A sample of Banana Kush from Colorado marijuana shop Cannabis Station. (Jake Browne, The Cannabist)

Banana Kush (marijuana review)

For a city that I regularly tout as having the best cannabis in the world, Denver sure has let me down a lot lately.

Five years ago, a medical marijuana patient would have laughed if I had showed them the jar of Banana Kush I was recently presented at the Cannabis Station in downtown. Now, packs of tourists descend on LoDo with their “pedal bars,” eager to see what the fruits of our legal weed experiment look like. They marvel at the choices simply because they exist, even if they’re the marijuana equivalent of “Mountain Lightning” or “Dr. Pop” — painfully generic and overly abundant.

Banana Kush by the numbers: $15/gram only at Cannabis Station, 1201 20th St. in Denver.

When we’d run Banana Kush at my old dispensary, the name had more to do with genetic instability than a particularly tropical scent. The cut originated with “Dawn the Clone Lady,” who made regular stops around the city, the back of her sedan filled with tiny plants concealed only by a black trash bag. One of us would wait by the car while the transaction was completed, then they’d get a hug. Most of the plants were better fit to be tossed into the bag they cooked under, but we kept the Banana Kush.

It gained traction after some big High Times Cannabis Cup wins, including first- and third-place indica and third-place hybrid. Unlike the Oscars, the cup categories don’t matter as much as what the dispensary grower thought it was likely to win. If this Banana Kush were a film, however, I’d be inclined to nominate it for a Razzie.

Coming home and opening a jar to find brown pot is like popping an expensive bottle of wine, only to find out it’s “corked.” The elongated nug might as well have been giving me the finger, as it’s been machine trimmed to a point I have to question if the person running their Twister secretly enjoys hurting marijuana. With no harvest date on the label and a hay smell to the jar, I imagine it’s been trapped in this state for some time, eliciting an odd form of sympathy. I want to whisper, “It’s not your fault,” but then realize I’m still going to light it on fire and inhale deeply.

I’m usually looking for a smell closer to sauteed plantains rather than fresh banana, as that carmalized sweetness is more prevalent than the fruitiness behind it. Mixed with Kush-like pine, it’s the aromas of a kitchen in Latin America oddly placed in a small mountain town. Crushing up this sample, I get the equivalent of driving past a fruit stand at 50 mph: almost a whiff.

Determined to coax whatever flavor I can out of the Banana Kush, I toss it in my new K-Vape Micro DX and get a hint of pine before it all tastes like popcorn. I roll the smoke around in my mouth after a hit from a glass spoon, hoping for more than the hashy aftertaste I’m left with as it crackles and pops its way to a dark gray ash.

I need stoned sleep, the type of slumber where you’re out so long you’re somehow mentally more tired when you finally wake up. Between the five or so projects I’m working on at a given time, trying to go for too long on coffee and green smoothies, and caring for a dog with a recent neck bite that wound up requiring a surgical procedure I’d describe as “gnarly,” I just need to sleep.

I puff 30 minutes before bedtime, prepared for the initial mental uptick I’ll usually get from this strain. My shoulders and legs loosen up right away, with light pressure behind my eyes and on my temples like a weak masseuse who now lives inside my head. The high itself is quiet and focused, as well. This is not ideal for someone looking to turn off their brain.

Recipe: These canna-carmelized bananas are a perfect topping for ice cream or waffles

This tension passes, as it always does, but I’m left with a void instead. Rather than a nice body high and relaxation coming from the Ghost OG, the head effects simply wither away. A will-o’-the-wisp fading over my still high, I’ve somehow smoked myself sober less than an hour later. Usually smoking yourself sober involves a lot more weed. I break a chunk off an infused Incredibles bar and crash to a “Futurama” rerun, waking up to Banana Kush in natural light. It’s not a flattering look.

I have no doubt this same plant has given a guy from Missouri a case of the munchies only a Taco Tuesday could satisfy. Still, this is flat-out poor Banana Kush on every level, from genetics to presentation to lackluster flavor. People have always raved to me about how atrocious the quality will be the day that Big Tobacco rolls out their line of “Marlboro Greens.”

Don’t worry, everyone. A lot of our dispensaries are beating them to the punch.