A sample of Pure Power Plant from Good Meds - Lakewood (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

Pure Power Plant review (Cannabis Cup edition)

To continue our examination of the Cannabis Cup winners from this year’s festivities, I opted for the 1st Place Medical Hybrid, which was the “Pure Power Plant” from Good Meds Network’s Lakewood store (all locations are medical sales only). The scare quotes around Pure Power Plant are entirely intentional here, as everything about this sample screamed “OG KUSH!” to me, from the appearance through the effects. So for the purposes of this review, I will talk about what a real Pure Power Plant would normally look and smell like, and what differentiates that from the sample I’m reviewing.

Pure Power Plant by the numbers: $45/eighth, $230/ounce, medical sales only, at Good Meds Network, 8420 W. Colfax Ave, Lakewood

I am not normally one to speculate what caused any particular strain confusion; but after years of working closely with growers and dispensaries, I’m going to go ahead and assume that someone passed on a genetic line via clone that they thought was their PPP (a somewhat popular and large-yielding sativa-dominant line, but definitely not so popular in 2014 Colorado dispensaries) but was actually a very legit OG Kush cutting.

Then, not knowing what else to call it (or perhaps not knowing the difference, as could be the case), the dispensary simply shrugged their collective shoulders and left the original name intact. It’s happened too many times to count, all across the medical cannabis industry. Maybe that wasn’t how it went down, maybe it was — whatever the issue, it is a very tough thing to wrangle with, and it’s an especially difficult and irritating issue to properly address for someone like myself, whose main task is sorting out the sources and lineage of the tens of thousands of cannabis strains in existence.

Dispensaries may struggle with questions of product identity and popularity — in this case, should they rename the PPP that customers are asking for, risking the loss of whatever momentum it had gained? Given that OG Kush is certainly a more popular modern strain choice comparatively, wouldn’t it make sense to just call it what it is and “rebrand”? All of these legitimate questions were going through my mind as I thought about the ramifications of being a shop owner who won a Cannabis Cup with a grossly mislabeled strain. (A follow-up visit was made to the Lakewood shop to get their point of view, keep reading to see what happened.)

Putting aside all of these questions for now, let’s move on to the genetics in question: Pure Power Plant is a Dutch-bred strain that possibly derives from Durban Poison (the official lineage from the seed companies Nirvana and White Label) says “South African sativa and a chunky US Indica”), and may also include Skunk #1 or White Widow genetics depending upon the version. It was originally created simply as “Power Plant” by Dutch Passion and espoused as a pure African sativa line, but has since been released by countless other companies under slight name variations, usually with an increasing indica presence in an effort to continually push down flowering times.

The most likely source of the Pure Power Plant was possibly White Label Seeds (an offshoot of Sensi Seeds), or more likely Nirvana Seeds, as out of the companies offering a PPP, they had the largest online presence among people purchasing seeds in the U.S. throughout the 2000s. This was largely thanks to their ownership and operation of the popular ICMag forums, as well as a significant presence on Overgrow.com before that.

So for future reference: if you ever come across Pure Power Plant, it should be a somewhat fluffy sativa with big nugs that have a musky citrus or coconut-vanilla-musk aroma depending upon phenotype. It  definitely should not be a dense, rocky bud reeking of skunk-fuel-cleaner like the sample that I cracked open when performing this review. That second thing, my friends, is the tell-tale sign of a very fine OG Kush.

All things Cannabis Cup 2014: Recaps from Day I and II of the Cup, and some words from punk rock’s Henry Rollins: “America will survive the legalization of cannabis” (video)

As soon as I opened the sample bag that the weeks-old bud had been rattling around inside of for the past few weeks, I knew this was a well-done OG. The lost art of curing so far seems to have been rediscovered in this year’s Cup winners (see my last review on Ghost Train Haze), and this sample was no exception. However, the appearance of this “Pure Power Plant” was just very average to my eye. I may not have gotten the best sample to photograph, but the bud seemed a little beat up even when I initially shot it a day or two after the shop would have dropped it off for the competition. The trichomes were indistinct and it wasn’t nearly as “blown out” and frosty as the other OG samples that were entered, some of which took home awards. But that smell… I couldn’t shake it from my nostrils, and I knew that was why this sample caught the cup judges’ collective attention and eventually earned it 1st Place.

Breaking apart the nug using a grinder unleashed a toe-curlingly pungent OG Kush aroma, which (like many people, given its popularity) is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. This particular one was on the aggressive side, with alternating skunk, fuel, Mr. Clean and spice aromas competing for my attention. I would call it as possibly an SFV (San Fernando Valley) OG cutting, or perhaps the True OG that goes around Colorado grower circles as the Coal Creek Kush, but I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that this smelled spectacular and I could not wait to roll it up.

I crammed the approximately 0.8 gram nug into a slim cone using organic Raw papers and got down to business. The first few hits surprisingly weren’t so tasty, but it bloomed as the joint burned down and started to really reflect the quality that was seen in the aroma. Good OG tends to do this in my experience: by the time the joint is almost burning the paper crutch, you are savoring every last bit, because the flavor almost seems to concentrate. This joint had a near-flawless ash, burning away to a fluffy white-and-gray speckled color which indicated (as I had suspected by the clean and pure smell) that it had seen a proper flush prior to harvest. It isn’t the tastiest OG joint I’ve ever smoked (trust me, there’s been plenty of that going on), but it was the best out of the OG Cup entries that I’ve sampled so far this year in the areas that matter most to me.

Map: Colorado recreational marijuana shops and medical dispensaries

The effects of the “PPP” had me smiling and active almost immediately, which is the usual reaction I have with OG Kush; it just makes me feel good. My back loosens up, my mood lifts, any stomach discomfort fades away and I feel more social and all-around positive. This one came on as a bit of a creeper, reaching its full potency probably 20-30 minutes after I finished the joint. The warm, radiating body effect lasted throughout the over 2-hour duration, as did the mood elevation. I spent most of my OG time working on writing projects rather than relaxing unfortunately, but it made everything more enjoyable nonetheless.

If you go to Good Meds’ Lakewood store and get the Pure Power Plant, sniff the jar and make sure it’s like what I described (where confusion exists, you just never know). If it is, then (“as your attorney”) I would advise you to buy some of it if OG Kush at all appeals to you. As someone who really, truly loves a good OG, this one didn’t stick out to me in the least in terms of visuals, but the smell, flavor, and potency were all right in line with what I’d expect out of a Cup-winning example of one of my favorite varieties.

Following up on Pure Power Plant at the shop

A couple days after reaching my personal conclusion on what this strain actually was, I went into the shop and talked with the staff there to get their official take on the strain and to ascertain what may have happened. I spoke with an employee named Ryan who also has worked in the grow, and he basically told me that the Pure Power Plant as he understands it involves a South African sativa and an unknown U.S. indica (which jives with the Nirvana/White Label Seeds descriptions). The issue is that I had already told him that I believed it was actually an OG Kush prior to really starting the conversation, and so he continually implied that the unknown indica involved may well be a Kush. While I can’t categorically confirm or deny that assertion, ultimately I felt like they weren’t totally sure what it was and just stuck with the name it was assigned for lack of a better solution.

Simply put, the explanation just didn’t pass my smell test, partly because they seemed rather uncertain about it rather than decisive, and also because a few hours of Internet research (forum grow reports, countless photos, seed bank descriptions, etc.) seemed to agree with my impression of how a Pure Power Plant should look, smell, and smoke.

Strain Theory: Check out our marijuana reviews organized by type — sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, ditto with indicas.

I have worked in dispensaries and dealt with this issue; if you get a strain in and know that it definitely is not what it is labeled, but don’t know for sure what it actually is, there is no real acceptable solution that makes everyone happy and retains honesty in advertising. Point being: I know how this happens, and it is understandable. This review is not meant to “call out” this dispensary in the least. Rather, it is intended to shed a little bit of light on an issue that underlies the entire medical (and recreational) cannabis community, which is the uncertainty revolving around strain names, and even “indica” and “sativa” as true and reliable ways of categorizing cannabis’ modicum of effects, aromas, and appearances.

Here’s a follow-up article on the strain confusion issue and ways to help solve it for yourself.

Please comment on this review with your experience if you do happen to go in and sample the Good Meds Network PPP, as I am curious to hear if you like it as much as I did, whether or not it was the same as the sample I had, and if you also thought it was an OG Kush of some kind.