. All the bud is strictly organic, and they’ve been working on some pretty awesome varietals from Spain, such as Moham Ram (sativa) and Sweet Afghani Delicious (Indica), that Kilroy is stoked to get on the shelves. The back wall of the medicine room is lines with jars of gossamer buds, with corresponding sample jars placed at each station. Not able to resist smelling ALL THE THINGS, I likely seemed a little crazy opening all the jars and inhaling. Hey, if it wasn’t meant to be sniffed, it wouldn’t smell so good, right? Right. But pretty bud is only half the battle. I unleashed a few questions to the budtender, who made spectacular recommendations based on what my needs are … which frequently include muscle and joint pain, likely from rubbernecking over bicycles I see all over Denver.

A small portion of the vast selection of the delicious edibles waiting for you to nosh on.

Special shout out to Nancy B’s Edible Medicine. I don’t like to smoke at night before bed, mainly due to having to go outside. See, my hopes of someday winning Mother of the Year might be dashed if I smoked in the house with the kid there. The Nancy B’s Lemon Zinger was recommended to me and, at 100 mg active cannabinoids, it doesn’t take much more than a small segment to help me relax and zone off into a restful sleep. My new favorite product for sure, and I credit Grasshopper for turning me onto these wonderful treats.


Crack kills, unless it’s green.
Although I loathe the name “Green Crack” because it implies drug use instead of medicine, I have to say this might be one of my new favorites. Breaking open these dense, dark green buds covered in fine rusty hairs revealed a pungent, strong, somewhat-skunky smell tinged with bleach or ammonia. The cure was great – these buds were well-cared for, allowing me to roll a joint that burned perfectly from tip to tail. The taste was hot in the back of my throat though – a strong camphor-like essence with a little chemical afterburn to it. The high was really fun but borderline crippling in the sense that I could not do much more than giggle. Be forewarned: this smoke is not for the n00bs among us. And if you react to sativas like I do, you may get a bit of the paranoias.

More than meets the eye.
Shiva is known among Hindus as the Transformer, among other things, which I think is an appropriate note for the Shiva Skunk. The large bud, with its very pretty light green and gold with fine orange hairs, and deep, snowy crystals, smells of oranges, tangerines and grapefruits when broken open. But don’t be fooled by the delicate and pretty appearance … this lady packs an enormous punch. The taste was light pine and orange on exhale with an absolutely sinister cough. And the stone? Well, let’s just say it was quite…stony. Psychedelic and headbound, it was great for some introspective thinking on if C-A-T spells dog and other mysteries of the universe. This hybrid definitely behaved more like a solid indica.

Evidence of why purple kush is called purple kush.

Purple Rain.
I don’t care how many times I see purple buds, I will always squeal (yes, in a very Prince-like fashion) over how cool they look. Lame, I know, but I don’t care, and this Purple Kush was no exception. I absolutely love the look of Grasshopper’s variety too – green stems surrounded by purple flower and curly gold hairs. The smell was green sage and crisp, reminding me of an early morning in the Rockies. And the cure? Well let’s just say Bo Derek needs to move over – this is a perfect 10.  Whoever took care of this bud deserves a raise – it broke perfectly into smokeable nugs –  not too sticky, not too dry. Just perfect. Smoking was like drinking a fine pinot noir – it was oakey, earthy, toasty and just plain delicious. Couch-locked for hours, and not a damn thing to complain about, it killed all traces of pain in my body. Definitely going on the frequent flyer list.

High? You betcha!
Although the name Alaskan Thunderfuck quite resembles what Sarah Palin did to McCain’s presidential bid, this mighty sativa is not a quitter. Grasshopper has developed a reputation as a fantastic source for this strain, so I was eager to try it. Kilroy warned me that the trim on the batch I was taking wasn’t their best, but the choppy nature of the bud didn’t bother me at all. It was still obviously handled with care. The greens in this bud resemble military camouflage, and the smell was very strange – almost onion-y and quite musty, which made the citrus-tinged taste all the more surprising. The high was incredible – a highly-functioning total body bake that had me cleaning the house and writing up a storm.

Bottom line: Grasshopper is a phenomenal dispensary that clearly gets it right, and one of the few located in the neighborhood to boot. Their recently-released new price structure levels the playing field with other local high-end dispensaries, and the product and service are definitely A+. Be sure to not park in the parking lot next to the dispensary though – the businesses next door will have you towed.

Grasshopper Alternative Medicine: 1728 E. 17th Street /  303.388.HOPP (4677)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Perks: Members get 10%-15% off all cannabis and hash and 20% off accessories, including vaporizers and edibles, as well as a buy-10-eighths-get-one-free punch card. Express window for expedited orders. Service industry employees get a 10% discount. Frequent “Recession Buster” packages of deeply-discounted select strains. Weekly coupons for valuable discounts and freebies by signing up for e-mail newsletter.
Pricing: $15 gram, $25 half eighth, $45 eighth, $90 1/4 ounce, $175 1/2 ounce, $300 ounce. All prices include tax.
Hash/Extracts: $15-59
Pre-rolls: $5 each, 2 for $9, 6 for $25
Edibles: $4-$24
Tinctures, Balms and Salves: $25-$39