Winding down another turbulent year overall, the ongoing progress of legalization and exploding growth of the cannabis industry are two of the few things keeping us hopeful as we head into 2018. Please, we beg of you Jeff Sessions, don’t try to ruin it for everyone.
As ground zero of the green rush, Colorado is home to the best in the biz—a close-knit community that continues to make monumental strides for the industry and set the standard for fellow smoke-friendly states. Here, we’ve rounded up those who’ve made cannabis proudest this year.
Best Overall Dispensary: L’Eagle
Located in an industrial park on the edge of downtown with its grow facility on site, L’Eagle produces long-cured, 100% organic cannabis. Co-owner Amy Anderle is a founding member of the Cannabis Certification Council (see below) and along with her husband John, employs an incredibly knowledgeable staff of former farmers and budtenders. Ask for Courtney to help guide you through their long list of sustainable strains and highly curated edible, topical, and accessory offerings.
Best Budget Dispensary: Infinite Wellness Center
Ft. Collins & Lakewood, CO
With its flagship close to Colorado State University’s campus, Infinite Wellness Center offers college coeds and FoCo residents alike the highest quality bud that’s also affordable. Known for its house grown medical and recreational flower and stellar customer service, its second location is located in the suburban enclave of Lakewood—about 15 minutes west of Denver.
Best Boutique Dispensary: Silverpeak
Perfectly in line with Aspen’s luxury-leaning reputation, Silverpeak was way ahead of the game with a gorgeous grand opening in 2014, which unveiled the country’s first dispensary to look more Barney’s than basement head shop. Clean lines, natural light, rich woods, and custom cases aside, the entire experience is elevated with purchases even presented on a silver platter. You’ll also find the industry’s leading lines of accessories, books, and branded souvenirs in a separate boutique space.
Best Budtender: Gladys Solis, Diego Pellicer
Diego Pellicer employee Gladys Solis also took home the 2017 Budtender of the Year trophy earlier this month at the 7th annual Cannabis Business Awards, for “her skills and knowledge in numerous facets of cannabis retail that have been honed by years of experience with administration, compliance, and bud tending in the industry.” For the record, the beautiful boutique dispensary, which has a second location in Seattle, also took home top honors for Executive of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Retail Store of the Year.
Best Overall Company: Vicente Sederberg
Since the inception of Colorado’s state-regulated medical marijuana program, partners and founding members Brian Vicente and Christian Sederberg created “the country’s first powerhouse marijuana law firm” and led the charge for Amendment 64, making recreational cannabis legal in 2014. Now more than ever, their unparalleled expertise in policy, compliance, and business services is essential in paving the way for the ever-growing number of entrepreneurs, enabling them to thrive while overcoming the regulatory challenges in the industry.
Best Flower Products: Honest Marijuana Company
Oak Creek, CO
It’s about as green as you’ll get at this state-of-the-art, zero waste cultivation facility near Steamboat Springs. All plants are grown in a fully controlled, 100% organic environment (“the way marijuana should be”). Available at select dispensaries throughout the state, the company’s proprietary and classic strains are packaged with nitrogen in place of oxygen to preserve farm-fresh smell and taste.
Best Concentrate Product: AeroInhaler
Say hello to the world’s first and only THC-and-live-resin-terpene-infused, pharmaceutical grade cannabis inhaler. It’s changing the Colorado consumption game offering a smoke-free way for athletes to enjoy any adventure in the great outdoors. Each device contains 1000 MG of THC and dispenses 10 MG per dose in a variety of flavor profiles (e.g. Grape Ape, Super Silver Flo, Sour Diesel, Tangerine Haze) with no additives or carcinogens.
Best Edibles: Binske
Earth, wind, water, and fire are the elements grounding the ethos of the world’s first fair trade, single origin cannabis company. Sourcing the best raw ingredients from around the world—whether its cocoa from Peru, olives from Greece, lemons from Myanmar, or garlic from China—you’ll taste the difference in every bite of Binske’s chocolate bars, olive oils, honeys, and fruit leathers. Plus, each product line’s packaging is a work of art.
Best Topicals: Mary Jane’s Medicinals
For founder Dahlia Mertens, a natural and holistic approach to health and well-being has always been a passion. As a ski town massage therapist, she started experimenting with infused oil early on and was soon helping her clients address complaints of chronic pain. Officially launching her line in 2009, she’s since grown into one of Colorado’s leading brands of topicals, nabbing awards and life-changing reviews for products like Mary Jane’s Medicinals Salve, Heavenly Hash Bath, and Lip Bong.
Best High-CBD Products: Mary’s Medicinals
From what started as a medical-only line pioneering accurate cannabinoid dosing via alternative vehicles in 2013, Mary’s Medicinals’ chief scientist Noel Palmer has continued to develop different delivery methods with unique cannabinoid extractions said to have pain-relieving qualities. From transdermal patches to pens to capsules, all of the company’s Elite CBD products are available for online purchase and delivery to all 50 states.
Best Cannabis Accessory: LEVO
After five years of development and engineering, this highly designed device was built to make creating oils and butters super simple—and clean. Launched earlier this year, LEVO Oil has already sparked an “infusion revolution” and whole new crop of at-home cannabis chefs. With dishwasher-safe pieces, internal strain operation, and touch screen control settings, it’s so user-friendly that you’ll be cooking up craft infusions for every meal.
Best Cannabis Activist or Legislative Victory: Cannabis Certification Council
Formerly the Organic Cannabis Association in Colorado and the Ethical Cannabis Alliance in Oregon, these two non-profit organizations joined forces this year to become the Cannabis Certification Council (CCC). Together, with financial support from non-cannabis stalwarts like Dr. Bronner’s Soap, they offer a national certification program and seal to promote organic cultivation methods, empower fair labor practices, and educate consumers about choosing clean cannabis. Next year (October TBA), they’ll host their third annual Cannabis Sustainability Symposium in Denver.
Best High Activity: Mason Jar Events
Food, wine, yoga, and cannabis are a few of Mason Jar Events owner Kendal Norris’s favorite things. Since founding her company in 2014, she’s set the standard for what the modern cannabis community can—and should—look like. From farm-to-table meals crafted by James Beard Award-winning chefs paired with curated strains to an afternoon of yoga in a stunning outdoor setting, save the dates for her signature seasonal soirees in 2018 (January, July, August, and October TBA).
Best High Food: Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen
Until Josh Pollack set up shop three years ago in the transitioning Five Points neighborhood, Denver didn’t have a real bagel—seriously. If the line out the door on most mornings is any indicator, the authentic New York-style deli knows its dough, as well as its house-smoked and cured fish (which he infuses with cannabis for private events during the high holidays). A second location at the bustling Stanley Marketplace in Aurora is the perfect pit stop if you’re coming to town by way of Denver International Airport.
Lead image courtesy of Binske