Why Colorado Tokers Love Papaya Cake

No disrespect to strains from previous decades, but there’s no comparison between the potency of early chronic and today’s sugar-dipped space nuggets. I’m not saying that’s always a good thing — nowadays strains can be too strong for a simple afternoon toke — but we’d be fools not to recognize the evolution of cannabis. That’s like saying LeBron James wouldn’t dominate the NBA in the ’90s. Save those stale takes for the Moose Lodge.

During our recent conversation with hash-maker extraordinaire Kennn Wall, he talked about the need for stronger, sturdier strains for worthwhile cannabis extraction. According to Wall, only 5 to 10 percent of strains on the market today have the quality and quantity of trichomes to make those stiff, terpy rosins and live concentrates that connoisseurs love. Some of his favorite strains that do? Papaya cuts, specifically from Oni Seed Co. So what did I buy during my next trip to the dispensary? Papaya Cake, a mix of Papaya and Wedding Cake, bred from Oni Seeds.

This frosty nighttime strain is about as intimidating as flower can get, quickly cloaking storage jars with layers of resin and blasting your hair back with a stanky gust of weed, fruit and sourdough every time you dare unscrew the top and open one. My first meeting with Papaya Cake eventually led to a messy, unsuccessful attempt at making a pineapple upside-down cake to satisfy my munchies — probably because my nose and tastebuds felt like I’d just broken up and smoked a tropical dessert. However, its bite wasn’t too bad, allowing me to stay high and happy all day without becoming a stoned puddle of giggles.

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Papaya Cake’s popularity is still rising, but we’ve spotted it around town at Emerald Fields, Everbloom, the Joint by Cannabis, Leiffa, the Lodge, Mile High Dispensary, Peak, Silver Stem Fine Cannabis and Simply Pure.

Looks: Slim and triangular buds, twisted calyxes, heavy trichome coverage and a relatively open bud structure make Papaya Cake’s buds look like a beat-up pine tree after a blizzard. The strain’s leaves and calyxes can take on violet spots, made even more striking against the resin glands and orange pistils.

Smell: Ever been to a grocery store that has a bakery right next to the produce section? Think of standing in the middle of the two with OG Kush in your pocket, and, boom: Papaya Cake. The sweet, menthol and doughy qualities of Wedding Cake and Papaya’s ripe, tropical notes meld seamlessly, giving the new strain an equally modern aroma.

Flavor: Don’t expect that tropical bakery flavor to cross over in full, but Papaya Cake still tastes like you’re taking a deep breath inside a Caribbean bakery with a skunk infestation. Strong tropical flavors, mild cakey notes of sweet mint and a piney aftertaste make this heavy-hitter hard to put down.

Effects: Although Papaya Cake has a reputation for knocking users out, my experiences with the strain were much more focused and euphoric, and the comedown was far from debilitating. That’s not to say the high wasn’t strong: One bowl of Papaya Cake lasted a couple of hours, obliterating any anxiety and even helping relieve some mild joint pain. Toke slowly with this one, and your day won’t stall after a session.

Home grower’s take: “This is probably worth trying out, but you’ll start in the dark unless you know someone who’s tried [it]. Oni hasn’t put out that much information on what to expect with Papaya Cake, and their seeds are always expensive. But I’d be surprised if the plants yielded a lot or got much taller than forty inches. You don’t grow some of these Papaya cuts for yield; you grow them for top flavor, looks and one hell of a rosin yield if you want to go that solvent-less route. This is for the experienced grower.”

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Cheesy Rider

I once received an email from a woman who claimed to have worked at a cheese shop across from Cheesman Park in the ’70s where employees allegedly sold weed under the counter. I couldn’t find much to confirm that story, though I did find that a place called The Big Cheese won a Best of Denver award for Best Cheese Shop in 1984, the first year Westword produced that edition — and maybe that bonus helped sway the judges.

Sad to say, the Big Cheese isn’t around anymore, but when I came across a strain by the name of Cheesy Rider at a dispensary in Cap Hill, it seemed like a fitting time to honor a cool place that might or might not have existed. An old head in the bud room told me that Cheesy Rider was actually a motorcycle-riding rodent mascot for Cheetos before Chester Cheetah took over, so the toking connection was too strong to pass up.

A cross between Biker Kush and a variety of U.K. Cheese cuts depending on the breeder, Cheesy Rider is infamous for having a wide stank radius. The potent hybrid is full of jacked-up whiffs of fruity, funky cheese, as those U.K. Cheese qualities are enhanced by Biker Kush’s fruity, earthy lineage of OG Kush, Blackberry and San Fernando Valley OG. Cheesy Rider’s smell, like a delicious wheel of Gouda, gets more pungent and refined with age, so enjoy it in the grow and cure those nugs as long as you can: It’ll only taste better.

Not only is Cheesy Rider’s sweet, creamy funk flavor-made for a picnic, but the high is, too. Each session with the strain provided an upbeat high without blurred concentration, amplifying daytime activities without draining energy. But each session also gave me a serious bout of the munchies, which can kill concentration on its own.

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We’ve spotted Cheesy Rider at Euflora, Green Dragon, Magnolia Road Cannabis Co., Nature’s Herbs and Wellness, and Verde Natural. My favorite versions have come from Nature’s Herbs and Wellness and Verde Natural; both smelled like plates of old cheese and strawberries, and helped me forget my woes after a couple of rough Sundays.

Looks: Like a rocket or stalagmite, Cheesy Rider has tall, pointed plants with long nugs. The hybrid strain leans indica in the grow, hitting medium height and producing dense calyxes. Those buds generally have a glow.

Smell: It’s cheesy, all right, but part of that aromatic explosion comes from Cheesy Rider’s Kush background, which adds to the smell’s horsepower. The combination starts out funky, sweet and cheesy, almost like some aged cheese and berries, followed by spicy, chalky smells of wet dirt and vanilla.

Flavor: Cheesy Rider’s earthy, spicy Kush aspects take the lead here, with those sweet and cheesy notes filling in the back and sides of your tongue. The taste is just as complex as the smell, but slightly less enjoyable when the cheese and fruit flavors don’t stand out.

Effects: Although the strain’s potency could floor a novice toker, Cheesy Rider’s high makes me curious, creative and talkative. Focus isn’t shot, and the euphoria and energy remains steady throughout the high.

Home grower’s take: “It smells so delicious and funky, but it’s really a collision of Skunk and OG genetics when you look into their backgrounds. Those fruity, cheesy hits are signs of evolving along the way. I had a friend spend good money on Cheesy Rider seeds, and let’s just say he was taken for a spin. Took damn near three months to flower, and his neighbors called him out about the smell coming from his house as the buds dried. I think it’s better set for people with room and experience, because it takes time and topping, and you want it nice and ripe.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Gushers

If there’s anything I miss about school, it’s bartering at the lunch table. Nothing was more satisfying than trading a limp PB&J and apple slices for a Lunchable and Hot Cheetos. (I hear prison offers a similar rush, but I don’t miss haggling that bad.) Rich, spoiled kids flaunting their junk food were always an easy target, as their friends selling Herbalife products have subsequently found out.

Although candy was still a rarity at school even for the rich and spoiled, other sweets weren’t. Twinkies, Fruit by the Foot and Squeezits were all hot commodities, but one dyed, sugary treat outranked them all: Gushers. The immense amount of corn syrup and colored goop was an instant draw for kids. So naturally, some of those same qualities are an instant draw for stoners.

A cross of Triangle Kush and a Gelato phenotype by the Bay Area’s Cookie Fam Genetics (the breeder that made Girl Scout Cookies so popular), the Gushers cannabis strain has a deep background that includes a Cookies lineage and old, mysterious Kush genetics from Florida. We’re all familiar with the staunch stone and sweet flavor of Cookies strains, but not nearly as many of us are acquainted with Kush strains out of Florida, such as Bubba and Triangle Kush — much less know their history. And like anything out of that state, things get weird quickly when you play with either of them.

If you like keeping your hands in the Cookies jar at dispensaries, this Gelato offspring lines up with that flavor profile, with fruity, sugary aspects that hang around before they’re washed out by an earthy blast of classic Kush. While the strain isn’t quite fruity enough on the tongue for a name deserving of Gushers, I get trying to stay on brand when breeding with Gelato or other Cookies offspring.

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Gushers aren’t exclusive to the rich and spoiled table in the school cafeteria, either. Ajoya, Doc’s Apothecary, Drift, Euflora, Rocky Road, Silver Stem Fine Cannabis, Redeye Releaf, RiverRock, Solace Meds, the Stone and Xclusive Cannabis all carry some form of the strain, and wholesale extractors and growers are sending it elsewhere around Colorado, too.

Looks: If it weren’t for the intense dark-green and purple colors, Gushers buds would look like pine cones, with dense oval and teardrop structures. But the strain’s purple tendencies, rusty pistils and heavy trichome coverage are too vibrant.

Smell: Somewhat of a collision between new and old scents of the cannabis world, with the initial sugary, candy-like aromas and creamy overtones followed by notes of wet soil, spicy herbs and cinnamon. The vanilla qualities of Kush strains and the creaminess of Cookies didn’t bridge that gap, as I’d hoped, but smelling a jar is still complex and enjoyable.

Flavor: It really depends on the cut, with some more sweet and creamy, and others more dank, earthy and spicy. I prefer something in between, like sweet grape and berry flavors followed by spicy vanilla and dirty pine.

Effects: Not quite a one-hit knockout, but euphoric and sedating nonetheless. The quick bliss of Gushers would make me ignore a house fire, relaxing me from my neck to my ankles. But that bliss soon turns into pure sloth and gluttony, so consider yourself warned. Medical patients have used the strain to treat pain, sleeping and eating disorders, headaches and stress, among other ailments.

Home grower’s take: “Have some friends in Sacramento who like this one a lot. Don’t know how he was able to get ahold of it, because I haven’t found seeds anywhere. Sometimes an employee in the grow can sneak out a cut of the plant and turn it into something. Sometimes it’s just all bullshit. The stuff I’ve had at the store and what my buddy grows [both] get potent and thick, though. Good to look at.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Chem De La Chem

Once you reach a certain level of regular cannabis consumption, your tolerance doesn’t always allow your body to react to strains as sensitively as less frequent users might. So a hit of Super Lemon Haze won’t make my mind race like it once did, nor does a small bowl of Banana Kush knock me out with the same efficiency. I can still experience the intended effects from particular strains, though I usually have to consume more.

But any little bite of Chemdog will shoot up my spine and zap my brain no matter how big my tolerance and ego get. Whatever it is about Chemdog and the family of chemical-smelling, brain-dicking strains that it has produced over the years, my mind sure can’t handle them.

Such an unproductive bliss isn’t as welcome as it once was now that I have more big-boy responsibilities, but it’s certainly fun for a night or a solo Saturday morning full of cartoons. So when I came across Chem De La Chem, I prepared myself for a session with the head of the class — the Chem of the crop, if you will — and the strain’s forest-inspired funk, gasoline influence and halfwit high didn’t disappoint. Sessions with Chem De La Chem consistently produced a short-lived energy with a long-lasting euphoria, leaving me incapable of giving a shit about answering emails and texts or taking the trash to the curb. Such a vacation from life can be detrimental if taken all the time, but every once in a while, it enables helpful self-help retreats at home over the weekend.

Chem De La Chem hasn’t risen to the top of Denver’s pot hierarchy yet, but a lineage of Chemdog, a northeastern classic, and I-95, a strain named after the East Coast’s main interstate highway, points to roots at the far end of the country. We’ve seen the strain around town at the Giving Tree of Denver, Good Chemistry, Kind Love, Lightshade and Seed & Smith, with wholesale flower further distributed by Willie’s Reserve, and concentrate made by Green Dot Labs. My favorites so far have come from Kind Love and Green Dot, both of which might as well have had gas fumes rising from their bottles.

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Looks: Chem De La Chem typically grows chunky, oblong-shaped buds made up of spiky, dense calyxes. Those buds range from bright green to wintergreen, with above-average trichome coverage.

Smell: Like twisting a lime over an old carpet in a forest cabin and shoving your nose in it. Chem De La Chem is a great balance of Chemdog and OG qualities, with dank, earthy whiffs of sandalwood and pine leaves layered with funky, sour notes of rubber and gas.

Flavor: Expect a more piney, floral taste than the traditional gasoline flavor of Chemdog, but the classic chemical taste undoubtedly makes an appearance. Those earthy, fuel-like flavors are covered in subtle, spicy notes of wood.

Effects: The powerful, disorienting head high also leaks into the body, calming anxious limbs and, in my case, relaxing the stomach to the point of insatiability. I don’t recommend any important social interactions or complex chores after a session, but Chem De La Chem is a prime candidate for anyone seeking relaxation or stress relief.

Home grower’s take: “That Triangle Kush influence in I-95 is likely behind that musty OG scent, but Chem De La Chem smells like straight fuel in the grow. Took about eight or nine weeks to cut down once it started blooming, I think, but I did have to grow this one from seed. Not sure if it’s available in clones out there, but it’s worth a try if you find it. Those Chem-y flavors and the happy head high are worth the time; I don’t care what the yield is.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Tang Tang

“Tang” is one of the more difficult flavor concepts for me to grasp. Is it sweet? Savory? Sour? A mix of all three? Calling something “tangy” at a family dinner table will often lead to an argument from someone who thinks tangy and tart are the same thing, thanks to powdered-drink-pushing chimpanzees. In actuality, tang is supposed be slightly sour while adding another fresh or zesty characteristic, as with plain yogurt, sourdough bread or certain tomato sauces.

Tangy cannabis strains are even harder to pinpoint, because the trait doesn’t really exist in most outside of Cannalope Haze and some peach- and apricot-leaning strains. Sour flavors in pot usually come from terpenes found in citrus fruits, which are clearly more sour than tangy — but when matched with light pine, herbal or floral notes, the tang is there.

Tang Tang (also known as Tropical Tang and just Tang) takes sweet, dank and savory notes of skunk and ripe peaches and pits them against a zesty, citrus-laden sourness, like a bottle of homemade barbecue sauce. The strain’s rare flavor and even rarer rush of energy have given Tang Tang somewhat of a cult following, with a high known for daytime euphoria and focused productivity. But to gain a cult following, there needs to be factor of under-estimation or low distribution. In my opinion, Tang Tang has to fight both.

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A phenotype of Blue Sonja, Tang Tang has deep roots that stretch back to Blueberry and Grapefruit strains, and even further back to Afghani and Thai landraces. The strain’s genetics are reportedly around 90 percent sativa, and the high is perfect for the outdoor or active user — but Tang Tang’s yield is mediocre, and it takes several weeks longer than most strains to fully bloom. Those qualities are so ugly to commercial growers that two of Tang Tang’s children, Mob Boss and Pootie Tang, eclipsed it in popularity in Colorado years ago. However, you can still find Tang Tang around town intermittently.

Looks: Tang Tang is labeled a 90 percent sativa, and its buds fit that mold, with slender, open calyxes that look like a bunch of skunky, delicious blobs. That daytime reputation is made stronger by the strain’s bright-green color.

Smell: Tang Tang’s sweet smell of apricots, citrus and pine needles is rounded out with a heavy skunk aroma, giving it that “tangy” smell, like a salad with over-ripened fruit and heavy dressing.

Flavor: This is where you learn how rare Tang Tang’s flavor profile really is, as those tart, refreshing flavors stay wound tight instead of separating into layers, as happens with most citrus-heavy strains.

Effects: Treat Tang Tang like coffee that makes you hungry instead of wanting to poop: A little is extremely blissful and productive, but too much is disorienting, and your wit drains by the second. I use it for stress, slight anxiety, neck pain and a touchy stomach.

Home grower’s take: “She’s a pretty good strain for fall or winter if you’re growing indoors, because I remember my Tropical Tang doing very well despite about 5 degrees of temperature fluctuation at night or in the morning. That will usually fuck with a strain, but she kept pushing. Those last two or three weeks seemed like they took forever, though. It’s like the buds got to 90 percent complete within six weeks, then took another three or four to finish that last 10 percent. For an average yield, that’s a lot of time.”

Commercial grower’s take: “You might not see Tang around stores as much as you once did, but you’ll definitely see traces of it. Mob Boss has been a huge strain in Denver for a couple years now, and that’s a Tang hybrid. So is Ultra Sonja and Pootie Tang, I believe. They’re all just more friendly for profitability, and the high is similar.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Mendo Breath

Everybody has their own tells when they’re high. For most people, it’s the red eyes, giggles or slow reaction time, but my giveaway has always been weed breath. Brushing teeth, drinking soda, chewing gum — none of them work as fast as they should, and that’s tripped me up plenty of times during conversations and other face-to-face encounters.

So a strain like Mendo Breath, known for heavy relaxation and cottonmouth, wasn’t going to put me in any sticky situation that I don’t already routinely find myself in. In fact, trial runs with Mendo Breath’s daughters, Cactus Breath and Garlic Breath, made me exhale no more fire than usual, so I felt more than ready to take on the parent.

Mendo Breath is a child of OGKushBreath and Mendo Purps, an older hybrid with Trainwreck and White Widow genetics. The potent nighttime strain has a similar lineage to that of Girl Scout Cookies, with a sweet Durban Poison influence in its background. Unlike Cookies strains, however, Mendo Breath is quite zesty, with a layer of citrus, and leaves no question about what time of day it should be consumed. Some cuts of Mendo Breath carry hints of vanilla, chocolate or caramel — making the Cookies comparisons more sensible — but I usually pick up stronger suggestions of orange, citrus zest and wet pine needles. The flavor is fresh and enjoyable, and sure to out me the next time I try to sneak in a toke before sleeping over at my girlfriend’s.

Mendo Breath is still gaining strength in Colorado dispensaries as it makes its way east from California. We’ve spotted it at Ajoya, A Cut Above, Bonfire Cannabis and Kind Love, but we hear it’s likely sold elsewhere in concentrate form, too.

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Looks: Typically cone- and football-shaped, Mendo Breath’s nugs tend to lean on the slender side but can have dense calyxes that carry more weight than advertised. The strain’s lime-green color, brightened by a broad coat of trichomes, contrasts beautifully against violet spots and occasional apricot pistils.

Smell: Mendo Breath’s sweet, zesty notes give off a sugar-and-cinnamon vibe, with strong hints of citrus and a skunky, herbal back end. The spicy, sugary aroma can smell like a wet, dank tub of French vanilla ice cream before the floral, herbal notes take over.

Flavor: Those skunky, floral characteristics combine for an earthy, skunky OG flavor that drowns out most of the sweetness that your nose picks up, though some citrus and vanilla notes will stick to the sides of your tongue if you look for them.

Effects: Strains affect everyone differently, but Mendo Breath’s calming properties are felt almost across the board. Initial euphoria is quickly kicked to the curb by munchies, yawns and an insatiable need to stretch on the couch in front of the TV. The potent high has been used to treat eating and sleeping disorders, pain, headaches and stress, among other ailments.

Home grower’s take: “Popped this from a seed bag when I was testing out GMO, Tropsanto and some other chemical-y, spicy strains. Pretty easy in the grow: didn’t stretch a ton, responded well to topping, and I don’t remember any mold issues. The yield was just okay, though. Would do it again for the rosin and short flowering time either way, because it had a good, stiff high.”

Commercial grower’s take: “Not the largest yield compared to strains with similar genetics or flavors, but Mendo Breath has been spreading east from California for a couple years, and it’s a mother strain to a few popular strains out there right now, like Garlic Breath and Hammerhead. The amount of trichomes it produces, and the way those trichomes are shaped, makes for some healthy extraction, though, so it could be why you see a lot of Mendo Breath hash out there.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Garlic Breath

Most words used to describe cannabis smells are terms that only a pothead would love. Generally, people don’t want to hear “skunky,” “diesel” and “dank” associated with their food, drinks or even tobacco. But hand over a nug that smells like a Gerber baby dump wrapped in burnt rubber, and stoners freak out.

Finding beauty in musty flavors isn’t new for cannabis lovers, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see Garlic strains catapult in popularity. Unlike gasoline and a skunk’s butt juice, garlic actually has a place in my kitchen. And not only do Garlic Bud, Garlic Cookies and GMO Cookies carry a rare, zesty funk, but their potency is damn near lethal — especially once the Cookies genetics got involved. Garlic Breath, a take on the Garlic craze from Thug Pug Genetics, carries all of those qualities and ramps them up like a spicy BAM! from Emeril Lagasse circa 1998.

The mix of GMO and a Mendo Breath phenotype is a chip off the old block, and will make even the most ardent tokers feel like Spicoli during a pop quiz. Dispensaries label Garlic Breath a nighttime strain because it has sedating potential, but also because it’s so fucking strong that you won’t want to leave the safe confines of your house after eclipsing a couple of hits. Don’t feel bad if you end up breathing out of your mouth often; it’s a common side effect.

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Although much harder to find than it used to be, a Colorado spin on Garlic Breath from Cannaventure Seeds could still be lurking out there. The Cañon City breeder used Hogsbreath and Chemdog D to create a zesty, herbal nighttime strain very similar to the GMO version, but this one takes a couple of weeks longer to bloom and doesn’t have the same potent reputation — not that everyone wants their strain to have a THC percentage in the high 20s, anyway.

We’ve spotted Garlic Breath at the Clinic, Good Chemistry, Groundswell, Higher Grade, the Joint and Peak, but the strain’s presence at dispensaries that source their buds from wholesale providers shows that its likely available elsewhere. Our favorite cuts have come from Good Chemistry and the Joint, both of which carry versions that push the boundary of potent highs from straight flower. Beware of blunts and high-temp vaporizers, or you’ll be breathing fire instead of Garlic fumes.

Looks: Dense and bright, with oval- and fist-shaped buds, Garlic Breath has a potency that’s very much implied through its looks. Compact calyxes, heavy trichome production and limited pistils are all expected from the strain, giving the bright-green color of the buds a glow-in-the-dark feel.

Smell: Although not as pungent as a freshly smashed clove, Garlic Breath’s combination of skunky, herbal and peppery aromas still smells like wet, dank garlic. The garlic funk is memorable, but not overpowering like the room-filling stank of a Diesel or OG-leaning strain.

Flavor: Garlic Breath’s flavor is more subtle than its smell, but it does carry some herbal, floral notes, with a buttery, peppery back end. Expect more savory than sweet, but you’ll still have a heavy case of weed — not garlic — breath after a bowl.

Effects: Garlic Breath’s high isn’t always sedating, but it can be heavy and disorienting, attacking peripheral vision and enabling distractions at every turn. Light hits of the strain are more euphoric, reliving stress and kick-starting your appetite while relaxing your limbs. Medical users have tried the strain for chronic pain, headaches, and eating and sleeping disorders.

Home grower’s take: “This will stretch if you’re not careful. Root it deep before the flowering starts. She’ll produce some beautiful top nugs, and you can replicate it further if you trim it near-bare and stay diligent. Great for strong highs or the rosin press, because, man, does she push out the resin.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Tahoe Alien

That Area 51 raid sure came out like a wet fart after all that. The event page’s creator now wants to throw a festival in a town near the restricted military base instead, surprising and exciting no one. So instead of stealing a dope-ass laser gun from the Man, I’ll just have to get high and watch Mars Attacks! or something. To up my desperate ante for Nevada alien action, I might even smoke a Tahoe Alien or two.

This mix of Alien Kush and Tahoe OG Kush has become a fixture for dispensaries and growers at home thanks to a reputation for high yields, which are rare for OG strains. But Tahoe Alien is more than just a garden star, carrying pungent pine and wood aromas as well as a high THC percentage. In some cases, Tahoe Alien can even attain decent CBD levels, making some commercial growers wonder if the strain was sent from above.

But if something as simple as chicken strips can be overcooked, then so can weed. Ham-handed growers use Tahoe Alien’s popularity to push suspect buds on consumers, so keep your eye out for imposters and poor takes on the strain. If grown correctly, Tahoe Alien can be beneficial for both user and grower, pumping out resin-coated buds and a relaxing high for the body and the mind.

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Although the federal government continues to refute these reports, we’ve heard of Tahoe Alien sightings at 1136 Yuma, Berkeley Dispensary, Best Colorado Cannabis, Buddy Boy, Cherry Peak Dispensary, Cross Genetics, Denver Kush Club, Doc’s Apothecary, High Level Health, Kind Love, LaConte’s, Lightshade, Lucy Sky, Pando, Potco and Rocky Road, among others, with a number of wholesale cultivations and extractors stocking stores with the strain, as well. My favorite cuts come from Kind Love and High Level Health, with both packing the pine flavor and heavy shrouds of resin. Viola Extracts and Yeti Farms do an otherwordly job of pulling that flavor and potency out of Tahoe Alien in their extracts, as well.

Looks: Bulbous, chunky and larger than most OG cuts, Tahoe Alien looks more like a hybrid than an indica, but its nugs still pack density. The strain’s lime-green color and moderate pistil coverage are usually overshadowed by a heavy layer of trichomes. If you don’t see a healthy coat on this strain, it wasn’t grown right.

Smell: Like a walk through a wet, dank forest. Expect thick whiffs of pine and wet bark up front, followed by a subtle sour skunkiness and sweet vanilla aromas. Those back-end notes can be hard to detect, though, as Tahoe Alien is dominated by the woods.

Flavor: The Kush and skunky parts come out more in the taste, becoming more of a partner with the woody, piney flavors instead of taking a back seat. The pungent, sweet and forest-y flavors are better enjoyed in a concentrate, in my opinion.

Effects: Used primarily in the afternoon and evening, Tahoe Alien is known as a pain and stress reliever in the cannabis community. I like to smoke mine after a long day or angst-filled Sunday before work starts again, as it helps calm my nerves and eases any anxious-stomach issues. I’ve also enjoyed Tahoe Alien before a provoking movie or other visual-oriented entertainment. Just don’t go overboard, or that relief can turn into paranoia.

Home grower’s take: “This likes to spread more than stretch, so be prepared to play with those branches a little bit. Other than that, though, Tahoe Alien is pretty easy for anyone who even sorta knows what they’re doing. Can’t find seeds of it, but clones aren’t very hard to buy if you know where to look. I’ve pulled it down in eight weeks, but will probably go nine next time and see if I can get more flavor out of it.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Koko Puffs

Baked goods are all the rage among breeders trying to come up with new names for their fruity, doughy strains, but there are only so many cookies, cakes and pies that society recognizes. Now cereals are the new frontier for sugar-obsessed tokers trying to reconnect with their childhoods. And for the most part, these strains are pretty darn tasty — besides Lucky Charms, which was an overrated cereal anyway.

Crunch Berry, Frankenberry, Fruit Loops and Fruity Pebbles OG have all been sweet on the nose, but Koko Puffs could’ve gone either way during our first meeting at a dispensary. I wasn’t sure if the “Puffs” part was the inspiration or if we had another Chocolope or Chocolate Mint OG — two delicious strains — on our hands. Either way, the thick layer of resin clinging to the inside of the display jar sold me.

Koko Puffs is the offspring of Kimbo Kush and Triple OG. You’d think a strain with such street-hardened parents would have a tougher name, but maybe they just wanted a better life for their child. To be fair, Koko Puffs is also a lot softer on the mind than its mother or father, keeping me easygoing and even-keeled after each session. But after several experiences with the strain, I was still wondering if I’d ever come close to going cuckoo for the flavor.

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There’s nothing bad or unpleasant about Koko Puff’s floral, rubbery smoke — but there’s really nothing chocolaty or creamy about it, either. There are some nutty and sweet berry aspects to the strain’s flavor, however, and the high is so fun-loving that no one’s going to give a shit about the name anyway. I usually try to confront life’s issues, but it’d be hard to care much about them if I smoked Koko Puffs every day. If I did, I’d probably end up on a beach somewhere, falling asleep in the sand without a worry in the world.

Koko Puffs is a wholesale strain with a growing profile in Colorado, so some dispensaries could very well be growing it internally. So far, we’ve spotted the strain on the street and in seeds online, while a small but growing number of dispensaries sell it, too.

Looks: Koko Puffs comes packaged in round, compact calyxes with a murky cloak of resin covering the bushy buds. Regular spots of bright purple make the strain’s evergreen color hard to notice under the trichomes, which can be very abundant.

Smell: Koko Puffs starts out sour and slightly gassy and has a strong floral ending, but there are some subtleties that provide a little sweetness to the mix. Grainy, nutty notes and small hints of berry help Koko Puffs smell like a damp forest floor in the summertime.

Flavor: Although mostly comprising OG and Blackberry genetics, Koko Puffs has a very tart, rubbery smoke and heavy floral notes on the back end. There are some sweet berry overtones, though, which are also present in the aftertaste.

Effects: The high is the real selling point, and it can be part of a balanced breakfast, a mid-day pick-me-up or an evening toke that won’t keep me awake at night. Daily tasks and conversations go on without my becoming aloof or paranoid, and pushing through the munchies was easy when I had something to focus on. Medical patients have used Koko Puffs for mental anguish, headaches, glaucoma and sleeping disorders.

Home grower’s take: “I think this was retired by its breeder [Exotic Genetix], but if you can buy it in dispensaries now, then maybe you can find clones of it somewhere. I got my seeds online, and only three of the six ended up making it, but that’s part of the fun of shady seed banks. Nothing weird in the grow — pretty easy — and it went from seed to harvest in less than three months, which isn’t bad.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Lion Forge Animation Debuts with ‘Hair Love’ Partnership

Announced in May as a new venture from Polarity to compliment its comics publishing business, Lion Forge Animation is introducing itself with the heartfelt new animated short Hair Love, set to hit the big screen on August 14 with Sony Pictures Animation/Rovio’s The Angry Birds Movie 2.

Directed by Matthew A. Cherry (executive producer, BlacKkKlansman), Everett Downing Jr. (animator, Up, WALL·E), and Bruce W. Smith (creator, The Proud Family; animator, The Princess and the Frog), Hair Love is a collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation that was launched as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 which attracted strong support and became the platform’s most highly-funded short film project with $ 300,000 (over a $ 75k goal). The short centers on an African-American father attempting to tangle with his young daughter’s wonderfully wild hair for the first time.

“Lion Forge Animation’s mission to bring authentic and unique stories to the world perfectly aligns with our vision for Hair Love,” said Cherry. “We are really honored to have them as a partner in bringing Hair Love to the world.”

Hair Love features the voice of Issa Rae (Insecure) as the young girl’s mother. The short is produced by Karen Rupert Toliver, Stacey Newton, Monica A. Young, Matthew A. Cherry, and Lion Forge Animation’s David Steward II and Carl Reed. Peter Ramsey (director, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Frank Abney (animator, Toy Story 4) serve as executive producers.

“As a father of an eight-yea- old daughter with 3b hair, I can personally relate so directly to this project, and was therefore drawn to its themes immediately,” said Reed. “This film presents such a unique perspective on such a common part of our daily experience, providing a rare on-screen moment for African-American parents to connect with. Matthew A. Cherry has given us an uplifting, positive view of black families; and thanks to Sony Pictures Animation running this theatrically, one that we will have an opportunity to share with the world.”

The short’s co-executive producers include Jordan Peele, Andrew Hawkins, Harrison Barnes, Yara and Keri Shahidi. The short’s associate producers include N’Dambi Gillespie, Gabrielle Union-Wade & Dwayne Wade Jr., Gabourey Sidibe, Stephanie Fredric and Claude Kelly.

The animation was produced at Los Angeles-based Six Point Harness (Guava Island)

Animation Magazine

Why Colorado Tokers Love MAC

Am I the only one calling bullshit on all these 30 percent THC strains? I’ll smoke something from a dispensary claiming just that and feel like a sober turd, then puff something stinky marked at 15 percent THC and get burnt to a crisp. Stop juicing your testing results, ya bums. You know who you are.

Some strains can back up that shit talk, though, and make you regret being so cocky. Some strains will make you feel like a lost virgin again, leaving you gasping for air and a few more seconds of focus. Of course a strain named MAC would be one of those strains: You’ll be lured in and spit out like a spent piece of meat. And you’ll keep wanting to come back. No one can resist such powerful mackin’.

The hybrid of Alien Cookies and (allegedly) a Colombian landrace and Starfighter is a successful attempt by breeder Capulator at condensing Alien Kush genetics through a long lineage of backcrossing strains such as Tahoe Alien and Chemdog. Short for Miracle Alien Cookies, MAC has quickly built a reputation for dense, hearty nugs with otherworldly trichome coverage and top-shelf potency. Sure, anyone can fuck up good genetics, but MAC has reached a point of credibility where even mediocre dispensaries should be growing a respectable cut, or not trying to grow it at all. (Those rules should apply to all strains but sadly, they don’t.)

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MAC hasn’t yet gotten the acclaim here that it has in California, but we’ve heard reports of serious MACkin’ in Denver lately. A Cut Above, Ajoya, Bonfire Cannabis, Diego Pellicer, Doctors Orders, Green Tree Medicinals, the Herbal Center, High Level Health, Igadi, the Joint, Kind Love and Wolfpac Cannabis have all carried MAC, while several extraction companies sell concentrated versions of the strain, as well. My favorite cuts so far come from Kind Love and Wolfpac, both of which make bong hits feel like dabs while tasting like a mix between rubber, citrus rind and stinky cheese. The concentrated version from Green Dot Labs provides a thick, sweet and potent hit, too, without all the ash.

Looks: MAC usually has dense calyxes, with football- and cone-shaped buds that grow beautiful tips made for pinching and breaking. The heavy trichome coverage almost looks greasy over the limited pistils and dark-purple spots.

Smell: As good as it looks, MAC’s much more of a sweet talker, pumping out sweet, sour and funky whiffs of rubber, gas, citrus rind and even a little dirty cheese. Those rubbery, sweet notes are covered in a dank layer of earthy bark — a true clash of Chemmy and Kush characteristics.

Flavor: Able to force its way through dirty glassware and flavored blunt wraps, MAC’s flavor is very similar to the smell, both in clarity and chronology, with initial sweet and sour notes of Diesel, rubber and oranges followed by a subtle cheesy funk and topped off by a powerful earthy-Kush aftertaste.

Effects: MAC’s euphoric, uplifting effects help relax the mind while empowering and energizing it, creating a great high for weekend mornings and after-work activities. However, the strain’s high THC content can make the effects debilitating for low tolerances, so start very slowly with this one. Medical patients have used MAC for chronic pain, fatigue, stress, headaches and eye pain, with high-tolerance users able to enjoy the strain without an extreme increase in appetite.

Home grower’s take: “Blew up at dispensaries overnight, but some of us grew MAC as early as two, three years ago. Love the conflicting aspects of Eastern and South American genetics at play here, and you can really smell those two different sides in the grow. Took at least nine or ten weeks to pull down, but it’s worth it if you have a rosin press or make hash. That trichome level is fantastic.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Lemon Meringue

Meringue, you fluffy bastard. Always around to dupe me. I love creamy desserts, sweet flavors and adding egg whites to just about anything. So why can’t I get down with you? (TMI answer: Being reminded of my limitations is depressing, but that’s better left for the leather couch.) Even when I had a younger stomach and tastebuds, meringue was too much. Too light and sugary on top of my pie, too hard and acidic in cookie form. Call me myopic, but I’m more of a cheesecake guy.

Still, I won’t stick my nose up at a cannabis strain named Meringue. After all, I love creamy desserts, sweet flavors, adding egg whites to just about anything…and weed.

Lemon Meringue is the child of Cookies and Cream and Lemon Skunk, a cross of new and old daytime strains. The hybrid is still growing its reputation in dispensaries around the country, but it’s gaining a following in Colorado and is already popular in California — probably because it’s held on to many of the traits that make its parents so popular. Known for a vigorous uplift and dessert-like flavors, Lemon Meringue is somehow able to taste sinfully sweet while also helping users burn calories. That’s good for at least one win over Key Lime, a sedating phenotype of Girl Scout Cookies named after lemon meringue pie’s better-tasting rival, Key lime pie.

Unlike its namesake, Lemon Meringue doesn’t get too acidic or soft for two reasons: One, it’s weed, and two, the smoke carries funky notes of skunk and wet air in the morning, balancing out that creamy sweetness. The strain’s high is very motivational and keeps me relatively focused, allowing me to burn through work at home with enough energy for a workout afterward. Safe to say I like this version of Lemon Meringue more than the bakery’s.

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I’ve spotted Lemon Meringue at Bgood, Lightshade, Mile High Green Cross, Standing Akimbo and the Green Solution, while wholesale growers and extractors also stock dispensaries with the strain. My favorites so far hail from Bgood and Standing Akimbo, and they pair well with coffee and a blunt wrap in the morning.

Looks: A clear sativa, Lemon Meringue sports buds that virtually always grow bright-green and fluffy, with an above-average amount of orange pistils. The strain’s oblong-shaped buds can get both round and long, but the plant itself is usually tall.

Smell: Like the dessert shelf in your grandma’s fridge, but with weed in it. Sweet and sour smells of lemon, along with nutty, creamy cashew might make you forget that you’re smelling cannabis, but dank hints of grass, soil and skunk on the back end quickly remind you what it is.

Flavor: The strain’s Cookies background ensures nutty, doughy flavors with a creamy twist, but Lemon Skunk’s heavy citrus influence and earthy, skunky flavors won’t be ignored. The result is a lush, dank and creamy flavor covered in lemon.

Effects: Lemon Meringue’s head high can seem very intense initially, but calms down quickly once you find something to focus on for a few minutes. Although that energy is best used for physical activity, the visual aspects and focus can also be fitting for a fun movie or thrilling read. The best part? The comedown is minimal, leaving you relatively unzomibified.

Home grower’s take: “You’ll probably need to find Lemon Meringue as a clone, because I don’t think feminized seeds of this were ever made available. If they were, it’s been very recently, and good luck finding them. Grows sativa, for sure: stretches about halfway through and produces these lime-green buds that are softer than a blanket. I’ve heard of the effects leaning indica sometimes, though. Either way, it can push out a decent yield in eight or nine weeks if you top out the right amount. Those leaves can get in the way on the bottom nugs.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Cashmere

Being a cannabis writer doesn’t require a fine wardrobe. I wear lots of baseball tees, jeans and hoodies, and most people I encounter still think I’m overdressing for my job. That means my shlubby shoulders will probably never feel the touch of cashmere, but they’d get a lot more attention if they did.

The Kashmir region of India is known for producing some legendary indicas as well as the yarn made from goat wool. Given cashmere’s reputation for smoothness and comfort, any indica named for it had better comfort the body and mind. More important, the grower had better make sure that smoking it is smoother on the lungs than Marvin Gaye. Nobody wants to cough aggressively on Cashmere. Fortunately, everything will go smoothly if you buy it from the right place.

Not to be confused with Kashmir Kush, a similarly sedative strain with Purple Pig and Vanilla Kush genetics, this version of Cashmere has Bubble Gum and Northern Lights parents. The classic lineage and flavor are good for a trouble-free nightcap after dinner, and you’ll still have just enough energy to brush your teeth and wash your face before bed. Although widely used as a physically relaxing strain, Cashmere also keeps me cooler than a polar bear’s toenails in the face of potential anxiety and stress. I wouldn’t recommend the relaxing high for a wake and bake, but high tolerances could handle it in the afternoon, especially if the day has been tense. Keep some around like a comfortable emergency blanket, and you’ll be glad you did after getting a traffic ticket or surviving a rough first date.

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The Bubble Gum/Northern Lights version of Cashmere is more popular in California than in Colorado, but we’ve spotted the strain at Good Chemistry and on the street. Finding Kashmir Kush (just Kashmir, at some stores) is a little easier, with Kind Love, Silver Stem and Smokin Gun Apothecary carrying it in the past. If you can’t find either strain, Vanilla Kush is a close substitute that’s at many dispensaries. Our favorite versions of either strain come from Good Chemistry and Kind Love. Although Kind Love’s is a little heavier and sedating, its thick, pungent smells of Kush and vanilla are too nostalgic for seasoned tokers to pass up. Just be ready for an early bedtime if you succumb.

Looks: Although generally compact and round, Cashmere’s buds have a light, fluffy appearance thanks to wispy, sugary leaves that blend in with calyxes, so don’t overthink the trimming process here. Color ranges from wintergreen to dark pine, with some occasional purple mixed in.

Smell: Cashmere has strong whiffs of pine up front, followed by sweet, rubbery notes with a vanilla back end, reminiscent of bubble gum. Those classic Kush aromas play second fiddle to OG-like pine scents, however, making Cashmere smell like a sweeter version of Skywalker OG.
Flavor: Tastes of pine and rubber with a floral hint dominate most of Cashmere’s flavor, but sweet notes of vanilla and old-school bubble gum come in at the end.

Effects: Cashmere usually delivers a calming, euphoric wave initially, followed by a slow but gentle shift into physical relaxation. Don’t expect to work out after smoking Cashmere, but a surprise visit from your parents won’t freak you out, either.

Home grower’s take: “I’ve definitely grown something called Cashmere, but I’m fuzzy on whether it had Northern Lights genetics or not. One of many strains I’ve grown that probably wasn’t what I was told. But this one had big, compact buds that made the basement smell like a mix of pine air freshener and vanilla gum. Bottom branches got weak, and so did the buds. Lot of sugar leaves on it, though, so it was good for edibles and hash.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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Why Colorado Tokers Love Citral Glue

Know that jealous, confused feeling you get when you find out that some mediocre celebrity is worth way more than you thought? I remember when I discovered that Judge Judy made almost $ 50 million a year, and when I heard that the New York Mets owe former outfielder and third baseman Bobby Bonilla $ 1.2 million annually from 2011 to 2035 (he retired in 2001 — the Mets front office had a lot going on back then). Such revelations aren’t appalling, but they do make me scratch my head.

I was itching my hollow noggin for a solid minute after learning how popular Citral Glue has become in Denver. A mix of Gorilla Glue (or Original Glue, GG #4 and whatever else dispensaries call it to avoid a lawsuit nowadays) and Citral Skunk by Ethos Genetics, this new Glue phenom can differ on the phenotype, but my favorite has the best of both parents, with a heavy layer of milky trichomes and skunky aroma that makes you feel like you just made a wrong turn in a cornfield.

Citral Glue’s smell and flavor are both solid, bearing rubber, skunk, lemon and wet dirt, depending on the cut you get. But the main reason for the strain’s recent spike in popularity is its daytime effect, which can help me finish anything from an article to a workout. Although Citral Glue has never made me feel caffeinated, it does provide a strong uplift if I have something to focus on. That combination of mental relaxation, strong cognition and slight pain management puts the strain in my late-morning or afternoon rotation, but it can be a great evening smoke, too, for after-work fun.

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Citral Glue might not have the respect of its parents yet, but it’s become very easy to find in Denver dispensaries. We’ve seen it at A Cut Above, Doc’s Apothecary, Euflora, Greenfields, Herbal Remedies, Kind Meds, Leiffa, Levels, Pando, Peak, Magnolia Road, Native Roots, Terrapin Care Station, Trenchtown and Urban Dispensary, among others, and several wholesale growers supply it elsewhere. My favorite cuts have come from A Cut Above and Kind Meds; both carry Citral Skunk’s sour, pungent flavors with a hash-like potency.

Looks: Citral Skunk can become just as frosty as Gorilla Glue, with a gang of trichomes covering the bright-green buds to the point of suffocation. The buds usually lean sativa, stretching long with fluffy, open calyxes.

Smell: Dank, tart and rubbery with a muddy layer of soil hanging over it, Citral Glue carries more Skunk aromas than Gorilla Glue, which was never known for a strong scent. That skunky smell is accompanied by light notes of lemon and pine, with a grainy, dirty back end.

Flavor: This is where the Skunk characteristics can shine, with juicy, rubbery flavors that might take old tokers back to the Skunk #1 days. Splashes of lemon, pine and earthy juniper are typically present, and can be stronger depending on the phenotype.

Effects: If not overdone, Citral Glue’s high is relatively manageable compared to that of other Glue strains. It calms my anxiety and sore joints without liquefying my body, and it doesn’t turn my stomach into a black hole, either. Patients have used the strain to treat anxiety, depression, exhaustion, minor pain and a severe lack of creativity.

Home grower’s take: “Popped these from seed about two and a half years ago, just a year or so after Gorilla Glue had really taken off. Big yielder, but it took a while to get going; I think I harvested at ten weeks, but could’ve pulled them after nine if I’d needed to. Buds gave me a pretty nice, productive high that lasted long. But the rosin I made from it knocked everyone out, so don’t think you’re about to go running after dabbing this stuff.”

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email marijuana@westword.com.

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