2001 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80210
Why you should go: generous, accommodating service; decent selection of nice cannabis, delicious edibles; mystery discounts
In an age when the World Wide Web has given everyone a microphone, we have to remind ourselves to consider issues of objectivity and accountability in the claims made from behind a computer screen. Reviews of music, movies, and restaurants abound and are, of course, shaped by the subjective ears, eyes, and tongues of the reviewers. While this has always been the case, regardless of tired academic assertions about neutrality and impartiality, never before in history has there been such a preponderance of critics, waiting to weigh in on Amazon and Yelp and Facebook and Twitter. How, then, do you sort through it all? How do you know whose semi-anonymous words to trust?
With this in mind, we started reading crowdsourced reviews of cannabis shops and strains and decided to compare our own experiences to those we read. We know the folks over there at Leafly know what they’re doing, but we were interested to see if their readers/reviewers are on the same page. Were the reviews a source of reliable information? Or just Internet banter not to be taken seriously? As you might imagine, it’s a little bit of both.
It wasn’t our first time using Leafly, but it’s safe to say navigation was a breeze. At the top of the front page the “Find Nearby” header made it simple to uncover the information we sought. We found the “Strain Review” link a fun diversion, but the purpose of this visit was to find a new spot. With the tap of a five-digit zip code – 80222 – a list of dispensaries graced the computer screen.
The list was heavily populated with places on Broadway; we’d learned recently that this street’s nickname is “Broadsterdam.” While there are no recreational smoking establishments, there are numerous dispensaries. It made sense to explore more of the stretch. The listing for Walking Raven jumped out and screamed – mainly due to our pre-existing affinity for Baltimore football – that it would be the spot to check out. Before heading to the Light Rail, we read what we could find under the “Reviews” tab to get a sense of what people were saying. We found seventeen reviews; only three mentioned any sort of negative experience.
One gave Walking Raven 3+ stars but questioned the potency of Grape God, a 90% indica strain. This assessment provided a valuable opportunity to explore how closely the review system matched our own experience.
After the long stroll down a street packed with dispensaries, we sighted Walking Raven easily and immediately noticed that some of the reviews were right on in terms of the shop’s small space. Beyond the front door, customers showed their IDs in a tight entryway, followed by a slightly larger but similarly snug room filled with products. Three budtenders presented customers with the jars that lined the entirety of the glass display cases. On the left wall, in front of the stocked case, stood a large refrigerator containing a few edibles, not quite as stocked as the glass cases. But they did have Love’s Oven edible treats. Love’s Oven products have consistently lived up to – and surpassed – expectation; their presence alone makes Walking Raven a spot to consider in the future. We mentioned this to the budtender; as it was his first day behind the counter, he was excited to get our appraisal of some of the product.
Consistent with the reviews we found on Leafly, the customer service at Walking Raven was quite nice. The kind help made up for the cramped space full of frenetic customers circulating in and out. It was most definitely this guy’s first day actually selling marijuana, but the interaction was wonderfully pleasant. It was not a quick exchange and the budtender wasn’t in a rush to be rid of us; he sought information from the manager when he couldn’t answer all of our questions. Our goal was Grape God, and it was nice to encounter someone who cared about getting things right. What did it matter if he had to ask the boss how much that particular strain cost? It was actually kind of nice to hear that question spoken in a public establishment.
Though we spent $59 and some change, the budtender offered a free lighter for spending $60 or more. The bill had originally been over $60, but a slight discount knocked it below the limit. Still, our new friend graciously offered the lighter. (The discount remains a mystery, but we accepted it with no further inquiry as to its origin.) While a small gesture, the lighter was a symbolic token of camaraderie that we continue to use daily.
There was only one way to figure out if the budtender was right to champion the 90% indica Grape God or if the reviewer who’d dissed it had some merit to his articulated beef. After some heavy sampling we can honestly say that the Internet may have won this debate. Grape God was very tasty, just like the budtender said it would be. And there’s no doubt that it produced a nice high upon smoking. So two must haves (taste and high) were there. It just did not pack the punch that we’d imagined a 90% indica would deliver. We’d expected a much heavier high, something closer to the Rare Darkness or G-13 previously sampled. The buds looked so nice we might’ve thought maybe our bag was just a dud, but with Leafly to back up our claims, we were sure our discerning tastes were pretty accurate.
Leafly gained one more believer with their reliable information about Walking Raven. The tiny size of the spot did not negatively impact the experience, and they had a large selection of flower. But even with the write-ups that argued against these facts, generally speaking, the site and the reviewers closely echoed the experience we’d had: great customer service in a small space and a disappointing encounter with the Grape God. Next time we’ll sample the strains that got great reviews; for now it’s been valuable to test the lower end of the spectrum to determine how similarly we’re calibrated to the hivemind.