DENVER — What would a cannabis convention be without a look inside a marijuana dispensary? The nearly 100 retailers attending CSP’s inaugural CBD & the Future of Cannabis Conference in Denver from April 9-11 split into three groups to embark on tours of these facilities, all of which offer a variety of products containing both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the nonpsychoactive and psychoactive components of cannabis, respectively.
There are roughly 500 dispensaries in Colorado and about 200 recreational dispensaries in Denver. Dispensaries can only sell consumable products that include THC. They cannot, for example, sell regular bottled water or coffee, nor can they sell Visine eye drops.
Here’s a look inside three marijuana dispensaries from the tour …
Dispensary or doctor’s office?
Visiting a dispensary can be like going to the doctor’s office: you sign in and sit in the waiting room until an employee calls you to the back area. This was the process at both The Clinic and Native Roots, two dispensaries based in Denver. The Clinic has four medical marijuana dispensary locations in Denver—three of which also offer recreational cannabis—while Native Roots has 19 locations in Colorado.
The check-in process can be deceiving, because the back room of a dispensary—which showcases a plethora of THC and CBD gummies, tinctures, vaporizers and more—is nothing like a doctor’s office. The products are displayed all around the room, from the counters to the wall shelves. Some dispensaries display their items in glass containers, while others leave them out to touch.
For example, the CBD-infused honey sticks at the Native Roots on Champa Street in Denver sit directly next to the checkout area. This placement makes for a strong seller, said Ken Nill, director of warehouse operations for Midwest Petroleum, St. Louis, during the conference.
'Strain of the day'
MMJ America on Arapahoe Street in Denver is one of three sites the chain of marijuana dispensaries owns and operates. The other two are in Boulder, Colo., and Las Vegas. The Denver site is divided into a medical side and a recreational side.
The approximately 4,000-square-foot recreational half of the business sells a variety of marijuana strains, as well as vape products, gummies, beverages and chocolates. The sparsely designed business includes a seating area and digital menu boards. The “strain of the day” was going for $85 an ounce on the day of our visit.
High Level Health, located on the top floor of a five-story building, takes its brand name seriously. The small site includes a lobby area stocked with pipes and T-shirts. Beyond are two separate retail sections, one for medical marijuana and the other for recreational. The recreational side is about 400 square feet and generally consists of a glass display counter and curated products on shelves behind it.
The knowledgeable employees made visiting the store a customer-service treat. And there was no such thing as a stupid question.
Pax pens—vaporizers that resemble e-cigarettes, but instead contain cannabis—are the most popular products at The Clinic, said Joseph Cohen, owner of the dispensary, which is on Colorado Boulevard in Denver. The Clinic offers Pax pods in a variety of cannabis strains, such as Kosher Kush, Sativa, Pre ’98 Bubba, Hybrid, Indica and CBD.
But that’s not all. The Clinic also offers prerolled marijuana joints, bottled cannabis beverages, tinctures, CBD and THC oils, and even their own branded T-shirts and hoodies.
Midway through the tour of The Clinic, Cohen whipped out a miniature bong—a glass water pipe used to inhale marijuana—to show the attending retailers how to use “dabs.” Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis that are made by extracting THC using a solvent, such as carbon dioxide, resulting in a sticky oil. These oils are heated on a hot surface and inhaled through a device called a dab ring, which is placed on the bong.