8 of the best strains for focus

It’s 12:47 p.m. and you’ve got a whole heap of work that you’ve been avoiding. You know none of the tasks are too hard, but for some reason, you just can’t sit still and concentrate for long enough to do them. Still, sunlight is ticking, stress is mounting, and you know you’ll feel like hot garbage if you end the day with nothing to show for your time. You think, “All I need to do is smoke a little weed and I can zone in.” 

Which strains are you picking?

There are plenty of cannabis strains that can help you focus. And with so many constant distractions in the world, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to try them all. While I could never name every single one, here are eight that might help you block out the noise for long enough to get shit done.

White Fire OG

White Fire OG, also called WiFi OG, is a cross of Fire OG and The White. The nugs are light green and frosty with trichomes, and the smoke tastes like gassy pine needles — which is perfect for anyone that loves chemmy diesel flavors. On the high side,  WiFi OG is great for people whose thoughts are always moving at 744 mph. It’s potent yet manageable high can help clear your mind of anything that’s not immediately in front of you.

Lemon Thai

Most strains with Thai genetics are good for a clear-headed high that can help you defeat procrastination. Lemon Thai is no different. A cross of a Thai landrace and a Hawaiian sativa, this citrusy strain is great for anyone who’s been caught with that middle-of-the-day lag that makes even simple tasks feel the most daunting. If you’re the type of consumer that likes to puff on a vape pen throughout the day, Lemon Thai is a great cart to have handy.

Jack Frost

When you’re talking strains that help you focus, it’s only right that we bring Jack to the table. A cross of the famed Jack Herer, Northern Lights #5, and White Widow, Jack Frost is for those who need to get dumb stoned to focus. It hits you with a potent high that’ll have you knocking out the day’s to-do list without issue. Like most strains with Jack genetics, it usually has a citrusy and earthy aroma, however some people report that it may also have a somewhat fruity smell to it.

Dutch Treat

Believed to be a cross of Northern Lights and Haze genetics, Dutch Treat pushes out strong piney terpenes that alert your senses in the same way walking through the forest on a hike does. 

The delicious flavor is followed by a potent, clear-headed cerebral stimulation that many describe as the “hybrid high.” Old school and tasty, , Dutch Treat is a perfect suggestion for the dabbers.

Canna-Tsu

As your cannabis knowledge bag gets deeper, you’ll learn that not every desired effect comes from THC. There are plenty of CBD strains out there that can help you focus too. 

Canna-Tsu is a CBD-dominant cross of Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. It has sweet, earthy flavors, and the effect is relaxing in the body. I get a little anxious sometimes, and anything with Cannatonic genetics usually chills me out in a way that smoking too much THC doesn’t. If you’re looking for something light and manageable, this (or either of its parents), are solid options.

Jah Goo

A lot of times, being able to focus isn’t about energizing yourself or clearing out your mind, it’s about relaxing your body. Jah Goo is a great strain for doing just that.

This cross of Goo and Purple Jasmine produces colorful flowers with purple hues and pink hairs, and a somewhat sweet and woody flavor. The strain’s stoney high may be a little much for inexperienced consumers, but the vets may find it just right for that 10 am smoke before flipping the Go switch.

Bay Dream

If you love Granddaddy Purple then you might love Bay Dream too — it comes from the same breeders. Bay Dream, or GDP Bay Dream, is a cross of the beloved Blue Dream and a Bay 11 hybrid. Like Blue Dream, it has a sweet flavor profile, but also features woody and piney attributes. The cerebral high provides a nice, long-lasting euphoria that helps people get active for everything that needs to get done before 5 p.m.

Harle-Tsu

Harle-Tsu is another CBD strain for consumers that don’t want to get high, but still want the benefits that come with smoking weed. As its name suggests, it is a cross of Harlequin and Sour Tsunami, two of the most well-known CBD flowers. If you’re here for taste, look elsewhere, as Harle-Tsu is pretty earthy and bland; but if you’re here for effects, this strain usually makes people feel relaxed in the body and focused in the mind.

Find thousands of strains on Weedmaps


Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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American Stoner – Comparing Cannabis Culture in Legal vs Prohibited States

As a real, through and through stoner, California is one of the best states you could possibly live in and I feel blessed to have grown up there. Sure, the golden state’s industry has some flaws, but as a consumer, you can find literally anything pot-related, and usually with great convenience and for a fair price. However, as journalist stoner, I’m also lucky (if you want to call it that) to be able to experience life in a fully prohibited state – my new home for the time being, Indiana – where I get to learn more about how the market works in states that don’t offer adult recreational products.

Cannabis culture is an interesting subject in the United States and the entire world, and it varies so much based on where exactly you are located. Your stoner experience will be completely different in a state like Colorado as opposed Alabama. Same with comparing Canada to Israel. To learn more about cannabis around the world, make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter. To learn more about the new exotic cannabinoids, such as Delta 8, Delta 10 THC, THCV and THC-O, subscribe to the Delta 8 Weekly newsletter.


Cultural and Societal Differences

When it comes to personal views on cannabis use, I’ve noticed a huge discrepancy between what the citizens of Indiana feel, and what our politicians enforce. Nearly everyone I have met either uses cannabis products or doesn’t care if other people use them, point being that most people would support legalization as it would improve quality of life for many and bring a lot of money and industry to the state.

As a matter of fact, regional surveys have found that 84% of locals support new and more lenient cannabis regulations. Approximately 39 percent of Hoosiers favor allowing cannabis to be used for any purpose, while 42 percent medical use only to permitted. Regardless, only 16 percent of Indiana residents support the current laws so suffice it to say, even in Indiana I’m a stoner among stoners.

Unfortunately, the laws are not in favor of what most people here support, they actually happen to be among the most restrictive in the entire country. Many attribute it to Indiana’s reputation of being extremely conservative, more so than other states. Others believe it’s because the state is basically bought and paid for by Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals, a known enemy of cannabis reform who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against legalization.

CBD / Delta 8 / Delta 10 THC / THCV / THC-O Wholesale Opportunities

There are some obvious repercussions to prohibition, the main one being that cannabis possession is criminalized so anytime you have it you run the risk of getting arrested. And the penalties are pretty steep here. A first offense, possession up to 30 grams, is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and up to 180 days in jail. If you have priors, you’re looking at class A misdemeanors and even felony charges.

That aside, there are some more subtle differences to living life in one of these states, things you don’t necessarily think about until you experience them. For example, I noticed this when I recently took my elderly aunt to the doctor for a pain management appointment. In California, I could be very candid with doctors about cannabis use and we could have a real discussion – like adults – about the benefits of cannabinoid therapy for different conditions, if it could possibly interact with any prescription medications, and if there are any risks. In Indiana, we had to stay quiet on the subject.

Another area of concern is worrying about what my kids might say that could get me in trouble. A lot of people in the industry remember the story of Shona Banda, the mother from Kansas who got arrested and lost custody of her child after he mentioned at school that she was using cannabis medicinally to treat her Crohn’s Disease. The school contacted authorities, who went to her house and turned her world completely upside down. This is definitely something that has crossed my mind, being in the cannabis industry I’m pretty outspoken with my opinions on the subject, and the fear of my kids accidentally repeating something about it at school and causing an uproar, well, it’s making me seriously consider homeschool.

Product Comparisons

Product quality and availability is a huge downside to living in a prohibition state. Of course, people can still get weed, and usually, you can find good weed in every state, but being a cannabis consumer can be much more challenging in a state like Indiana. Going from having the ability to walk into a licensed dispensary and choose from any number of flower strains, concentrates, edibles, and even specialty products – to being stuck scrambling for buds is a bit of a culture shock. Back home, if a store I went to was out of the product I wanted I simply went to another store; out here, if my dealer is out of bud then I’m out of luck.

But ease of access is not the only discrepancy. I have definitely noticed a difference in taste and freshness of some strains that I’ve purchased. One in particular that I bought had a perfumy smell to it, I have legit never smelled pot like this before except one time in my life and that was in Texas, and other very strict prohibition state. There are numerous different reasons why it could have this aroma, from natural (albeit uncommon) terpene combinations, to pesticides, synthetics, and other contaminants.

One thing I find pretty interesting about the market here is that there seems to be much more demand for alternative THCs and synthetics like Delta 8, Delta 10, and THC-O. While most people in California don’t seem to know much about these products, or have any interest in trying them, they can be found at head shops and smoke shops all over the state. Here you’ll find entire racks full of 3Chi vape carts containing all these different, barely legal or not-yet-on-the-radar cannabinoid compounds.

Price Points

For me, this is the big one. I have a few people that I can get good quality flower from (except for the perfumy bud guy but that was a one-off purchase), but I pay quite a bit more here in Indiana than I did in California. I used to pay $120 per ounce for high mid/low top. Most people can expect to pay an average of $240 per ounce for the same quality. I’ve been lucky and found someone who I can buy from for $175/oz, and I’m sure many other people are finding good deals as well. But across the board, it is usually $200 or more for an ounce of decent flower. For really high-quality stuff, the top-of-the-line strains, you’re looking at well over $300 per ounce.

As far as pricing goes, the way it changes by weight is a bit different too. What I’m used to is that when you buy more, you get a prorated price; so the more you buy the less you pay per unit. For example, a half would cost $75 whereas a full ounce would be prorated to $120. This is pretty standard in California whether you’re buying from a dispensary or a dealer. That is not the case in Indiana and I have yet to find a single dealer that prices this way. I can be annoying at times, but there is a plus side to this, if you’re low on funds are stuck buying less than your normal amount, you don’t have to worry about paying extra for not getting a full ounce.

As far as concentrates go, those are hard to find and way more expensive than on the west coast. I typically by it by the gram and have been quoted double for live rosin, sugar, and shatter than what I was spending in California, which was about $15-$20 per gram.

Final Thoughts On Being a Stoner in America

You can see the contrast is striking. On one side, you have a flourishing consumer market with every product option and price point your heart desires, with no legal ramifications; and on the other side you’re limited on products, sneaking around and worrying about getting arrested while overpaying for average bud. It’s not ideal, especially being a true stoner coming from a completely unrestricted state, but it’s certainly educational. I know the comparison is focused on California verses Indiana, but it’s safe to assume the differences apply to any legal vs illegal state. And the silver lining here is that no matter where you are in the United States, and regardless of what the laws are there, you can guarantee that it’ll still be relatively easy to find decent flower, even if you have to pay more and work a little harder for it.

Thank you for stopping by CBD Testers, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one.  

TAGS: cannabis, cannabis industry, stoner, stoner nation, medical cannabis, indiana, california, united states

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Blackberry Kush’s potency is on a whole other level

Every now and then you come across a weed strain that is too high to handle. It hits you with effects that make your body say, “No thanks on this one ever again.” For some people, those strains are the super racy sativas, like Super Lemon Haze, that make them anxious and hyper; for others, they’re the extremely sedative strains, like 9LB Hammer, that make it hard to even function as a human. All of them teach us a lesson about what types of strains we should and should not be smoking in the future.

That said, here’s why I am absolutely terrified of smoking Blackberry Kush.

What is Blackberry Kush?

Blackberry Kush is a cross of Afghani and Blackberry, according to Leafly. It is an indica-dominant hybrid, classified by its short structure, intense effects, and Afghani-derived genetics. 

Afghani genetics and Afghani landrace strains are considered the backbone of modern day indicas. So with Blackberry coming from a mix of Afghani, Mexican, and Vietnamese landraces, and then being crossed again with Afghani, it’s easy to understand how the indica designation came to be. Across many websites, you’ll find Blackberry Kush listed as a great aid for sleep disorders and pain management. The original breeder of BBK is unknown.

Blackberry Kush flowers are often so darkly colored that they appear black. On the nose, the Blackberry Kush terpenes kick out a sweet and gassy profile. On the taste, much of the gas is sent to the background, as sweet berry flavors dominate the strain’s flavor profile. 

It grows best indoors with a 7 – 8 week flowering period that produces a medium-to-low yield, which is probably why you don’t see Blackberry Kush flower too often on dispensary menus. Thus, if you want to try it, you may have to grow it at the crib

How it feels to smoke Blackberry Kush (to me). 

Cannabis tolerance plays a huge part in how powerful the effects of weed can be. The more you smoke, the more THC your body will need to get an intense high over time, which is why you see frequent smokers elevate to frequent dabbers over time. 

As far as my tolerance goes, on a daily basis, I smoke three to four .75 gram joints and a dab or two, with a healthy dose of continual vape pen use throughout the day. This means that I can smoke pretty much any time of weed all day and be completely fine and productive. Except Blackberry Kush. It’s an absolute showstopper for my endocannabinoid system.

I smoked Blackberry Kush for the first time ever back in June 2018. It was after a trip down to Oregon to tour the facilities of what was then LTRMN, and has since become Korova Unrivaled. During the visit, I caught a few product samples on my hashtag weed journalist shit. One of those samples was a one gram Blackberry Kush Cabana preroll, which is a line of luxury pre-rolls from the aforementioned companies. Its high absolutely kicked my ass.

Have you ever smoked some weed that immediately you know is too much for you? Like, you’ve been facing blunts back-to-back for years, but for some reason, this high has hit your whole body with the Stone Cold Stunner? That was Blackberry Kush. 

Within three hits of the joint, I felt my eyelids get so heavy that I immediately knew my day was over and whatever was on today’s to-do list had just been moved to tomorrow’s. It’s the type of high that makes you understand people who say they “don’t like indicas because they make me too sleepy.” To make sure it wasn’t just a fluke based on my body’s state and mood that day, I smoked another one of the BBK Cabana prerolls three days later and had the exact same experience.

Two years later, in November of 2020, I found myself in possession of a Blackberry Kush vape cartridge from AbsolutXtracts (ABX) during a road trip through California. I figured that the flower from years prior was just not a match for me, but maybe some oil would be a more relaxing, less overwhelming experience. I was wrong. A few puffs and I immediately got that wicked sleepy feeling. It taught me that while Blackberry Kush is simply not the strain for me, it may be the strain for consumers who do want some help passing out for the night.

Why I think Blackberry Kush is great for sleep

Sometimes you get so high that the only thing you can do to reverse it is go to sleep. That’s what Blackberry Kush does to me. And that’s exactly why I always recommend it to anyone who asks me about sleepy or indica strains — the for-now standard term that the industry uses to describe sedative effects. 

Blackberry Kush is the perfect example of a couch-lock strain. In fact, sites like Pot Guide, CannabisNow, and Way of Leaf that have ranked sleepy cannabis strains have all named Blackberry Kush as one of the best. 

So what makes Blackberry Kush so great for sleep? Perhaps its terpene profile. According to Cali Terpenes, who produces cannabis terpene profiles in liquid and spray formats, Blackberry Kush’s main terpenes are: caryophyllene, myrcene, limonene, pinene, linalool, menthol, nerolidol, and cineol. 

Caryophyllene is expected to have relaxing effects, myrcene is expected to have calming, sedative qualities, and limonene is thought to be uplifting. Combine these perceived effects and it’s easy to see why Blackberry Kush can be such an overpowering, sedative strain for even the most seasoned stoners. For more information about the relationship between cannabis terpenes and effects, peep this article about why we should be smelling weed before we buy it.

Featured image by Dre Hudson/Weedmaps

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The best summer movies to watch while high

It’s summer y’all, which means it’s time to cozy up with some sungrown bud and indulge in the great tradition of summer movie watching. Whether you’re hitting the vape and venturing into a cool, dark theater to escape the heat, catching a cult classic at a retro summer evening drive-in, or just throwing a classic summer comedy on your TV at home while nursing an indica from your favorite bong, there’s no summer-movie experience you can’t successfully augment with a little cannabis

Now, the “summer movie” is sort of a nebulous idea, encompassing movies that have big summer releases, movies that are actually about summer, and movies that simply take hold as “summer movies” in the zeitgeist because they capture summer vibes in some way or another. 

Last year during quarantine, my best summer-movie experience was doing fat dabs on 7/10 and letting Stanley Kubrick’s ultra-slow-burn costume dramedy Barry Lyndon melt into my eyeballs. But listen, I’m also self-aware enough to know that’s not the optimal summer movie experience for everyone  — minus the fat dabs part. So for the purposes of drafting the best movies to watch when you’re baked, we’re gonna cast as wide a net as possible, though the chill summer vibes will undoubtedly reign supreme. 

Here’s an eclectic set of 10 great, hazy movies to vibe on when you’re stoned this hot, hot summer.

Caddyshack

We’re starting off with a classic stoner comedy that’s aged relatively well, though it probably kickstarted the tradition of cocaine-fueled summer blockbuster productions in the ’80s. 

Caddyshack oozes with the hazy counterculture vibes from which the National Lampoon-born cast and crew emerged. Stars Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Rodney Dangerfield set an anarchic sativa-leaning tone that bleeds through every corner of every antic frame. Pair with a generously rolled fatty and let the chill summer vibes and cool laughs roll over you. 

Do the Right Thing

I was mad late to the game on this one, but finally got around to watching Spike Lee’s classic joint of American racism and class struggle during a brutal Brooklyn heatwave. And it couldn’t have been more appropriate and felt more tragically evergreen during the summer of COVID and George Floyd. 

Like most of Spike’s films, Do the Right Thing operates on a hazy, cinematic dream logic that will open itself up to you and just hit right, both emotionally and intellectually, if you’re watching it under the influence. It booms with perpetual life and a type of understated, human psychedelia that only Spike Lee can pull off.

Miami Vice

Michael Mann’s movies are dank as fuck. Thief, Manhunter, Heat … take your pick, any of ’em will make a hyper-sensory feast after a fat dab or edible high. By the mid-2000s, Mann was the premiere champion of making early “standard-def” digital look immaculate, and Miami Vice — a feature-length update of Mann’s style-defining series from the ’80s — is almost all vibes. 

A clean head high and mild body buzz from a reliable edible is just the thing to experience the deep ocean blues and icy-cool cyberpunk cityscapes for all their worth. 

The Trip

As director Allan Arkush puts it in the clip above, “What movie could be bad if it has a 360° shot that starts with Dennis Hopper passing a joint?” 

Released near the end of the Summer of Love, Roger Corman’s The Trip captures the psychedelic vibes of Los Angeles circa 1967 and still makes for a great high watch today. Written by Jack Nicholson when he was still in Corman’s early-indie repertory company, the film stars Peter Fonda as a commercial director whose dissolution with his life leads him to take LSD for the first time. Director Corman famously took acid before the shoot so he could better adapt Nicholson’s experimental script. The charmingly low-budget results on the screen, while certainly of their time, evoke a visual palette that’s sure to please the modern, stoned summer viewer.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino is in the generation of filmmakers whose films were deeply influenced by the weed culture of the ’90s, borrowing heavily from the stoner-flick tradition and infusing their own genre-mixing, pop-culture-obsessed joints with stoned hangout vibes at every turn.

Tarantino’s latest — and the movie that owned the summer of 2019 — Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, uses the psychedelic late ’60s as a springboard for a hazy, emotional journey through time, space, and LA mythology, which really cooks when you’re nursing a joint all the way on through to the other side

The Burning

No summer movie playlist is complete without a little horror, especially for those of us who are well versed in the art of smoking weed and watching horror films

The Burning is one of the absolute best summer-camp horror romps to come out of the post-Halloween/Friday the 13th slasher boom of the early ’80s. It’s got dank cinematography, an effective masked killer, a bunch of teen assholes who meet a series of satisfyingly gruesome ends, and an early cameo from a pre-famous star (George Costanza himself, Jason Alexander, which I suppose makes this film the first “Summer of George”). Next time you’re looking for a campy late show as you wind down with your final tokes of the night, take The Burning for a spin.

The Nice Guys

A welcome addition to the canon of summer movies that take place at Christmastime (Gremlins, Die Hard, Batman Returns, Iron Man 3), The Nice Guys is another retro-LA hangout movie with a hazy noir plot and killer comedic performances from co-stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. I’ve toked up and watched this one several times now, and the laid-back, heartfelt, stoner-logic charm of it becomes more apparent to me every time. It’s a funny, low-stakes buddy comedy with a loose, prismatic sense of time and place that goes down smooth with a couple of evening bong rips. 

Nashville

From the hazy mind of Robert Altman, the patron saint of stoned cinephiles, Nashville is an experimental time-capsule epic that follows the interweaving lives of musicians, politicians, socialites, movie stars, and regular folks over a few days in Nashville, Tennessee during the 1976 presidential election. 

All of Altman’s films have a kind of delayed effect that mimics the headspace of a cannabis high. There’s a sort of indescribable communication of images, ideas, and satirical humor that’s quite rewarding to pick up on when you’re high, even if you can’t describe or translate it to someone else.

Mad Max: Fury Road (Black & Chrome Edition)

Is Mad Max: Fury Road the greatest action movie of all time? I won’t make a definitive statement on that here, but I will say you can’t do much better than the clear, frenetic visual pleasures of this immaculate post-apocalyptic crystalline joint, especially if you’ve got a weed product around that offers up a clean, powerful head high. 

And if you really wanna crank this shit up to an 11, I highly recommend the Black & Chrome edition, which is somehow an even danker strain of cinema than the Fury Road OG.  

Everybody Wants Some!!

A spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater’s 2016 sports comedy/college-hangout movie offers up the same vibes as its predecessor, drawn from ’80s stoner comedy classics like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, infused with a hazy Gen-X sensibility, and made sharper by the more mature eye of a more mature Linklater. 

Set over the course of the last weekend before a freshman pitcher’s first day of college, Everybody Wants Some!! captures the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it vibes of the end of summer and the beginning of an exciting new chapter in a young person’s life — all with a stoney, half-lighthearted, half-melancholy ambiance of a time and place both long gone and frozen in the amber of vivid memory. Pair this one with your favorite vintage strain on a Saturday afternoon in August.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Behind the quest for the perfect dab

The dab market is far and away the wildest corner of the weed world. From high-tech devices to crystalline extracts, innovation moves at a frantic pace, churning out futuristic products and new forms of concentrates at warp speed. Amidst the race to create the perfect dab, it’s hard to believe that in 2018 we were still dabbing wax with blow torches.

While this rapid development may seem excessive for the most niche corner of an already niche market, something’s working. Concentrates are now the fastest growing sector of the industry. According to Headset, a cannabis data and consumer insights company, concentrate sales skyrocketed more than 40% in 2020 — $567 million in 2019 to $797 million in 2020 — accounting for a larger share of the cannabis market than ever before.

While some of this can be attributed to the fact that we were literally couch-locked for all of 2020 trying to get as high as possible, it’s also due to the advancements in the oil space that have made this divisive method of intake more accessible than ever before. 

As a culture journalist working in cannabis since 2014, and before that a lifelong stoner, it’s been wild to watch the dab-volution occur. I remember being at a High Times party in February of 2018, just weeks after the Puffco Peak — the first electronic rig and catalyst of the seismic shift in dabbing culture — was released. I was shocked to see “Peaks” replacing traditional rigs at every concentrate brand booth.  

The event celebrated women in cannabis — though at that time, the dab world was a total boys club, and the method of concentrate intake was reserved only for the headiest of stoners, and looked upon as “sketchy” by pretty much everyone else. 

Dr. Dina, an industry vet famous for being the inspiration for the hit show Weeds, was at that party too. One of the first supporters of the pivotal Puffco creation, she gushed prophetically.

Looking at all the smart rigs and handheld vaporizers available today and it’s clear the industry has exploded. Every day my inbox is filled with PR emails about a futuristic new device that may or may not do exactly what all the others do. Isolated cannabinoids and new forms of solventless extraction are all the rage. The industry races ever forward, fueled by a mix of innovation, imitation, and hype. 

While this juggernaut of advancement is fun to watch, and even more fun to experience, whether we want, need, or even care to comprehend the majority of what’s flooding the market, is yet to be determined. Which begs the question: is the industry’s quest for the perfect dab a solo mission, or are we as excited as they are about yet another way to get high?

When dab rigs went high tech

One of the ways I write about cannabis is in the form of device reviews. When judging a new dabbing system, e-rig or vaporizer, the first question I ask myself is “What does it do differently, or better, than all the rest?” If the answer is nothing, it’s essentially just creating trash on the earth that no one needs. 

Like most industries, true innovation in the device arena occurs rarely, creating a domino effect of knockoffs in varying degrees of quality. The Peak is the perfect example of a lightning rod invention that changed the world of concentrates, and launched a thousand look-alikes in the process. 

The Puffco Peak innovated the concentrates world when it entered the market. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

“The idea for the Peak came in 2016, and was born out of wanting a dabbing device with no learning curve,” said Roger Volodarsky, founder of Puffco and creator of The Peak. “I wanted it to be shaped like a beer bottle, so people could walk around a party with it without really raising any alarms or sticking out.” 

He continued, “It really started as a way to get people who were disinterested in dabs because of the stigma, because of the intensity, or because of a learning curve. It was our way of pulling them in, mainly because these people were our friends, and we wanted them to share an experience with them.” 

In 2017, when the Peak was conceived, concentrate sales were shrinking. “I had to convince [my designer] that the reason it was dying is because something like the Peak wasn’t on the market,” said Volodarsky. “There was no easy, classy way to engage with concentrates.” He paused, “Now concentrates are the fastest growing segment in the space.” 

Since then, dabbing devices in every capacity have flooded the market, ranging from the super cool to the totally lame. 

On the cool end, we have obviously the Peak Pro, as well as Puffco’s new Hot Knife electric dab tool. The Dab Tech Trio is an awesomely convenient three-in-one electronic dab straw, vape pen, and concentrate vaporizer that fits onto any bong or rig. I also love the G Pen Roam, which is basically a hybrid between a giant vape pen/e-rig with a bubbling water feature that’s perfect for adventures. 

The Reflux by Indux Labs is one of the most wildly innovative systems available, using electromagnetic waves to perfectly vaporize chemical compounds at optimal temperatures. And then, of course, existing at the apex of dab couture, lazer bongs and levitating dab rigs.

Existing on the totally lame end of the spectrum are all the blatant knockoffs of original designs. I don’t feel the need to call each of these brands or devices out. Just know that if you’re considering buying a knockoff device, there’s a reason they’re cheaper. These derivative options are often poorly manufactured, meaning they break constantly. In the world of dab devices, and life in general, you get what you pay for. 

cannabis budder dab
Hash oil, budder, and live resin options now flood the cannabis space. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The evolution of extracts

While devices went from analog to the moon and beyond, extracts have undergone a major glow up as well. Growing up as a teenager in SoCal in the late 2000s, the first extracts to hit the California medical market looked like black goo and were THC distillates that stripped all other cannabinoids and terpenes and got you high in the most one dimensional way possible.

Now, we enjoy a delicious array of meticulously extracted, high quality rosins, resins, diamonds, shatters, butters, badders and more. The evolution of extracts has been marked by three major developments, specifically in the last few years. There’s the transition from solvent extracts to solventless concentrates, the preference of “live” over “cured” products, and the rise of isolated cannabinoids

A dab tool with live rosin
A dab tool with live rosin. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

To delve further into what all this means, we spoke with Khalid Al-Naser, Head of Product at Raw Garden, one of the most popular and highest quality extract brands on the market. 

“I’ve been a part of the California cannabis community for over a decade, and there’s been a ton of evolution,” said Al-Naser. “My earliest memories were of really low quality hash, or cannabis oil, which was all it was referred to at the time. Butane honey oil explosions in apartments and garages were happening, so there was this sense of this isn’t medicine, or it’s not clean.” 

He continued, “A lot of people seemed to just push towards solventless alternatives and things that maybe they thought were safer, and then started to try and push on quality.”

The market has taken a sharp turn from hyping solvent extracts like these distillates or, more recently, live resins, where an accelerant like butane is used to separate trichomes from plant matter.  Solventless concentrates like rosins, are extracted using only a combination of heat, ice, water, and pressure, and have become highly sought after, sparking a debate within the industry and consumers about which is better and why. 

“With rosin, it was like someone just stumbled on this idea that heat and pressure would separate the oils from the hash, then they found out they could do it with flower, too,” said Al-Naser. “You saw this resurgence of solventless products. I think a lot of that shift was in part a reflection of the volatile nature of the pre-recreational market.” 

“Live” products, like live resins and live rosins, have also become wildly popular. These products use flash frozen live plants in the extraction process, creating an extract with a far more robust terpene profile than those made from dried bud, as much of the smell and flavor in cannabis is lost during the drying process. 

At the forefront of innovation in the concentrate space, you have products like THCA diamonds, the pursuit of isolated cannabinoids, and forms of supercritical C02 extraction that claim to revolutionize solventless extraction. The possibilities for advancement in the extracts arena are truly boundless, especially when it comes to cannabinoid isolation, as we have just scratched the surface in understanding what these chemical compounds do together, much less alone. 

dab tool with sauce with diamonds
A dab tool with diamond sauce. These concentrates are coveted amongst niche weed subcultures. (Source: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The future of dabbing 

So, back to the question that exists at the crux of all of this: Are we consumers as excited about all this wild advancement as the people profiting off of it? Rodger Volodarsky isn’t convinced, and neither am I. 

“I think consumers value one thing,” he said. “And that’s experience. I had to learn that lesson really early on when I came through with the Puffco Plus. Currently, we sell a ton of them. But when it first came out, I thought people would lose their shit when they saw that it was a ceramic concentrate pen with no coils. But not a single person cared.” 

The glaring flaw in the dab race is that brands are so caught up with outdoing one another and making money off the wave, they forget that most consumers not only don’t care, but don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with all this hyper complicated advancement.

Casual consumers just want to get high and feel good. They buy the products that most clearly communicate that that is what they do. Having reviewed dab devices for years now, I own pretty much all of them. When friends who are casual smokers come over and see all these things, they chuckle with furrowed-brow grins, but very few of them are interested in learning more. The vibe I get from most people is why, not wow

Products that simplify something complicated, like the Peak did to traditional dabbing, are always going to beat out products that needlessly complicate things in the pursuit of innovation. Innovative advances like electronic dab rigs, handheld vaporizers, and live rosins are what made concentrates more accessible and, along with weed marketing, hype, and subcultures celebrating 7/10, are what will continue to bring more people into the world of dabs. 

“They didn’t get it until we started presenting how to use it, and made the connection for them that it’s a hash one hitter. Then sales exploded,” Volodarsky said. “I think innovation is about leveling up the experience, not about new features.” 

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The strains that made Insane

The best weed I’ve ever smoked in California was from Insane. Ruby Red. Shit tastes like if you were to twist up Shirley Temple flower then dip the joint in a cup of Ocean Spray. It’s the type of weed you come across and you’re like, “okay yeah, whoever did this has definitely perfected their growing craft over a long period of time.” That person is Kenji Fujishima, who’s been growing for the past 30 years. 

Insane from Dr. Greenthumb is a brand in California co-founded by B-Real of Cypress Hill, one of the pioneers of modern day cannabis culture, Fujishima, and Roni Desantis. On Insane’s future, Fujishima, the brand’s expert cultivator, told me, “A bunch of different genetics under there. We’re getting ready to do some multi-state type deals. We’re doing a bunch of pheno[type] hunting and breeding programs, so I think that we’re going to continue to evolve what we do as cultivators, but also as a brand.”

These are the strains that got them there.

1990: Colombian Gold

The very first seed Fujishima ever put into California soil was around 1990. He couldn’t afford to buy weed, so he figured he would just grow it. The strain? Some bagseed that he believes was Columbian Gold. “Just straight up stress weed. If we bought a bag, we were lucky after we picked all the sticks and seeds off, if we got a joint. The weed was trash, but if you grew those seeds, it was actually some fire weed.” 

In 1993, Fujishima met B-Real through a mutual friend named Gator. Gator brought him to a show at [California State University, Dominguez Hills] that The Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, and Cypress Hill (what a fucking lineup, wow) were all performing. Soon, a shared love for martial arts would lead B’s training by Fujishima’s father, and by 1995, Fujishima and B were close friends and cultivation partners. 

1996: Cali O, White Russian, White Rhino

Meeting Cypress Hill was also when Fujishima first saw indoor weed. Some were fluorescent green, some looked like cotton candy — it all sparked a deeper passion for different types of bud. In 1996, he started touring with Cypress Hill, and got the opportunity to go to Amsterdam. This was the first time he had true access to all of those different types of weed at his fingertips. 

“I went to the Sensi Seed Bank, and a few other places that were there. Cali O, White Russian, White Rhino. Those were the first ones I remember like, ‘wow, I can’t believe we’re looking through a seed menu.’”

Fujishima chose Cali O (aka California Orange), White Russian, White Rhino, and a few others based on what looked the best and faster flowering times. “Some of the Hazes were cool, but it was 13 weeks flower, 11 weeks flower. I was like let’s go with these ones that are going to [harvest] faster. The faster it [harvests], the faster we’re going to smoke about it.

1997: Kush Bubba (Bubba Kush)

In 1997, Fujishima, B-Real, and the crew started to get into the Kush game. “The first thing that we were known for was called ‘Kush Bubba,’ that everyone else knows [as] Bubba Kush. Those seeds were planted and phenohunted in B-Real’s bathroom or a spare room that he had in his house.” 

The Bubba Kush was so loud that you could smell it all the way down the block. “If you want to start talking about history shit, Dr. Greenthumb was spawned out of that house. The name, the song, the idea, 20 plants stinking up the neighborhood, that was this fool’s crib.” 

1997-1998: OG Kush

At the same time of Bubba Kush’s debut, OG Kush’s mystique was on fire in the streets. However, the crew couldn’t get their hands on it for a while. In late 1997, Fujishima and the DGT team finally got a cut of OG Kush from the folks over at Wonderbrett. That’s when shit really took off. Life changing shit. Take care of people’s family shit. 

OG Kush was so in-demand that people were charging megabucks for even the smallest quantity of it. Before they had access to growing OG Kush, the crew was paying a smooth $100 for an eighth. When they started growing and selling it, they were getting up to $500 an ounce, $8,000 a pound. It was that special of a strain, so people would break the bank just to get their hands on it.

“People wanted to give you money before it was harvested just so they could have it. Back then, that was a lot of fucking money.”

2000: Kenji Kush

From the moment it touched down, OG Kush dominated the streets of California. It’s all people wanted in the 2000s. “Everything we had was in [turkey-size oven bags] or mason jars. We didn’t necessarily have to have a brand because there weren’t so many people doing it. People just knew, he’s got that Kenji Kush. We didn’t have to market it because maybe one or two people would take it all.”

During all of this time, Fujishima was still touring with Cypress Hill. In 2000, he went out on tour with Limp Bizkit, and in 2009 began touring with Cypress again. That is until 2013, when he shifted focus to building the Dr. Greenthumb brand and media platform.

2014: Insane OG

Prop 215 legalized medical cannabis in California in 1996, but Dr. Greenthumb didn’t approach the legal market until 2014. In 2015, they got their first cultivation facility. In August 2018, Dr. Greenthumb transitioned from medical to the adult-use market with the opening of their flagship Dr. Greenthumb’s dispensary in Sylmar, CA

The entire time, they were still putting out the OG Kush that built their name. This time, however, it had evolved from Kenji Kush to Insane OG (aka 3X Crazy), Dr. Greenthumb’s very first legal product. 

2021: Christmas Lights, Honeymoon

To this day, Insane still keeps the OGs on deck, but they don’t grow near as much as they used to. Instead, they’ve shifted focus on new flavors to satisfy consumer demand. Christmas Lights and Honeymoon are two of their newest popular flavors. Christmas Lights is a phenotype of Flo that Fujishima and squad got from Aaron Yarkoni at DNA Genetics; Honeymoon is a phenotype of Wedding Cake. In addition, they’ve been pumping out Hindu Funk, Gotti, and Mac 11. In August, they’re dropping ten more new flavors. 

Still, if he had it his way, Fujishima would only be growing one of the seven different OGs that Dr. Greenthumb has in their library. “To me, there’s still nothing like that OG high. That other stuff, you still get baked, the flavors are cool, but for me, when you want that super bang to the head, it’s an OG thing.”

Featured image courtesy of Insane. Graphic by Britt Rivas/Weedmaps

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Sometimes I get high and go geocaching

Sometimes I get high is a series about the activities you do or things you think about when you’re high, in deep detail, for the fun of it.

When I was little, I used to hide behind the couch in the downstairs room of our ramshackle house with stacks of books and snacks, and go adventuring as only a kid can. I lost myself in stories about intrepid travelers like Dido Twite, the heroine of Joan Aiken’s The Stolen Lake, a gruesome tale about an ancient queen who attained immortality by cannibalistic vampirism. I dreamed of joining a roving band of kids like Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven, who were always going on treks with amazing-sounding provisions like clotted cream and ginger beer. I loved tracing maps of Narnia, Oz, and Middle-Earth. 

Tucked behind the velvet maroon and mustard-yellow flowered sofa with a bowl of grapes dipped in sour cream and brown sugar (the most delectable snack ever), I felt like a bonafide globetrotter.

In my twenties, I got the best summer job I’ve ever had — working as a deckhand on a salmon tender in Southeast Alaska. One of my favorite parts of the job was taking a turn standing watch when we were underway. Huge paper nautical charts were spread out across the wheelhouse, marking rapids and rocks and thrilling secret coves. Occasionally the crew would get a day off, and we’d all pile into the skiff to explore a remote island. I collected bones and salmon teeth and sea glass to carry home to New York City, where I lined my studio apartment’s bookshelf with all my treasures.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2016, the city overwhelmed me. Luckily, I was working for a cannabis media company, and an abundance of top-notch weed flowed through our offices. In the evenings, I got stoned and wandered through my new neighborhood, feeling more connected to the energy of the city night by night. It was June. Purple jacaranda and jasmine were in bloom, and there were animals everywhere — coyotes, possums, skunks, hawks, even a resident mountain lion in Griffith Park. Taking a dropperful of tincture or an edible and getting lost in the streets and canyons of LA tamped down my homesickness for the east coast.

My new life in California got a whole lot brighter when I met Mike Glazer. I was working a big weed event for the media biz. Mike was getting high with Snoop Dogg, meeting sloths, and generally doing cool, fun stuff. A coworker told me I needed to know this guy. She was right. Three years later, Mike and I get high and do cool, fun stuff a lot of the time. (Check out our podcast, Weed + Grub.

Last year, Mike introduced me to something that perfectly dovetailed my love for maps, adventure, and weed: getting high and going geocaching.

Before Mike showed up at my place on a chilly October night with a fat joint in hand and an invitation to “come do something really fun with me,” the only thing I knew about geocaching was that it was for nerds. And, listen, I’m an absolute nerd — I rode a tricycle until I was eight, for god’s sake — but geocaching seemed too nerdy even for me. Maybe the Law & Order: SVU episode where geocachers found a dead body tainted my view. Something in Benson and Stabler’s contempt for the two dudes made me cringe. Geocaching was for internet forum geeks with money to blow on handheld GPS devices; people with too much time on their hands, and not enough friends. Or so I thought.

I was wrong. Geocaching is the greatest! Or, at least, geocaching when you’re high is the greatest. When Mike turned up on my stoop with a joint of whatever Haze-y deliciousness he’d rolled up, his eyes were all sparkly, and not just from the weed. “Come on, I wanna show you something,” he said, beckoning me out into the snappy-cold October night. I pulled on a hoodie and sneakers and followed the trail of smoke drifting behind him. We strolled amicably through the dark streets for a while, puffing, chatting, and cracking each other up. When we came to Melrose Ave., which was eerie in pandemic stillness, Mike pulled up an app on his phone. When I looked at his screen, I got a familiar happy tingle in my stomach — it was a map.

“It’s right around here,” he told me, with his signature Cheshire cat grin. “What was?” I asked. “Treasure,” he replied, and he began to disappear before my very eyes. Man, that was great weed. I took his phone. Geocaches around us were listed by size, type, difficulty, terrain. The indicator showed that we were basically on top of one. I felt like I was in Star Trek, beamed down to a new planet and trying to figure out what around me was a life form. Mike had already located the cache, so he stood back and watched me puzzle it over. The app had a couple of hints: this was an “attractive” geocache, and I was advised to “tie your shoe.” I circled a trash can. Nothing. I looked up and down a bus shelter ad for Cedars Sinai Hospital (“You’re the reason we’re getting through this”). Nada. I bent over to tie my shoe and made eye contact with a rat who was looking pretty stoked about his french fry dinner. I felt a kinship with him. 

As the rat and I gazed at each other, something under the bus stop bench caught my eye. A magnetic key holder was under the seat. Magnetic … is attractive! This was it! I pulled the little box open. It was full of tiny treasures: a ring, a sticker, a weird little pig doodad — I felt like I’d discovered lost Inca gold. “Take something, leave something,” Mike said. I felt my pockets. I didn’t have anything with me except a pin from the weed brand Stone Road on my hoodie. “Is this ok?” Mike nodded. “More than ok.” I chose the weird little pig and replaced it with the pin.

And just like that, I was hooked. Now, Mike and I search all over the city for secret stashes when we’re stoned. Our greatest find was the tiniest one of all: a “nano” cache the size of a button, eight feet up the side of an electrical pole. It contained a minuscule scroll with initials and dates going back six or seven years. We whooped and hollered and danced around when we found that one. We found a lunch box full of neat little tchotchkes deep in the woods above Monterey, and a film canister full of trinkets in a neighbor’s garden. We’re trying to figure out how to get to a geocache at the bottom of a lake next.

Weed has always been my favorite way to reconnect my grown-up brain with my kid self. Geocaching is the perfect pastime to satisfy that kid’s love of treasure and adventure. It’s a magical, nerdy combination. Plus, now my pockets are always stocked with fun whatnots. And weed, of course.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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6 weed brands comedian Matt Besser can’t live without

You may know him as Sparks Department Captain Miller in Reno 911!, Dave in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Crazy Ira in Parks and Recreation, or from his multiple appearances in blockbuster TV shows such as Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm and How I Met Your Mother. It is undeniable that wherever Matt Besser goes, comedy is bound to follow. 

Alongside Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, and Amy Poehler, he founded Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), an improvisational theatre and training company that paves the way for a multitude of aspiring young comedians (disclosure: I’ve trained at UCB) to hone their crafts in improv, sketch, and comedy.

In his recent stand-up special, Matt Besser: Pot Humor, you’ll see him take on yet another challenging endeavor: keeping audience members at the Northwest Cannabis Club in Portland, who just so happen to be stoned out of their minds, entertained for an hour. He manages to do so by hilariously reminiscing about the lengths that he and his college friends had to go through in order to get weed back in the day — including driving all the way from Amherst College to Albany in the middle of the night all because “some guy their friend knew” was selling weed. He also reminisced with me about some amazing Phish performances, before anyone knew who Phish was, that he got to experience while he was first starting to smoke weed in college.

While he doesn’t usually light up before a performance, Besser sat down to chat with Weedmaps about some of his favorite brands to consume off-stage. 

Cannabiotix L’Orange 

 “I think I’m an orange guy,” said Besser. “I really enjoy Cannabiotix as a label because their stuff always seems so fresh. I used to ask what is the best, but now I ask what is the newest or freshest off the truck. Their stuff is always so sticky.”

L’Orange is a sativa-dominant flower with 24 – 28% THC, with aftereffects being described as energizing, joyful, and creative. This flower is a cross between the award-winning hybrid Orange Crush and uplifting Lemon Burst and the buds possess extremely sticky resinous trichomes that cling to your fingertips when broken down.

Ember Valley Orange Peels 

“I used to say this was my favorite strain, but I haven’t seen it in a while,” he shared. “That’s the problem is that you can’t get too attached to one product because it might be sold out the next time you go into the dispensary. As soon as you find something you like, it might be gone for the next three months, so I try not to get too attached to any one brand in particular.”

Orange Peels is a hybrid cross between Clementine and Purple Punch with 22.36% THC and a strong citrusy, orange aroma.

Green Habitat Rozé

“I shouldn’t mention any of these because they will get sold out quickly,” joked Besser. Ironically enough, the Rozé from Green Habitat is currently sold out on multiple sites.

“I’ve always gravitated towards sativa. More power to whoever prefers to get indica, but I’m not a guy who just likes to knock myself out with weed.”

Green Habitat’s Rozé is described as having strawberry aromas and flavors, and packs around 25% THC.

3C Clockwork Elves Sativa

 “The moon rocks are not something to smoke casually, but I did it as an experiment for my podcast, improv4humans,” Besser said. “This version of moon rocks had all the kief and resin layered onto some bud. While I don’t usually partake, it really impressed me.”

The Clockwork Elves’ sativa variety is an extremely potent combination of sativa flower and sativa-derived kief. Each nug is rolled in kief, giving it a tan to brown color. Try it if you enjoy sativas and being extremely high.

Tikun Olam’s Alaska

 “I’m also a big container fan … If I like the container, I’ll re-use it for all of my weed products. I’m a really big fan of the Tikun containers and I utilize them a lot.”

With uplifting effects, the Alaska strain has been reported by consumers to relieve an array of medical symptoms including inflammation, pain, and nausea.

Charlotte’s Web CBD Ointment

Leaning more into the cannabidiol realm, Besser noted, “When I discovered that CBD actually works — and actually worked on my back pain — I couldn’t believe it. It seemed too good to be true.”

He said he particularly likes the Charlotte’s Web arthritis aches and pain relief ointment for his back, and that CBD is the one product he has probably used “in the most medicinal way.”

Featured image: Comedy Dynamics / Pot Humor special. Graphic by David Lozada/Weedmaps

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Why every strain is a hybrid, according to a legacy grower

If you’ve shopped for flower at a dispensary more than once, you’re familiar with this question: “Do you like sativas or indicas?” And if you’re like me it’s the question that makes you roll your eyes, because: 

1. Don’t talk to me like a noob. 

2. Indicas and sativas are real terms, but what they have come to represent is absolute bs.

Despite constantly being asked whether you like indicas or sativas, I’m here to tell you we’re living in a hybrid world — the indicas and sativas we see on shelves aren’t true indicas and sativas. 

Understanding what “indicas and sativas” originally meant

If you traced your favorite weed strains all the way back to the original genetics that created them, you’d end at the beginning of cannabis: landrace strains. Landrace strains are cannabis strains whose genetics grew, evolved, and stabilized in their natural environments around the world. Examples of these old school strains are Durban Poison originating from South Africa, Acapulco Gold from Mexico, and Chocolate Thai from Thailand. 

The important thing to understand is that “indica” and “sativa” are botany terms used to describe the physical, observable traits of a cannabis plant — not the effects it produces. 

Over time, as botanists began noticing that these strains exhibited different physical characteristics, they began classifying them through different taxonomies: indica, sativa, and ruderalis. Cannabis sativa was classified by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753 while studying European plants; Cannabis indica was coined by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785 while studying strains from India; and Cannabis ruderalis was coined by Russian botanist D. E. Janischewsky in 1924 while studying plants from Russia. 

Sativas grow tall and lanky with skinny leaves; indicas grow wide and bushy with dense flowers; and ruderalis grow small with big, thick leaves and have more CBD in them than the sativas and indicas. At the time of inception, there weren’t enough scientific studies done to truly solidify these classifications as true different species of cannabis.

In the 1960s and 1970s, these foreign genetics began making their ways over and into the outdoor soils of California. This is when we began seeing the Hazes and of the strains world appear. As cannabis cultivation matured, all of these different types of strains were hybridized for their desirable genetic traits — such as large yields, high THC percentages and resilience during growing — in an attempt to make strains with specific characteristics become super strains. That’s why, nearly two centuries after the indica and sativa classifications were created, there are no true sativa and indicas left in cultivation rooms and on dispensary shelves today.

A cultivator checks in on cannabis plants as they go through the drying and curing process. (Source: Damien Robertson/Weedmaps)

A hybrid by any other name

These days, the term “sativa” is used to describe strains that provide the uppity mental high that is desired for creativity, focus, and euphoria, while “indicas” have been labeled as the downer body high strains you’d want to use to relax, slow down or fall asleep.

So what is a hybrid?

In a dispensary setting, the “hybrid” label is used to signify a strain with effects that are the middle of “indica” and “sativa” — when you want something relaxing but won’t make you sleepy or hazy; or something mildly stimulating but won’t give give you an overpowering head high. But what a hybrid actually is meant to signify is a strain bred from two or more other strain varieties to inherit the most favorable characteristics.

Though these labels continue to exist on cannabis packing, in strain databases, and as categories that divide store displays into perceived effects, the truth of the matter is that every single thing we’re smoking today is a hybrid. 

Recently, I hopped on the phone with Kenji Fujishima, Partner and Lead Cultivator of Dr. Greenthumbs, Green Thumb Farmz, and Insane OG to talk about how true indicas and sativas disappeared from the game. 

When I asked Fujishima about the modern definition of sativas and indicas, he said, “In these days and times, right now, I don’t think you could truly define any of that shit. With the exception of very few people that have kept landrace genetics, shit that’s 20-30+ years old.” 

Take a popular strain like Runtz for example: It’s a cross of Zkittlez and Gelato #33, which are crosses of Grape Ape x Grapefruit and Sunset Sherbert x Thin Mint GSC, respectively, which are all crosses of … I think you get the point here — they’re all hybrids from other hybrids.

To find true sativa or indica genetics, you’d have to trace these strains all the way back to Afghani and Durban genetics in the lineages. And when it comes to finding those oldie strains, there isn’t anything you can do commercially with them because of the emphasis that the industry puts on THC content. Strains with more than 30% THC, considered “top shelf” or “exotic” in many weed circles, were bred from hybrids in order to reach soaring high THC levels. The effects that people want from sativas and indicas are why true sativas and indicas were bred out of existence in the first place. 

It’s a challenging situation to be in. The indica/sativa dichotomy has been so prevalent in cannabis marketing that consumers have it ingrained into their purchasing decisions. Brands who have tried to steer away from using these terms have faced confused customers who prefer the simplified classification that indica/sativa offers, as Kieran Delamont reported in 2019 for Weedmaps

cannabis cultivatorDamien Robertson/Weedmaps
A cultivator tending cannabis plants for his brands.

Still, consumers having an attachment to the technically-inaccurate indica/sativa/hybrid labeling is convenient for weed marketers. When I asked why companies still use the sativa, indica, and hybrid labelling, Fujishima said, “Marketing teams say that’s cool because it gives you the option of having three different packages: indicas, sativas, hybrids.”

For growers, it can be irritating to use outdated botany terms to describe the effects the flower products they grow might make customers feel. But because many cannabis consumers are looking for a specific desired effect, brands go to great lengths to make the indica and sativa label work. One tactic Kenji has noticed is the marketing of indicas as having higher THC percentages to associate the potency with heavy, sedative effects. “Typically products that are labelled indicas are always on the higher side of THC,” Fujishima said. “Indicas are marketed as the pain relief and sedative strains.” 

So, will the consumer base catch up to what the industry has known for years? Fujishima believes its up to brands and retailers to change conventional messaging. 

“I think the brands are all going to be responsible for the marketing and putting out the information they want people to know, otherwise they end up with the indica/sativa thing, the THC thing.”

As far as I can tell from conversations with growers, brands, and consumers, as long as the average person wants to walk into a dispensary and be handed a single product for a desired effect, brands and retailers won’t be in a rush to correct them. Not everyone wants to nerd out on cannabinoids, terpenes, and how their synergy affects our cannabis experiences. But you should.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The strains that made Wonderbrett

During a road trip in late 2020, I was driving through Redding, California on a 12-hour journey back to Seattle with a need for something fire and affordable. I made the decision to stop at Vibe by California to see what they might have for the boy, and man oh man did I find an absolute gem: Wonderbrett’s Pink Picasso. 

Wonderbrett is a cannabis producer and lifestyle brand in California that was co-founded by expert cultivators Brett Feldman and Cameron Damwijk. The Wonderbrett brand has been around since 2014, but the duo were making a name for themselves in the Los Angeles street and music culture since the mid-90s, long before that pretty pink packaging hit dispensary shelves and Instagram slideshows. 

Pink Picasso was one of the most perfect flowers I’d ever seen in my life —  weed that undeniably combines flavor, potency, and experience in the type of way that reminds you of why you started smoking weed in the first place. Instantly, I knew I had something special on my hands.

Recently, I met up with Brett Feldman to tour Wonderbrett’s 180,000 square foot indoor grow facility in Long Beach, smoke some flavors, and discuss the legacy of Wonderbett and the strains that created its place in modern day cannabis culture.

1997: OG Kush

In 1997, Brett Feldman was given a cut of OG Kush. A strain so rare, so special, so potent, that Feldman himself felt like he was given a gift from God. See, back then, before Kush swept the streets, he told me that consumers were chasing high-grade cannabis and strains like Skunk, Northern Lights, Trainwreck, California Orange, Hazes, and Chocolate Thai. But when OG Kush hit? Game over. “OG Kush came on the scene and took over everything. No competition at all, it was like watching Jordan come onto the scene and play with children.”

With OG Kush being so rare, Feldman had spent his time going back and forth to the San Francisco Bay Area to get authentic batches of it from the original grower, Josh D, and his team, with Feldman cleaning out their harvest at each trip. Eventually, due to demand from others, Josh D’s people told Feldamn, “Yo, man, we can’t keep giving you all of our inventory.” Instead of shutting him out, Josh D gifted him clones of the Original Kush Plant and told him to go be great. That’s exactly what he did. 

“97 was when [cannabis cultivation] started to get serious for me. When Kush was given to me. I had to figure out how to grow weed immediately and to not kill these plants. I had this huge responsibility to protect and share that Kush strain, because it was so special. I wasn’t much of a religious person, but it definitely felt like God was showing me the way. And I was like, ‘I hear you, I see what you want me to do.’”

Brett Feldman, co-founder of Wonderbrett, smokes a joint in front of a display of Wonderbrett packages at Black Star Studios in Studio City. (Photo source: Wonderbrett)

OG Kush was so in-demand that it led to Feldman crossing paths with Xzibit, Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem and B-Real. His crop allowed him behind the scenes access to Los Angeles’ late 90s, early 2000s hip-hop arena, and namely the creation of Dr. Dre’s 2001 album. “That started with me taking a risk, and introducing myself to Xzibit at [Tower Records in Granada Hills]. It was basically like, ‘Hey man, call me, I’d love to hook you up with some really good weed. I have this fire Kush’ … He ended up calling me and inviting me down to the video shoot. I brought them some kush that I had just finished harvesting. They were all loving it. That was my introduction to that crowd, as being this legendary weed guy to them.”

“I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I was always the guy at the studio with the good weed where it was like, ‘Who got that Brett?’” And just like that, the legend of Brett, or as Xzibit liked to call him: ‘Brett The Super White Man’ was born. Eventually, that was shortened to Brett, which then would evolve into Wonderbrett.

2000s: Pure Kush

From the 90s on, Felman said that customer demand was all about Kush. Pure Kush. “The actual cut of OG Kush was called Pure Kush as well. The reason that came about is before [OG Kush] showed up on the scene here, there was Kush Bubba. You had to have that differientator of the Original Kush, the Kush that made Kush Bubba. The Pure Kush, before it was crossed with anything.”

2014: Pineapple OG

In 2014, Wonderbrett released its first branded strain: Pineapple OG. The logo was a dripping pineapple. It came out at a time where smokers were becoming more interested in the different flavors and strains of weed. “At that time, there were a lot of guys growing OG Kush and calling it different names. Then you had the beginning of Cookies coming on the scene. The Sin Mint Cookies strain really opened a lot of the doors of people wanting to try new flavors finally. That’s when we put the Pineapple out, then we put the Strawberry out, the Clementine, Orange Banana.”

2018: Pink Picasso

Wonderbrett bred Candyland x OZK way back in 2013, but didn’t find the Pink Picasso phenotype until 2017. 

“When we popped those seeds, we were really excited to see what we created. We popped the Lemon OZK, the Candyland crossed with OGK. At the time it wasn’t called Pink Picasso because we hadn’t found the phenotype that was like, ‘wow this strain is crazy.’ We knew it would be a hit immediately.” 

After finding Pink Picasso, Wonderbrett shut down for a bit to transition from the medical to adult-use market in California. Then, on October 27, 2018, at the Cookies Melrose opening, Wonderbrett relaunched their brand and finally brought Pink Picasso to the people. “It was pretty historic for us to be relaunching our brand, in that store, on that day. It was a real strong co-sign for B-Real and Berner like, ‘Yo, we’re opening up our store, we want your product here.’”

2021: Chomp

These days, Wonderbrett’s reputation is all about its flagship strains and flavors like Orange Sunset, Pink Picasso, OZK, Grapes of Wrath — the list goes on. Additionally, they’ve moved into collaborations, like the Pineapple OZK with B-Real and their latest: Chomp with Russ

Still, it’s about the plant, and just working with people that Feldman actually likes. It’s not some big, corny, marketing play for huge buckets of money. 

“The first four months of [2021] we’ve put out Chomp [with Russ], Pineapple OZK with B-Real, and we’re going to put out a Peaches strain next month. We’re constantly striving to bring innovation and flavor to the menu with how we deliver the experience to people. We just keep expanding and trying to build the relationship with our customers with more flavors.” 

Find Wonderbrett strains and products on Weedmaps

Featured image courtesy of Wonderbrett. Graphic by Britt Rivas/Weedmaps

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