For most of us, our first experiences getting high weren’t with connoisseur-grade cannabis, artisanally grown by a team of professionals before it was hand trimmed and delivered by a security professional to a state-licensed facility.
I’d wager my first bag came from a pound smashed into a brick and shoved into the panel of a van that snuck it over a border.
While times may have changed, the fact that a few hits of that schwag got me higher than a Shaquille O’Neal booger hasn’t.
More than the quality, it was the experience of passing a joint that we clumsily rolled that felt unifying, and I’ve since been looking for a bridge to that past: low-THC weed that tastes like gasoline because of the genetics, not because it was taped next to an actual gas tank.
This led me to Good Chemistry, where a new phenotype of Harlequin called H2 has hit the shelves, with this batch coming in at 15.5 percent CBD and a scant 7 percent THC. My only goal: to smoke a joint of it to the face and see how I fared.
H2 by the numbers: $8/gram, $150/ounce at Good Chemistry, 330 East Colfax in Denver.
The knock on high-CBD strains is the lack of terpenes that give different strains of cannabis their unique flavor, as they tend to be more utilitarian and less stimulating to the palette. In a previous review of Harlequin — which I stuffed full of information on the strain’s heritage that I won’t rehash here — I mention a variety of notes I picked up on, but none of them are “robust.”
In their latest iteration, the H2 gains the bright sweetness of fresh berries and aloof tartness of unripened lemon to stand up to the oak and pepper, making it a well-rounded smoke. Trichome production has a good deal to do with the change: If the Harlequin trichs were the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, the H2 is the Women’s March.
More cannabis criticism
Jack Herer: For all of the olfactory pleasure, my favorite part of Jack is the high: heady mood elevation and an uptick in energy, without being too powerful. In other words, it’s perfect for this hangover.
Gupta Kush: It was pungent — so pungent, in fact, that my mom asked if I had smoked inside their house. Of course I hadn’t smoked inside; I just had the jar in my backpack. The hashy undertone in the smell brought back memories of smoking charas in India and made me think it would be a good strain for a spliff.
Sour Diesel: Recommending Sour Diesel as a weed critic is like a music writer extolling the virtues of The Beatles or a historian making a case for George Washington as a great president. In fact, Sour Diesel probably belongs on a Mount Rushmore of marijuana — a fake monument that I desperately want my picture taken in front of.
I’ll admit you lose much of the flavor in a joint immediately, and as I puff a few hits I’ve already lost the spice notes. On a positive note, I’m not coughing up a lung, a predicament often found when smoking brick weed, when I sometimes felt like I’m smoking something that washed up after an oil tanker crash. Sure, my fingers are getting stained with resin, but I’m also pinching the last of the roach and making the original duck face as I finish off the final hits in a way I hadn’t for years.
I’m somewhat anxious, waiting for the feeling of being “high school high” to set in, the waves of giggles crashing into a beach of pure euphoria so often experienced when first introduced to the plant. Instead, I’m feeling a wide-eyed optimism as I grate celery root I later discover is actually a rutabaga. “This celery root,” I tell myself, “is going to change my relationship with plant-based pancakes.”
To call the buzz serene would downplay the confident happiness and energy the H2 is providing me without becoming lost in the head high; this is a strain for high-stress professions like air traffic controllers or battle rappers. Only the latter will likely take my advice on the matter. With no major maladies to report on, the medical value is again lost on me, but this is a healthy dose of CBD for those on the hunt for it.
For those who are canna-curious or haven’t tried pot since Nixon was in office, this is an ideal entry-level strain, comparable to starting off with a merlot before venturing down the path of Italy’s venerated Barolos. You won’t be crawling toward a Hot Pocket 30 minutes in, but you won’t be wondering, “Did I do it right?” either, as the subtle THC high still gives you a bona fide weed experience.