First it was Snoop. Then Willie Nelson. Now Tommy Chong. No, this isn’t the 2016 Stoner Lifetime Achievement Awards, but a timeline of celebrity weed brands launched in Colorado. It’s getting so out of hand, we should expect ounces with hatchet emblems called “Juggal-O’s” any day now.
With the full line of Chong’s Choice due out in October, Tommy’s eponymous flower landed last week in dispensaries across the state with sativa, hybrid and indica options. While he may be the last of the three to set up shop here, it’s not due to a lack of ambition: Colorado is the sixth state in Mr. Chong’s budding empire.
Grown locally by Verde Natural, I took the weekend to look at the three signature strains available now.
By the numbers: $20/gram, $56/eighth, $345/ounce at Northern Lights Cannabis Co., 2045 Sheridan Blvd., Edgewater
Chong’s Choice Sativa (Durban Haze)
Let’s start with the good news: Durban Haze is the clear winner of the group, and the margin is Phelps-like. Even when accounting for the disparity in visual appeal, as the smaller nugs take the machine-trim the hardest, this is what you dream of smelling when combining two powerhouse sativas. (Correction: A representative from the Chong’s Choice team reached out to assure me it’s a hand trim, so kudos to them for a very industrious/thorough/over-ambitious team of trimmers, depending on your perspective) Lime-like citrus cleaning solution enhances instead of obfuscates the softer Haze notes, giving it an uncooked pastry crust undertone that I keep coming back to. The flush leaves something to be desired, but more on that later.
This is extremely tasty in a one-hitter, the kind of flower you vape to your heart’s content. The high shot immediately to my temples, as if administering an actually pleasant form of electroshock therapy. Everything slowed down, but as a function of being able to process things more rapidly than usual, as opposed to a slogging high. The Durban Haze is a procrastinator’s savior, providing motivation without an overwhelming euphoria that can distract from the task at hand.
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Cooking a carbonara for the first time to finish off some leftover prosciutto (apologies to any Italian readers), I did notice more anxiety than usual, which can be a hallmark of Durban’s frenzied high. Fortunately, that quickly passed while I worked on mise-en-place before the grand finale. I needed to work quickly to ensure my sauce didn’t become scrambled eggs with pasta, but the Durban Haze is particularly well-suited for multitasking and I surprised myself at how efficient I could be.
The only knock I had was dealing with my bum shoulder, which has been tight because I’ve slept on it the wrong way. Also, I’m getting old. While I certainly didn’t notice it as much, it didn’t loosen up like I’d hoped, as these are two strains I can usually count on to relax my muscles. That being said, fans of Durban and Haze absolutely must give this strain a whirl.
Chong’s Choice Hybrid (Blue Dream)
Things that Colorado needs: fewer Super Bowls, more transplants, and bags of Blue Dream. Sarcasm aside, the fact that multiple outlets felt the need to address our abundance of Blue Dream speaks to how rampant it has truly become. I’ll count myself as part of the problem. Still, when it’s done correctly, I’m not ashamed to call it one of my favorite strains.
Slight purple flecks and moderate density aside, the rest of the structure is clearly informed by its Haze roots, although the nose is aggressively blueberry and spice. They’re the kind of scents that keep Fruit Ninjas up at night. This was a pleasant surprise, as the jar I smelled in store wasn’t finished curing: The scent of fresh cut grass hit me in the face like someone took the guard off my mower and replaced it with a chute.
When I took my first hit, I couldn’t help but notice the harsh sting in the back of my throat that came to be one of the signatures of the line. Combined with the slight wetness in the jars, I’d guess that production had to be rushed at some point, and I began to picture Tommy stuck in a Lucy Ricardo Chocolate Factory situation. Still, a few hits later, I was ready for whatever a conveyor belt could serve up.
Lucid and active, I felt like a kid on my Nintendo Power Pad again, pacing around while talking to my partners at a rate that appeared to make them uncomfortable. Even my shoulder started to loosen up, something I couldn’t help but notice as I picked a chunk of accumulated schmutz off of our ceiling fan. Even with a full brunch consumed mere hours earlier, I was struck with a fit of munchies so powerful I dipped into my stash of Easter candy.
I continued to feel it in my legs, as sitting was akin to languishing, but the head high quickly became intensely curious. Just about anything could pique my interest, and I found myself asking more questions than usual (I’m a terrible listener when high) instead of impatiently waiting for my turn to speak and word vomiting all over the place. While there are far better deals on the ubiquitous strain, this is top-tier Blue Dream.
Chong’s Choice Indica (Grape Stomper)
If Blue Dream was a rush job, Grape Stomper was Rapunzel, longing to be released from its jar. Stale and musty, a good pinch revealed those almost acetone grape notes, like the initial whiff upon opening a can of Welch’s. Of course, most of that was obscured by fierce rubber, which made me feel more confident in their somewhat perplexing “indica” designation for the traditional hybrid.
On the other hand, I don’t understand why they’d select this Grape Stomper when it seems so divorced from how you usually see it on the shelf. It’s like watching Conan O’Brien tap dance instead of host his late-night show. Sure, he’s proficient at it, but it’s not why you show up. The jar says Grape Stomper, but I can’t help but feel like this is some form of OG.
Where the Stomper benefits from the extra wait time is a lethargic, seemingly CBN-rich buzz that will leave you in a stupor that isn’t suited for social situations. Several times on a walk with my fiancee I simply forgot what we were talking about or went silent for long enough periods that, if we didn’t know each other, would have come off as incredibly awkward. At a gangly 6’3”, I’m not always the most coordinated oaf, but this had me feeling like a baby foal or a teenager playing Pokemon Go and running for the first time.
When it came time to rest, however, I had no complaints. My droopy, bloodshot eyes couldn’t wait to close, not even bothering to peek at the big hits I was hearing some L.A. Ram take on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” as I crashed out. A long weekend didn’t hurt, but Grape Stomper helped me stay down, without waking up multiple times, as I have been doing lately. The weakest of the line, it still gets the job done, although I’ll be anxious to see how it looks in a few harvests as the terps get dialed in.
Though the Chong’s Choice strains may hit harsh, that’s something that can be easily solved with more time and a thorough flush. What they absolutely nailed out of the gate were the genetics, with diverse offerings both aesthetically and in terms of the high provided. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the rest of their line later this year.