Durban Poison. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

Durban Poison (marijuana review)

STRAIN: Durban Poison, Sativa
RELATIONS: None — an original landrace strain from South Africa
LOOK: Long, dense forest green bud covered in trichomes and copious light orange hairs
PROFILE: Spicy citrus notes
HIGH: Uplifting and mentally stimulating with a level of raciness get shit done
SHOP: Good Chemistry, 16840 E. Iliff Ave., Aurora, Colo.


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People familiar with cannabis know Durban Poison, a.k.a. Durbs. But those unfamiliar with 420-friendly life might ask the question, “Why the hell would I smoke something called poison?”

In the interest of full disclosure, my attention-deficit disorder makes Durban my favorite strain, so I’m biased. Nonetheless, I’m sure one blast of the intoxicating, citrus-y (think: chemical cleaner) aroma up the nostril will coerce any naysayer into submission.

Durban Poison (marijuana review) - The Cannabist
Durban Poison. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

Assuming its genetics are pure, Durban Poison is one of the very few unadulterated sativas on the market — and the folks at Good Chemistry’s Aurora store assured me that this is, in fact, an original landrace strain.

In other words, pure Durban Poison doesn’t have the complicated lineage of cross-breeding that many modern strains have. Its prominence in modern cannabis goes back to the ’70s, when legendary cultivator and former High Times columnist Ed Rosenthal was searching for new genetics in South Africa and he procured some local seeds of a fast-flowering landrace.

You’ll find Durbs on plenty of local shelves, but finding a shop with a cut that produces the long hairs and robust fragrance the strain is known for is not as easy.

My first trip to Good Chemistry’s Aurora location blasted my mind. I was already familiar with their product, but the new store’s modern design, spacious layout and sexy, new branding was a huge step forward from Good Chem’s original East Colfax Avenue location — and $30 for an eighth of flower at a rec store is hard to beat.

This particular sample of Durban was covered in the light orange hairs you’d expect, and it was a slightly lighter shade of green than others I’ve smoked. Upon closer inspection, I realized it actually was the same shade of forest green, but there were so many crystal-ly trichomes that it tricked my eye into thinking it was a shade lighter.

Knowing that the end of a big bowl would become resinous and harsh, I broke off a little nug, ground it up between my fingers and loaded my glass spoon. It was neither too dry nor too moist, but it was very sticky, which made it tough to break up with one hand and left some resin on my fingers. When I fired up the pipe, it started out sweet with a little spice in the middle that made my tongue tingle, and it finished sweet on the exhale. The flavor profile definitely mimicked its citrus aroma, and even with the slight scratch at the back of my throat, it was definitely a smooth smoke.

My heart started pounding almost instantaneously, followed closely by the sensations of weightlessness in my head and absolute focus in my eyes. Maybe it was because I was stoned, but the onset of the high’s raciness seemed to coincide with the change in tempo in Pennywise’s “Stand By Me” cover, which I happened to be listening to at the time.

With that odd coincidence acknowledged, my foot started jamming along without my knowledge or consent, not that I minded.

By the time the song ended I had to get up and go for a walk before the next song came on — mostly out of fear that I would start a mosh pit in the middle of my office but also because I suddenly realized I hadn’t eaten lunch yet.

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My brisk walking pace and racing heart took me back to college and my late-night, Adderall-fueled walks to the library during finals week. Just like with the Adderall, I could think and make decisions as if my brain was on steroids, and by the time I got to Tony P’s, I already knew I wanted green peppers, olives and mushrooms on my slice. (The obvious benefit of Durbs over Adderall: I could actually stomach a slice of pizza, and I didn’t feel the urge to chain smoke.)

I tried sitting down at the bar while I was waiting, but there was nothing that needed to be done, so I had to get up and walk around until I found something more meaningful to do. Without being focused on a specific task, my brain was hopping from topic to topic in rapid succession, but mostly I was brainstorming on what to do with the long weekend.

What seemed like 20 minutes later (actually five), my slice was ready and I walked back to the office at a faster-than-usual pace, inhaled my pizza (while somehow managing to enjoy every bite), put on a deep house playlist and attacked the mental to-do list I had created at the pizza joint.

A few hours of productivity later, I found myself wondering whether ADD medications had taken a sales hit in post-legalization Colorado because people can just go buy Durban Poison instead. (It worked for me.) After spending five minutes trying to Google historical sales numbers for Adderall in Colorado (sadly, to no avail), it struck me that the Durbs must have worn off because I was completely off-task.

So, I loaded another bowl and got on with my day.

Durban Poison is definitely an uplifting and mentally-stimulating high with a level of raciness that will have you wanting to clean your house, go on a brewery crawl or just get some shit done. I like to use the Durbs as an all-purpose daytime smoke, whether I’m stuck behind the desk for 12 hours and need ADD relief or as fuel for Sunday Funday at Wash Park.

But, no matter what I’m doing, Durban days are productive days.