Pot tourism is booming in the Mile High City—which, let’s just say, is an apt nickname. (Really, though, Denver is dubbed the Mile High City because its elevation is 5,280 feet, or a “mile high.”)
While more states are legalizing marijuana, Denver remains a prime destination for those looking to imbibe. Compared to Colorado, marijuana use laws in Washington, where recreational pot is also legal, are far more stringent and you’ll be hard pressed to find hotels and Airbnb’s advertising themselves as 4/20-friendly like the ones here do.
And, you may have heard that Denver has more pot dispensaries in the city than it does Starbucks locations. It’s true. According to a report from Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, the city has roughly 150 dispensaries, which is more than triple the number of Starbucks stores.
So, if your travel itinerary involves smoking a doobie in Denver, you’re probably wondering which dispensary to hit up? We’ve mapped out some of the best dispensaries for visitors and those in Colorado who are new to the marijuana scene.
Native Roots is a pioneer in the recreational and medical cannabis arena. The dispensary is a well-oiled machine with friendly staff who know their stuff, and somehow manage to keep the lines short despite the dispensaries' popularity. Also, the dispensary is community-focused, participating in several community service projects and food drives. On top of all that, they sell some rad gear, including a vape hoodie with an inconspicuous hoodlace that conceals a vape system so you can burn your fave bud—e-juice, oil, wax or dry herb.
Even rapper Soulja Boy is a Native Roots fan. During a visit to Denver, he had his driver take him and his entourage to Native Roots’ downtown Denver store. Curious what he purchased? The budtenders hooked him up with some indica-dominant hybrids per his request.
Sweet Leaf has 10 dispensaries in the Denver-metro area (plus one in Oregon) The dispensary has received lots of lovin’ when it comes to rankings. It was awarded the “Most Valuable Brand” and “Best Retail Center” in the 2016 Cannabist Awards. Plus, they put on all kinds of cool community events, like “Sensi Nights,” which is a free event bringing cannabis thought leaders together and featuring live music.
Around Denver, you’ll hear some cool “green rush” stories of entrepreneurs breaking into the marijuana business. Sweet Leaf has humble roots: The dispensary was built on $9,000 cash and two maxed-out American Express cards and it started with just 40 air-cooled lamps and a rented warehouse in Denver.
One thing you’ll love about the Denver pot scene is it’s continually evolving with great new products. Sweet Leaf, for example, sells one of the latest and greatest in edibles: Stillwater's Ripple, a dissolvable THC that can turn just about anything in an edible. You may associate edibles with junk food (i.e. pot brownies!) While you can certainly bake with Ripple, you can use these THC packets to infuse any liquid with THC. Yes, you could make a THC-infused soup or add a little cannabis to your herbal chimichurri sauce.
Good Chemistry has two locations in Colorado, and are a favorite among locals because of the affordability and the simple approach. Good Chemistry offers flat prices on products: $130 per ounce or $30 per 1 / 8 of an ounce. The dispensaries sell more than 60 products, including flowers and concentrates grown at the Good Chemistry nurseries, plus edibles and topicals. The dispensary labels its products with different “effects categories.” The “amplify” icon means the product might help you feel euphoric and energized. The products with the “relax” icon tend to be calming and alleviate tension. The “relieve” icon signals it can help relieve pain. And, the “sleep” icon can help you catch some ZZZ’s.
Plus, how Colorado is this? Cannabis-infused bison jerky is on the edible menu at Good Chemistry. It’s available in teriyaki or hot and spicy.
Pig N' Whistle
Pig N’ Whistle nails it when it comes to selection. They’ve got a large selection of concentrates, which are continually growing in popularity. But what really earns them a spot on this list is their wide variety of yummy edibles, including gourmet goodies from Binkse, a Colorado company that makes high-end olive oils, honey, fruit leathers, and chocolates. Elevate your next high by drizzling some of their Yampa Valley honey over goat cheese or use it to sweeten up a mascarpone. Their chocolate bars are also stellar. Take the Binske Origin Chocolate, which is made with Peruvian Nacional, said to the rarest chocolate in the world. The Peruvian Nacional cacao bean are definitely unique: they are sometimes white, a mutation that occurs when trees are undisturbed, according to Binkse. White beans tend to have more intense chocolate notes and are less bitter.
The building that houses The Pig N’ Whistle has a super-cool backstory. In its past life, it was a motel owned by Eddie Bohn, a boxer in the 1920’s who was crowned the Rocky Mountain Heavyweight Champion. He opened up a restaurant and bar that he named Pig N’ Whistle. It was frequented by celebs like boxer Jack Dempsey, famed baseball catcher Yogi Berra, and musicians Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. It also housed a speakeasy in the basement.
Smoking Gun Apothecary
Visitors might be bummed to find that when they arrive in the city, the dispensaries are already closed for the night. Your best bet? Head to Smoking Gun Apothecary, a late-night dispensary, staying open until midnight every evening. That doesn’t mean this apothecary sleeps in, though. It opens at 8 a.m. daily. This dispensary can legally stay open later because it’s in Glendale, which is across the street from Denver, where ordinances require pot shops to close up at 7 p.m.
Also cool? This speakeasy-style dispensary doubles as an “anti-prohibition museum.” It’s designed to have an 1870 setting, which is shortly before the nation’s drug laws were passed. Smoking gun has art and historical facts throughout the dispensary. That includes the replica of a Mississippi jail cell, which the dispensary says represents the fact that purchasing marijuana in the southern state in 1941 could land you a life in prison.
So much thought went into the design of this dispensary and museum. The bud counter is a stand-out, though. Teller walls were resurrected from the It’s the bones of the Bank of Hibernia from the 1870’s and soured from New Orleans.
If you’re a local and have a Colorado license, you’ll get a “local discount” trimming 30 percent off your bill.