iVita Wellness is tucked into an industrial area northeast of downtown Denver. (The Cannabist)

iVita Wellness on Franklin (shop review, recreational)

(Review continued)

Caitlin ran me through their pricing system (there are two tiers, but only the less expensive of the two was available on my visit), mentioned the edibles they had (mostly Edi-Pure products), and offered to let me smell the jars belonging to the two selections of pre-rolls (Black Afghani and Grape Stomper). She assured me the joints were rolled fresh from buds from “this very batch” and that they would be a good representation of the product in the jars. The Black Afghani smelled unique and spicy, with hints of cardamom and a light sweetness, while the Grape Stomper smelled clean and fruity. Though I knew I would ultimately end up with one of those, I asked to smell several other jars in order to get a better read on their overall quality level.

iVita Wellness shop review
The pre-rolled Grape Stomper from iVita Wellness paired nicely with nighttime snowfall. (The Cannabist)

There were only seven strains available for purchase; I smelled five of them and was surprisingly impressed by each one. The buds weren’t quite as pristine as I’ve seen at some shops, but they were well-trimmed, had a generous coating of trichomes, and perhaps more important, all smelled pungent and as they should. The most impressive, smell and appearance-wise, was the Hong Kong Diesel, which immediately hit me in the face with its tennis ball and garlic funk and was made up entirely of large, rocky buds.

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As I smelled the flowers, I decided to go with the Grape Stomper, mostly because I had tried the strain before and like to weigh new shops against old ones using a genetic line I’m familiar with. Like most dispensaries in Colorado, iVita does not accept credit cards, but offers an ATM. Unfortunately, unlike my last review, this ATM was full price and will set you back $2 per transaction. The total for a Stomper pre-roll came to $12.11, and I thanked the staff and left with what turned out to be an unnervingly large package, considering what I had purchased.

Once back in the car, I opened the stapled paper bag to find an absolutely massive dark plastic squeeze-top container, which is normally suitable for at least half an ounce of cannabis. It appears iVita was either out of their normal joint packaging or badly in need of a proper solution for joints, because this thing was ridiculous for what I was buying. I visualized this container dropping into the whirling mass of garbage that is the North Pacific Gyre and wondered how many carbon offsets I would have to purchase to counteract this particular bit of environmental malfeasance. Inside the cavernous jar sat a white-papered slim cone joint which (as promised) smelled almost exactly like the Stomper jar from the store.

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Later in the night, it was time to try my purchase. During the course of my relaxation time at home, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and big, fluffy snowflakes were falling at a high clip as I peeked out the front window. I don’t smoke inside my house, so I suited up for a trip to the garage. I lit up the joint and got a fairly strong flavor of herbal, fruity sweetness. I’ve never found Grape Stomper (Purple Elephant x ChemDog Sour Diesel) to be the most terpene-rich strain, and this one was no exception, though it was as good or better than most of the Stomper samples I’ve had in the past. The smoke was relatively smooth, with only a little bit of a throat sting on large draws. As the joint burned away, I took note of the mostly light gray ash, which indicated the plant received a solid flush prior to harvest.

The second half of the joint was a little more harsh and less enjoyable; the flavor had mostly dissipated after 5-6 hits, and I found myself struggling to finish, were it not for my inner cheapskate urging me on: “Get your money’s worth, smoke it to the crutch.” Naturally I complied, but before I even finished the joint, I felt it giving me a slight burst of energy and improving my mood. Prior to going outside, I was beginning to feel my eyelids getting heavy, but the Stomper chased that feeling away and gave me a somewhat invigorating body high to go along with the mental uptick.

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After finishing, I found myself staring up at the quarter-sized snowflakes, tracing their path from the sky to the ground and feeling the occasional kiss of melting flakes hitting my face. Eventually I snapped out of the trance and went back inside; the joint carried me through about two hours of computer work, keeping me relatively alert and productive for the entire time. I had some stomach pain as well as my usual lower back issues prior to smoking, but both seemed to fall to the wayside thanks to the Grape Stomper’s smooth but powerful effects package.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of the strain, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit this time; at least part of that credit goes to iVita, which certainly did a solid job of growing it. The joint’s effects wound down and left me feeling loose and relaxed, making it the perfect choice for melting into the couch for an hour or two prior to falling asleep.

The lowdown

Very odd-looking, yet surprisingly well-appointed location just north of downtown Denver with good prices and above-average herb. iVita Wellness has two Denver-area locations, both of which are open for recreational and medical sales. While the original shop is in a fairly nice part of Capitol Hill, the Franklin location is about as off the beaten path as you can possibly get, in a location that I can only describe as “hardhat chic.” The strain selection was only average, but every offering was of good quality, the prices were fair and my budtender Caitlin talked capably about their products and maintained a friendly demeanor. Also worth noting is that I visited the shop at about 5:30 p.m., which is generally rush hour for dispensaries as well as I-25, but I found myself the only customer in the building. I am not sure if that’s a regular occurrence, but this remote iVita location may be a good choice for recreational shoppers who don’t want to encounter the long lines that you often find at a shop with better access.

The must-try: The Hong Kong Diesel was the most pungent and impressive looking strain on offer.

The lasting impression: If you can find the place, you’ll be rewarded with a solid dispensary experience.