With a nod to keeping it green, pine beetle-kill wood was used to craft the interior of the bud room.

I admit, I was a little skeptical to hear of a business calling themselves a “cannabis boutique.” I fully blame my cynicism on all those years spent driving to some shit-hole to score weed from a friend’s brother’s roommate. But this is Colorado – we don’t have weed … we have medical cannabis. In the wild and wooly jungle of Colorado dispensaries, smart business people are doing all they can to elevate themselves above the competition. This is business, man, and you better believe he who plays the game best, wins.

Suffice it to say that GroundSwell is playing a pretty great game.

GroundSwell is definitely a place to take your out-of-town friends that you want to impress. Simple elegance coupled with a hip vibe permeates the entire joint. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is some chi-chi snooty place that caters to the Cherry Creek crowd. Quite the opposite. The target audience for GroundSwell is the Bluebird District of Colfax and surrounding neighborhoods.

Before we go much further, it’s crucial to understand this: the dispensary is but one component of GroundSwell.  With an upscale feel and a down home welcome to all who enter its doors, the front of the building is a dedicated gallery focused on promoting local artists through monthly rotating exhibits. (See the ethereal beauty of Mad King’s artwork on display through Nov. 8.) There’s a spacious, bright room upstairs used for meetings, classes or just as a perfect vantage point to study the constant action taking place outside on Colfax. Smaller rooms will soon be used for massage and other therapies. It’s less of a dispensary, and more a full-service community hub for East Colfax … one which also happens to have a dispensary. All areas, with the exception of the cannabis boutique, are open to the public.

Ah, yes, the cannabis boutique…let’s talk about that.

There are some pretty nice dispensaries in Denver … and then there’s GroundSwell. The art gallery atmosphere definitely carries over into the cannabis boutique section of the business. Soft lighting, clean lines, glass and steel canisters and simple, understated elegance truly elevate this place into a class of its own. Hewn panels of pine beetle kill wood curve up the walls onto the ceiling, making the space feel warm, inviting and posh. There is no doubt it was designed for the discerning patient in mind.

Understated and classy, this is what a "cannabis boutique" is made of.

The designer feel carries over into the medicine as well. Boasting several prominent vintage strains, the owners of GroundSwell want patients to know they can expect quality and craft, and they strive to develop a relationship with each and every patient. There are at least 8-10 strains of cannabis available at all times, each displayed with strain type and potential effects. All are organically-grown and hand trimmed with obvious attention to detail.

So let’s talk meds, because that’s what we’re here to do, right? Right. With both a San Fernando Valley OG #18 and OG Kush on the shelves, it is clear that GroundSwell takes their genetics very seriously. All strains are tested at CannaLabs, and the budtenders are quite knowledgeable on the effects each has on various ailments. Go in, test ‘em out. They’re happy to take all the time you need. Boutique, remember? Yep.

I chose several strains to try; here are my faves:


Saul/Franco would love this…

Pineapple Kush: good for all that ails ya.

Lots of places can say they have Pineapple Kush, but few can deliver it this well. This hybrid strain (60/40 Indica dominant) is known for its pain-killing abilities, which is something I value. Super dense buds, covered in white chrystals and bright orange hairs make this a gorgeous sight. I adore this strain, especially for the sweet, fruity  taste on the inhale. Quite impressed with GroundSwell’s cure on this one – it was close to perfect. The super smooth smoke dissolved any stress I had going on that day, and I had an immediate all-over body high. It also made me damn hungry, a little cotton-mouthed, but damn hungry. Stomach ailment patients, rejoice. And then get thy asses to GroundSwell.

She Don’t Use Jelly

I debated taking a second fruit Kush variety, but can’t pass up anything fruity…especially when it’s the rockstar variety Tangerine Kush, which is a long-time favorite when I can find good quality. The bud was quite a sight – extremely dense and lots of dark orange hairs. When broken open it carries the odd aroma of fresh-baked banana bread, along with the SUPER potent stink of kush – skunky and fuel-y. It’s also a couch-locker that will easily put even the biggest giant to sleep. I crashed, ate something, and then crashed again. Not one for the daytime, then again you’ll have to try it for yourself: Mr. Chronnoisseur was up and energetic from this one, so who knows. The cure was decent – a little dry, but still good.

Crazy train…

I can’t smoke high sativa varieties or you might find me paranoid, heart pounding, freaking out in a corner. No, really. But I gave this a try. Why? Perhaps it was the calming atmosphere of GroundSwell, or the amazing service the budtender provided. The strain was exactly as one might expect any NYC Diesel to be – skunky, minty, strong and potent. I had a little, thought I was okay, and had some more. Remind me not to do this. It creeped up on me, knocked me on my ass, and made me almost put on a tin foil hat. Paranoia much? Yeah. But that merely speaks to the greatness of the strain. Just call me your lab rat. I’m here for you, dear readers.


OG Kush - popular for a reason.

I stay away from the OG Kush varieties, but my partner-in-crime, Mr. Chronnoisseur, loves them. Extra shouts out to both GroundSwell varieties, OG #18 and OG Kush…both hailing from old-school strain Bx-4 of San Fernando Valley OG Kush genetics. (yeah, all y’all pot snobs know what’s up.) They also offer tinctures and a really amazing product called Re.Fresh breath spray. Yes, that’s CANNABIS INFUSED breath freshener, so you can get your minty fresh on while feeling good. I also need to give a shout out to the bubble hash. It’s strain specific, which may not seem like a big deal until you taste it. I’ve found most hash touted as “strain-specific” is anything but …usually it’s mystery shake transformed into hash. But when GroundSwell says it’s NYC Diesel hash, you better believe it is. The NYC Diesel hash tasted like NYC Diesel should – spicy, skunktastic, delicious, clean melting, and pure, with the effects just as they should be.

Bottom line: GroundSwell is more than a dispensary. It’s a community center, a hub of activity and a great place to check out if you’re on East Colfax. And, oh yeah, they also carry some damn fine cannabis in some fairly swanky surroundings with wonderful service. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions – these guys know their stuff and are happy to share their knowledge. The prices are a little higher than most, but perhaps justify that by understanding you get what you pay for – ambiance and quality. Highly recommend checking them out, if even just to treat yourself to something truly special.

GroundSwell Gallery and Cannabis Boutique
Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
3121 East Colfax, Denver, CO 80206 /  303.309.0078
Cannabis member pricing: $12.50 gram, $40 eighth, $75 1/4, $250 oz. One strain per week at 25% off.
Daily specials, see website for details.