If you read High Times’ annual “Strongest Strains on Earth” issue recently — or watched the accompanying video (below) — you might have noticed that the 2015 list lacked cannabis from a certain Rocky Mountain state that launched its legal recreational marijuana program well before any others.
A strongest strains compendium without Colorado dank? How does that make sense, especially given the state’s domination of the magazine’s 2014 list, when nine of the Top 15 strongest strains came from Colorado pot shops and cultivations?
Here’s how High Times’ cultivation editor Nico Escondido explained it in the story:
It is no accident that we left Denver out of this year’s rankings for the strongest strains on Earth (a.k.a. “The List”). For starters, the Denver Cup annually produces a majority of the winners on The List, so this year we thought we’d showcase more of the great strains from other Cups around the world.
Last year, Denver accounted for 10 of the top 15 strongest strains from the previous year’s Cups (2013). Of course, this leads us to wonder whether Colorado’s labs are doing something different in terms of procedures and protocols to produce these higher results.
It’s for this reason that High Times uses two independent labs at every Cannabis Cup competition. To bring more consistency to our lab data and improve the overall integrity of our Cups, High Times has teamed up with Steep Hill Halent, one of the first national cannabis-testing labs in the US, for an official partnership that has Steep Hill serving as one of two labs at every Cannabis Cup competition we hold around the globe.
(While Colorado shops accounted for nine of the 15 strongest strains in 2014, a total of 10 of the potent pot strains came from the U.S. Cannabis Cup in Denver — with a Veganic Girl Scout Cookies entry from Private Stock L.A. and Buds & Roses placing eighth.)
So does Colorado have the strongest weed in the world? Is the state now disqualified from competing because of that? Or is this yet another wacky and inexact byproduct of testing labs’ varying methodologies?
It’s complicated, says High Times editor-in-chief Dan Skye.
“We’re not leaving the Denver numbers out,” said Skye. “We crushed this (Strongest Strains) issue at the last moment, and we didn’t have the Denver numbers when we put it together.”
Magazine deadlines are usually months ahead of the actual release date. By the time the Denver Cup started on April 18, Skye said, the Strongest Strains issue had already been sent to the printer.
It’s not ideal, Skye admitted, and he’s talking with the magazine’s esteemed cultivation editor Escondido about avoiding the issue in the future. That said, Colorado still grows wicked weed, Skye said.
“I’m blown away by the pot that comes out of Colorado,” Skye said. “I’ve been all over, and it’s certainly equal to what’s coming out of California. California has some of those old-school genetics from the Emerald Triangle, but the strains that I saw in Denver were just phenomenal over and over and over again. The judges at the Cup were giving fives liberally.
“It all depends on the grower and the genetics. There’s as powerful pot coming out of Denver as anywhere else. That Ghost Train Haze is a tremendous strain, and it wins over and over again. Corey Buffkin is one of the superstar growers in Colorado. He wins over and over and over. So much of this is just the grower.”
Sure enough, Buffkin won four Cannabis Cups at the April 2015 Cup — something he spoke with us about on a recent episode of The Cannabist Show.
(Skye also joined us for an episode of our talk show — have a look.)
And what about the labs? Much has been made about the variance of results from lab to lab, all of which use their own secret, proprietary methodologies to test marijuana for potency, contaminants and more. As Escondido mentioned in his article above, High Times is now using two labs in each market to get a clearer idea of how strong these strains truly are.
“There’s always been talk throughout the marijuana industry that labs are fudging numbers to keep business so dispensaries keep using them to test their strains,” said Skye.