22 Best Brands of 2022

By Benjamin M. Adams, Jimi Devine, Ellen Holland, and Ashley Kern

Brand-building is big business, particularly in cannabis where customer loyalty reigns supreme when it comes to success. Whether it was in making new types of cannabis, growing quality flowers, or crafting terpy and potent concentrates and delicious edibles, here are our picks of some of the brands that defined 2022.


Compound Genetics 

Compound Genetics went into 2022 riding on a high and just kept on sailing along. Massive seed drops and a variety of people taking home trophies all over North America with their gear are seemingly commonplace for them at this point, but it’s still impressive.

We’ve had a front-row seat to their breeding efforts since the move to San Francisco a few years ago and then the eventual partnership with Node Labs where they phenohunt and stress test the new gear to make sure it’s commercially viable. From that work we’ve seen names like Jokerz, Red Bullz, and Pave explode onto the scene.

“2022 has been a year of adapting to my surroundings, opportunities, and adversities,” founder Chris Lynch says. “High levels of success bring new challenges that constantly test your ability to perform and stay consistent. I’m grateful for where I am in this industry and what I’ve achieved with Compound Genetics. Being in my position is something I take seriously, it’s a unique responsibility that’s driven by my passion for quality. I’m excited for the next chapters with this special plant and where they take me.” 

Don’t expect anything to slow down in the near future. This year for The Emerald Cup Compound is releasing the Jokerz line. The pairing of Jet Fuel Gelato and White Runtz was one of the strains that Compound used to launch their flower line earlier this year. The community is thirsty for a new round of crosses from it. 

It’s also fair to expect Compound’s international profile to continue to build. There are a few factors contributing to that including their collaboration efforts with Green House Seed Co. and their partnership with Paradise Seeds to facilitate European distribution.

As for what strains to keep an eye on, we saw a phenotype of Apples & Bananas x Pave that was batshit heat, but we’re sure you can expect a few more than that in 2023. -JD

Triple Lindy by Blueprint (Courtesy Blueprint)


As we mentioned in our strains of the year write-up, few have ever had a year similar to the one the Blueprint team had in 2022.

Even a couple months before they hit shelves in the summer of 2022, the hype was percolating hard. A lot of the biggest names in Sacramento, and hence elite cannabis in general, were saying to keep an eye out for what Blueprint had in store. They were not wrong.

The first drop featured names like P90 and Triple Lindy. They are still top of the food chain heat a year-and-a-half later as we noted in our favorite strains of 2022 where we highlighted the Triple Lindy.

One of the things that we got a kick out of about Blueprint was how close they’ve kept the cards to their chest when it comes to genetics. Most of the time lineage has a lot to do with what gets people excited. A lot of the hype we see in weed in general comes from the next generation of something with a known pedigree. Unlike these companies that push their genetics lines and work as the basis of their ethos, the fire behind Blueprint is pure heat. And the community figured that out quickly. Never will you hear anyone complaining because they don’t know the makeup of Blueprint’s genetics, they’re just happy they got to smoke it in the first place.

Blueprint sifts through roughly 140 new flavors every couple of months. We will continue to be wildly excited to try what they find and grow to some of the highest quality levels on the globe. We expect 2023 to see the same level of heat that won them the second edition of Zalympix and what a lot of people thought was the best flower at the industry mega show Hall of Flowers where they could be compared directly against the rest of the pack. -JD

Backpack Boyz 

Since its founding as a delivery service in the Prop 215 era between cannabis powerhouses San Francisco and Sacramento, the Backpack Boyz have had a complete dedication to the absolute flame.

“So what I was trying to do at the time, was I was trying to get all of the buds that everyone wanted to smoke but didn’t have access to,” Backpack Boyz founder Juan Quesada told High Times. “I wanted to get that all under one banner and kind of be that one guy that you can see and can get everything from. So, long story short, that was kind of really where it started.”

When he first got the ball rolling he had a lot of deep connections on the cultivation side, but a lot of the product he was moving was white label heat from Sacramento. Eventually, the people coming for that Sac heat started asking Quesada about the flavors he was curating more locally. It was a big confidence booster for him.

Most famously, he would pop Lemon Cherry Gelato from bag seed in 2017. (We go into the full tale in our strains of the year section.) This would catapult the Backpack Boyz into California’s elite. They would eventually open their first retail location in early 2021. Two more would follow by the end of the year.

The brand has done particularly well in making inroads in Southern California after its initial founding up north. Quesada says having the heat helped but he gave his SoCal partners a lot of credit for helping him handle all the local hurdles that came with expanding the company’s footprint across the state.

In 2023, you can definitely expect the Backpack Boyz to keep stocking all the most elite cannabis in the state while continuing to curate a few exceptional flavors of their own. -JD

Fidel’s Hash Hole combines rosin and flower. (Courtesy Fidel’s)


The third and youngest son of L.A.’s favorite weed family (his older brother Serge is behind Cookies Maywood and his other older brother Aram is behind Gas No Breaks) saw one of the most epic 2022s of just about anyone and his new cultivation facility didn’t even open until the end of the year.

Helping backbone the big year was the rise of the hash hole, arguably the most exotic pre-roll currently available in California. Fidel first encountered the hash hole in Barcelona years ago at Spannabis. The locals would roll up an eighth with some rosin in it to celebrate the weed making it from California—or just to flex.

Back then, Fidel was already growing heat. After spending six years in Beirut from age 12 to 18, he returned to Los Angeles where he spent many years working in a hydro shop. Those years at the grow shop was where he dialed in his game and earned the name Fidel Hydro.

On a trip back to visit friends and family in Lebanon, one of his friends designed the now well-known logo. After that, the race was on. Things have gone so well with his brand that he’s even got his parents in on the act these days. He bought a printer for their house where they do quality control on all his packaging.

Earlier this year at Spannabis, he hosted one of the event’s most popping parties, the Hash Holes and Donuts event at Cookies Barcelona. Later in the summer, Fidel’s would take home top honors at The Transbay Challenge IV: Hollywood with his pairing of Kush Mints and Zkittlez.

And we can’t emphasize enough that all this happened before his facility was even open. Expect to see Fidel’s flower on even more dispensary shelves across California soon. Until that day, you can still get your hands on hash holes—if you see them on a menu, pull the trigger quickly. They don’t last long since they’re worth big money outside the state, they are one of the few packaged products there is true value in moving compared to bulk flowers in big quantities. -JD

710 Labs 

The name 710 Labs is synonymous with small batch quality with myopic attention to detail. Every good concentrate must begin with a good strain, and the company’s cultivation operations are steadily growing. 710 Labs attributes that growth to their commitment to integrity in the cultivation process.

“We’ve had a lot of growth in the past year, which wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t stay true to what got us here: quality focused small batches with a wide variety of flavors,” says Richard Sciascia, vice president of cultivation.

Even though 710 Labs has expanded from its homebase in Colorado to California, they still adopt the same principles they’ve observed since the beginning when they launched as a much smaller operation a decade ago. Part of that is allowing the unique and individual traits of cultivars to shine. That can’t happen when producers pump out mass amounts of a single strain. 

“We aren’t monocropping rooms with one genetic, we flower rooms with one cultivar per bench,” Sciascia says. “Other companies—a fraction of our size—are growing batches many times larger with one genetic. That doesn’t excite us.”

Some of that quality is lost when companies bank on strain yields alone, or other aspects that don’t necessarily benefit the consumer.

“We love this plant and all her expressions, and want to see cultivar diversity in our offerings to the consumer,” Sciascia says. “Palate is subjective, and if we limited ourselves to the 10 hottest strains of the year, we’d be doing a disservice to the connoisseur and casual smoker alike.”

710 Labs houses a genetic library that varies between 150-200 unique cultivars, rotating between old, new, experimental, and the tried-and-true. Some classics associated with 710 Labs—Ghost Hulk #25, Black Mamba #6, and Randy Watzon—are grown regularly, sometimes shelved for six months, and others are discarded quickly to make way for new additions. Over 80% of their library has been selected by the 710 Labs team from seed. Pheno hunting is part of the agenda and selections depend on whether the end result is hash or dried flower.

Currently the focus at 710 Labs is finding rare terp combos in newer cultivars.

“The never ending terp quest is what excites us, and we hope you feel the same,” Sciascia says.

Beyond flower, 710 Labs live resin pens passed the bar among highly critical vape reviewers. Their solventless water hash, rosin, and rosin sap are no joke, as they begin with flavorful flowers. Persy sauce is also a squishy new addition to their concentrate lineup, as the trichomes are preserved in the first wash to maximize flavor. -BA

Apple Fritter (Courtesy Veritas)


“Veritas” is Latin for “the truth,” and it’s all about transparency at this Colorado-based operation. The Veritas team is currently working with Node Labs to produce new genetics, and with that, they will be producing healthy clones set to be released to the public in early 2023.

Narrowing down those clones is a long, meticulous process, and incorporating the right technology is key in keeping things organized and avoiding losing track of special genetics.

“We take about 400 different cuts, and then those have been removed from the mom and manicured [and placed] into our cloners,” says Jordan Plunkett, marketing director of Veritas. “And from there, it takes about 14 days.”

Part of their operations incorporate equipment that is exactly what you’d expect, while other processes are unique to the company. Veritas plants flower in atmosphere-controlled environments under high pressure sodium lights. The crew then adds as many as 100 bamboo stakes to help spread out branches and maximize trichome development.

“We have bamboo stakes that we use in our plants,” Plunkett says. “This is something that we have not seen any other cultivators doing. The reason behind it is that we believe it gives more stability. And then they actually utilize these stakes to track where it’s at in the process. So this is a very unique kind of opportunity to really take care of our plants the right way. It’s definitely not an easy process; We don’t take the easy approach to this by any means, but we do believe that this will give us a better quality.”

Veritas recently released infused joints, containing 1 gram of Veritas flower and 0.25 grams of ice hash. In 2021, they also released a limited-edition half-ounce offering that resembled a drink holder you’d get from a fast food joint and contained a four-pack of eighths. Stay tuned for more unusual products that you won’t find anywhere else. -BA

Viola Brands 

Al Harrington’s Viola Brands, named after his grandmother who turned to medical cannabis to battle glaucoma, is a blueprint for success in the world of cannabis. You can tell by the company’s high-end promotions, packaging, and most of all—their consistent quality flower.

This isn’t by accident. No spur-of-the-moment decisions are made when it comes to narrowing down cultivars at Viola. The company’s cultivation team will grow new genetics several times over before deciding if it makes the cut.

“When bringing in new genetics, we grade each on bag appeal, yield, and testing both THC and terpenes,” says Tanner Steele, Viola’s vice president of operations. “Generally, we like to grow new genetics three to six times before releasing them to market. This ensures everything we produce thrives in our environments to provide a consistent customer experience.”

Both cultivation and processing take place at Viola’s original 12,000-square-foot facility in Colorado. The company has expanded well beyond the limits of Colorado, however. In Falls City, Oregon, Viola operates an 80,000-square-foot facility. In Detroit, Michigan, Viola operates a 46,000-square-foot cultivation facility as well as a provisioning center. In Detroit, 40 cultivars are rotated each year. The process begins with the seed.

“When we look to bring unique or different genetics to the market, we start with seeds,” Steele says. “Most Viola strains are a result of several rounds of pheno hunting to get the best genetics for our environment.”

Clone mothers are rotated and replaced on a regular basis. “When re-populating our flower rooms we clone from moms whose genetics have already been proven to provide yield, appeal, and testing for THC and terpenes,” Steele says. “We keep our moms alive for two to three months maximum before replacing them with a new mom from the genetic line.”

Beyond cannabis, the Viola Cares community engagement branch works to reinvest in struggling communities and promote social equity inside the cannabis industry. Last year, the company launched the Harrington Institute of Cannabis Education, with the help of the Cleveland School of Cannabis to provide an online curriculum designed to prepare students to work in the cannabis industry. Viola also launched an accelerator to help cannabis start-ups get a foot on the ground, and it has a very specific goal: to create 100 Black millionaires within the cannabis space. This is because they believe Black business owners face the most challenges in this industry. -BA

Freddy’s Fuego (Courtesy Freddy’s Fuego)

Freddy’s Fuego 

Pirate-themed Freddy’s Fuego, a Tier 3 producer/processor in Washington state, adopts a more interactive way of narrowing down the finest fire in the state from an assortment of breeders. Freddy’s annual pheno hunt called “The Hunt” is a spectacle, as the public judges new cultivar cuts on the Hunt Scorecard with questions about visual aspects, taste, aroma, and overall appeal. It’s almost like hunting for booty and gold.

“Freddy’s embodies the pirate archetype—the fearless soul of exploration and a loyalty to evolution as we navigate the uncharted waters of the industry,” says Freddy’s Fuego Marketing Director Blake Stango. “Always on ‘The Hunt’ to find the freshest and rarest genetics.”

Freddy’s Fuego was founded in 2013 by Ben Davis and Tim Haggerty. Since then, Freddy’s has won numerous awards including Best Indoor Grown Hybrid Flower for a fire batch of LA Cookies at Dope Cup Washington in 2018 and three awards in one year at the 2019 High Times Cannabis Cup Seattle for Larry Cake flower and pre-rolls, as well as Guava Jelly, named after a sensual Bob Marley song.

Like High Times People’s Choice Cannabis Cups, during The Hunt, they don’t limit the judges to exclusive experts. Anyone can login, fill out a Hunt Scorecard and begin judging.

“This year in August, we popped 520 different seeds from about 10 to 15 different breeders—40 different strains,” Freddy’s Fuego Director of Cultivation Roger Hale says of the event that generates a fair amount of excitement in the Northwest region.

“Our process for running through the pheno hunt is we pop all those seeds out of the rockwool, grow them for X amount of time until they’re large enough to basically go into flower,” Hale says. “At that point, we take a bunch of clones from them to produce moms stock, throw them into flower, flower those babies out, get strain notes on them: how they grew, what the yield is, the output inside of our environment, how our feed was, everything.”

Judges choose their favorites in the Hunt Scorecard based on flavor, uniqueness profile, all the good things that everybody’s looking for.

The first iteration of The Hunt begins in January every year, with subsequent judging rounds taking place in the following months. “We release all of those flavors to the public right around January and let everybody try them out,” Hale says. “Everybody gets to vote on which strains they want to have go into the next iteration of The Hunt.”

They continue to narrow down strains in subsequent rounds going into the summer. Freddy’s Fuego then takes that information and advances to the next step of The Hunt, the harvest, when the team gets the strain data back. “The last iteration of our hunt, we run those through the end of summer, choose our top four to six cultivars that we’re going to put into finalists based on what the public chooses,” Hale says.

Then Freddy’s throws a big party at the end of the year and lets everybody check out the new strains and vote on their favorite phenos. The company then takes those and begins producing them for the next year under their exclusive Freddy’s Finest label which is basically their black label collection. This allows the public to take part in the cultivar selection and judging process. 

Consumers can buy limited edition eighths of The Hunt selections. -BA

Exotic Genetix 

Few companies have racked up as many Cannabis Cup wins as Exotic Genetix. This seed bank, based in Washington state, has produced so many classic cultivars that if you haven’t smoked at least one, you better start the roll up right now. A standout includes the 2018 classic Rainbow Chip, a winning combination of Sunset Sherbert and Mint Chocolate Chip. With Kush and Cookies in the family tree, Rainbow Chip has gas.

“That was pre-Runtz people wanted the gasses, the fuels,” breeder Mike explains of the older Rainbow Chip release. “They range in aromas, the gassy fuel to some of the Rainbows are kind of funky, soggy. Some of them have like a nice ice cream/sherby/gas element to it.”

Founded in 2008, Exotic Genetix also gave the world Kimbo Kush and Grease Monkey. In 2022, we tried a lovely version of Funky Charms, Rainbow Chip x Grease Monkey, grown by Wood Wide High Craft.

In 2022, Exotic Genetix released a line of Red Runtz crosses in feminized seeds, a follow-up to the success of a 2021 Red Runtz line release.

“It was super popular, it erupted,” Mike says of the 2021 release. “I told myself after that release, like I’m only going to once, I’m not trying to stick around on Runtz because, you know, it’s the hype thing. And don’t get me wrong, Runtz is hype, but also there’s a reason for it because it’s good shit.”

He says Runtz, when paired with his genetic line-up, gave it a different edge by providing that “Runtz flair candy” taste the market was craving.

“Now, I’m going to try not to do any more Runtz. It’s hard, because people ask me every day like when’s the Greasy Runtz going to drop and I’m like ‘Fuck. I’m not doing Runtz anymore,’ but I do have a Greasy Runtz line-up just waiting to be released,” he says with a laugh.

Working with feminized seeds has been a key in his success.

“When you do feminized seeds, you take an amazing strain in female form and you manipulate a few things and you can reverse that female and make it release male pollen,” Mike explains. “When you do that, and you use that pollen on your receiver, so to speak, all your other strains, it makes all those seeds that you made feminized. So, now you end up with seeds that you don’t get any males from.”

When creating new kinds of cannabis the results generally either suck or are amazing, there isn’t much in between, he says.

“Ever since I started reversing things that started awesome and making feminized seeds with those amazing starting plants, or the starting plant that I reverse, most of the things they come out amazing,” Mike says. “I don’t mean that like I’m full of myself. I mean like when you choose a male that you can’t see how it’s expressed in female form. It’s hard for you to get a predisposition of how that’s going to breed until you do it a couple times and see what your offspring do. But with the female that you reverse, you already know… it’s kind of a cheating step, but it’s there for a reason and ever since it’s been a told that I’ve used I haven’t turned back because it saves you a lot of time of hunting, going through stuff that isn’t what you’re looking for.”

Mike gained the nickname “Big Stimmy” during the pandemic for Instagram live broadcasts during the time of government stimulus efforts in which he was giving away seed packs. Big Stimmy hosted the “Milk Show” which was full of people pouring milk on unsuspecting victims for prizes.

In the future, look out for the next release of Gary Poppins, Gary Payton x Red Pop. -EH

Archive Seed Bank

Ask a legendary cannabis breeder what they’re smoking and they’ll likely flip the question around to the one thing that is ever-present in their mind: selecting, creating, and cultivating new types of flowers. That was the case when we caught up with Archive Seed Bank breeder Fletcher Watson as he drove to his grow room to continue sifting through what will become a new line of genetics, the Flavour Pack reversal feminized line. The journey breeders go through to bring new cultivars into our lungs are immense. When we speak, Watson’s getting down to the final stages of selection. He’s taken the Flavour Pack cultivar he created and reversed the plant to produce male pollen. Next, he took that male pollen and combined it with 60 different varieties of cannabis. He’s grown out 30 types from the seed stock so far, this is only the initial run. 

“I’ve got about 150 to 200 seed plants of those Flavour Pack hybrids with all kinds of other stuff that I’m literally on my way driving to right now, to go through the samples and start picking through the population,” he says over a phone call in early fall. 

Flavour Pack, which is only one of the seed lines Watson is working on simultaneously with others, blends together old and new genetics in the cannabis family tree. It’s a cross of Hollywood Pure Kush, an OG Kush cut, with a newer one of Watson’s creations, Moonbow (Zkittlez x Do-Si-Dos).

“Essentially what we do is try to improve certain cultivars that are either popular in the market—the terpene profile is popular in the market and I just like it personally a lot—and mix it with a bunch of old weird stuff that may not have market appeal,” Watson says. “The reason I breed cannabis is I want to, in one way or another, improve upon a variety.” 

Watson was 16 when he started growing weed and career-wise, it’s all he’s ever done. His nickname “ThaDocta” comes from a screen name he chose back in those days, one he gained from his time at the skatepark, where he hurt himself so often he started carrying a medical kit.

Archive was founded in Oregon in 2011 and has since blessed the world with many award-winning strains. Archive’s OGKB was one of the parents of Do-Si-Dos. Rainbow Belts (Moonbow x Zkittlez) came out in 2017 and is still crushing the competition scene. Watson sent out Rainbow Belts genetics to about 50 people in 2020 and once it reached the clone-seller market it exploded. It has the fruity Zkittlez terps that people love, combined with a kushy dankness. 

“The reason you don’t see too much Zkittlez on the market is it’s such a difficult plant for most people to grow,” Watson explains. “By expanding a line that has that terpene profile really well stabilized within the population, people are able to take advantage of that market that wants that smell and flavor, but get better plants, with better yields and higher [THC] tests making it more marketable to the broader consumer.”

And when an Archive cultivar reaches that stage it can really pop. In 2022, Archive Seeds released Dark Rainbow 2.0. On its website Archive explains the first generation, Dark Rainbow 1.0, used GMO combined with Moonbow and carried the gassy flavors of the GMO alongside the lime candy taste of Moonbow. The second generation is GMO combined with Planet Purple, the offspring of which is generally not sweet, but “raunchy stank breath rotten meat gas tank stank.” Watson says this one is great for hash, which Archive also makes and carries in its Portland, Oregon shop along with house flowers and clones.

“My breeding is less of knowing exactly what I’m trying to make, it’s more of throwing darts at the wall and seeing what sticks,” Watson says. -EH

Sunday Goods 

Sunday Goods (owned by its parent company The Pharm) is based in Arizona and focuses on producing quality cannabis combined with feel-good vibes.

Although Arizona is often associated with brutally hot temperatures, Sunday Goods and The Pharm’s flower is grown in a 7-acre, 300,000-square-foot Dutch glass greenhouse in Willcox, Arizona. The climate in Willcox is mild compared to other parts of the state and often sees more rainfall than Phoenix or Tucson, making it a good place to grow quality cannabis (although many other agricultural goods thrive there as well).

Some of the brand’s most high-demand products include high-potency THC strains, including one called Bangers x Mac.

“That’s a cross between Headbanger and Miracle Alien Cookies (MAC), and it’s a super dank, very diesely, piney strain,” says Matt Daley, vice president of marketing for Sunday Goods.

Not only does Sunday Goods flower take advantage of the mild climate, the location of the grow is also home to a geothermal well that The Pharm uses to reduce heating needs during the colder months, helping to reduce energy consumption.

Alongside its own flower Sunday Goods offers a wide variety of other local cannabis brands, all of which align with the brand’s desire to offer consumers with the best products to help them feel their “Sunday best.”

Sunday Goods is dedicated to the support of the cannabis community, having partnered with the Last Prisoner Project to raise funds and help the organization continue to fight against cannabis injustice. In November 2021, Sunday Goods joined with Arizona NORML to host expungement clinics for those who have low-level cannabis offenses on their records.

“We’re just looking to provide relief, a pathway to creativity, an outstretched hand to an elevated sense of being because I think all of us here at Sunday Goods believe that everyone stands to benefit from what this plant can deliver,” Daley says. -AK


Wyld is one of the most recognizable and popular cannabis edibles brands. Praised for its consistency across multiple markets (it began in Oregon but has since spread to Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington), Wyld earned its place as a top brand by producing a line of fruit-forward gummies.

According to Wyld Corporate Communications Specialist Rachael Smith, there are three flavors in particular that consumers have fallen in love with.

“Our top three national bestsellers are elderberry 2:1 THC:CBN indica-enhanced, raspberry sativa-enhanced, and huckleberry hybrid-enhanced gummies,” Smith says. “Most states follow this same trend with elderberry leading the pack. Recent sales data shows Wyld leading the country nationally with the top six edible products in the U.S. and with nine products in the top 20—more than any other single brand.”

The Wyld supply team goes to great lengths to ensure that each product includes the advertised amount of potency.

We use a three-test process to ensure a high-quality end product,” Smith says. “Test one: cannabis extract is tested before we receive it to ensure quality and potency. Test two: Our cannabis-infused coconut oil is tested again in house to ensure appropriate dosing in our products. Test three: Once made, the edibles are tested again to certify they are consistent with our exacting potency standards. The last test also includes random selection of products for testing by a third-party lab. All of our third-party testing is conducted by state-certified lab partners.”

Wyld is also dedicated to sustainability, going as far as providing an annual social and environmental impact report (data for 2022 is set to be released during the first half of 2023).

“We’ll be launching our new solventless hash rosin gummy brand in select markets in the fourth quarter of this year,” Smith says. “In 2023, in addition to rolling out compostable packaging in the U.S., our plans include expanding further into the Midwest and East Coast and, as always, we look forward to offering new real fruit flavors with innovative cannabinoid content—keep your eyes on Wyld, we’ve got so much more to offer.” -AK

High Road Edibles 

Montana is known for its vast landscapes, pristine natural beauty, and as of Jan. 1, 2022, adult-use cannabis.

High Road Edibles predates this monumental shift from medical to adult-use sales, having established itself in 2019. The brand was founded by Michael Zens and Ben Miller, two college roommates who enjoy spending time outdoors and sought out to develop a cannabis brand exclusive to their home state.

All of High Road Edibles products are made with full-spectrum cannabis extract. Hybrid cannabis strains come from Sacred Sun Farms, and indica- or sativa-leaning strains come from Collective Elevation, both of which are farms based out of Bozeman, Montana, located in the southern part of the state. High Road Edibles is also partnered with a local dispensary, Dancing Goat Gardens.

The brand features an assortment of gummies, chocolate bars, and mints.

“We started with kind of trying to pick flavors that we thought match the mood state and the strain types we were using,” Miller says. “So more kind of bright, energizing flavors for things like sativa, and more kind of deep, rich flavors for the indica. And then for the hybrid, we kind of just tried to hit those quintessential candy flavors that we all really enjoy, you know, peach and green apple on the gummies, cinnamon on the mint, and then that coffee almond on the chocolate bar.”

Zens adds that their sativa-leaning strawberry flavor gummy sells the best in the Bozeman/southern Montana area, where people tend to be more active. However, in the northern part of the state, around Kalispell and Whitefish, there are more older consumers who prefer the indica-leaning blood orange gummies. This summer, High Road Edibles released a huckleberry flavor, in honor of the berry of the same name that populates the northern parts of the U.S. and is a celebrated summertime ingredient (Zens and Miller joke that huckleberries are a prominent food source for wild bears, as well as tourists).

While the state’s medical cannabis program was restrictive, Montana’s adult-use program has helped open things up. According to Zens, it has allowed the local cannabis community to develop and grow.

It’s been really kind of fun to actually like, get out there and meet everyone,” Zens says. “Because in the restrictive market, everyone was kind of competing against each other a little bit more. We’re in this wholesale recreational market, everyone can kind of specialize in something and support each other and link up, and kind of create a community that wasn’t there before as much.”

Both Miller and Zens enjoy floating in the various rivers in Montana, but agree that cannabis consumption can be an enjoyable companion for numerous other outdoor activities including hiking. The founding duo alluded to new flavors and products coming out in 2023.  -AK

Aether Gardens 

Located in the northeast corner of Las Vegas, Nevada, Aether Gardens’ state-of-the-art facility covers 120,000 square feet divided into numerous sections including cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, and distribution. It was recently ranked #10 on a list of MJ Unpacked’s hottest Nevada-based cannabis brands, which is no surprise since it won two placements in the Cannabis Cup Nevada: People’s Choice Edition in 2021: 2nd place for best indica with Slurricane #7, and 1st place for indica concentrates with Banana ice water indica live rosin. Aether Gardens also has a 2019 High Times Cannabis Cup Nevada 1st place win for hybrid concentrates with Zweet Insanity.

According to Aether Gardens Cannabis Officer Justin Hernandez, consumers should keep an eye out for the popular strain MAC that has been thriving in the facility. Strains like Blue Cheese, Banana, and Blue Java are also popular. Online, Aether Gardens recently showcased its ultra-sweet, flavor-packed strains Mimosé (Mimosa x Rosé) and Terple (Tropicana Cookies x Slurricane #7).

Aether Gardens has been producing cannabis out of its facility since 2018, and, over the years, has continued to develop its tissue culture lab, which now houses 400 cannabis varieties. All of the strains are grown in a structure that takes advantage of sunlight through the use of glass panels. The company also formulates its own nutrient line.

Other areas of the facility are dedicated to the creation of numerous extraction products, from concentrates to edibles. Aether Gardens’ production also serves many other brand partners, such as house brand The Fifty Five as well as STIIIZY, Binske, Huni Labs, Pro Canna, and Hervé. -AK

Mountaintop Extracts 

Mountaintop Extracts has been helping patients gain access to clean, effective cannabis medicine since 2012, but now that adult-use sales is legal in New Mexico (effective as of April 1, 2022), the brand continues to offer quality cannabis products to a wider market.

The Mountaintop Extracts logo features a towering mountain inspired by the Sandia Mountains, which overlooks the city of Albuquerque where the brand is based. Mountaintop Extracts is 100% family-owned, and founder Eric Merryman holds his brand to the highest standard when producing cannabis products for consumers.

“At Mountaintop [Extracts] we really focus on clean, consistent safe medicine and are committed to the educational process so much needed in our industry,” Merryman says. “We are extremely passionate about what we do and have been very fortunate to attract like-minded employees who are making a difference in our industry.”

Joel Krukar, director of business development and marketing at Mountaintop Extracts, explains that the brand utilizes proprietary methods and techniques, which it’s been perfecting for years, to ensure that all of its products are of the highest quality.

“That’s what makes our edibles different. Our vape cartridges are live resin true full spectrum…We don’t cut it with anything. Nothing is reintroduced,” Krukar says. “And our diamonds became a huge success, [they were] really big in the beginning because we were one of the first [in the state] to actually really master growing large grade diamonds. I believe the largest diamond, it was like 7 grams, actually. So we have techniques to really grow very rich, large diamonds.”

And Mountaintop Extracts has the accolades to prove it too. At the 2018 Essie Awards hosted by Kurple Magazine, Mountaintop Extracts took home awards for best infused product, best edible, and best concentrate.

A longtime favorite of medical cannabis patients, Krukar says that the brand’s gummies are one of their biggest sellers.

“Our gummies are by far the highest velocity products we have. We are producing more units of gummies per month than anything else,” Krukar says. “But it’s also sometimes a condition of the market. And I personally love our vapes, and people love our vapes as well too, because we’re the only ones providing that live resin, true full-spectrum, full-integrity vape cartridge.”

In the very near future, Mountaintop Extracts has plans to reveal a new logo, new packaging, and a new patent-pending product to add to its current lineup. –AK


3rd Coast Genetics

There’s a reason behind why Michigan-based 3rd Coast Genetics calls itself “the swank of dank.” As purveyors of some of Michigan’s finest cannabis, 3rd Coast Genetics focuses on the strange and the unique. The team behind 3rd Coast Genetics are the creators of Smorez, Butterfingaz, and many other strains that are sought after in the Midwest. 3rd Coast Genetics cultivar names will grab your attention, and they’ll stand out from the typical strains that you see every day.

“I am the creative force behind 3rd Coast Genetics,” Max Yields tells High Times. “The 3rd Coast is the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan—the place where I call home.”

Yields is the creator of Oreoz, Pure Michigan, Tagalonz, and many other strains, armed with a passion for breeding and love for pushing the boundaries of quality. “3rd Coast” generally refers to the Great Lakes area in the Midwest. It’s too easy to ignore the fire that comes out of Michigan when it’s overshadowed by countless other brands.

Some of these rare finds include crosses like Walfredo (MAC 1 x Peanut Butter Breath) or Thick Strawberry Goo (Red Pop x Pure Michigan) with 10 beans per bag.

Some other strains that caught our attention—with a little help from the creative names—were Spock’s Brain (Grease Monkey x Peanut Butter Breath) and Wolverine (Animal Cookies x Pure Michigan). But don’t get distracted by the names, because 3rd Coast Genetics retains the quality you want, preserving those subtle traits.

“I feel the most important thing that I do, the one thing at the epicenter of all of my hard work, is the practice of selecting unique and amazing traits,” Yields says. “Everything is dependent upon genetics and being able to recognize the component that makes something so special or unique, even if those traits are subtle.” -BA

Pure Options/Pro Gro 

What makes Pure Options unique? Perhaps it’s the company’s connection to the local community in Michigan. “Our success ultimately is deeply rooted in our community here in Lansing,” says Pure Options Director of Pro Gro, Jacob Nelson.

Pure Options has been in operations since 2011 and has become a staple source of craft cannabis in Michigan. One of the team’s long-term goals has been to make it into the spotlight and operate a craft cannabis business at a larger scale.

“We built our foundation as a very small team operating in the traditional market taking great caution to keep our heads down and stay focused on this mission,” Nelson says. “It was during this time that we built our culture in preparation for our future. So, when people ask us what makes Pure Options unique our answer is always the same, it’s our team and it’s culture.”

Pure Options’ uniqueness isn’t defined by any particular special process or “secret sauce.” The entire team Pure Options are students of cultivation. Small details matter, and cutting corners for profit is never an option, Nelson says. Every day is an opportunity to learn, refine processes, and improve the final product. This mindset is fueled by passion for the plant.

“Thankfully for us our love for the craft and attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed,” Nelson says. “Our team’s passion and culture has helped us deliver high quality cannabis to the Michigan market at scale and along the way we’ve been able to secure some amazing partnerships by proxy.”

Some of Pure Options’ partnerships include collaborations with Archive Seed Bank, DEO Farms, Wizard Trees, and Skunk House Genetics. This has given the team the opportunity to raise their platform with exclusive strains from some of the best breeders in the industry.

“The entire Pure Options team is excited for what the future holds,” Nelson says. “We cannot wait to operate on the national stage next and are thankful for everyone who has helped reach our goals along the way. It was all a dream, and teamwork truly does make the dream work.” -BA


Aerīz, pronounced like “arise,” is the producer of aeroponically grown flower, as well as full-spectrum hash oil, sugar, diamonds and sauce, budder, and many other products. They are “the largest aeroponic cannabis cultivator in the world,” according to their website. The company probably focuses on root health more than most typical producers.

Roots are misted in Aerīz’s custom-fitted tables, where cultivators have full control over nutrient uptake. The closed-loop system helps the team to minimize nutrient waste. While it’s a system that would cause a novice grower to most likely fail, the team at Aerīz have perfected the practice.

“We grow aeroponically, for basically two main reasons,” Aerīz Senior Producer Ian Krass tells High Times. “One is the quality of the flower. And the second is the environment. So the easier thing is the environment, which has an aeroponic growing process.”

Krass went on to say that the grow medium is recyclable, and that they’re not using any soil, so there’s a lot less waste. “Our water nutrient solution that the roots get nested with is recycled in a closed-loop system,” he explains. “So, you know, basically, it’s the least waste you could possibly generate growing cannabis. And, you know, being environmentally friendly is definitely at the core of our mission.”

Aerīz’s aeroponically grown flower is sometimes converted into full-spectrum hash oil, distillate, sugar, shatter, budder, and infused honey sticks.

Aerīz is currently partnering with a company called Pachamama, that does carbon offsets. Quality is achieved using a closed loop, computer-controlled nutrient delivery system. The team is very precise in terms of giving the plants exactly “what they need, when they need it.”

Aerīz has expanded beyond Illinois with operations in Arizona as well. Be sure to check out their powerful cuts of Jenny Kush (generally accepted as Amnesia Haze and Rare Dankness #2) and Pink Kush (King Kush x King Kush). -BA

Helios Hash (Courtesy Helios Hash)

Helios Hash

Helios Hash, a solventless hash producer based out of Maine, rocked the hash world in 2021 with a win at the Ego Clash. The winning entry, a mix of Rainbow Belts with a small amount of Ice Cream Cake, represented a major victory for the family-run brand. After all, they won the well-respected hash event with sungrown plants from their first commercial harvest, and 2022 was only their second season growing.

“It’s your classic Zkittlez,” Stav Anagnost says of the Ego Clash-winning entry. “It’s one of the more sought-after type of terps. We hit it at a good time. A lot of people are growing Rainbow Belts.”

Anagnost runs the company alongside two of his brothers, Alex and Demetri, and believes their Rainbow Belts edged out the competition because of their growing style, which he describes as “West Coast.”

“We grow sungrown and our entire operation is based off of sustainable regenerative farming,” he says. “What we do is we are resin farmers so we strictly grow outdoor plants one time a year, seasonally done for resin and our resin is for hash.”

Hash produced from the resin of sungrown flowers is incomparable and is more flavorful than hash made with indoor flowers, Anagnost says. In sunny California, sungrown flower is decidedly more common than in Maine, where the weather is colder and harsher. But Anagnost argues the weather challenges in Maine contribute to the quality of the hash.

“Resin is a defense mechanism to the plant,” he explains. “So the more that the plant gets certain stressors in its environment allow the plant to produce a better quality and more luscious resin.”

The goal at Helios is always full-melt.

“At the end of the day there’s nothing that can compete with the sun,” Anagnost says. “We’re strictly a hash-based company. Everything we do is sungrown and we believe that’s the best representation of the plant and of the resin.” 

Looking ahead, Helios is hoping to start a breeding project. Their hash, only produced once a year, mirrors the successful wine industry model of select year limited releases. -EH


When it comes to building a brand built on hype, heart, and heat, Kolektor’s got it down. The only things this Bronx-based underground cultivator says he won’t put out is the stuff that you can find everywhere. Don’t look to Kolektor for Gelato or Runtz; he came up in the era of Platinum Girl Scout Cookies and started growing after getting tired of seeing the same old flowers. “I feel like the market is so oversaturated with those things. You can get them anywhere so there’s no point in me growing those cultivars,” he says over a phone call. “Everybody else is doing it and I’m trying to create my own lane.”

Right now, his lane seems wide open as he looks towards licensing and continues to mingle with California cannabis elite heading across the country to explore the burgeoning New York scene. He’s got West Coast growing experience and, through Instagram marketing, has already met a few major players in California cannabis.

“California knows that New York is a bigger market,” Kolektor says. “California has always been at the top of the game in production, and New York has been just buying. So now you have a bunch of local growers popping up, which is really cool.”

When we speak in early fall, Kolektor has just got through the last of other breeders’ genetics and popped 100 seeds of his own to grow out. The male he’s currently working with is a Black Mamba crossed with four different female cultivars. The results are just unnamed crosses for now, Candy Cane x Black Mamba, a Honey Banana x Black Mamba, a Grape Pie x Black Mamba, and an unrevealed fourth. Kolektor’s also creating his own genetics with Purple Taipan (Grape Pie x Black Mamba) pollen and says the hope is that the brand can create a menu “fully curated, bred, and grown by us.” When we connect, he’s just harvested a Sherb Breath, Sunset Sherbert x Mendo Breath.

“It’s super heavy on the Mendo Breath so you get a lot of that like savory terps, almost like a beef soup, beef stew or something, it’s real weird,” he says.

Kolektor grew up in the South Bronx and never thought he’d be able to grow cannabis. Serving in the Army in Afghanistan he saw acres and acres of weed growing in the desert and it hit him that growing it himself might be a possibility. After he got out of the Army, he took some seeds back with him to New York and started experimenting. He’s making plans in terms of gaining official state cultivation licensing and wants to stay close to the Bronx.

“That’s where we can serve the community the best,” he says. “A lot of investors want us to go upstate, but if we go upstate we’re just going to service a bunch of white folks, like our social equity plan will be shit at that point, you know? I’m from the Bronx apartments in Yonkers so we understand how bad the communities have got due to the War on Drugs and the Stop and Frisk era so we want to be able to offer some good opportunities to people in the city that we love.” -EH

Hella Jelly grown by Solar Cannabis Co. (Courtesy Helios Hash)

Solar Cannabis Co. 

Solar Cannabis Co. grows indoors in its main facility in Somerset, Massachusetts within a 67,000-square-foot space. Its solar production allows the company to operate completely energy independent; solar panels cover the entire facility roof as well as an adjacent 4-acre lot. The cultivator also utilizes two high-efficiency CHP (combined heat and power) generators, making natural gas the only utility that Solar Cannabis Co. is hooked up to. It cycles through 10,000 gallons of water a day, but reclaims 90% of that water to be recirculated back into their fertigation watering system (a process which adds fertilizer into an irrigation system).

Solar Cannabis Co.’s Director of Marketing and Communications Derek Gould says the company is constantly striving to reduce its energy footprint.

“A lot of these states where you can only cultivate indoors, at least all year round, it’s definitely important to take a look at the energy footprint and the carbon footprint that we’re leaving, because, it’s huge, it’s massive, and we really just want to do it the right way,” Gould says. “We want to do it upfront, and be a model for other operators, whether current or upcoming, to take a look and identify that, hey, we have a corporate responsibility to operate in a sustainable way.” 

Solar Cannabis Co. is a vertically integrated company, but they also grow vertically to fully take advantage of their facility space. Cannabis plants are cared for on a three-tier rack system, allowing Solar Cannabis Co. to house anywhere between 2,200 to 2,400 plants per room. 

“The way that we have designed our facility is for constant production, we are harvesting a room every week-and-a-half and we’re pulling down. I would say close to 350 to 400 pounds of dried flower per room every one-and-a-half to two weeks. So, you know, we are constantly in mass production,” Gould explains. 

Solar Cannabis Co.’s Vice President of Cultivation Brendan Delaney has a background in cultivation in Trinity County, California and has helped make connections with West Coast cultivators like Compound Genetics and Humboldt Seed Company. A few of their current best sellers are recognizable cultivars like Cherry Punch, Gas Truffle, Hella Jelly, Jelly Runtz, Pink Certz, The Bling, Waffle Cone, and Wedding Cake. 

“What we’ve brought from the West Coast here to the East Coast, they’ve been game changers, everything’s been home runs, for the most part,” says Gould. 

In Massachusetts, vertically integrated cannabis companies are limited to having three retail licenses, and with Solar Cannabis Co. having two in operation and one coming soon to Dartmouth, the brand is expanding its ethos into other markets and holds a retail-only dispensary license in Rhode Island. -AK 

Good Green 

Using cannabis as a way to support Black and brown communities that have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs is a worthwhile commitment. Good Green (owned by Green Thumb Industries) strives to sell affordable cannabis flower while also providing funds to worthy nonprofit organizations.

Split between sativa, hybrid, and indica offerings, Good Green is in several markets: Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, Green Thumb Industries was one of seven multi-state operators to participate in New Jersey’s first day of recreational sales which began on April 21. As a vertically integrated company, Green Thumb has its own grow facility in New Jersey that supplies an “ever-growing portfolio of strains.” Strains like Banana Cream, Animal Face, L’Orange, Jack Herer, and Rebel Sour are a handful of popular strains in New Jersey.

Good Green isn’t just a flower producer though, it also offers its Good Green grant program to help support worthy nonprofit organizations (hence the brand motto “Green that does Good”). There are currently eight nonprofits that have been chosen to receive the Good Green grant, based in various locations such as Illinois, New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. 

Jai Kensey, director of social impact at Green Thumb Industries, explains why it’s so important that cannabis brands give back to the community.

“It’s an obligation and I always say as multi-state operators, it’s our duty to give back to the communities,” Kensey says. “This industry has been built on the backs of Black and brown people, and who have been the most harmed by it. Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis use. And so it’s definitely something where I say it’s very unique for our industry, where it should be part of every bit of our operation in terms of giving back to the communities that have been impacted by it.”

With an extensive, thorough, and rigorous review process, Kensey, along with Social Impact Program Manager Alyssa Estrada and the Good Green brand team, sift through many applicants and score them based on a number of factors. They closely examine each one, scoring them fairly based on three areas: expungement, employment, and education, as well as geographical location and the organization’s financial records to ensure that their funds go toward various programs.

When High Times spoke with Kensey, she shared that they were currently in the process of reviewing over 70 applications for the third round with the intention of choosing four, which will receive a split of $200,000 which was announced in November 2022. This amount helped the brand meet its goal of granting a total of $1.3 million to nonprofits by the end of the year. -AK

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Runtz Brings Its Iconic Strain to the Masses

Since 2017, the global phenomenon that is the Runtz strain has not abated. The brand has remained strong, but this year, newly independent, Runtz is relaunching as a top-tier luxury weed lifestyle brand, with all new Runtz genetics plus the classic strains available in multiple states. More people can finally say that they have smoked real Runtz.

The Runtz phenomenon started at Emerald Cup 2017 in Northern California. Ray Bama and Yung LB got hold of Runtz and started to market it online using social media. Grower Nick Corwin eventually met Ray Bama in the Bay Area through Friends. LB, Ray’s roommate, was an up-and-coming rapper and an informal weed ambassador for Cookies—aka one of the Cookie Boys. Nick discovered Runtz when he combined Zkittlez with Gelato 33, creating a dark purple flower with a distinct candy terp profile. They knew they had something, and they went with the Runtz name to capture that candy terp. 

“When Runtz first came out it was the darkest thing and then when you opened the bag everyone would say candy,” Ray remembers. “At that point there wasn’t really a terp like that besides Zkittlez. But with Zkittlez, the exhale wasn’t quite as candy, as creamy,” Ray says. Nick says that the Gelato 33 upped the Zkittlez potency and added even more of a candy profile. 

The three showed up at Emerald Cup with a little over 300 jars, along with 2,500 Runtz t-shirts to hand out and a group of models rocking the Runtz logo. They camped out in front of the Cookies booth (it was the year Cookies debuted London Pound Cake) where a line formed around them. They sold out in minutes, getting so much attention that Cookies asked them to leave. But Berner took notice, and Cookies would eventually become Runtz’s exclusive distributor. 

“We made a whole appearance in letting people know who we are and we’re here. And that impacted the fuck out the culture,” LB remembers. 

The same excitement and hype of that day kept its momentum over the next year. However, how the strain and brand (what LB calls a “strand”) became the phenomenon that it did, spreading all across the U.S. to hotspots like New York, Atlanta, and Miami, was not merely organic. Ray and LB worked out a sophisticated multi-pronged approach to branding the strain as a lifestyle. They went on tour, doing pop-ups city by city, everywhere drawing a crowd around this new thing from California called Exotics. 

In particular, LB became the face of the brand, and he wove his identity as a weed mogul into his hip-hop singles and his social media. Meanwhile, Nick and Ray reached out to artists, creatives, people in fashion, and musicians, and built a network of culture-makers and content producers. Within a year, they saw Runtz take off. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone wanted it. Everyone claimed to have it. 

“We weren’t trying to follow the trend. We weren’t too much caring about the politics behind weed,” LB said. He was trapping weed at the time and saw that the industry was expanding. 

“It’s enough for everybody to eat off this plate. You’d be a fool not to capitalize,” LB said. 

LB went hard at marketing and promoting Runtz as he toured with his music. As he went around the country, he put on events to raise the brand’s profile, despite the risks. 

“These other weed brands, they weren’t doing the sessions and pop-ups that we were doing,” LB said. “We were taking a big risk doing that,” he said, considering most states still considered weed to be illegal. 

“We brought that gorilla marketing to the corporate cannabis world,” LB said. “It had never been done before besides Berner. But Berner had a strategic classic high-end way to do it. We just kept this shit so urban, so close to the culture, it’s like one of them was doing it,” LB said. 

Runtz became the phenomena that it is because, LB and Ray say, of the work they put into promoting and marketing the strain. 

“We just love working. We ain’t better than nobody but we gonna hustle. I guarantee I’ll hustle a lot of these other people,” LB said. “We started getting that recognition.”

Are You Smoking Real Runtz?

Even as the hype built, Runtz was kept exclusive and relatively small-batch. The demand for Runtz in the country far outweighed its supply, and plenty of bootleggers stepped in to fill the lack with fake bags of fake Runtz. Meanwhile, growers that did get hold of Runtz genetics (which wasn’t hard—the guys made a point to spread the genetics far and wide) all too often renamed it and built their own following off of it. 

Ray says getting bootlegged, copied, and ripped off was just part of the game. 

“To this day if you go buy ten eighths from any dispensary or ten eighths from the street, nine of them are going to be Runtz. Runtz is the most renamed strain, the most bootlegged,” he said.

But to an extent, it was on purpose. 

“We’ve constantly hunted and serviced the top one percent of the market and we’ve pigeonholed ourselves there because we never really expanded as far as we could,” Ray said. “We kept our releases very small.”

Ray, LB, and Nick were powerless to stop the brand from getting bootlegged. They saw ugly imitations of their iconic mylar bags for sale in smoke shops all over the U.S. and Europe. To handle their growth, they contracted with a much larger corporation in California to take on marketing and distribution, but found that they were even more hamstrung by not having full ownership of the brand. 

“Just being on the road built Runtz so huge, that I didn’t know how big it was until I got to Atlanta in 2018-2019. Everywhere I went everybody said they had Runtz. But they didn’t get it from us,” LB said. 

“I used to get mad and upset, but for what? It helped the brand out,” LB said. 

The fact is, the guys couldn’t supply the demand for the strain. They developed other phenos to help make more product available, and partnered with regional growers to help suppy the rest of the country outside of California. 

“The demand was so high it wasn’t enough,” he said. 

For a time, everybody supposedly had Runtz and almost nobody smoked real Runtz. The guys had created a movement that they no longer were in control of. Still, they never stopped promoting Runtz, which had sprung a corresponding clothing and lifestyle brand. They continued to release Runtz phenos and crosses, each one cleverly marketed with stylish mylar bags plus whatever media LB cooked up. 

Ray says that they tolerated people copying them. They understood that they were trendsetters. 

“We never hated on anybody. People stole our sauce, they steal our sauce to this day, blatantly. And we’ll be like, as long as you’re feeding your family we don’t start shit with people,” Ray said.

“We actually do it for the culture,” he said.

Being copied just inspired them to be more innovative. 

“The way we combated that bootlegging is by constantly releasing new products, new product identity, new IP, just always releasing new stuff and they can’t keep up with us,” Ray said. 

In 2020, rumors of a strain called Obama Runtz circulated, and a video by a Atlanta trapper talking about it went viral. The team jumped on the viral moment and launched an Obama Runtz strain with a corresponding song and music video referencing the viral video. They later had another viral hit when they released Coochie Runtz in a die-cut mylar bag in the shape of a cropped photo of the midsection a big-bootied woman in a thong, one image of her front and one image of her back on either side of the bag. The photo was unrefined and unabashed and definitely attention-grabbing. Runtz marketing is often this mix of media savvy and a focus on the culture around weed instead of just the weed itself. 

Courtesy of Ray Bama

The Relaunch

They’ve spent years planning, growing, breeding, and making deals for the next phase of Runtz. 

“We’ve been the disruptors of the industry,” Nick says. “We’ve done it multiple times and we’re going to continue to do it.”

They disrupt and they start trends. Even before Runtz, Ray invented the GlowTray, a rolling tray with a built-in light that was a phenomenon for years. He and Nick manufactured, marketed, and distributed the GlowTray themselves. Runtz kicked off the trend of using mylar bags instead of jars, which at the time everyone had preferred. Potato Runtz, a collab with designer Imran Potato, together they were the first to create a special shape die-cut mylar pouch (bags that are cut into a shape rather than square), which are now very trendy. They claim they were the first to do things like pop-ups and tours to promote their strain, which by now has become a common tactic in the industry for indie brands. 

Their next disruption will take place in smoke shops across America with the launch of Runtz brand tobacco leaf blunt wraps. They noticed that everyone around them were rolling their high-end Runtz weed into crappy Backwoods leaves, half of which from each package had to be tossed for being unusable. 

“We want to push the culture forward. We don’t want our people to go buy Backwoods and throw away half,” Ray said. “The weed is so good and expensive and you put it in the Backwoods and it rips or has two stems.”

They talked to some friends in the tobacco industry and ended up traveling to the Dominican Republic to survey tobacco farms. They sampled twenty varieties before going with the Broadleaf. They hand-selected the bales, which each undergo a 5-step sorting process for quality control. Each leaf is washed, trimmed, and pressed so that it’s perfect for rolling a blunt. They’ll launch next month in 4,500 shops across the country. 

At the recent Hall of Flowers convention Runtz debuted its first new strains since last year’s Coochie Runts: Bootleg Runtz, Day Day Runtz, iRuntz, Super Runtz, a collab with indie brand Don Merfos Exotics, and FTP Runtz, a collab with the clothing brand. Early next year, they’ll introduce a Classics line, with their most popular strains made widely available at an affordable price, including strains that haven’t been available in a while like Divine Runtz, Pink Runtz, White Runtz, Real Runtz, Obama Runtz, and Runtz OG. 

They’ve also been working hard to build a network of growers and dispensaries in states outside of California to grow and distribute actual Runtz flower. The plan is to be able to launch new drops simultaneously in California as well as states like Florida and Michigan. In California, they’re continuing to pheno hunt their own genetics by collaborating with top brands like Wizard Trees, Doja Pak, and Seed Junky Genetics. They’ll also be selling Runtz seeds in smoke shops.

For Nick, Ray, and LB, the Runtz relaunch is about solidifying their place as a high-fashion, high-art, luxury brand. They’re relaunching their streetwear clothing line with Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club, they’re looking into doing a Runtz restaurant, and they’re planning a Runtz festival for 2024. 

“LB always told us, Nick, Ray, we’re the Louis Vuitton of cannabis,” Ray said. “They’re wearing Louis Vuitton and Gucci and they’re smoking Runtz.”

For LB, the fact that the brand has made such waves while still being relatively new to the scene is something he doesn’t take for granted. 

“For us to have a seat at the table with a lot of these top-tier names is an honor,” LB said. 

He’s learned that the art of selling weed in today’s market comes down to marketing a lifestyle. It’s what the Runtz brand does better than anyone. 

“It’s not even about selling the flower. Just even knowing how to brand a product to a level where people want it so much to where it’s like we’ll buy the brand overall,” LB said. 

“That’s crazy to me to be honest. And it’s amazing. Just to be one of the brands that’s top-tier as far as even being around the top, top people is just an honor. Runtz is new, we’ve been on the scene probably 4-5 years, so we’re literally new,” LB said.

The post Runtz Brings Its Iconic Strain to the Masses appeared first on High Times.

Quality Genetics: The Most Important Factor in Cannabis Sales and Marketing

You can have a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation facility, but if you don’t have the quality strains people demand, you won’t generate as much money as you could. That is, if you care about making money. Don’t believe me? Try to grow out and sell some strains like AK-47, White Widow, Early Pearl, Great White Shark, Skunk, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, or any of the classic strains that are currently not in demand. As a commercial cultivator and/or dispensary owner, it isn’t about what you like, it’s what’s in demand, and currently driving sales. There are very few classics that still stand the test of time like all the “Chemdog”, “Sour Diesel”, and “OG Kush” variants. The “Gas” Family as I like to call it.  No one is lining up, or camping out to get some “old” genetics, flower, or concentrates unfortunately. If you want to sell those strains, your target demographic market is going to be in the 40 and up age range. 

If cannabis genetics wasn’t such a major force in driving sales, dispensaries/cultivators wouldn’t be linking up to do licensing deals with these seed companies and brands, specifically for the genetics they possess under their brand. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this tactic, if the cultivators acquiring the licensing deal actually grew good weed. Currently, most of the big cultivators who grow all these “Dessert-Themed” strains don’t grow good enough weed to justify the prices they are getting. You can only take people for a fool once, MAYBE twice, but the people falling for the hype are getting taken for a fool, and they are paying top dollar to look like a fool. How can you justify paying about $80 for 3.5g of weed that isn’t good? But some will overlook it because the mylar is flashy, and the strain name is trendy, but grown horribly. And you want to flex with that on social media when other people that know good quality know you are promoting garbage? You are making yourselves look like fools. The sales are mainly based off major advertising power that pushes these new strains. If you strip the marketing, branding, and strain from these licensed strains, 99% of them wouldn’t be able to stand on their own merits. It would probably collect dust on a shelf.

Years before recreational cannabis legalization, elite cannabis genetics were hard to acquire. Now, it’s available to the highest bidder. Currently, there’s an incredible amount of “Seed Banks” or “Clone Nurseries” that will send you just about every clone out there if you look hard enough. But everything will be irrelevant in a few months. It’s almost like fashion, or anything else trendy. Very few strains have the staying power to last in today’s quickly-evolving market. Due to that, we have almost every dispensary around the country wanting to grow the same genetics, based off of hype demand, and/or yield. If there was no hype, and demand for those genetics; they wouldn’t cultivate them. Just about all that hype, branding, and demand stems from the black market. Let’s be real for a minute. You really think dispensaries or RECREATIONAL cultivation facilities that are vertically integrated, that specialize in commercial flower production, are the ones making the next new strain to blow up? Ninety nine percent of them can barely grow good weed, and are usually last to grow the trendy strains because they don’t want to pay top dollar to source the genetics upon release, so you expect me to think they are putting in all that work that goes into breeding, hunting, and selecting strains properly? Let alone make anything anyone wants? Usually if I hear of a dispensary/licensed cultivation facility making seeds, it’s almost never intentional. I’d like to help be apart of that change. The end-user is the one who is driving demand, so it is up to the cultivators, budtenders, or someone on your team to know what’s currently popular, in-demand, coming up, and all that. It pays to have someone on your team whose got their ear to the streets. That is an important position to hold for the company. It always pays to be two steps ahead of your competition. That is partially what I have been doing with Dark Horse Genetics for the past five years.

Unfortunately, the end-user’s interest and demand has been changing faster than ever, due to social media always hyping up a new strain or brand. We’ve reached a point in time where smell, taste, burn, and efficacy are secondary, while visual appeal is driving sales. The flashier the mylar, and the darker the weed, the easier it is to make the sale it seems. Nowadays, something can LOOK flawless, but smell, taste, burn, and hit like garbage, and it will still sell. Add a flashy, die-cut mylar, slap a dessert name on it, market and brand it properly, and BAM! You are selling mids for a higher price point that you would have in unbranded bulk pounds. This tactic can only get you so far, and will only last for so long. If you want to future-proof yourself, here are a few recommendations I have for you to start your own wave, that is if you’d like to take my advice:


Have an area where you can “pheno hunt” a good variety of several strains. Try and avoid growing all the same or similar type of genetics. Do you really need 12 different kinds of Gelatos, or RuntZ that all look, smell, and taste similar, with different dessert names? What makes you stand out above all the rest is having a good variety of something everyone wants, but no one can access unless it’s through you. If you grew out some seeds, and potentially found the next game-changer, like the next RuntZ, Gelato, ZkittleZ, something like that, there is A LOT of money to be made if you can market it properly and get it to the right hands.

Document and record the entire life cycle for the public to access. 

It seems to me since I have started making my own seeds under the brand #NYCeeds, documenting the entire growing cycle from start to finish will put you far ahead of your competition when it comes to data collected. I have slowly been building buzz on my new strains that I am planning on releasing in December. If there was no documentation, there would be no buzz, and nothing to build hype and demand. No one would know what I am doing, and what I plan on releasing if I don’t document the growth, and have some kind of social media presence. For me, it has been difficult to get off the ground since February 2022, but once everything started going, the momentum doesn’t look like it going to slow down. I have only been building more and more interest and demand since I started earlier this year. As of recent, I reversed SpritZer, and made several feminized crosses. All are currently being tested and documented on multiple platforms with a select few testers and will not release until testing is completed. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube,  Twitch, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit, and ESPECIALLY Discord are all vital tools you should be using to build a community of followers, and supporters. I can not stress this enough. USE DISCORD. It might take some time to learn, but this is one of the best platforms for cannabis documentation. These other platforms do not have draconian censorship rules in place like Instagram now does.

Public phenotype hunting

I noticed specific brands who grow from seed, getting the public involved in their pheno hunts. This is a great idea. The public is making you $, so why not get them involved in the process, and get lots of feedback to see which phenotype suits your customer-base best. The last thing you want to be is out of touch when it comes to knowing what sells, what is in demand, and what next strain wave is coming. If you want to be in the loop with all of that, you need to keep an ear to the streets. Find out what each customer likes if possible. Grow those strains, or something with that strain in it. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions. BE AFRAID to lose money, and be out of the loop. Include them in helping you narrow down your keeper(s). It isn’t always about yields, but some corporate entity reading this will probably laugh at that statement. Certain strains can yield high and test high in THC, but smell and taste like nothing. Those aren’t enjoyable. The strains with the most flavor usually don’t test high in THC. Look at ZkittleZ. Sour Diesel. Tangie. They don’t test high in THC, but their terpene content is out of this world. Aroma drives more sales than you might think. If something smells so good that I can taste it, I probably would want to spend my money on that. No strain has won more cannabis awards than ZkittleZ has in one year. It has nothing to do with yields, because it yields low. Not for it’s THC percentage, because it tests around 17%-19% THC. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE TERPS. You can keep your 40% THC. Show me the flower with 6-7% Terps! Custies and uneducated consumers buy weed based off the percentage. If you drink, do you go into a liquor store asking for their strongest? It’s usually Everclear, or do you get the lower percentage stuff which is more enjoyable? The lower percentage stuff usually is cheaper, but definitely more enjoyable.

Social media presence

I can not stress this enough. Without utilizing these tools at your disposal, you will not be able to reach as many potential customers as you could. Stop it with the old mentality, and learn something new for once. Especially if it’s beneficial. Just about every successful cannabis strain, breeder, or brand is out there is using social media. Not only do you have to use it, you have to keep it constantly updated with fresh content, or you will become irrelevant faster than you think. Utilizing these various tools to maximize outreach to create a larger audience with eyes on your product, brand, strain, etc. You better put that strain in front of everyone’s face as much as you can, as often as you can to get them interested. Get other big social media accounts to talk about your product. Cross-promoting is HUGE. If you can get people from not knowing about you, into wanting to try your product, you are doing something right. Just about all social media is free. Utilize it. You might need to pay someone monthly to operate your social media, but if they know how to build that audience, and get that reach, they are worth what they are asking. Content creation is making more and more money as we go deeper and deeper into this digitized world. 

Release your keeper clone as your upcoming project(s) is/are about to drop to maximize hype and demand.

It usually takes up to 2 years for a specific clone to gain popularity once it has been released. If the public sees it as good, you will see it being passed around, sold, bred with, and if it’s really good or popular, you will see everyone else but you make S1’s of your strain and sell it before you. If you want to avoid that, do all that work yourself before you release your genetics to the world. Be ahead of what others will try to do once you make your release. Look at M.A.C. from Capulator. The hype and demand was there once the seeds were available because he built that up with him releasing the M.A.C #1 Clone, only to those who deserved it. By the time the seeds were available to the public to access, Cap already made crosses with M.A.C, knowing everyone else would want to cash in on the hype. Once he released those seeds, several seed companies bred with the MAC, but Capulator was already ahead of everyone else by then. Look what happened with Purple Punch, Gorilla Glue #4, RuntZ, Gelato, OreoZ, Bruce Banner #3, ZkittleZ, etc. As soon as your genetics are accessible to the public, you’ll start seeing other people make a name off your work. This isn’t something you ask for to happen, it just happens if the genetics are worth it to the public eye, nose, and lungs. No one wants to breed with genetics that are bad, so everyone is always after the quality genetics or the hype genetics. You can be humbled if your work is being copied, or you can just future-proof yourself. Like Cap and other breeders/seed companies do, because they know what is to come once your Intellectual Property (your strains) are out there. Try staying ahead of the game if possible so you don’t get people capitalizing on your own wave. Most people get mad when they see their genetics get released through someone else other than the person who made or found that specific strain. If you made a strain that is in such high demand that people are wanting to take credit for it, you can always make another strain that people will want. If they know it came from you or you made it, you have a customer for life.

Be open to collaborating with other brands for maximum exposure/reach.

It really helps with exposure, and getting to other customers you normally wouldn’t have reached. If you can find a brand that is bigger than you to collaborate with you, this is what you would ultimately want, but feel free to uplift the smaller companies trying to make a name as well. One hand washes the other. It can be an ancillary brand as well. Non-cannabis-related brands can be just as successful as the cannabis brands, and vice-versa. It’s all about coming together with great ideas that both markets can appreciate and enjoy. These analogies might be a little out there, but look at Kanye West + Adidas, Travis Scott + McDonald’s, Fortnite + EVERYONE, Supreme + EVERYTHING; collaborations are a great way to generate alternate avenues of revenue and build a new following/customer base with the company you are collaborating with. Open yourself up to wanting to work with other cannabis, and non-cannabis brands. Cannabis breeders and seed companies collaborate all the time to make new strains, plus they help cross-promote each other. If you are a licensed cultivation facility, look for a good breeder/seed company with good references, and good public feedback from within the cannabis community.  Think about signing a licensing deal with that specific breeder/seed company  that actually has great genetics and great weed. Good person, good genetics, good strains, good ethics, and good public perception. Those are the people you want to align yourself with. You’d be surprised at the amount of seed companies that have okay genetics bred and ran by a sketchy, shady person that people in the cannabis community would never respect or support. 

Honesty is key. Don’t rename strains—be transparent.

No one who knows about good weed cares about celebrity-branded cannabis products. Most of the deals are complete garbage, and it seems people with the most money to spend on marketing tend to use this marketing tactic with celebrities to push their mediocre brands and product. Just about every cannabis brand backed by some celebrity is complete garbage. It is one of the worst bait-and-switches you could think of. You would think if a celebrity is going to be putting their name on a cannabis brand, that this would be their seal of approval. It’s completely false and unethical. It’s simply a cash grab.

Also, don’t rename the breeder’s strain name. It is one of the worst ethics violations in cannabis. If you don’t like the name, don’t grow it. Simple as that. Pheno hunt something else and put in the same work that others have done., vs. just buy a good clone and rename it and take the credit like you did something special. Breeders put hard work into branding strains and thinking of names only for you to just act like you can do whatever you want with the name is not okay. Call your specific phenotype whatever you want, but if someone asks what the cross is, do not lie about it. Some people don’t know the newer strain names, but will make their decision on the lineage. No one is out here renaming “vodka” to “tequila,” so how do you stand to benefit from withholding information, or switching stuff around, and calling things “indica” when you know that they are “sativa” and vice versa? It’s like erasing my name on my homework, and you submit it with your name on it.

I can call out too many dispensaries putting strains on their sativa shelf, when the genetics clearly state it isn’t a sativa. If an indica takes 8-9 weeks to flower, and a sativa takes 12-14 weeks to flower, why would I sell you something that took me longer, and cost more to produce for the same price as the stuff that took less time, effort, energy, work, and resources?  This is a major reason why real sativa strains aren’t on dispensary shelves. Greedy cultivators want more harvest in a year of the fastest flowering strain, but won’t grow the longer stuff to satisfy the sativa market, but will instead recategorize indicas and sell them as sativa when they know it is not. That can do some form of harm to someone who isn’t used to the opposite of what they are asking for, and it is not okay.

ESPECIALLY DO NOT rename someone else’s strain “Calm,” “Joy,” “Bliss,” or anything stupid like that. I don’t buy drinks called “Quench,” “Drink,” “Parched,” or food called “Hunger,” “Food,” or “Meal,” so why would I purchase my weed labeled in a similar fashion? No one buys weed like that, and no one should; if they do, it’s because of their lack of education. Teach them the effects and terpene profiles of different “indica” and “sativa” strains. How about trying to teach them correct information vs. perpetuating a lie? People should be making their decisions based on the strain lineage, terpene profiles, test results, and such. People loved being lied to, but no one wants to be lied to. I am incredibly blunt. I love telling the truth, because people hate to hear it. I do get a lot of hate for my blunt attitude, but it all comes from confidence, ethics, and passion which all stems from personal experience. I hate to see anyone get taken advantage of—especially in cannabis—so I highly suggest taking the time to learn more, or educate others with proper sources.

Please, if anyone needs help with specific cannabis genetics-related questions, I might be able to forward you to someone who can help if I can not. Please feel free to contact via email or my several social media links, or contact info down below.

(303)390-1234 Ext 703
Brand Ambassador of Dark Horse Genetics
Chief Genetics Officer of Dark Horse Clones

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nyceedz/
Twitch: thcaeczar_
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgwVKddgOEJkqDRSucAIABQ

The post Quality Genetics: The Most Important Factor in Cannabis Sales and Marketing appeared first on High Times.

Hot Cannabis Seeds To Grow in 2022

Luckily for us, cannabis was made illegal. After all, if the U.S. government had not decided to criminalize marijuana, starting with a tax for growing it, we wouldn’t have nearly as many different types. When cannabis growers and breeders were forced underground, they used male and female plants to create their own seedstock. The illegal distinction borne by the cannabis plant has led to it being one of the most diverse botanicals on the planet. When the War on Drugs meant Americans could no longer get landrace genetics like Acapulco Gold from Mexico, we looked further toward Amsterdam’s marijuana melting pot. The fusion of American cannabis enthusiasts and High Times legends like Sam the Skunkman, Ed Rosenthal, and Steve Hager with Dutch seed companies blessed the world with delicacies like Super Lemon Haze and provided the platform to promote them. Today, the worldwide cannabis seed market is a thriving industry.

Seed germination for outdoor growing starts in spring. Seeds require 10-15 days longer than clones, so the end of April is an excellent time to pop them to get the 2022 outdoor harvest outside by Mother’s Day. We checked in with three ganja growing all-stars to see what cannabis combinations they’re excited about this year.

David Downs
Senior Content Manager, Leafly

What seeds are you excited about for this planting season?
For this planting season, I’m super-juiced to re-run Humboldt Seed Co’s Squirt (feminized) for year three. I can smoke that super-optimized modern Tangie cross all day, every day, and it makes a great salad with another sativa during the day or some gas at night.

I’m also hyped to bring back HumSeedCo’s Hella Jelly (fems) for year two as a super-agronimized modern sativa that finishes early and has mad cherry and cotton candy taste and zippy daytime effects.

I’m stoked to run Archive Seeds Dosi-Tree outside for the first time for that Dosi gas plus Lemon Tree’s size and syrupy lemon smell. Yum! Last year it was In-House Genetics’ Slurricane IX—that killed!

And lastly, I’m pumped to run Terp Hogz Geneticz Z3 for the first time this year! I think I’ll always want some Zkittlez in the garden, and Z3 is a way to get at the root of some optimized Z terps, as opposed to chasing new Z crosses. I can’t wait to have a pound of Z3 for Thanksgiving! Terp Hogz is selling seeds direct to your door on NXTLVL delivery in the Bay Area—if you don’t know how cool it is to shop, buy and get Terp Hogz genes delivered in a couple hours—now you know! It’s so clutch.

Do you typically grow from seed? If so, why?
Yes! I like the vigor of seeds, especially regulars—they get huge outside! There’s also less chances of a virus or pest infection from seeds vs. clones. I buy seeds all year and they keep well until it’s time to plant. (But I still might get a clone of Jokerz from Compound Genetics for this year, and if I do, I’m all about it!)

What does your grow setup look like?
I start popping indoors the first day of spring and raise babies inside where it’s warm, then sex the juveniles, and harden them on the porch in The City, before transplanting the keepers into 30-gallon fabric pots outdoors in the NorCal sun by Mother’s Day! We try and KISS (keep it simple, stupid). We use Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil plus amendments and well water on a drip timer. And BT to fight the caterpillars!

Are there certain types of cannabis or specific cultivars that do well where you are growing?
Yeah, I’m an outdoor NorCal Bay Area grower, and I’m deliberately running Humboldt Seed Co, Archive, and Terp Hogz because I think their gear tends to be tested and screened for outdoor runs. I know HumSeedCo does a bunch of mixed-light testing, and Terp Hogz in Mendo also works in mixed light. Archive’s stuff seems to be developed more indoors in Oregon, but I know that Lemon Tree has killed it outdoors in Santa Cruz. 

I want to run stuff that’s been tested outside, for sure. Lots of the latest crosses are bred and tested inside and many breeders and growers don’t know how they’ll react to the variations in heat, humidity, etc. outside. I want stuff that’s hard to fuck up, as opposed to some diva that molds the second it rains, or some crazy sativa that won’t finish until November. But that’s just me! Everyone’s needs are pretty specific!

Jeff Jones
Horticulture Instructor, Oaksterdam University

What seeds are you excited for?
I am fond of recommending and growing varieties that produce well-rounded plants with new tastes and smells. 

Do you typically grow from seed? If so, why?
No, but I have done so with Oaksterdam University students over the years often.

What does your grow setup look like these days?
A simple 4′ x 4′ area light up with LED lights in a larger room that I have found no need for AC to cool. 

What has been your experience growing autoflowers?
To me, this is the best reason to grow from seed. They only come this way and are getting better varieties all the time. 

Are there certain types of cannabis or specific cultivars that do well where you grow in Oakland?
We have a mix of urban growers that are survivors. Many obstacles to keep from having a successful harvest in tight city living. I grow inside due to this better neighborhood policy. I find less issues and arise with having long-term success. But I do know a few good areas that have outdoor gardens with little to no worry for either the garden or neighbors with bad smells.

Shango Los
Podcast Host, Shaping Fire

What seeds are you excited about this year?
Since I live on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest, I have to choose seeds that will finish flowering fast enough during our short summers. I’ll mostly be growing autoflowers so I can germinate them on June 1 and harvest at the end of August before the rains start. I am excited to grow the Purple Pope collaboration between Gnome Automatics and Night Owl Seeds. The flowers smell of sandalwood, lemongrass, and yuzu. Northern Cheese Haze from Mephisto Genetics is always a winner for me too. It captures some of that fresh sunshine-dried linen sweet smell of haze with the bloomy-rind cheese funk that we love cheese strains for.

The most reliable photoperiod for where I live continues to be Mandelbrot’s famous Royal Kush from Mendocino, which will often finish in 50 days. There is a new collaboration between Emerald Mountain Legacy and Mean Gene From Mendocino called Royale with Cherries that blends the gas and shorter flower times with Mean Gene’s Cherry Lime Pop which contributes a complex Maraschino cherry sweetness. It is exquisite. Last summer, it finished well ahead of all the other photos. And it hashed well for us too.

How was the 2021 Autoflower Cup? Are you experimenting with autoflowers?
The 2021 Autoflower Cup was a great gathering. For so long, autoflowers really didn’t perform as we wanted. But the modern era of autoflowers are so much better tasting and yielding. And because they can be grown nearly everywhere in the U.S., they are quickly gaining a following. And, of course, since autoflower enthusiasts are so often ridiculed by photoperiod growers, it is nice to hang with a big group of people who share this special interest.

I am past simply experimenting with autoflowers at this point and have fully embraced them. Before this season, I have grown 156 varieties. I’m at the point now where I believe in them, understand their advantages and disadvantages and can really work with them to meet my cultivation goals.

The post Hot Cannabis Seeds To Grow in 2022 appeared first on High Times.

Goldkine: The Midwest’s Gold Standard in Cannabis

In 2018, Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational cannabis. Michigan Proposal 1, Marijuana Legalization Initiative passed with 56-44% in favor, allowing residents to grow, consume and possess cannabis. The first dispensaries in Ann Arbor and Morenci opened their doors to residents of the Great Lakes State in December 2019. It has clearly been a popular move; since legalization, Michigan has become the third largest cannabis market in the U.S., behind California and Colorado, with recreational sales up 115% to $128.4 million. Luxury cannabis brands like Goldkine are driving those sales.

Goldkine was founded with the goal of creating premium craft cannabis products through unmatched genetics and premium branding.

“Legalization gave us the chance to start a business together, a dream we always had,” co-founder Jimmy Smith told Cannabis Now, referring to the three other co-founders and close friends. “The dream became Goldkine.”

Each of the four Goldkine founders brings a unique skill set to the table, enabling them to better serve their customers.

“In a rapidly changing, expanding industry like this, that diverse knowledge base is key,” Smith said. “It allows us to adapt and push through the many obstacles of a growing segment—the fastest growing industry in the world.”

Goldkine Genetics Are Golden

Goldkine’s cultivar catalog features genetics that have been specifically bred for indoor cultivation. At its sophisticated grow facility in Warren, Michigan, state-of-the-art equipment and a team of cultivation experts follow carefully choreographed harvest schedules to ensure their customers always have Goldkine products on hand. 

Attention to detail is everything, and the Goldkine team pays special attention to the drying and curing process to preserve the delicate terpene profiles of their flower. The resulting flower is more than a product—it is a symbol of life’s finer things.

According to Smith, Goldkine’s curated product offering focuses exclusively on top-shelf flowers, including Apple MAC, Mimosa and Zkittlez Kush Mints.

Apple MAC

Apple MAC is a cross of Alien Cookies, Starfighter and Columbian strains with all the tasty richness of an apple pastry. Time is known to slow down for a while with this strain, leaving the consumer with a clear but intensely sedative feeling.

“Apple Mac is an exclusive strain developed in-house and selected by Surfr,” explained Smith. 

“MAC1 combined with Trophy Wife has flavors that explode. The gasoline-rich pheno of Triangle Mint, with hybrid landrace genetics, makes for a very euphoric high like you are traveling through space.”


Mimosa is a cross of Purple Punch and Clementine, creating a unique flavor profile of strong citrus with hints of Hawaiian punch. The strain’s uplifting, clear-headed effect and sense of focus has made it a favorite strain for many across the country. It’s no surprise that Mimosa is the recipient of multiple Cannabis Cups. 

“The Goldkine Mimosa is the best in the state with unique aromas claiming top-shelf everywhere,” Smith said. “This sativa-dominant hybrid by Symbiotic Genetics is known for its euphoric and pleasant cerebral high.”

Zkittlez Kush Mints

Zkittlez is one of the most popular and award-winning cannabis strains on the market. An indica-dominant mix of Grape Ape and Grapefruit crossed with another undisclosed strain leaves consumers feeling calm, focused, alert and happy while unwinding at any time of day.

”Zkittlez Kush Mints (also called KmintZ) was bred by Ripper Seeds and is a combination of Zkittlez and Kush Mintz,” Smith explains. “The top reported aromas of the Zkittlez Kush Mints strain are candy, fruit and mint. It is said to taste of mint, sour and sweet citrus, and berries.” 

Creating a Gold-Standard Experience

From the branding to packaging, each facet of the Goldkine experience has been driven by a passion for delivering luxury cannabis and a true “One of a Kine” experience. 

“The current success we have, and will continue to have, comes from a lifetime of trust—and the fact that we all strive for perfection,” Smith said.

But the Goldkine brand is more than just a label. By marrying top-shelf flower with best practices and consistent service, the Goldkine team has pledged to support local charities. For Smith and his co-founders, a combination of passion for the plant and their dedication to upholding their values and standards will continue to grow Goldkine’s place in the market. 

“The cannabis business is fun, and the people in it and the customers have such passion for this product,” Smith said. “It’s inspiring. It really makes you want to work endlessly to provide the people what they want. Love for the brand on their end drives love for the process on our end—and that’s important.”

The post Goldkine: The Midwest’s Gold Standard in Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Zkittlez: The Unique Cannabis Strain That Lets You Taste the Rainbow

Gobs of aroma and flavor await openers of bags of Zkittlez — one of America’s most trending, flavorful, fragrant and award-winning cannabis strains.

Zkittlez surfaced slowly over the last five years, originating from a single garden in the West Coast’s most dominant farm — 3rd Gen Fam, winners of 38 awards, including Grand Prize of Chalice California for their Zkittlez rosin processed by Moonshine Melts.

The lovely, pungent, balanced indica hybrid strain began when the 3rd Gen Fam gifted “Brandon” a cut of Zkittlez, which he took and ran with.

It was a cross of a primal grape-flavored strain and another local grapefruit-tasting strain, as well as likely something with fuel in it. Zkittlez lacked bag appeal, but more than made up for it with gobs of tropical candy terps and wholesome, positive effects.

“When we first introduced it to people, we could only do it in joints and pass it around to our friends,” Brandon said. “If they were to see the jar, they would be dogging us right away. It was a blessing and a curse. When we passed it to [rapper, businessman] Berner, we couldn’t show him — it was just too ugly.” 

Zkittlez demonstrates how a high-THC count alone cannot match copious terpenes— which contribute to an ‘entourage effect’ far bigger than higher-THC-testing flowers. If THC is the engine, terpenes are the wheels.

Zkittlez leaves a strong impact on people who try it. Exhibit A: seven awards won in four weeks, including the title belt in the World Secret Cup with an old school Zkittlez bubble hash. 

“[Zkittles] handles like a beauty —it’s enjoyable no matter what… but I’m really proud of that one,” Brandon said. “That made me feel really good. The solventless revolution is here.” 

Zkittlez genetics are now available through the Fam’s “Dying Breed Seeds” label. And look out for a new line of exotics with Berner, under the “Connoisseur Union” brand — including Rose, Dragonfruit and The Lemonge.


Zkittlez looks like an indica hybrid — with its dense, moderate-to-small size and rounded density. It features copious pistils, which are reddish brown, gold and blond over a medium-green to lime-green color.


Cannabis aficionados love this strain for its huge nose, which isn’t loud like gasoline, but more thick and syrupy sweet. It’s the precise ratio of linalool (floral), humulene (hops), limonene (lemons), myrcene (perfume), pinene (pine), nerolidol (orange) and terpinolene (fuel) that creates the inviting aroma and strong yet balanced effects.


Zkittlez feels moderately dense and powdery with THC resin as opposed to sticky. Its fused leaves break apart nice and chewy rather than locking the grinder. Great for Js, bowls, vapes — you name it.


That huge terpene load translates into huge tastes as well — a rainbow gobstopper of sugary orange and pine, with a floral-fuel bite, then orange again.


Fast onset, physical relaxation and mental stress relief with neither couch-lock nor raciness.


Indica hybrids are often used by patients managing anxiety and chronic stress, as well as depression. Many report it can also relieve pain and nausea. Outdoor versions of Zkittlez are the perfect accompaniment to inner-tubing a lazy river. It’s too enjoyable to ruin on hard work. It’s brunch weed, or back-from-the-club weed. Not go-to-the-club weed. You’re going to be content, so don’t put too much on the agenda. Go see a chill movie, or just Netflix and chill.

Zkittlez fast facts:

  • Breeder: 3rd Gen Fam/Terp Hogz
  • Grown by: various
  • Type: Indica hybrid
  • Genetics: Original Dallas Grape Ape X Humboldt Grapefruit X [undisclosed]
  • Flowering: 56 -63 days
  • Yield: High

Originally published in issue 22 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you tried Zkittles?

The post Zkittlez: The Unique Cannabis Strain That Lets You Taste the Rainbow appeared first on Cannabis Now.

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?

The post Rozé All Day: A Strain Review of Zkittlez’s Famed Offspring appeared first on Cannabis Now.

The Decade’s Biggest Cannabis Strains

In this list, we highlight some of the strains that not only caught our attention throughout the 2010s, but also caught the attention of the entire cannabis community. Maybe not every strain on this list is an award winner, but that doesn’t mean Americans weren’t flooded with it at some point over the last ten years.

Most importantly, this is not a ranking, but a group of strains we believe has a seat at the table when discussing the cannabis genetics that made the most waves over the last decade, and it’s meant to acknowledge their place in history where the cannabis genome continues to expand to bold and tasty new places.


At the turn of the decade, a cut of the original Cookies was considered the newest holy grail of cannabis genetics. In a world that loved OG and various Purps, Cookies crashed onto the scene like a tidal wave. It wasn’t just another OG, it’s wasn’t one of the wild Amsterdam cuts that didn’t meet the production requirements of the California market, it was a new creature. And while Florida will always get to hold a little piece of OG Kush’s legacy, Cookies was born in San Francisco only a few miles from where Dennis Peron and his comrades worked to pass Proposition 215, legalizing medical marijuana in California. Cookies is attached to the ethos of good California cannabis forever.


As Cookies continues to have global impact to this day, it seemed like it’s first famous offspring Gelato took the hype torch for a bit after. What also makes Gelato unique is it’s the only strain to catch fire in a crazy way twice this decade. First after Jigga and Sherbinski bred it, then again many years later when the Gelato #41 hit the world. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Sherbinski back in the day to get the whole story of how one of the premier cuts of the decade came to be. Also, shout out to all the Gelato offspring we love, like Gelonade, Area 41 and who knows how many others.


When AC/DC hit Northern California, it was the CBD strain we knew we had been waiting for. Some of the original cuts of AC/DC produced phenotypes with a CBD/THC ratio between 16 to 1 and 20 to 1, and they showed the most promise and potential for the entourage effect around treating a variety of issues. Other strains with public relations teams may have stolen the spotlight, but make no mistake about it: AC/DC was the first of the second generation of CBD strains that helped start the CBD revolution.

Durban Poison

The official strain of the FIFA Men’s World Cup held in South Africa in 2010, Durban Poison carved a place in people’s hearts for a few years after and still floats around to this day in some capacity. The landrace African Sativa provided a completely different terpene profile than what American and European consumers were used to and they ate it right up.


Apart from Cookies and Gelato, it’s tough to argue anything else on this list reached the hype level of Zkittlez in the last decade. One immediately thinks of the work that 3rd Gen Family and Terp Hogz did to bring it to the forefront of modern cannabis. But the strain is so special that others were also able to ride its magic to the top of the mountain, such as in 2016, when the Dookie Brothers took home the Golden Tarp and the Emerald Cup for their legendary batch of light dep Zkittlez. This year, the Terp Hogz again added to Zkittlez trophy shelf, taking home first place in the Emerald Cup Liquid BHO category. When we spoke with Brandon of 3rd Gen Family about his Roze cross that won The Emerald Cup’s Breeders’ Cup in 2017, we dove in a little on Zkittlez.

Forbidden Fruit

To be honest with you, Forbidden Fruit was never really my thing. Sure, it smells cool and different and looks insanely purple, but just isn’t for me. Nevertheless, the masses have spoken and I would be firmly mistaken if I did not include this Cherry Pie x Tangie cut among those that made the biggest impact in the last decade. We spoke with Chameleon Extracts about breeding it.

The Gas

There were so many great cuts over the last decade that made me think I was smelling some kind of industrial accident at a gas station. I loved it. I wish I had enough room to list all that fuel, Petrol and whatever Elon Musk uses. But know that if you grew gassy OG, Sour Diesel, and Chems, I appreciate you. And your art is timeless like a fine wine or pizza.


Nothing defines your cultural impact quite like a lawsuit, and so you know the strain formerly known as Gorilla Glue #4 will be etched in stone forever. Even without lawsuits, people loved awesome Gorilla Glue and the various names it’s called now by people who don’t want to get sued. We loved versions we saw from 3C Farms and Tahoe Wellness in recent years. They were absolutely elite.

Wedding Cake

While Seed Junkie Genetics gave us plenty of hitters in recent years and although I probably like the Animal Mints the best personally, it’s tough to argue against the Wedding Cake having the biggest impact of Seed Junkie strains on the cannabis world. One of the sure signs of its dominance was all the killers you saw growing it early before the blowup that happened like so many of the strains on this list. Versions of Wedding Cake from the farms of Alien Labs and Str8organics are among the best ever cultivated.


From rap songs to the most recent Emerald Cup winner, the times have certainly proven we are now properly prepared to Runtz up our lives. Like any ultra-hype strain, Runtz took a little bit to get the wind in its sails, but after helping Humboldt County defend the Emerald Cup this year from the killers in Salinas and Mendocino Counties, it’s in a hype storm of its own creation. There is a solid argument to be made that Runtz carries the brightest cannabis hype torch into the next decade.

Purple Punch

Bred by Supernova Gardens and further stabilized and spread to the masses by Symbiotic Genetics, Purple Punch was so good it was cursed by its own fame. So many people bought a pack of seeds and then selections from things it would be debatable to call propagations hit the shelves. But when you saw a real all-star Purple Punch cut grown out by someone like The Village or The Jungle Boys (won Chalice with a Purple Punch pheno), you knew how special it was.

Super Lemon Haze

After conquering Amsterdam with back-to-back Cannabis Cup wins in the late 2000s, Super Lemon Haze fully crossed the pond in the 2010s. For the last ten years, it’s been one of the best natural limonene profiles available plus a dash of haze. For many, it’s likely been a spark of creativity or an excuse to eat a sandwich. The best phenotype in the U.S. is grown by C.R.A.F.T. at sea level in California where marijuana doesn’t turn into dust, but we appreciate you, Colorado!


In some of those middle harvest seasons this decade, you would be hard-pressed to find a strain there was more of floating around than Tangie. Some of the most ridiculous farm pictures of the decade where people laying in giant piles of Tangie because they just didn’t care since they had so much of it. Also, it was a wild terpene profile available when we really started figuring out how to best preserve them in sauces.

Miracle Alien Cookies

The Capulator-bred sensation Miracle Alien Cookies (commonly shortened to MAC) is only a few years old, but in that time, few strains have garnered so much deserving enthusiasm. As evidence, it was clearly one of the most popular strains among outdoor farmers this year, with many producing rockstar versions that got some purple hues during the chilly nights of early October. It’s absolute flame and we look forward to smoking it well into the next decade.

Jack Herer

The Sensi Seeds standout is a holdover from the 2000s, named for one cannabis most beloved activists. Thankfully, Herer got to try it himself before he passed away in 2010. But the masses, even if ignorant of how important the man it’s named for is to them smoking pot, love their Jack Herer. While we admit we haven’t seen an all-star version in some time, Jack is timeless, and sales data from across the country confirms consumers still love it. 

Blue Dream

Boy, the Midwest folks love Blue Dream, and California is more than happy to cater to their wholesome flyover tastes. The Blueberry x Haze legend is a big yielder. One of California’s biggest weed companies started because they had a Blue Dream pheno that was producing two and a half pounds a light and they had a ton of trim. Missouri is especially deep Blue Dream country from what I understand. I honestly did see an all-star Blue Dream once by the same guy that grew the best Bruce Banner I ever saw.

TELL US, what is your favorite strain of the 2010s?

The post The Decade’s Biggest Cannabis Strains appeared first on Cannabis Now.

The Decade in Weed Hype

How does one truly define the last decade in cannabis hype?

Is it the wild strains that took over the world in waves? When the decade began, Cookies held court at the top, as the great Purples and OGs that captured the American connoisseur’s attention through the 2000s fell to the wayside for Cookies’ new “exotic” terpene profiles. Then, Cookies’ next of kin Gelato took over for a couple of years, leading up to the Zkittlez era in the middle of the decade. With the way the marketplace diversified following the launch of the legal cannabis market in California in 2018, we think we’ll continue to see strains that carry as much mystique as the winners of the 2010s.

Or is the decade of cannabis hype best described as a tale of surviving political challenges? Despite Barack Obama’s campaign trail promises before the New Hampshire primary in 2008 that he wasn’t going to go after providers in compliance with state law, providers like Richard Lee at Oaksterdam, the Berkeley Patients Group, Harborside, and so many others spent years in the courts defending their models originally intended to provide access to the sick. By the end of the 2010s, they ended up with a new president at odds with his now-fired Attorney General of the United States over the approach his Department of Justice took in enforcing cannabis laws.

Or should the focus be on how the industry blossomed into one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors this past decade? Seemingly every quarter, new estimates put a larger number next to how much the global pot industry will be worth at some point in the 2020s, with a bevy of data explaining the hypothesis.

Or maybe it’s defined by the communities of color that got hit the hardest by the War on Drugs’s racist enforcement of cannabis laws in places like New York, OaklandLos Angeles, and Chicago who are now fighting for their fair shot in the industry?

It’s probably all of these things.

Let’s consider how hash has progressed in the last decade as a perfect representation of the industry as a whole. At the beginning of the 2010s, most cannabis concentrates were consumed through waxy lipid-filled dabs that smelled like a candle shop that sold wet towels. Those days are behind us. Now, we smoke terpene-loaded badders and diamonds so fat they wouldn’t have looked out of place on Elizabeth Taylor’s necklace at the Cleopatra premiere. The progress from what we were smoking in 2010 was fast after the first slabs of dewaxed shatter hit the world that year.

And this story of progress is mirrored with the development of cannabis flowers, edibles and every other type of cannabis product people enjoyed for kicks or used as medicine over the past decade. Things aren’t perfect, and THC limits certainly hit many edible folks in the wallet, but generally, the consumer is a lot better off today than they were in 2010. Laboratory testing for cannabis was two years old in 2010, and again still not perfect, but certainly has taken the level of safety up via the scrutiny flower could face.

Overall, the tale of the decade’s cannabis hype is one of enthusiasm and education, of being excited about where the game went for those that wanted to take part in the legal market, and of learning the lessons from each place that cannabis moved into the light.

Despite every state and nation that got involved thinking they had to reinvent the wheel when it comes to how they do legal marijuana, we’re trending upward. A good scenario for the next decade is the weed continues to get better, and it becomes easier for people not backed by millionaires to open cannabis businesses.

The best-case scenario is that there is nobody left in prison for marijuana by 2030, but our hope is that it will be much sooner.

TELL US, what was your favorite cannabis strain of the decade?

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