Tailgating is woven into the fabric that makes football such a polarizing game. Parking lots open up hours before game time and encourage attendees to get as incoherently drunk as possible before cheering on the hometown team. Authority figures parole the grounds enforcing strict no cannabis rhetoric as fathers and sons kneel together while funneling beer down their throats only to see it come back up along with their last two meals.
But in this cesspool of darkness a light shines down from 17th Ave. and Federal Blvd. Tru Cannabis Mile High is a stones throw from the home of the Super Bowl Champion Broncos and a safe haven from the illicit activity at Mile High Stadium. A short walk or stumble up the street finds one in the company of good buds of both the human and flower variety. The shop has both medical and recreational sales so even visiting fans are welcome.
I hadn’t ever been to a Tru Cannabis location of which there are four but I’ve driven past this one about 20 times in the last few weeks. Once the seed of thought is planted, its only a matter of time until grows into an urge. I smoked all of my doobage over the weekend so once Monday hit that urge kicked in.
HBO filming inside the Tru Cannabis Mile High location. (Photo from Tru Cannabis.)
I called in to check on their menu as it hadn’t been updated online in two weeks. Kara answered and told me they had been hit hard over the weekend so the medical shelf wasn’t at it’s finest but that they were expecting a few new strains to be delivered from the Tru Cannabis grow shortly.
Patience has never been a virtue of mine so I rather hastily started over to the shop, meandering about, wasting a bit of time until I thought the delivery might have taken place. I was laughed out of the Sportsfan across the street when I inquired about a Jay Cutler Chicago Bears jersey. I only half considered taking up some karaoke at El Patron Sports Bar but the thumping BASS from Federal and thick gusts of exhaust blowing in through the patio doors didn’t make the stage too appealing.
Inside of Tru Cannabis, a large fish tank immediately drew my attention and intrigue. As a first time patient I had to sign a waiver stating that I wouldn’t consume cannabis on site and that I wouldn’t sell what I bought. I firmly could adhere to those policies so initialed the paper several times and was brought back to shop.
A few minutes after checking out a tasty looking jar of Lucy, new crops of Sour OG and Super Lemon Haze bulldozed my sense of smell as they were about to be put into the system. I knew my final purchase would be between these odiferous additions to the Tru Cannabis shelf. I had about 20 minutes to kill before they would be available for purchase and that gave me the opportunity to chat with my budtender Mitch M. The state of Texas tattoo that adorns him was a good entry point and I learned that he was from Austin. I regaled him with tales of my 2 ½ years in ATX and we commiserated together at the lack of Whataburger in Colorado. The BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich is the finest poultry based fast food concoction for which I’ll travel far and wide.
When it came down to decision time I chose the Sour OG to escort me home. It was too pretty to look at tucked away in the jar; I had to set it free. Its funky stank can’t be contained and oozed out on the drive back to my crib.
Sour Diesel x OG Kush
Tru Cannabis, 1630 Federal Boulevard Denver, CO, 80204
It was love at first sight. Olive green and speckled with bright orange hairs punctuated by a thin dusting of trichomes, Sour OG is a healthy and attractive strain of cannabis that immediately catches the eye. Patterned with sparse undertones of purple, these light and contrasting colors make Sour OG one of the most enticing and inviting hybrid strains to date.
Sour OG smells so good that I wish I could hang it from my rearview mirror. With overwhelmingly fresh scents of citrus and orange masking a muskier, earthier smell, this strain is reminiscent of tangerines picked ripe and raw in the summer sun. Sour OG pleasantly wafts through the air, leaving behind trails of aromatic and herbal cleanliness in its wake, encouraging anyone who happens to cross its path.
Whether it is ground up into a joint or inhaled through a vaporizer, the undeniable tang of citrus (limonene) is ever-present while consuming Sour OG. Smooth, light, and surprisingly potent, the sweet and smoky herbal flavor provides a taste sensation unlike any other. This is certainly a strain to be savored.
Considered a 50/50 hybrid, Sour OG provided me with an immediate boost of energy, leveled out by a background feeling of happiness and a slow easing of muscle tension. Sour OG kept me light on my toes all day long, and would be best enjoyed early in the day and/or before an adventure outdoors. It may be a particularly suitable strain for those seeking relief from chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, although most anyone can find physical and mental solace in Sour OG’s warm embrace.
I burned in to DANK Colorado to grab a quick gram to roll up before making the move from my storage unit to a newly remodeled bungalow in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Denver. Public housing extends for blocks in my new hood and I’ve started asking myself if I’m paying too much in rent to live here. I probably am but who isn’t these days. It’s best to not dwell on.
DANK has saved my ass on more than one occasion. They’re open early (8am) and have allowed me a morning head change before slogging through the Colorado Blvd. traffic many times. When I’m on deadline they are quick with a quote or to light up your smoke, there is no place they’d rather be. DANK’s motto “Keeping Kind” is plastered on all promotional material and pervades the culture within. This way of life at DANK extends across the alley and around the block to the neighboring Kush Bottles warehouse and Denver Consulting Group headquarters which are run by the same crew as the dispensary. You’ll never leave their complex with a sour look on your face.
I knew it was going to be a good day when walking into the shop and James Brown’s “Sex Machine” was playing. I wish I could say it was apropos but by and large my moves are not as smooth as Soul Brother Number One’s. Music is an overarching theme at DANK. The corridor to the check in desk is lined with spectacular photography (for purchase) of musicians doing their thing at Red Rocks and Riot Fest. The likes of Wiz Khalifa, Sound Tribe Sector Nine, String Cheese Incident and Iggy Pop are a caught in the moment and looking good. Oil paintings of funk God George Porter as well as his disciples Lettuce invite you to keep on pushing down the hall. In years past DANK has thrown huge 4/20 concerts featuring Redman & Method Man, Cypress Hill, Leftover Salmon and 8-ball & MJG. These boys get down!
After talking tattoos with Vanessa and admiring her new ink she checked my credentials and sent me back to get buzzed into the medical side of DANK. On more than one occasion I’ve mistimed my reaction to open the just unlocked door to the budroom but today I’m on my game. First time was a charm.
Cassie greeted me brightly and extended are warm welcome. She’s been working at DANK for over two years and her recommendations have become legendary among aficionados across the state. Dank carries a lot of heavy hitters. Bruce Banner, Sour D, Durban Poison and Death Star hit the mark every time but I was looking for something a bit more rare in these parts. First I investigated a chunky jar of Dragon and promptly dropped the herb on the ground. It was now a floor nug. My profuse apology was met with the reaction that it was not a big deal. Still I felt like a jackass. I’m supposed to be a professional.
The sample of Dragon that later became the floor nug.
When Cassie pushed the little jar labeled Northern Lights across the glass counter it’s like she had developed telepathy with me. Her intuition knew I wanted to ride in a cannabinoid time machine and get back to the early 90’s. I hope she uses her powers only to gage my cannabis habits.
Northern Lights is a beast of a bud that gets its ferocity and international appeal from its landrace parents, Afgani and Thai. Once I saw it, no other selections needed to be viewed. Vintage strains like NL have given way in popularity to hybridized amalgamations that are descended from multiple lineages leaving the consumer unsure of where the effect comes from but smiling at that fancy new cultivar. I’m taking it back to the old school, cause I’m an old fool who’s so cool. Whoop there it is!
My movers bricked and met me later than expected. I could tell they were impressed by the scent I was now carrying. The Northern Lights did its job well where the same cannot be said about the relocation specialists dispatched on this day. I stonily stood in the corner while my life was removed from a truck and left for me to unpack and set up correctly this time.
DANK, 3835 Elm St, Denver, CO 80207.
Adorned in shimmering kief as well as red and burnt-orange hairs, this big one-gram nug of Northern Lights is so beautiful it should be on display in a vase, as you can see from the image below. Mostly a light, lime-green color, this sample is decorated with darker green and nearly purple leaves.
Using a credit card sized hand grinder to break up this monster Northern Lights flower revealed a strong scent of freshly cracked black pepper, suggesting it contains a higher amount of beta-caryophyllene, a terpene found in cannabis and other plants and herbs like oregano, cloves and rosemary that is known to provide relaxation and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Ground and vaped in my new Summit Plus, the terpenes really shined through for this sample of Northern Lights. An incredibly pleasant experience, the vapor was smooth, and the spicy and herbal taste remained in my mouth for minutes.
True to what’s expected from a classic indica strain like Northern Lights, I experienced pain and tension relief throughout my body which paired quite well with my now uplifted and relaxed mental state. Praised by patients all over the world as a powerful, long-lasting pain and stress reliever, Northern Lights would likely be best consumed by most in the evening. It may be suitable, however, for those seeking daytime relief from conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain or neuropathy, PTSD, or even PMS.
11:30 am on a Tuesday is the perfect to time to stop in to Kind Love. The rear parking lot is accessible and ample. It’s empty at the time of my arrival but I’ve seen overflow-parking spill into the neighboring Petsmart lot before. Most notably on Thursday’s when new Green Dot flavors drop. I haven’t visited Kind Love in quite some time. Months when I think about it. I used to shop here once a week when my office was located just down the road.
Kind Love is perched at the top of East Alameda Avenue and Leetsdale Drive in Denver. The building is discreetly tucked into trees and utility poles that in another life were also trees. From the exterior one cannot readily tell that this structure houses one of Denver’s most loved dispensaries. It looks more like a fine place to put a dental clinic. Once inside these hallowed walls, medical patients and recreational consumers are treated to an out of this world experience.
Check in was a breeze and I was offered a Kind Love Red Card protector when the receptionist saw the crumbling imitation brand Post-it note I’m currently using to keep the integrity of my card in tact. I accepted fully well knowing that it would not fit in my wallet. As if the state wants to make thing even tougher on cannabis patients, the current ID cards were made without such precautions like making sure that the ink would not rub off leaving a valid card unusable.
Immediately upon entering the medical dispensary I was greeted by Matt whose bushy red beard dwarfed my own manly scruff. After some brief facial hair talk and catching him up on what I’ve been doing my name was announced and I excused myself to make my purchase. He let me know that the Cookie Wreck had just hit the med side and was looking primo.
The shelves are always stocked to the max at Kind Love. They have enough infused topical cream to slather a million bodies’ head to toe and their selection of edibles and drinks runs the gamut. Kind Love has the best selection of hash on the market. They carry Concentrated Remedies, Craft 710, Essential Extracts, Incredible Extracts, Viola, Green Dot, The Lab as well as their own house line of wax, shatter and live resin.
Mary motioned for me to walk to her station and she’s never steered me wrong before. She put a jar of Triangle Kush in front of me and opened the lid. The smell hit me like an open hand slap to the face and sent me tumbling back. If one is good then two is better. I went in for another whiff this time keeping my footing. It was tasty; as was the Cookie Wreck I checked out. But I had come with a hankering for something specific.
Boredello has been knocking me on my ass since I first smoked it a year or so ago. I’ve gone back for it several times since without the slightest sense of disappointment. It’s a cross between Blackberry Apocalypse and Alexis with its roots taking hold in the firm red dirt of Texas and its Texas Resin Company. Bordello is a pungent and pretty bud begging to be rolled up into a fat blunt.
The bottom of the jar is not a place a connoisseur would rather not consume cannabis from. It’s akin to taking the last swing out of a warm bottle of whiskey that has been sitting in the corner all night; it will still do the job but taste and appearance are lacking and the experience is shot. I’m all about the aesthetic. Mary knows me and knows my preferences. She retrieved a brand new jar of the magical strain and sent me packing with a fat gram.
Kind Love is and will forever a cannabis institution. It’s a place where the brightest minds in the cannabis community shop, work and congregate. As I left the store I struck up a conversation with Chris, a grower from a competing dispensary. He comes into Kind Love to pick up clones from the clone bar for his home grow. He left me with his personal opinion of the dispensary.
“Kind Love is the fucking best!”
I couldn’t agree more Chris.
Blackberry Apocalypse x Alexis
Kind Love, 4380 E Alameda Ave, Denver, CO 80246.
One of the things I most enjoyed about this sample of Bordello was the variation in nug size, shape and color. Shades of purple stood out sporadically among the dark and light greens with ample scatterings of burnt-orange hairs and kief.
A complex terpene profile, these Bordello flowers smelled earthy with undertones of fuel and citrus before being broken up, but then I was greeted with the sweet aroma of berries and flowers as soon as I tore one in half.
Smoking a bowl of Bordello out of a less-than-squeaky-clean glass pipe was not able to mask the surprising berry taste in the smoke. I felt slight throat irritation and choked out a couple of coughs after the first two hits, but it was relatively smooth sailing. Just as expected, the cultivation team at Kind Love flushed the plants properly because the ash left in the bottom of bowl was white.
My eyes felt a little heavier by the time the bowl was finished, and a comfortingly-restrictive, imaginary headband had magically appeared above my ears. My limbs felt heavy and light at the same time while a mild tingling sensations tickled my skin. (Yes, seriously.) If I had to describe the effects I felt from consuming Bordello in one word, it would be serene.
Because it provides intense limb and body relaxation coupled with an almost energizing mental stimulation, I think Bordello would be an ideal pairing for creative pursuits, catching up with friends, meditating or something more sensual like getting a massage. In the best way possible, concentrating on writing this review became slightly more challenging after a bowl of Bordello. While it is a good option to relieve pain and stress, Bordello may not be a good choice for those seeking relief at work.
Chad G. was exhibiting his artwork to a legion of fans and fanboys upstairs; the gathering looked like a normal affair. Dreadlocks, Grassroots hats and heady pendies of all shapes and sizes were hanging from the guests in attendance. Unbeknownst to a good portion of the night’s visitors, downstairs in the cavernous cellar the weigh-in for the Royal Rumble of Reefer was taking place. The unfinished basement of the new SoHi Gallery on Welton St. was the receiving area for the most prodigious and prestigious cannabis competition of them all…The Adam Dunn Show Invitational (ADSI).
The ADSI is the cannabis competition that every weedhead worth their weight in shake wishes they had the opportunity to attend. Sadly for them and luckily for me inclusion is selective. It’s a pretty clandestine affair. Due to geographical bias many of the competitors still work in the black market. By my good fortune I was invited for the second year in a row to smoke the highest quality cannabis in the country as a member of the Select Non-Competitor Private Judging Panel.
The welcome reception and pre-registration was a chance for old friends to catch up and new acquaintances to be made. It was like my Facebook feed came to life with only slightly less trolling. Tales of getting pinched, robbed, ratted-out, rebuilding empires and redemption were common conversation topics. The drama surrounding years of he said/she said was kept in check. Rule number seven set forth in the Official Competitor Guest Packet explicitly forbade it: NO DRAMA-Everyone who attends this event is an honored guest, invited to celebrate our peers, and to honor our brothers and sisters in their craft, in the spirit of love, peace and communion.
By the way of seven states (CO, CA, MI, RI, IL, OR and WA), 40 of the dankest cannabis strains grown by some of the finest cultivators from across the nation were accepted, labeled, cataloged and portioned for the competition being held the next day in a secret location. The two ounce entry fee was all that stood between the legendary field of competitors and a chance to be crowned the champion. Upon delivery, entrants pulled a card from a deck that now served as their strains’ identity for the duration of the competition.
Part Fight Club, part dick-measuring contest with a heavy dose of camaraderie, a dash of nostalgia and plenty of amazing cannabis, this multi-day episode has grown considerably in size, scope and significance in only its second year. Walkie-talkies, earpieces and a real-time online bracket advanced the technology this year by at least a decade compared to last.
Strict adherence to the rules set forth was expected. For the most part only a few transgressions occurred. No dabbing, pictures or guests were permitted and the honor system largely held everyone at bay. Business talk was strictly prohibited though I suspect a few deals were struck on the sly.
The driving force behind this competition is co-host of the Adam Dunn Show Mitch Shenassa. He’s whip-smart, fully committed to cannabis and unrelenting in his views on what constitutes superior marijuana. More energy and emphasis was put towards planning, management and execution at the ADSI in 2016. Leaving nothing to chance, his ear-to-ear grin said it all as he greeted me and invited me to take a whiff of unspecified entry.
“You can get a pallet of jars delivered to your doorstep for just under a grand…but you need a business address.“
Two of Diamonds – One Star (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
He’s proud of the little things. Not worrying about a site for this year’s proceedings? Check! He sent out the secret location in the middle of the night to invited guests. Feeding a very high and very hungry crowd? Covered! Glazed and Confused Donuts and Kobe beef sliders were offered. A hybrid donut-bunned burger made its way on to a plate or two. And of course the aforementioned jars.
A last minute change of venue and late April snowstorms set the tone for the ADSI in 2015. Chaos ensued as a new location had to be locked down. Prearranged transportation ran behind schedule. Attendees who came from as far as Hawaii in nothing but tank tops and sandals were scrambling for suitable winter attire. Rhyme and reason were thrown out shortly after all the competitors were finally bussed to the new venue. Luckily, there was enough cannabis on hand to relieve any and all stress.
Snow threatened the event again this year and prohibited a few people from making it. One Colorado competitor was caught on the wrong side of the Western Slope unable to get through the storm. In a non-weather incident, TSA stopped a Northern California grower from boarding her flight to Denver but let her keep the cannabis in her carry on. A slushy mix made driving unsafe but approachable for seasoned operators or those high enough to not care. Making it to the secret warehouse location was worth the risk; this spectacle couldn’t be missed.
Nine of Diamonds – Louis XIII (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
The competition’s format is similar to the World Cup but with little to no corruption. Described in the Official Competitor Guest Packet as a “grouped double-elimination head-to-head tournament format with each round voted on by thirteen competitors”, the ADSI doesn’t sell judge’s passes nor does it rely on or allow for the influence of big name sponsors looking to highjack the affair. Volunteer Jar Runners trading their time for the opportunity to be a part of the event happily replaced dirty bong water and produced fresh samples of bud upon request. Egos are checked at the door at the ADSI.
Set to begin at Noon while allowing time for some to show up fashionably late nobody cared that it wasn’t until about 1:45 that things kicked off. Prior to the first bowl of the ADSI being roasted, a memorial candle was lit and a moment of silence observed for legendary cannabis smuggler Howard Marks a.k.a. Mr. Nice, who had passed away earlier in the week. Some of the luminaries in the room were of the same vintage as Mr. Nice; others were too young to appreciate his significance. Everyone in attendance owed a debt of gratitude to Howard Marks for the risks he took and time he served.
Ace of Clubs – Chem D (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
In the large competition hall, tables were set up by card suit. A quick round of musical chairs arranged the participants accordingly. Spades had drawn the Group of Death moniker with the first, second and third place finishers from the inaugural ADSI now sitting in close quarters ready to go up against one another. Taking a page out of a churrascaria’s playbook, red and green paddles were set up to signal the Jar Runners whether cannabis should continue to be served up.
My judging panel was relegated to the conference room of the secret location. Our seclusion did not lead to disproportionate provisions. We we’re tasked with sampling each entry then choosing our favorites. A suits worth of cannabis was delivered to the table and the panel was left to their own devices. This process was repeated a number of times narrowing the choices until only our top few strains were left.
Nine of Clubs – Underdog OG (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
Other members of the cannabis community who were attending this special safety meeting included representatives from Elite Cannabis and Dark Horse Genetics as well as the man who helped put the beans into Chem Dog’s hand that would change cannabis forever. A steady stream of people who know a great deal more about cannabis than I paraded in and out of the board room all day long. Including myself, a few more “regular” folks sat around the table generally in awe. The NY Rangers playoff game was live streamed to appease a long suffering fan while the rest of the room hoped that overtime wasn’t necessary.
In a room filled with thick smoke I lost track of the details somewhere around the time I puffed on the 5 of clubs. OG’s were prevalent and a few other strains could be notified with little more than opening a jar. As soon as Bruce Banner #5’s ambient aroma was set free from captivity it was recognized by its originator sitting with us. My perpetual state of congestion was no match for some of the flamboyant terpene profiles presented for our enjoyment.
King of Spades – Purple Tangie (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
Official ADSI scorecards were available to offer a graduate level rubric to guide our way through the competition. Some panelists’ took extensive notes in small print that began to stack on the table as the procession of strains continued into the evening. My notes were limited to single word descriptions like boo, fruity, cheesy, fire and harsh.
My favorite strain of the competition was the King of Spades, an obnoxiously loud Purple Tangie. Though it was said to have had powdery mildew, I didn’t detect any. My inebriation could have been the cause of my oversight though it’s more likely that I wasn’t paying close enough attention.
Not everyone was as trusting as I. As one of my tablemates put it,
“It’s too bad, it’s a dank strain. It’s ok to have PM (powdery mildew) in your grow—but to not catch it and enter it in a growers competition—I can’t allow that.”
Nine of Spades – SAGE (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
The ashtrays were filled with enough discarded greens to roll joints for days but my senses were being tickled by the hash faeries. Sampling all the cultivars was becoming overwhelming. I needed a bit of fresh air and a reason to break rule number eight: NO DABS. Technically, I was in my car so I do not believe I was under ADSI jurisdiction at the time but I still felt like a scofflaw while blowing clouds in the parking lot.
The competition was fierce. The entrants knew going in that only the perfect bud would be recognized as ADSI Champion. The 9 of Diamonds Louis XIII, who’s grower in the preceding days had received 4 more High Times Cannabis Cups’ for his herb grown both in Colorado and Oregon was knocked out in the round of eight by the 9 of Clubs and eventual runner-up, Underdog OG. The other strains to make it out of the group stage and into the elimination round were unparalleled in superiority.
Only one woman entered the competition though more were invited. Her 4 of Hearts B-well Kush (shown in the photo at the very top of this page) took out the day’s sentimental favorite 9 of Spades SAGE on its way to a third place finish. The other elite eight match-ups featured the Ace of Hearts Copper Kush falling to the Ace of Clubs Chem D and the 2 of Diamonds One Star defeating the Jack of Spades Bubba Diagonal.
Ace of Hearts – Copper Kush (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
The contest ran into the late evening until the final four were smoked out. The competition broke, reconvening back at the SoHi Gallery on Wednesday April 20th to determine the winner from the remaining strains. Following the tournament a live broadcast of The Adam Dunn Show and announcing of the winners took place.
Prior commitments to Center Mass Media’s 4/20 celebration featuring Paul Wall kept me from attending the second day of competition and awards ceremony at the gallery. My unrefined palate was taken well past its limit as I carried out my duties as a judge. The entries were grown with extreme care and prejudice. They are the finest examples of connoisseur cannabis and far surpass almost all cannabis coming out of rec and med shops across the country.
Jack of Spades – Bubba Diagonal (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)
In the end it was the Ace of Clubs, a Colorado grown Chem D that took home the championship and hardware. Or so we all believed. Almost three weeks post competition while I was fact checking I stumbled on a photo comment by the winner buried deep in a Facebook album recognizing that he had misreported his strain while registering it. On the PGA or the PBA Tour an infraction of the same magnitude would call for immediate disqualification and forfeiture of title and prizes. For the ADSI it was a non-issue—an over complication. The real winner of the ADSI 2016 was Chem 4. The confusion will just be a footnote in the annals of ADSI lore.
Tragedy dashed the hope of smoking any heirloom strains from last year’s competition. A perfect storm of events found Mitch Shenassa of Dark Horse Genetics hosting his younger brother at the same time as receiving a grip of steak and other beef products from his father. Mitch’s brother kicked out the storage freezer plug in a dance related mishap prior to bed and the myoglobin released from the meat oozed over the jarred samples and permeated the flower. The beef stink was too strong and the herb was determined inconsumable. The rancid meat bath was unforeseen and is not expected to affect the prospect smoking some 2016 entries next year. Can’t wait!
Feature image at top of page: Four of Hearts – B-well Kush (Ry Prichard photo / Provided to Whaxy)