The Mount Rushmore of Marijuana: Our cannabis critic’s favorite strains

The Cannabist's Jake Browne kicks off his farewell tour with an ode to his four essential marijuana strains.

All great joints eventually burn down to a roach. Then you desperately pinch that roach between your thumb and forefinger until you burn your lips, finger tips coated in resin, and inhale a nub of the ash.

This month, I’m retiring from my post as the first cannabis critic for a major daily newspaper. So I’m wrapping things up with a series of essays on my time at The Cannabist. It’s time to suck some ash.

Since beginning my hardly prolific journey to chronicle the best pot Colorado had to offer, I’ve smoked everything from quasi-legal basement weed to the high-class stuff celebrities slap their faces on. I’ve freaked out in the nosebleeds at the Pepsi Center and had a heart to heart with a friend about her period at an amusement park. Four years and 66 strains later, it would only be fitting to present my Mount Rushmore of essential strains.

Methodology: These are foundational genetics that even the most rookie of cultivators has trouble messing up. I’m accounting for recency bias (remember when Zkittles were all anyone could talk about?) and focusing on fundamentals: Four strains that you could start all over again with if / when the world ends after a Trump tweet. Keeping it presidential, I’m going to try to add a decent amount of variety despite my love of traditional sativas. You can’t have four Lincoln’s.

Jack Flash (marijuana review)
Jack Flash (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

JACK FLASH

Original review: Aug. 18, 2014

This is a sentimental choice for me, having helped my best friend Zac build his dispensary by selling pound after pound of Jack back in the days that was still completely legal. Don’t look into it. Jack Herer (which rhymes with “terror” you Johnny-come-latelies) is a seminal strain in its own right, but crossing it with Super Skunk and Haze takes it to Travelling Wilburys heights.

Even average Jack Flash announces itself at the cracking of a jar the same way you once knew you were driving past a great red sauce joint on the northside of Denver. The unique nose, with hints of ammonia and citrus cleaners, could convince me a stray cat takes refuge in the canopy as it grows. While it’s tough to leave something as ubiquitous as Blue Dream off of this list, I would put Jack up against it every time for a lively haze-influenced smoke.

Girl Scout Cookies Marijuana
Girl Scout Cookies. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

Original review: Jan. 13, 2014

Please, do not read my original review. My second on the job, I wanted to tackle the nascent cookies yet did so while rolling up a blunt, a cardinal sin in cannabis critiquing. I’ll now say 20 Hail Mary Jane’s.

In 2017, Girl Scout Cookies has evolved past a clever marketing gimmick to become a case staple in most dispensaries, also earning it a dubious “Most Likely To Be Faked” award as imposters are everywhere. Proper Cookies should always have a distinct dark purple hue and top scents ranging from fudgey chocolate to sharp mint. This will vary depending on the cut, but if your budtender can’t tell you which one they have it’s because they don’t have any of them.

I kept trying to make a case for Gorilla Glue #4 here, but I’ll gladly trade a slight decrease in potency for a more pleasurable overall high, with Cookies providing a complex and robust terpene profile that nudges it over the top. Instead of an indica-esque slog, Girl Scout Cookies provide a strong medical effect without feeling like you’ve traded in half your IQ to get there. The fact that there’s a new Cooks cross coming out weekly only means it’ll be hard to grow sick of.

An example of The White from a Colorado dispensary. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)
The White. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

THE WHITE

Original review: April 27, 2015

I can already hear you saying “Why is he trying to slip James Polk in here?” Like our 11th president, The White isn’t a popular pick, but it’s the right one.

In a blind smell test, you’d be more likely to pick some Flo your uncle grew in his backyard from bagseed. But The White isn’t trying to win your nose, it’s trying to win your heart with some of the most outrageous bag appeal out there. It produces trichomes like I produced acne in middle school: abundantly and without recourse.

As a foundational strain, it has more offspring than an NFL roster comprised only of Antonio Cromarties. Wookies. Glass Slipper. Elmer’s Glue. My favorite, White Fire. Every permutation seems to be out there, a credit to the narcotic, pain-relieving properties of the original. Leafly user jalaloby sums it up perfectly: “this shit made me forget my password.” I might as well retire, right?

Sour Diesel sativa marijuana strain review
Sour Diesel. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

SOUR DIESEL

Original review: Oct. 10, 2014

Nothing like cementing your final pick by saying “Sour Diesel probably belongs on a Mount Rushmore of marijuana” three years ago, am I right? It wasn’t until I was pulling up my final pick and saw the words that I remembered, indicative of the toll the position may have had on my memory.

This is a joint I never turn down; a mix of pure fuel that I can’t get enough of combined with a stimulating and creative head high will do me right at almost every time of day. Novices find it mood elevating and even the most grizzled of toker will find it gets them there.

If I had any complaint, it’s all of the pathetic Diesel I see on shelves nowadays. Sapped of its vigor or lacking the bulbous calyxes I came to love, I open the jar and move on to the next strain. I worry that true Sour D might be on the way out. Or perhaps I’m just projecting.