Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to introduce our new marijuana reviewer, Ry Prichard. If his name seems familiar, it’s because he’s the photographer who gives an up-close look at the nuggets in our Strain Theory reviews. We also profiled him and his work when he shot his first High Times magazine cover. For his debut, Prichard takes a look at some of the recent strain winners from the 2014 U.S. Cannabis Cup in Denver. First up: Ghost Train Haze, rated top U.S. sativa. Keep an eye out for other reviews on Cup-winning strains.
I was lucky enough to be chosen (for the third consecutive year) as the official photographer for the 2014 U.S. Cannabis Cup in Denver. The event, which was held April 19-20 at the Denver Mart, was the largest cannabis competition ever in a variety of ways; not only did it shatter attendance records with close to 40,000 attendees reported over the weekend’s festivities, but it also had the most entries to date. Thus, over a bleary-eyed and frantic five days of shooting, I made my way through 221 strains, 97 solvent-extracted concentrates, 46 edibles and 26 non-solvent concentrates — a grand total of 390 entries.
The upside to this seemingly endless task is that once the marathon shooting is done, I have 390 Cannabis Cup entries sitting around the ol’ office to graze through. I decided there was no better way to kick off my strain reviews for The Cannabist than by reviewing the Ghost Train Haze from Denver-based Green Man Cannabis, which took home the claimed top honors in the U.S. sativa category.
Ghost Train Haze by the numbers: Medical sales only, $12.85/gram, $45/eighth at Green Man Cannabis (two Denver locations)
I am acutely familiar with the Ghost Train Haze strain, as I remember receiving some of the first seeds of this now-legendary hybrid from Scott Reach (founder and head breeder at Colorado-based Rare Dankness Seeds) all the way back in 2011. Scott said he was working on a special project using nearly all of his super-rare OG Kush mothers, and the Ghost Train Haze series of releases that followed were the result of that work. Using a selected Nevil’s Wreck male (another RD creation, a very sativa-dominant hybrid of E-32 Trainwreck and Neville’s Haze), Scott pollinated each of his mothers, including the Ghost’s OG Kush that became the namesake for the series of GTH releases. The Ghost is my personal favorite OG and I also love Haze weed, so this was a match made in heaven.
Fast-forward to three years later. Rare Dankness has released well over 20 seed varieties since then, the GTH had been named the “Most Potent Strain on Earth” for 2012 by High Times, and here I am shooting it once again, this time grown by Green Man Cannabis.
I am familiar with Green Man, as they won first-place Hybrid in 2012 for their Skunkberry and have two locations in the Denver area, one at the fringe of downtown and the other near the Denver Tech Center. This particular sample of Ghost Train Haze caught my attention both because I’m familiar with the strain and because I’m familiar with the grower, who himself has won four first-place awards at the events since they started in 2011.
Upon cracking open the plastic jar holding the sample, I was immediately smacked in the face with a sumptuous, sweet Haze odor that indicated I was in for a pleasant experience. Due to the Nevil’s Wreck side of the hybrid, the nug itself wasn’t the most attractive to the eye compared with some of the other big-bracted samples that I had examined when deciding which strain to review. However, upon closer inspection through my camera lens, the trichomes were well-preserved and the coverage was dense.
The smell became even more pronounced when I snapped off my first piece of the bud and began breaking it up for a joint. “Wow, that smells strong,” said Zack, the director of photography who is part of the “Rolling Papers” documentary crew that was on hand to capture my first strain review for The Cannabist. I smiled and told him that I was practically drooling as my face hovered over the pile of tantalizingly sweet Hazy goodness.
As a general rule, if you can clearly smell a bud when you simply hold it up to your nose, it is of above-average quality; if breaking up a joint causes an entire office building to reek like Haze, you know you’ve got a real winner on your hands.
The texture of the flower was also perfect; the stems snapped readily and yet the flower itself had just enough give to it, absolutely coating my fingers in sticky resin as I broke it apart. I struggled to roll the joint due to my flypaper-like fingers, and eventually resorted to washing my hands with isopropyl alcohol. A few minutes later I got the approximately one-gram joint sealed up. The “dry hit” (inhale on the unlit joint) was stellar and just as pungent as the aroma … I wish I could carry that joint around with me like a terpene inhaler, taking a little “puff” every time I wanted life to be just a little more pleasant.
The joint smoked very well, giving a distinct flavor from the first hit through the final one, which is an absolute rarity in my experience with dispensary weed (and even Cannabis Cup entries over the last three years). I did pick up an ever-so-slight metallic aftertaste, which normally indicates the presence of some residual nutrients. Overall though, that single tinge of negative was ultimately overwhelmed by the torrent of positives that this sample possessed. Simply put, it was delicious through and through and was one of the most enjoyable flowers I have tried in the last year or so.
The energetic sativa effects of the GTH came on quickly and forcefully, putting a goofy smile on my face and filling me with the desire to laugh at Internet videos with the documentary guys rather than work on the project I had been trying to finish prior to the review. I felt a distinct buzzing feeling coursing up and down my limbs and torso, and the strain also seemed to loosen up my ridiculously tight back muscles, allowing me to move freely for the first time that day. Talkative, happy and feeling better than I had all day, I spent the rest of my GTH time chatting with the doc crew and then diving into some writing projects, all of which was enhanced by the strain’s effects.
I started to lose my momentum at about 90 minutes into the duration, which is a fairly typical side-effect of an energetic sativa. With my eyelids growing heavy and my attention span dwindling, I went outside for some fresh air to wake myself up. When I came back inside, the strain’s effects as well as the sleepiness seemed to have mostly disappeared, yet my mood was still clearly elevated. The good vibes GTH provided continued for a total of about two-and-a-half hours, which is definitely above average for a high-tolerance, primarily concentrate smoker like myself.
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Having not yet smoked every entry in the competition, I can’t categorically say that it was “the best” sativa entered; however, I can’t imagine there being three samples that are clearly better than this one in multiple areas. In all, it was just really great work from the Green Man cultivation team, especially concerning the post-harvest treatment including drying and curing. A proper cure is a lost art in the dispensary scene and it is good to see that some people still understand how to do it right.
If you like a sweet Haze with world-class potency that enhances just about any activity (who doesn’t?), you’d be well-served to check out Green Man’s Ghost Train Haze.