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Ride of a Lifetime

Need a better smoke? Humboldt is the answer!

Ellen Komp

As a longtime activist for marijuana policy reform, I’ve been in countless situations where a group of people shares our stashes with each other for a night of experimentation, conversation and conviviality. Invariably, although we are treated to all manner of weed grown with advanced technologies that fetch high prices on the marketplace, everyone wants to know where I came by the bud that I shared. My answer is always the same: “Humboldt,” I say.

I don’t know what it is about Humboldt Grown that makes it so special. Perhaps it is the climate and the soil, the “terroir” as they call it in the wine industry. The hot, sunny days combined with the fog that rolls in over the pine-covered mountains is said to maximize the juicy flowers that everyone prizes. And ask a Humboldt farmer about their soil and they’ll talk for hours about worm castings, green clay, minerals and worms.

The fact that sun-grown plants get lots of tender, loving care and days in full-spectrum sun—as opposed to “warehouse weed” grown in locales that look and sound more like factories than farms—may also contribute to the special nature of the region’s most popular product. It’s rather like fresh eggs from free-range, happy chickens versus the paler imitations emitted from hampered hens.

But I think what really makes The Emerald Triangle’s marijuana the best in the world is the genetics. If you ask about the origin of the Geezer or Granny Grown ganga you’re smoking, your answer is likely to be something like, “Oh, I brought those seeds from Afghanistan in the hem of my jeans in 1972….” Years of careful and loving crosses have selected for the top qualities desired: those that enhance awareness, pain relief, or sensuality, as well as the top taste and aroma. While large segments of the marijuana market rely on high-THC strains like OG Kush that produce a sameness of flavor and couch lock without much mind-expansion, heritage strains from Humboldt offer all kinds of subtle, discernable effects— while still packing the wallop of high THC.

It is for this reason, I think, that at last year’s Emerald Cup competition—which saw over 600 entries in the flower category alone—the top prize for both flowers and genetics went to a longtime gardener from Mendocino who had never entered the competition before. Joe Peinado’s “Sweet Serenade” had 26.5% THC and came with the descriptions, “Expansive” and “Tastes like Grandma’s closet.”

The curing matters too. Colorado cannabis, though legal even for recreational purposes today, is of notoriously low quality. It may have something to do with the dry air that cures the buds too quickly, or the fact that the law is structured so that 80% of the weed that retailers sell must be grown onsite, meaning you’re getting something akin to Velveeta cheese instead of a family-farmed Gruyere.

Now that the market is moving to cannabis concentrates that can be consumed in a portable vape pen or as efficient “dab,” one innovative group has found a way to pack the specialness of Humboldt Grown into a concentrate, using advanced technology from the herbal products industry that no one else in the industry is hip to. The marriage of experience with the latest technology is what defines Supercritical, an exciting new brand of CO2-derived, solvent-free concentrates that ought to take the market by storm. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Photo courtesy of Kym Kemp