Strains & Reviews // December 24, 2020
// Ben Berkowitz
Five Fantastic Strains of Weed
I have seen cannabis in many forms in my life, from dusty dime bags in filled with shaky brown sometimes moldy “brick” weed fragments as a clandestine youth, to watching NorCal farmers pluck perfect supersized indica buds, vaguely smelling of mango, off a recently dried plant. Cannabis has always been (and I trust always will be) in my life. Over the years, especially since I moved to Los Angeles, I have seen the most bucolic fruits of cannabis labor literally and metaphorically blossom in our culture’s new acceptance of the great plant. I think now more than ever is a great time to share the many strains we have to choose from. So, in the spirit of the season ending this particularly hellish year, in a sea of the overwhelming and ever-growing cannabis marketplace, here are a few of my favorite weeds.
Jack Herer was legendary as an activist and early champion of ending prohibition and legalizing his beloved cannabis. This strain carries his torch perfectly. Uplifting but calming, it has a three-dimensional high that is the classic, creativity enhancing drop of enlightenment we all need sometimes. When musicians talk about using weed to travel to wonderful places in search of new sounds, this is the strain they hold sacred. So many versions have come about: Black Jack, Galactic Jack Jack Diesel, and the potent and clever White Widow mashup Jack White, but my advice is stick this strain in its original perfect form, and enjoy.
The first time I walked into a dispensary, after the initial "all my dreams have come true" euphoria of being a kid in a very real cannabis candy store dissipated, one of the first strains to pop out at me was Tang Tang, also known as Tropical Tang, or just Tang. The simplicity of its orange smell and flavor, and its 90% sativa-dominant genetics make Tang the Red Bull of weed. But its strong, completely smooth high allowed me to see where the weed was going to take me, and how much fun I was going to have on the ride. Tang is creative in its own way, maybe more of a sensual experience than others. I knew nothing about terpenes at the time, but now that I know a little, I realize that beyond the THC, the delicious citrusy notes have a calming, mood-lifting effect. This is the strain I would marry in a “Man and Cannabis” ceremony I have contemplated many times in my life.
This strain was the stuff of urban legend, a myth in an age before Google when word of mouth was all we had. It was always some kid from Florida, or someone who had been to one of the sacred coffeeshops of Amsterdam talking about the strongest weed imaginable: the White Widow. I spent years curious about its merits and dreaming about the day I would finally get to try it. Well, like most things, it was much less poetic in real life. I went to a dispensary, got some nice-looking potent flower, and smoked it. It was good, and scientifically stronger than some — but all in all, this was more about completing the quest for White Widow. If there's a storied strain you have heard of and always wanted to try, don’t wait, just go find it! There's something cathartic and joyful about weed dreams coming to life. Even when they aren’t as magical as you might have hoped, you're still inside a world of possibility. In this case, the strain is a perfect imagination booster, with THC levels often pushing 25%, making it one of the strongest of strains.
I have met this strain’s creators, Cookie Fam and Sherbinski — great NorCal cultivators who've had many successful innovations. I have tried several of their popular and new works in progress, and I have to say, they are all awesome. These people really care about the plant and the environment. Their rock star strain will always be Gelato to me. It's perfectly balanced, tastes soooo good, and is my ideal nighttime high — never a couch lock, and often a soothing body and mind elevation that lets me relax even in these times. I also find Gelato to be a wonderful choice for baking or making oil for edibles. Gelato Xmas cookies will never disappoint!
I just love Kush. I love hash made from it, I like smoking it, and I love seeing its different genetic offshoots surprise and impress us. In many ways, this is the mother of all weed (though I know there's plenty of debate about its origins among cultivators). This is not my everyday weed. This is a holiday special occasion, lift off to outer space and binge three seasons of an HBO series weed. This is Hanukkah and Kushmas to the 10th power. For these reasons Kush has a vital special place in my heart. Kush in its purest most gorgeous form still can knock me back, with absolutely no subtlety or need for microdosing. A good Kush reminds us in its pure indica glory that weed is the stuff of ancient cultivators that found magic in its seeds. And we are lucky to be able to share in a tiny bit of this magic as testament to the one true unifying aspect of Cannabis: The HIGH, and when it is all said and done, that is what it’s all about.