“Another glass facade among a string of restaurants, boutiques and offices in downtown Denver, there is little to distinguish the premises save the logo with a green cross. The reception is bright and neat and, at first glance, non-descript. Community event notices on the walls, orchids on a desk, a visitor on a sofa filling in a form.

Copies of National Geographic adorn the coffee table but the eye is drawn to colourful hardbacks: The Big Book of Buds: Marijuana Varieties from the World’s Great Seed Breeders, volumes I to III. Beside them, another catchy title: The Cannabible.

Ean Seeb, the co-owner, offers a warm smile and handshake. “Other places put up Bob Marley posters and palm trees, but if you didn’t know us, this could be a doctor’s office.”

Read more: This is the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition across the world



Like any farmer, Elliott Klug understands the highs and lows of living off the land. But his crop requires a rigorous effort.

To keep output going, it is harvested every week. It is also grown only indoors. And though you won’t find this tip in the Farmer’s Almanac, his workers believe that blaring Grateful Dead songs boosts productivity.

“We were the bad guys,” says Mr. Klug, chief executive of Pink House Blooms, a 70-person operation that produces and sells marijuana to people who have a prescription for it. “Now we are still the bad guys, but we pay taxes.”

Across the country, the business of growing pot is fast becoming mainstream. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have approved the use and production of marijuana for medicinal use, including two states, Colorado and Washington, that also allow recreational use. That has spurred on a cottage industry of professional growers, with an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 businesses now producing the plant for legal purposes. Total sales: $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion last year, according to Medical Marijuana Business Daily, an industry publication.

Read more: The Pot Business Suffers Growing Pains




So that’s the first question you need to ask yourself when you start shopping for weed: How serious am I about marijuana? How erudite do I want to get on it? If this answer is “pretty freaking erudite,” you should consider a place like those listed above by Breathes in Denver, or Greenworks or Dockside Co-op in Seattle, or Buds & Roses in Los Angeles. What Shopper calls the Connoisseur Class. Or Straight Nerd Spots. They offer their own brand of experience. To wit:

Once in the bud room, Ean Seeb, one of the proprietors, brought out some of his favorite strains to show Shopper. “This is our LA OG,” he said, opening a glass canister filled with sculpted buds, all purplish and gnarled. Ean doesn’t look like the guy who would sell you a dime bag out of the back of a Saturn Vue. He was that day fully GQ’ed out in a black cowl-neck sweater. His gray wingtips had neon pink laces. “Give it a smell,” he said.

Read more: This Bud’s for You!