An example of Harlequin from Good Chemistry (The Cannabist)

Harlequin (marijuana review)

Strain Theory: I usually love sativa-dominant hybrids like this for the mood and energy stimulation. Instead, Harlequin proved contemplative and internalized a lot of my energy.

One of my favorite stories is that before the recent “kale boom,” the top purchaser of the cruciferous green was Pizza Hut. They’d use it to line their buffets because it was so cheap and provided some semblance of life. I’ve never been a big fan of high-cannabidiol (CBD) strains — which a budtender may recommend for conditions from anxiety to epilepsy — because they don’t usually get me high. That’s the idea: It’s non-psychoactive.

Harlequin by the numbers: $15/gram, $240/ounce at Good Chemistry, 330 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver.

Now, everyone is rushing to breed the next Charlotte’s Web or Cannatonic because of the purported high-CBD, low-THC benefits people have been aloof to.

But is there any reason that I, a relatively healthy 31-year-old male, needs to smoke one of these strains? There’s already a healthy serving of kale in my morning smoothie.

Since CBD is making headlines nationwide, there’s a clamor to find it anywhere. Harlequin is a relatively easy strain to track down, recently available at the previously reviewed Good Chemistry. The genetics are as old-school as you can get (Colombian Gold, Thai and Swiss sativas, and a Nepalese indica landrace) and ones you don’t often see in the new world of “OG Kush Whatever” or “Diesel Of The Week” breeding. How do the genetics translate to lab analysis? Oakland, Calif.-based Steep Hill Lab was one of the first to test Harlequin, revealing quite a surprise.

Talking with Steep Hill’s chief research officer, the Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare, over the phone (because of course), he confirmed that while they knew Harlequin contained CBD, they weren’t exactly sure how many milligrams until November of 2011. “It had a 5:2 CBD to THC ratio, which is almost a 2:1,” deCesare tells me. “It’s great for pain.” I neglect to confess to the Reverend that I’m fairly pain-free.


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In my experience, the defining characteristic of good Harlequin is pronounced hairs that range from bright orange to dark red. Most descriptions will talk about the tremendous trichome coverage: this, to me, is overstated. It almost looks like Alf was involved at some point. The name comes from the range of distinct colors that you can find on the plant, but these hairs always tip me off.

The nose is a lot of earth and hashiness initially, woodsy with a hint of oak. If you pinch a bud, however, it should release a dull sweetness that reminds me of dried stone fruit bagged up for a fall hike. Unfortunately, not much of that came through in a fairly bland yet smooth smoke. After taking two hits to start the day, I waited.

And waited.

Of my slight pains, a stiff neck from falling asleep on the couch is one that could have used a little love from the Harlequin, which according to Good Chemistry tested at 13 percent CBD-A and just under 5 percent THC-A. I’ve reached the age where I can wake up worse for the wear. But it remained perceptible, making me wonder how someone with legitimate, non-crybaby pain might have reacted.

I usually love sativa-dominant hybrids like this for the mood and energy stimulation. Instead of the creative spark or extra pep in my step, it was very contemplative and internalized a lot of my energy. That’s not to say the high was stoney: at every given moment a lucidity was annoyingly present, as if all I had to do was shake myself out of my own inner monologue.


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And all of a sudden came the paranoia, the creeping doubt I’d had a great streak of avoiding over the past few months. I was wholly unprepared for this as Harlequin is touted for being so mellow, like if everyone around you started headbanging at a Jack Johnson concert. For the next half-hour, I put on an old episode of “Shark Tank” and did the crossword puzzle to distract myself, to a certain degree of success.

This seemed like such an aberration that the next day I tried the old “smoke more weed” trick, taking four healthy rips to see if it was I that had let the Harlequin down and not vice versa. The result: better pain relief, equally weird vibe. My system may just not respond well to CBD, having been conditioned to love THC so much for over a decade. Uneducated guesses like that, however, are why I never had a future in medicine.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Harlequin is effective medicine for a number of people. As someone who primarily uses cannabis recreationally, I’m fine leaving it to them. There’s plenty of strains that do exactly what I need without the guilt of feeling like a patient should be smoking them instead of some guy who slept wrong.


Really, that’s a thing?
Cannabis-infused coffee. Machine-rolled marijuana cigarettes. Joint-peddling vending machines. A THC-infused, ladies-only lube. A food truck selling only infused edibles. The massage of your life, via a marijuana-infused lotion. Yes, really, these are all real things.