Strain Review: Mendo Breath Is a Taste of the Emerald Triangle

Over the last few years, Gage Green Group’s flagship strain, Mendo Breath, has found its way into the gardens of some of the best growers in the world.

It all started when Gage Green Group hit the market in 2010 with its initial lineup that included Mendo Montage, Blackberry Pie and an array of G13 Skunk crosses.

From the beginning, the cultivation group organized itself around the philosophy that cannabis can be creative and joyful. They named themselves after “gage,” the word that legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller used to refer to cannabis.

“The herb has brought countless people renewed creativity and joy,” the Gage Green Group explains on its website. “We cultivate inspiration through growing the finest gage.”

When it came to forming the California-based company, internet forums served as the catalyzing force for the creative partnership behind the Mendo Breath phenomenon.

“I have to give kudos to a guy I met on Craigslist back in 2007 who goes by Jojo Rizo,” Jeff of Gage Green said. “He was big on all those old boards. He was just very renowned for trying new things and working with ruderalis and landraces and he really had some good gear.”

Jeff and Jojo became friends and began trading genetics. Auspicious circumstances — Jeff had a mishap in his garden at the same time Jojo’s wife wanted him to thin out the pack — meant Jeff ended up with a large piece of Jojo’s prized collection of genetics.

“He gave me like 14 different purples, landrace seeds,” Jeff said. The lineup Jeff acquired included Mendo Purple, Killer Queen and Crystal Locomotive. Each was exceptional in its own right. Jojo told Jeff that breeding is where he was going to have the most fun, but warned him to be prepared for the challenges ahead.

Jeff started the first breeding project from those donated cuts in Oakland, California. Not long after, he dropped the first batch of Grape Stomper seeds.

The next big project involved crossing Jojo’s hyper-elite Mendo Purps cut with Crystal Locomotive. The Crystal Locomotive was a cross between Trainwreck and Aloha White Widow. When the Mendo Purps and Crystal Locomotive were paired, Jeff got a strain that he named Mendo Montage.

Jeff went on to cross Mendo Montage with various other winners for a few years. Finally, in 2012, Jeff and the Gage Green team began work on the Mendo Breath line.

In the earliest part of the project, the breeders only crossed one plant, resulting in a handful of seeds. They began to pop the seeds with their partner on the project, NorCal, a popular breeder on the forums back in the day and now the patriarch of NorCal Genetics. NorCal popularized OGKB, his own Cherry Pie Kush cut, and gave a cut of the strain to the Gage Green team. They were the only other people who had it besides him.

“We pretty much created Mendo Breath and Grateful Breath out of that collaboration,” Michael of Gage Green said.

In that first batch, NorCal’s OGKB female was pollinated by a Mendo Montage F1 male that would find its way into many of their crosses. They called that plant “the four-star male,” as he had already been a proven winner for them before they got their hands on the OGKB cut.

After splitting up the roughly 50 seeds in the Mendo Breath F1 stock with NorCal, the Gage Green team discovered multiple winners. As they went through both sets, killer moms and dads appeared, primed to take Mendo Breath forward.

They ended up with five star females that were at the top of the pack and cut the males down to one winner. This parentage line has gone into numerous strains in recent years like the Benevolence and Breath Work #1. They also, of course, bred the Mendo Breath F2 they would release to the public in 2013.

When this popular generation of Mendo Breath hit the market, it quickly established itself as unique for its gassy edge, topped by other aromas uncommon in purple strains.

“It definitely has gas,” said Michael of Gage Green. “The Mendo Montage is why Mendo Breath is not like any of the other [strains closely related to it] — Cherry Pie Kush, OGKB, whatever you want to call it. It’s kind of unique. It doesn’t taste like everybody else’s crosses.”

Michael’s reasoning is that the Mendo Montage side of Mendo Breath’s genetics — all the selection time and experience that has gone into each of its ingredients — is what allows Mendo Breath to shine better than other OGKB cross attempts.

Jeff said he can detect the purples coming through as a background flavor and he believed the resin quality was a result of the Aloha White Widow traits popping up. He called it the frostiest strain he’d ever seen.

Now, five years since that first public drop of Mendo Breath, Jeff spoke on seeing it in the gardens of some of the top cultivators on the planet.

“I think it’s incredible,” Jeff said. “It’s really nice to see the way people stack up some of the things you have done.”

Michael said that a sign of Mendo Breath’s new prominence is the number of growers who look to the strain as a cornerstone.

“You see people will have their main phenos, and Mendo Breath is like one out of five of them,” Michael said. “That, I think, is a really awesome statement to where and how far we’ve come.”

When the strain was just in their personal group, it felt like a team effort, but when the seeds got out, it turned into a community project, Michael said.

Today, the Gage Green team says they think other cultivators are doing a great job with Mendo Breath. Like most growers, the Gage Green team are very selective over the cannabis they choose to consume. Just because the jar has their strain’s name on it doesn’t mean they are going to puff it. That being said, the team said a lot of the Mendo Breath they’ve seen in the wild has been outstanding.

“There are going to be seeds that don’t come out good, that’s just part of every pheno hunt,” Michael said. “But honestly the Mendo Breath hits really well, and every variation of it has come out really unique. They’ve all been just beyond our expectations. We’re proud to see where it is.”

Mendo Breath Stain Statistics 

Lineage: OGKB x Mendo Montage
Profile: Indica-dominant hybrid
Flowering Time: 7-9 weeks

TELL US, what’s your favorite strain?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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Mothership or Bust: Inside the World of Top-Shelf Glass Collecting

Few names have captured the imagination of scientific glass
enthusiasts in recent years like the team of glassblowers at Mothership Glass.

Be it the beauty of their cutting-edge designs or the rips of such high quality they touch your soul every time, Mothership has been hitting home runs since they opened up shop in Washington state in 2013. Today, Mothership is the main force behind an entire glass subculture focused on purchasing and reselling pieces valued at as much as $200,000.

To get an idea of how the hype percolated since the first designs made shockwaves in the scientific glass community, we asked one of the top wholesale buyers of Motherships in the country what collectors are trying to get their hands on and discovered the origins of one of Mothership’s most iconic pieces from the main collaborator.

Ships at the Cave

Blake Hoffmann is a manager at The Cave in San Mateo, California, which, along with its newer sister location on the opposite side of the San Francisco Bay, is among the most famed high-end headshops in the galaxy. The Cave’s shelves are regularly lined with the absolute best wares from the top of the functional glass art food chain. The Cave was among the earliest places you could find Motherships on shelves — after their closest inner circle of shop buyers got first dibs.

In 2012, Scott Deppe and eventual Mothership co-owner Jake Colito produced the first Fab Egg. The Egg was essentially a 3D version of the Swiss Perc originally designed by glass blower Nate Dizzle. Hoffmann believes one of the biggest things that set Mothership off in the early days was the quality control Deppe already brought to his game. Even before kicking off the project, he was deeply respected for his past works, which tended to run for top dollar. At the time, Mothership worked with clear glass and whatever was produced using that glass had to meet Deppe’s high expectations.

Mothership’s Fab Egg design uses several percolation channels to diffuse the smoke. The scientifically styled piece is the flagship design of Mothership Glass.

“As a result of the cleanliness of Mothership pieces, even
the very first ones stood out,” Hoffmann said. He also noted that if you put
those early Kleins and Fab Eggs against the newest generations, those from the
latter batch are a bit thicker and cleaner, but the originals remain
exceptional.

Hoffmann has heard a Fab Egg is a 30-hour piece, and
Mothership artists discard pieces that don’t make the quality control check
every step of the way.

“Out of this 30-hour construction, you have ten different
phases that are ten different pieces and each of those pieces could be one of
three or five that made the grading to go into a first quality piece,” he said.

What artists look for includes seal integrity, symmetry and
design-quality consistency. Every piece of a Mothership is instrumental to the
entire work’s unique visual appeal, everything from the look and feel of the
feet or base to the way the lips on the mouthpiece appear holds critical.

Functional Art

Another primary point of the hype is simply the way a
Mothership rips. Hoffmann has owned four Motherships and, currently, his daily
driver is an 8.4-inch Four Seed of Life perc system Egg. He said most elite
designs in the glass game today are “a stemlessly designed piece that feeds
into a direct diffuser or to a chamber that goes through some sort of
diffusion.” The Fab Egg, Swiss Perc and Peyote Pillar all have a diffuser, and
the design style creates a high- end, intense diffusion with thousands of
little bubbles. Those bubbles get sent immediately into a natural diffusion
design of some sort.

“It’s like taking a breath in,” Hoffmann said of the experience of dabbing off a Mothership piece. “I don’t feel as much like I have to milk it and clear it on a dab or flower rip. It’s more like hooking up a filter to your mouth and smoking through it.”

And The Cave has been plugged into the Mothership trend for
quite some time.

“We’ve been carrying them since 2012 or 2013,” said Hoffmann. Back in those days, the original sticker price on the first Ships at The Cave ran between $1,000 and $1,500. Hoffmann noted some of the earliest stuff in Canadian shops was selling for as low as $600 or $700. Those first-generation models have tended to triple in value since first being made, according to Hoffmann, an increase driven by demand. This has sent their best work north of $200,000, with the cheapest first quality versions of their most famous models running a few thousand dollars.

This Mothership Collaboration with Sagan Glass reportedly sold for over $100,000 in a private auction. The piece contains a glass marble moon that was launched into space.

Due to time restraints on what the glass artists could
produce monthly, the secondhand market for their pieces quickly caught fire.

“The flip market really flipped them at an exceptionally
high price,” Hoffmann said, adding that the glass also appealed to other types
of cultural collectors. “You had sneakerheads getting into this that had
experience in how to deal with exclusivity and maximize money on that.
Mothership, of course, saw what the items were getting flipped for and they
adjusted their retail prices over the years to kind of close that gap.”

Hoffmann recalled prospective buyers camping out for
multiple nights at the shop prior to Mothership drops.

“You’d have a split between people that were intense fans of
the brand… people in the culture that really wanted them for their personal
collections and you had people that maybe wanted that, but also wanted a return
on their investment when they heard they were selling for more on the flip than
they were retail,” Hoffmann said.

But a third category of buyer, who had no interest in owning
a Mothership, likely had the biggest impact in driving retail prices up: “You
also had people that were going in saying, ‘OK, this is a hot item, it might be
easy, I’m going to grab one and flip it the same day I buy it.’”

The Cave was able to paint a pretty clear picture of what
happened after the drops. They would collect the Instagram accounts of the
folks who came out so they could see where the pieces found their final
destination. Hoffmann said Mothership would have seen the resale market
happening in online auctions and didn’t want the end user to have to pay $1,500
for a piece they were only making $500 or $600 on.

“It was definitely an interesting situation where they were
trying to raise prices to narrow the flip margin, so the people that wanted
them would have to fight for them at the stores. The prices would only draw
people that wanted to own them for a while, at least.”

Elites

Mothership’s most coveted works come in the form of their
elite line. Elites tend to start in the $10,000 retail value range and offer various
additional aesthetic features, from sandblasting to coldworked (the work that
goes in after the piece has finished cooling) designs that could take longer to
complete than the original production of the piece. Special lineups of
single-color drops are also highly coveted. Mothership crafts their own
fantastic colors, then offers only one of each model in that shade.

Among Mothership’s most famous works are their collabo- rations. Their Grateful Dead and Slop Cup efforts with the Japanese collective Team Japan blew minds, and the skull collaboration with Humboldt, California artist Mr. Gray is one of the most famous pieces of all time.

This Mothership piece in the Purple Rain color features 88 re opals. Elements of sacred geometry are a signature style inclusion in Mothership Glass pieces.

“It was an idea I had based on some pieces Scott [Deppe] had
made,” Mr. Gray, the main artistic collaborator on the skull, said. “He had
made a couple of versions, one of which was with Adam G [otherwise known as the
“sweater kingpin”]… It was fashioned after that piece, which had more of a
South American theme or look to it.”

Mr. Gray’s idea coincided with the first year of the PipeMasters Flame-Off, a collective event that brought numerous artists together to collaborate in 2013 at Nate Aweida’s 7 Point Studios, which was located in Seattle, Washington until spring 2017.

“I was not normally given the playing field where I would
have the opportunity to collab with Scott Deppe,” Mr. Gray said. “I was only
but acquaintances with him at the time.”

Mr. Gray ended up with Deppe’s number and decided to give him a call and pitched him on the project he would bring to PipeMasters for the two artists to create together. Deppe agreed. After a week of prep work with his then-assistant Ben David, Mr. Gray traveled to meet Deppe at PipeMasters.

Mothership’s collaboration with Mr. Gray for this skull piece showcases their coveted elite models, which require countless hours of craftsmanship.

After a five-day stretch of 16-hour work sessions, Mr. Gray
and Deppe concluded the piece needed more work — Deppe apparently insisted on
adding 30 more leaves. So, following a two-month hiatus, Mr. Gray headed up to
Bellingham, Washington to Mothership with extra materials and spent over a week
with Deppe, this time working 12-hour days. Finally, Mr. Gray’s family needed
him back home, so he left the home-stretch to Deppe.

“Scott continued to work on it for another two weeks by
himself,” Mr. Gray said. “I’m sure he had an employee helping him with it. It
was a two-man job at that point. One person to hold the piece and another
working on it. It was so big.”

Today the skull is ranked among the greatest pipes ever
made.

“I feel like it’s residual, exponentially, trickling down
still,” Mr. Gray said of the skull’s reception. “I got a lot of street credit
from it, so I’m sure a lot of sales came from it.”

With such attention to detail and focus on quality,
Motherships aren’t going anywhere. In fact, due to increased demand and faster
production, there is a strong argument to be made that the epic pieces are more
likely to be in the hands of collectors that love them right off the bat than
ever before.

TELL US, how much would you pay for a piece from Mothership Glass?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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3C Farms: Maximizing the Entourage Effect

3C Farms has been providing SoCal with its classic homage to great OG Kush and a variety of other strains for essentially 20 years. After navigating the regulatory hurdles of 2018, 3C Farms now finds itself a top-shelf mainstay across the world’s largest cannabis market in Southern California after they expanded into tons of new storefronts. Backed by good genetics and a driven team, President of Sales and Director of Operations Waylon Broussard sat down with us to tell the full tale of 3C’s success.

Broussard got his earliest peek at the cannabis industry on a road trip through Northern California’s prime cultivation region in the Emerald Triangle with his dad. During this trip he smoked pot with his dad for the first time.

3C Farms’s Chardonnay.

“That was the highest I’ve ever been,” said Broussard.

In 2006, Broussard opened Cali’s Finest Compassion Co-op with his cousin. At the same time, Bryan Schwartz founded 3C (Schwartz remains the master cultivator at 3C Farms to this day). In the decade prior to the 3C brand’s official founding with proper paperwork in 2014, the operation was essentially a medical effort.

From the beginning, solid genetics served as the core of 3C’s success — helped out by the fact that Schwartz’s cousin is Josh D of OG Kush fame.

“When Josh came back in 1996 from Florida, he brought the original OG strain over here, which is our Club 33 OG,” Broussard said. “He gave that to [Schwartz] back in 1996 and he’s been growing it in the [San Fernando] Valley ever since.”

The canopy in 3C’s growroom bursts with color.

The Club 33 is the essential representation of what people think of when they think of exceptional Southern California OG Kush. It oozes all of the flavors, aromas and impact that made the strain famous in the first place. It would be expanded upon further generations like the Enoch and Illuminati OG.

In 2014, after working together previously, Broussard and Schwartz teamed up bringing 3C under the Coast to Coast Collective flag, with the help of another co-founder Chris Malcolm, who also serves as Coast to Coast Collective’s CEO these days. As Broussard puts it, the team used Cali’s Finest Compassion Co-op’s permit to put 3C on the books. 3C and its partners now has two pre-ICO LA dispensaries with full cultivation grandfathered in. “Pre-ICO” is a special designation meaning those locations were open before the LA Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) established a temporary moratorium on opening new dispensaries in September 2007.

The 3C team collaborates with legendary cultivator Josh D (right).

In this new wave of licensing, 3C has found itself able to put the product on the shelves in various new locations, but the last couple years haven’t been without their hiccups in terms of dealing with California’s regulatory hurdles.

“That’s been a challenge,” said Broussard. “I can’t say any one of us did it ourselves. The best part about that was having a great team behind 3C from our investors to our board of directors. It’s been a fun road, definitely challenging.”

One of the biggest problems has been the constantly evolving regulatory framework of Los Angeles. Broussard says it’s hard to make smart business decisions when things like packaging or testing might change in any given month as far as one knows.

Despite all the regulatory upheaval, 3C is now available in a spread of LA dispensaries. One of the big reasons behind their reach is their wide distribution of genetics bred in-house.

“We do all of our own crossbreeding, obviously,” said Broussard, again pointing to the lineage of their stock. “From there, we share genetics. I did a trade with my boy Kevin over at Moxie for their AC/DC for our Casey Jones. Our new strain A3/DC has been very popular.”

3C’s take on AC/DC comes in at a 20 to 1 CBD to THC ratio. They’ve also released AC/OG in 2018, which is a 2 to 1 ratio made from Illuminati OG crossed with AC/DC. With the current rise in CBD enthusiasm, the fact that breeders like 3C are expanding that area of the cannabis genome is essential.

Another popular 3C strain is Chardonnay. It pairs 3C’s Kraken line with Berry Noir. Broussard says the Berry Noir has a very Blackberry Kush feel to it. The Kraken lineage included Harlequin and 3C’s Conspiracy Kush.

“It’s kind of a trip for me, as to where I thought that strain came from,” Broussard said. “We ran a Phylos Bioscience test and a lot of the markings on that one would come back as a Blue Dream. So [Chardonnay has] been a really fun sativa-dominant hybrid for us, when that’s really not what we were originally going for.”

Broussard believes the success in the breeding program has come down to 3Cs’ efforts to maximize “the entourage effect,” the name for how all the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes interact with each other to produce a complex effect on the body.

“We’ve always tried to keep the entourage effect with our strains so you’ll see higher levels of CBN and higher levels of CBD in our strains — really it’s more than just a THC thing,” he said. “Even before the testing was out there, people just love the feeling they got from smoking 3C.”

3C has been growing in Southern California for about 20 years, and has successfully transitioned into the regulated market.

We asked Broussard if the last four
years of preparation made it easier for 3C to fight off the bigger corporate
players attempting to grab a chunk of California’s legal cannabis market.

“Definitely in brand recognition, and of course, quality,”
said Broussard. “3C Farms stands for craft cannabis cultivation. We coined that
a long time ago to remind us what we do.”

Broussard said people just need to realize there was always
going to be a place for those larger competitors, resource-wise, as the market expanded.
Broussard describes it as the same thing we see in the beer industry, with small
craft brewers surviving at the same time as larger corporations like
Anheuser-Busch.

“We’ve always gone after the craft market,” Broussard said. “It’s always indoor, hand-trimmed, hand-cured, everything we do we haven’t used any other machinery. “

TELL US, have you ever tried cannabis from 3C Farms?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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What Does Hemp Legalization Mean for Selling CBD

As 2018 drew to
an end, the cannabis industry faced a seismic change: Congress had passed (and President
Trump had signed) the 2018 Farm Bill, thereby legalizing hemp — defined as
cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC. Cannabis reporters’ inboxes filled up
with statements from industry folk “celebrating” and “applauding” the federal
government for removing industrial hemp from the list of federally controlled
substances. They were mostly celebrating one thing: the cannabinoid CBD now had
a path to mainstream legality.

Despite hemp’s murky legal status before the Farm Bill, CBD has become a huge health-and-wellness trend, popping up in coffee shops, cocktail bars and health-food stores all over the country. The hemp-CBD industry ballooned to $590 million in 2018, according to Bethany Gomez, director of research for the Brightfield Group. Hemp farmers can earn $200 to $400 an acre if their crops are going into textiles, building materials and plastics. But crops heading towards CBD extraction can fetch thousands of dollars per acre, reported the Wall Street Journal.

So what does hemp legalization mean for cannabinoids such as CBD being treated as a commodity?

Unfortunately for
some hemp operators, the Farm Bill wasn’t immediately the miracle legislation
that they’d hoped for. After the bill’s passage, as the Department of
Agriculture continues to craft the rules around hemp, business owners have seen
their CBD products confiscated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials
and their hemp shipments seized by law enforcement for crossing state lines. The
FDA has insisted that CBD is a
drug, and therefore illegal to add to other products without FDA approval. While
the industry continues to grow, it’s still unclear how the federal agency will
manage the disconnect between CBD as a federally regulated drug and a thriving
industry that views the non-intoxicating cannabinoid as a dietary supplement.

A lack of clarity hasn’t stopped traditional retailers from jumping into the space, with both DSW and Neiman Marcus announcing in January that they would start stocking CBD cosmetics. The CBD trend is only poised to grow as mainstream companies get in on the action. But it isn’t only CBD: hemp plants can produce other cannabinoids, too.

The Other Players in the Entourage

The CBD trend will “absolutely 100%” extend to other cannabinoids, said Cristina Buccola, an attorney who has worked with marijuana and hemp companies. “There’s already a commodification of other cannabinoids, including CBG and CBDV… As more people get educated and as research avenues open up — it’s just a matter of time.”

Indeed, cannabis businesses are already developing ways to produce minor cannabinoids in greater quantities, hoping to harness their (still little-researched) therapeutic properties. Companies like Ebbu, which was acquired by Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth last October, see a future in which the cannabis market will be dominated by isolated cannabinoids. Other companies are looking to produce cannabinoids without the help of cannabis, such as growing them on genetically edited yeast.

The proposition
is sure to cause consternation among cannabis consumers who tout the entourage
effect of the cannabis plant. But for a more cannabis-naïve consumer, the
promise of consistent formulations could be an attractive selling point. Then
there’s the pharmaceutical industry, which has long been isolating compounds
from plants to turn them into drugs.

Pharma companies have already developed an interest in other cannabinoids. In February 2018, the FDA gave orphan drug status to a cannabigerol (CBG) derivative produced by Emerald Health Pharmaceuticals for treating Huntington’s disease. Across the pond, the European Medicines Agency gave orphan drug status for cannabidivarin (CBDV) to GW Pharmaceuticals, the company that also produces the first FDA-approved CBD drug in the U.S.

THC’s Status in the Cannabinoid Market

Given that industrial hemp can produce all these minor cannabinoids, where does that leave the much-appreciated THC? After all, there’s no meaningful difference between marijuana and industrial hemp plants, as they are now legally defined, using the arbitrary designation that hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Researchers and businesses alike will find it easier to work with industrial hemp, and may choose to focus their efforts there until the feds fully legalize cannabis. But there’s definitely a long way to go before cannabinoids are truly a commodity.

If the U.S.
repeals cannabis prohibition, there are other countries to contend with.
Recently, narcotics officers raided a beauty supply store in Singapore,
confiscating a bunch of mascara. The offense? The mascara contained oil derived
from hemp seeds. Has anyone told the Singaporean authorities that the stuff
won’t get you high?

“We’re still
overcoming the stigma of cannabis in so many ways, including educating people
about THC and industrial hemp, and eliminating concerns about ‘getting high,’”
said Buccola, who demurred when asked to prognosticate about the future of the
marijuana and hemp markets.

“I don’t think we
can even put our arms around what that looks like because there are so many
layers of prohibition and misinformation to peel back before we can understand
the potential of either market.”

TELL US, do you choose products based on their cannabinoid profiles?

Originally published in print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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Water Hash 101 from ‘Beyond Buds, Next Generation’

Water hash is a favorite method of making concentrates employed all
over the world. Its name comes from the water process used to collect glands
from the trim, leaf and buds. On a fundamental level, the process works because
cannabinoids are not water-soluble, meaning that the desired resins are not
damaged by contact with water and ice.

Whether smoked as loose, granular resin or pressed into traditional hashish, there are multiple ways to consume this concentrate. High-quality loose hash can easily be pressed into hashish using nothing more than the palm of one hand and some light, brisk friction, applied using the thumb of the other hand. Loose or pressed, many people are still enthralled by the unique, full-spectrum experience of this potent natural product.

Plant materials are weighed and measured inside of the Resinator XL.

Water hash can be made in small or large quantities, and turnkey extracting systems can be purchased to simplify the process. It is also possible to make water hash using home-gathered equipment, but with inexpensive kits available, the savings are often negligible. Pre-made systems offer increased precision and efficiency for the water hash process, and their availability contributed to a surge in water hash’s popularity during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Water hash’s two-decade run of dominance ended with the rise of solvent-extracted hash; shatter, wax, and other butane hash-oils have muscled aside bubble hash on many dispensary shelves in the United States over the last few years. But this competition from solvent hash has also inspired water hash makers to step their game up, inspiring an increased emphasis on appearance and flavor. Ultra-fine water hash is now being sold as “solventless wax,” reflecting the broad demand for solvent-free products that mirror the desirable consistency and refined flavor profile of solvent-extracted hash.

Water is sprayed inside the Resinator XL, an extraction machine designed to make water hash.

High-grade water hash is also great for edibles, and any experienced
dabber will tell you that “five star” hash is very dabbable. It’s also next to impossible to seriously injure
yourself or anyone else making water hash, because the process doesn’t involve
any flammable chemicals or potentially explosive machinery.

How Water Hash Works

All water hash methods use water, ice and agitation to separate resin glands from plant material. Water and plant material are placed in a bucket that has been lined with filtration bags, similar in composition to the screens used for making dry sift kief. Like those screens, the bags filter the glands by micron size, separating the hash from the trash. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, or .001 millimeters. The material is stirred to knock the trichomes free, and while the plant material floats in the top bag, the glands (which are heavier) sink and are collected in the lower bags.

Ready-made systems use multiple bags that sort the glands by size: Unlike kief-making, the material is separated in one step rather than through repeated sieving. Usually, the material is processed once, but some commercial hash makers process it a second time to further isolate the THC.

how to make water hash
Hand-pressed hash.

As with all extraction methods, cold temperature is a key element of water hash production. The ice keeps the water and material very cold so the glands remain brittle and snap off with agitation. After the material is agitated in ice water, it’s allowed to settle. Then, the bags are separated and the glands are removed from each one. After the water hash is dried, it’s ready to smoke.

The hash varies in color and can be many shades of white, brown, red and even purple. When extracted from the finest-grade material, the potency of water hash can test as high as many solvent hash products, with up to 80 percent cannabinoid content.

water hash ball
A traditional Nepalese pressed hash ball.

A Note on Yields

Processing 227 grams of high-quality material usually yields between 18 grams (8 percent yield) to 35 grams (15 percent yield). Yields increase with the quality of the starting material. However, in some instances, such as with Tangie, obtaining a yield over 7 percent using water is nearly impossible. This is one reason solvent-based methods and other, newer extraction techniques have overtaken water processing in popularity.

But there are considerations other than yield; the full-spectrum effects and natural flavor profile of water hash are unique because the process preserves the terpenes in the glands. For this reason, some people prefer high-quality water hash to solvent-extracted products.

TELL
US
, have you ever tried water hash?

To learn more about extraction techniques for water hash and other cannabis concentrates, check out “Beyond Buds, Next Generation: Marijuana Concentrates and Cannabis Infusions.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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Rozé All Day: A Strain Review of Zkittlez’s Famed Offspring

Over the past six years, Zkittlez has emblazoned its name across the cannabis landscape among the upper echelon of top-shelf cannabis. Now in development for two years, its premiere offspring Rozé looks to follow mom’s lead in finding its spot among the best cannabis genetics in the world.

As always with the strains of folklore, we start with the parents. The aforementioned Zkittlez is the king of Northern California right now. Obviously, the city folk may point to more popular urban cuts not developed on the hillsides of the Emerald Triangle, but they’ve had their chance. With those strains, early generations leaked a bit out into the wild and into the hands of less savvy cultivators, leading to mixed results. When it came to unexpected offspring, for every Gelato #33 or Animal Cookies, there was a boatload of crap. To that extent, there were about eight kinds of Platinum Cookies floating around NorCal, all different, with varying degrees of quality.

That’s where the Zkittlez story really starts; it’s as much a story about preserving and protecting old-school genetics as it is about the quality of the pot. The genetics on the original Zkittlez is a mystery. Most important in the strain’s origin story is the fact that Zkittlez is clone-only and was discovered originally by NorCal cultivator Gas Station Bob. Bob put it into the hands of the now famous 3rd Generation Family via cultivator Fieldz. Not long after he received it, Fieldz passed the cut on to Tony Mendocino who gave it to Brandon, also of 3rd Gen, in the spring of 2014.

Photo TC

When the team at 3rd Generation Family, also known as the Terp Hogz or Dying Breed Seeds, got their hands on the cut things really began to take off. They had already achieved notoriety with their signature Eddy Lepp OG, named for recently released pot POW, legendary large-scale cultivator and Cannabis Now contributor Eddy Lepp, and took two Cannabis Cups for the effort in 2013. Little did they know the Zkittlez would launch things into the stratosphere.

Since getting their hands on the cut, every award possible has been awarded to this group of cultivators over the years, leading to great feats in modern cannabis. Last year, they won the Humboldt edition of The Secret Cup unopposed in the flower category. They also took home the prize for top oil at The Secret Cup the past two years. These accolades, on top of numerous Emerald Cup and High Times Cannabis Cup wins and podium spots, cemented Zkittlez place at the top.

“Zkittlez was one of those holy grail cuts,” Brandon of 3rd Gen told us, as we spoke on its rise. “It’s like a Sour D, OG Kush or Cookies now.”

It makes sense then that kids from Zkittlez would also be nothing to balk at. According to Brandon, when Tony ran his first batch of Zkittlez indoor all those years ago, something happened. While not 100 percent clear, it’s believed one of the Zkittlez plants became impregnated by another unknown strain in the room and a portion of the Zkittlez got seeded.

“Ultimately what happened was I went into the room, and it was the first time Zkittlez had been run indoor at all period, and I saw that it had some seeds in it,” said Brandon. “We never really found out what dropped balls because there was no male. The seeds that I ran to get the Rozé clone-only were all female renditions, meaning there was hermaphroditism in the room that made the seed.”

Undeterred, Brandon grabbed a couple ounces for his head stash and picked out 48 seeds. In early 2015, he started popping those beans to stress test the genetics prior to the summer growing season. This allowed him to make sure he was working with something special and he quickly realized that was the case.

The cold nights of Mendocino in early spring proved he was working with some hearty genetics, which are now obviously from a royal lineage.

“We put them through torture,” Brandon said. “I gave tallies to the ones that looked the strongest or smelled like something was really going on there. Sixteen phenotypes made it to the second round.”

In that second round indoors, things really began to take shape. The 16 were grown out and their individual traits began to stand out more clearly.

The naming process began, and despite running alongside killers like Dirty Zprite and Zlasagna, the name Rozé jumped to the head of the pack.

“The Rozé was the most frosted and had purple hues to it,” Brandon said of that second run — and it didn’t hurt the selection process that it was producing quarter pound plants at this stage of the research either.

The most notable element that made this strain stand out was Rozé’s unique terpene profile. The light rose water aroma is where it got its name. Tony Mendocino pointed out that cultivators working to develop new lines of genetics often miss terpene profiles their nose may not be familiar with. Rozé doesn’t have that problem, the unique aroma isn’t overpowering but clearly stands out.

The effect definitely had some body to it with a nice cerebral edge. It was a pleasure to wander one the world’s premier cannabis events after loading up a backwoods with Rozé. It generally stood out as some of the best cannabis at Chalice this year along with its mom, Zkittlez, Mimosa #26 from the Jungle Boys and Alien Labs’ fantastic rendition of Wedding Cake.

“I’m not trying to put out some Fugazi story, I’m all about the real deal truth,” Brandon said, “but the fact of the matter is the Rozé is special because I sorted through 50 different things to find something as different as it is. It’s usually a couple thousand, it was a lucky grab.”

He also has big plans for 3rd Gens’ 2017 releases and has called it the “Year of the Melon.” Keep an eye out for Gak Melon, Melon Ringz, Banana Pudding and the one we’re most excited for: Strawberry Kiwi.

Rozé Strain Statistics

Breeder: 3rd Generation Family/ Terp Hogz

Grown by: 3rd Generation Family/ Terp Hogz

Type: Indica hybrid

Genetics: Zkittlez x Mystery Hermaphrodite

Flowering: 56 – 63 days

Yield: High

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you tried Rozé? What do you think?

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Alleviating Anxiety & Depression with Cannabis

Feeling anxious or depressed? You’re not alone. Anxiety and depression are two of the more common issues we hear about at the dispensary where I work, especially around the holidays. As a patient consultant and educator, I see hundreds of patients a week and help them find relief with cannabis. Here are some of the successful medicating strategies I’ve learned:

There is no standard dosing that fits everyone.

Much comes into play when you’re looking at the right amount of cannabinoids for an individual — personal metabolism, genetics, hormone levels, how much you’ve eaten, and how you feel that day in general.

THC in lower doses soothes both anxiety and depression.

Some patients get nervous about trying THC, but starting with a small amount and working up to the desired goal can be a way to avoid unwanted effects. A small puff of sativa lifts a mood and motivates without causing anxiety and a very low-dose Sativa edible or sublingual preparation can create the same effect.

CBD is an excellent solution for treating depression and anxiety.

High-CBD flowers, edibles and sublinguals are available in many different ratios. I explain to patients that cannabidiol is about homeostasis rather than euphoria. CBD generally takes people to a base level where they can be functional and calm without the grogginess of benzodiazepines. Experimentation with various ratios is essential, as we all metabolize cannabinoids differently. More balanced ratios (1:1-1:4) often are helpful for depression while larger ratios (18:1 and higher) are exceptionally useful for anxiety and anxiety-causing disorders such as OCD. As with THC, microdosing is key — the goal is to find the optimal amount for balance and relief in the body. It’s important to note that large amounts of high-ratio CBD can act as a depressant.

Strain selection is important for appropriate therapy.

Different strains contain specific terpene profiles that influence effects. Sativas are uplifting and for overcoming a depressive episode. Some strains can exacerbate anxiety — another reason microdosing is the best approach to successful medicating. Hybrids are effective for both depression and anxiety.  They can range from calming and functional to uplifting and creative. Be aware of strains that cause negative effects for you personally and look out for those genetics in new strains you try. Indicas can be helpful for anxiety, but be careful when you’re dealing with depression as they can exacerbate mood, making it harder to get out of bed or leave the house if there is too much sedation.

PHOTO Gracie Malley

All plants, including cannabis, have naturally-occurring terpene molecules, which create the unique scents of strains and display specific effects in the body.

Terpenes that alleviate depression are beta caryophyllene (β-caryophyllene) and limonene. Beta caryophyllene, one of the more common terpenes found in cannabis, can be found in hops and black pepper and is known to have more stimulating effects. Limonene, more often found in sativa-dominant strains, is also found in citrus and has uplifting antidepressant properties. Terpenes that help anxiety are linalool and myrcene (β-myrcene). Linalool, primarily in indica-dominant strains, has anti-anxiety properties and is found in lavender. Myrcene, another common terpene found in cannabis that is also in mangoes. Note that both terpenes have sedating properties not ideal for treating depression.

Mode of medication is important.

Smoking/vaporizing cannabis metabolizes differently in the body than consuming edibles. When smoking or vaporizing dried flowers the effects are felt almost immediately, including the therapeutic effects of the flower’s terpenes. Edibles are great for microdosing and have a longer therapeutic effect. Higher dosages of edibles can be problematic — the way we metabolize them produces a drowsier feeling towards the end of the experience whether they be sativa or indica which is undesirable in cases of depression. They can also create a next-day “stoned-over” effect, which can make motivation difficult.

It’s amazing to have patients come in to say they’ve been able to stop taking Xanax, Ativan, etc. These drugs are debilitating, addictive and make it hard to have a functional and productive lifestyle. As cannabis use evolves and becomes normalized, people are discovering they can take control of their depression and anxiety on their own terms using natural medicine that lacks the side effects of pharmaceuticals.

This article was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you used cannabis to treat your depression or anxiety? What were the results?

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Candyland Is the Daytime-Friendly Child of Granddaddy Purple

Purple, according to Ken Estes, is more of a taste than it
is a color. “When you smoke Granddaddy Purp, the taste is so unique,” Estes
says over the phone.

“I don’t call it sweet. I used to call it dank. It’s not so
much sweet as it is kind of tart, but not sour,” he says. “I used to say,
‘That’s what the flavor is — purple.’”

This explanation may not satisfy terpene hunters looking for exact numbers of myrcene and limonene content, but before you judge, it’s well worth considering Estes’ resume.

The original and legendary GDP, once and for a very long time the signature strain in medical cannabis collectives in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, is his strain. He (and his genetics) survived a federal raid way back in 2008, as well as a half-decade’s worth of city-level red tape woes in order to grow and sell it, along with a small family’s worth of crosses.

Candyland is a strain that was developed by Ken Estes by crossing his Grandaddy Purp with a Bay Platinum Cookies.

For Estes, the work is a labor for which he’s been rewarded with a literal armload of cannabis breeder awards: cups, trophies, plaques and cred. Post-legalization, when many medical-marijuana era titans are fond memories and not much else, Estes is still here, still cracking seeds.

But sometimes, the original is still the best. Other times, even when the original is what you’re pretty sure you mostly want, it’s not quite the right fit. That’s when you get to crossing.

A Purple Star Is Born

Back in 2011, before the Cookies craze became the cannabis world’s runaway marketing success and took over menus from San Diego to Seattle, Estes was looking for a daytime-friendlier version of the heavy, sedating GDP that also had better resistance to mold.

GDP “had so much moisture in it,” he explains. “I was just
trying to find a good mixture.”

At the time, Cookies and its many varieties were known to
breeders but had yet to take over the market. Estes picked Cookies not for the
name, but for its traits: a lighter high than GDP, better mold resistance and
friendlier in the grow room.

Candyland is the daytime-friendly offspring of the heavily sedating Granddaddy Purple.

Crossing a male GDP plant with a
female pheno of Bay Platinum Cookies yielded a sweeter, easier-to-grow,
lighter-on-the-head plant striped with “nice, deep veins of purple” that clocks
in at about a consistent 23-24% THC.

And so, Candyland was born — almost by mistake, at least in the name. “I did a bunch of phenos, and I really fell in love with it,” Estes says. “I really liked the way the plant grew. It’s real branchy.

“I had so many crosses, I just called that one Candyland,”
he adds. “I wasn’t crazy about the name. I was trying to find [another name]
that nobody could say was attractive to children. We just called it that due to
a lack of names. But it was the best strain that evolved, so we stuck with the
name.”

“Be careful what you name them,” he says, chuckling.

Candyland grows out deep purple leaves.

A grower’s delight, Candyland consistently yields up to 5
pounds outdoors, according to Estes, who cultivates both greenhouse and outdoor
in the Emerald Triangle. Under the lights — the only place Estes grows GDP
these days — it’s a quick finisher, ready to cut and cure at eight weeks.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

So where can you get some? Candyland is available all over much of the West Coast, including at TreeHawk Farms in Washington state — that is, the real Candyland is available there, which is no guarantee other places.

“They got the Candyland seeds from me,” says Estes,
bestowing the official seal of approval, without which someone unfamiliar with
how purple is supposed to smell and taste could be taking home a purple-colored
impostor.

“A lot of stuff on the shelf that says GDP or Ken’s GDP or
Candyland are not the real McCoy. It’s just people using the name,” he says.
“You can’t stop the real McCoy.”

But eliminating pretenders might take a while yet. Estes says he’s patented the name “Granddaddy Purple” and is working towards mapping the strain’s unique genetics so that once strains themselves are readily patentable, he can lay claim to all true GDP cuts as well as ownership of the name he created.

A sugar concentrate made from the Candyland strain.

“The names of the strains are more important than before,”
he says, identifying one of the main paradigm shifts in modern cannabis. This
condition is a stark contrast to the state of affairs a decade ago, when nearly
every dispensary could be counted on to stock a purple, an OG and maybe not all
that much else.

Soon, Estes says, dispensary patrons will be able to load up
on strains sold under the umbrella of Ken’s original GDP, Ken’s Kush, the
CBD-rich Sandman, and Candyland, the sweeter, less stoney and easier to grow
progeny of a legitimate medical-marijuana era legend.

Cannabis Now had just one more question. What does purple —
flavors of which run through Candyland, GDP and every other child of the
granddaddy — really taste like? “I really haven’t found the words to describe
it,” Estes says.

Sometimes, it seems, it’s a color that’s worth a thousand
words.

TELL US, have you ever tried Ken Estes’s Candyland?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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Stacking Shots With Concentrate Photographer Dave Tomanovich

You’d be amazed at how long it can take concentrate photographer Dave Tomanovich to post a single picture on Instagram. His latest snap of Holy Hash’s Headband and Stardawg cross spotlights each angular nook and cranny of the live resin, glowing amber like a precious stone. This shot may look deceptively simple, but behind the scenes, it could have taken hours for the 640 x 640-pixel frame to premiere on Tomanovich’s account, @daves_not_h3r3_man.

He is not a point-shoot-post kind of guy — cannabis photography is his full-time job. And it has attracted more than 30,000 followers to his Instagram page.

“I’ll be 45 this year,” he says. “Up until three years ago, I sort of tongue-in-cheek said, ‘I wish I knew what I was going to do when I grow up.’ I never thought I could get paid to take pictures of anything, let alone something that I’m really passionate about. This is a literal life dream come true.”

Orange Ghost from Oil Well Industries.

When Tomanovich first moved to Colorado in 2012, he didn’t own any professional photography equipment. But a few years later, when major undiagnosed health issues cost him his job building water wells, Tomanovich’s family saw the loss as an opportunity, lending him the money to upgrade from consumer gear, launching a whole new career.

Now, you can count Tomanovich among the upper echelon of concentrate photographers, rubbing shoulders with accomplished artists like Sean Moore and Erik Christiansen.

Concentrate Photographer Dave Tomanovich
Grape Ape, a high-terpene extract and THCA diamond from Colorado’s Oil Well Industries.

“The extraction community is extremely secretive,” he says, but “the photography community is very supportive and very helpful, in part maybe because it’s small enough that people don’t feel threatened by other people.”

Armed with his Canon 6D and a few macro lenses (MP-E 65mm and 100mm L, if you’re wondering), Tomanovich has a long client list, including Colorado-based cannabis companies like Oil Well Concentrates and AllGreens Extraction Co.

“I don’t have
my own garden, so this is all typically medical or recreational market stuff,”
he says. He’s also a big fan of nature photography, which is why you’ll see
photos of tigers and elk next to cannabis buds and extracts in his feed.

Headband x Stardawg from Holy Hash.

When
Tomanovich started establishing himself as a macro photographer, he quickly
realized that he wasn’t going to get a crystal-clear, high-quality shot on the
first go. “When you do a portrait, typically you can get a person’s face, as
much of the face you want, in focus,” he says. “Macro stuff, that’s almost always
impossible. It’s hard to get a nug from the front to the back in focus.”

So instead, Tomanovich has to snap hundreds of shots, visually documenting each and every single millimeter of the product. To help, he uses a macro rail, which allows Tomanovich to move his camera in tiny increments.

“Live heads,” or ice-water hash, of the Never Summer Kush strain from AllGreens Extraction.

Next, Tomanovich takes these pictures, uploads them into a photo-stacking software called Zerene, which will digitally assemble all the sharpest parts of all of the individual photos, and creates the perfect composite that his followers will see on Instagram. Then the likes and comments start rolling in.

This prolonged process isn’t as much of an undertaking when it comes to flower, or even THCA crystals, because the products are static and don’t budge in the middle of a photoshoot. But with other concentrates, which can be runny and unpredictable, Tomanovich is dealing with a more high-maintenance subject.

Concentrate Photographer
Platinum distillate from AllGreens Extraction.

“If it’s saucy and they don’t want to stay on the dabber, they spread out,” he explains. “[Concentrates] don’t stay the same shape from the beginning of the shoot to the end of it… the challenge is to keep everything in place to do the stack or to edit it the right way so it doesn’t look weird.”

As a result,
Tomanovich doesn’t recommend this kind of photography for the casual,
consumer-grade, side-hustle hobbyist. And a smartphone camera definitely isn’t
going to cut it.

“Our phones
are pretty damn amazing, and [the photos] look really good on the phone,” he
says. “But when you put it on a computer screen or you want to print it, that’s
when you see this is a phone picture.”

Still, he says aspiring photographers don’t need to invest in $10,000 worth of gear just yet.

Pink Lemonade from Oil Well Industries.

“My best
piece of advice would be more of a general photography thing: Pick up a DSLR
and learn how to use that in a manual mode,” Tomanovich says. “Learn everything
about the camera.”

After all, it
wasn’t that long ago that Tomanovich was only an amateur.

“I got really
sick when I was 35, sick enough that I didn’t know if I was going to be able to
work again, if I was going to provide for myself,” he says. “I still have
health issues, but to be able to do my life’s dream as a job — it doesn’t get
much better than that.”

TELL US, who’s your favorite cannabis photographer?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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How to Smoke a Joint Like a Cannabis Connoisseur

To truly appreciate the finest cannabis flowers, one must smoke a joint. The process of inspecting, smelling, choosing and grinding a flower — then rolling that joint — is as integral to the smoking experience as inhaling, savoring and exhaling the smoke; this is the mindfulness of smoking. One of the best ways to heighten your appreciation of the magical herb is to host a blind cannabis tasting.

Simply acquire three or four different strains and repackage them into numbered containers — the less information you have, the easier it is to let the cannabis speak for itself.

Now comes the involvement of all the five senses.

The Eyes Don’t Lie

First is the visual appraisal. Under a good light, describe the overall shape and color of the bud. Notice the length, profusion and color of the hairs. Is it trimmed well, or is it too shaggy or too tight? Is the bud dense and hard or loose and open?

Finally, using a 60x mini-microscope, check out the trichomes and look for clear, cloudy or amber color. If the stalks of the trichomes have no round tops, chances are the cannabis was machine trimmed or mishandled in some way.

Follow Your Nose

Second is the assessment of fragrance. Pinch the flower bud and inhale deeply. Now break apart the bud and smell again. What associations immediately pop into your mind? Take your frame of reference from smells outside the world of cannabis, such as the smell of butterscotch or motor oil or dirty armpit, etc. As you break up the bud, inspect the interior for mold or discoloration. Your fingers will provide a measure of the curing: too damp, too dry or just right. Now grind up the flower and smell again.

Listening Party

If you are having a tasting with friends, don’t say anything until everyone has had a smell, so as not to prejudice anyone’s nose. The fragrance derives from the terpenes, which are volatile organic compounds that give aroma to most vegetative substances. They range from earthy, musty, moldy and piney antiseptic, to citrusy lemon, tutti fruity and blueberry. As judges for the Emerald Cup, one of the world’s largest outdoor cannabis events, we look for what they call “jar jumping” terpenes — the kind that instantly fill your room with their olfactory delights.

Over the years, we’ve sampled entries at the cup smelling like mothballs, moldy rags, new car interior, old sneakers and the high school gym at the end of the game. There is also the sweeter range, including suntan lotion and bubble gum, tangerines, strawberries, pineapples and so on.

Remember that, as a judge, it’s not about whether you like the smell or not, but just how well it represents that variety. What does it tell you about the flowers? The effects of smell and taste are much more profound than we generally realize, so do linger on them for awhile.

Grind Time

A good grind of the flowers is as essential to rolling a good joint as it is for making a good cup of coffee. We prefer the Mendo Mulcher, which has round-edged teeth that grind, rather than cut the flower. The Mulcher also delivers a homogenous texture that helps create a joint that burns better.

Get Your Roll On

Rolling papers are also important. We use Elements Rolling Papers, which can handle a lot of manipulation during the rolling and not tear, plus they leave no ash. A clean burn is imperative to enhancing your smoking pleasure and, of course, the less paper the better. If you are rolling a very thin joint, you would use 1” papers, while a real Swami Joint requires the full 1-¼”.

While rolling, make the final assessment of the cure. If there is a lot of “dust” on the rolling tray, it’s too dry; if it is too sticky, it may still be too damp; a really potent bud will feel slightly oily or greasy, not damp.

Savor the Flavor

Before lighting the rolled joint, take a “dry” hit. That is, take a big puff on the unlit joint. Pass it around. Savor it. This is the final judgment on the fragrance. Most often, the dry hit flavor mirrors the smell, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker.

Catch a Fire

Now comes what everyone has been waiting for: the smoking of a truly high-grade cannabis joint. It will be a journey — a savory, olfactory, gustatory adventure offering new insights with every succeeding half-inch of smoking pleasure.

The advanced way of lighting a joint is with hemp-beeswax string. Light the joint like you would a cigar, rotating it to make sure it is evenly lit. When lighting the joint, don’t make any evaluation until the igniter’s second hit, again waiting for everyone to taste before commenting.

Check out the color of the ash. Fine white ash indicates purity. Black ash may mean contaminates.

Swami smoking a joint during cannabis tasting

Inhale slowly and carefully, feeling the smoke fill all the respiratory chambers, but don’t take too big of a hit. Check for lung expansion: is it barely possible to hold in the smoke? Exhale slowly through nose and mouth, tasting and sampling and smacking your lips. Does it taste like the aroma, the nose, or is it different? Once again, let your culinary imagination range with a free association of flavors — the name of that taste will be right on the tip of your tongue!

Can You Feel It?

After a few hits, as you are puzzling over the flavor, tune yourself into the effect the herb is having on your body. Take a roll call of your appendages: are there tingly sensations, points of heat or cold? What is going on behind your eyes, between the ears, in the neck?

Now move on the the metaphysical stimuli: is it a body stone or a head high? Social, giggly, quiet, couch-lock, creative, musical, intellectual, introspective, get up and get some chores done? How do you feel? Are you inspired? Combine that inspiration with your heightened sensory, spiritual and social awareness.

May every joint be a journey for you!

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, does this inspire you to gather your buds and host your own blind cannabis tasting?

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