Space Queen from Dank Colorado. (Jake Browne, The Cannabist)

Space Queen (marijuana review)

When someone says they’ve been ripped off by a dispensary, my ears perk up. While a true scam is few and far between nowadays, that doesn’t stop me from going full Grisham protagonist in these situations. A friend, one who is a relative novice in the world of weed, came over with an eighth they swore was “rotting” and couldn’t wait to unleash it on me. It’s like having your roommate smell the milk you know has spoiled. I cracked the jar, then tried my hardest not to crack a smile.

By the numbers: $20/gram, $300/ounce at Dank Colorado, 3835 Elm St. in Denver.

“I’m going to have to turn this in,” I deadpan.

“Really?!” he asked, quickly growing confused. “To who? The state?”

“No, no. Turn this in to a strain review. This is some Grade-A Space Queen.”

I get my friend’s confusion. For most people, weed has always smelled like hay bales because that’s more-or-less how it came in to the country. Once, someone tried to explain to me that schwag actually smells like bricks, hence the term “brick weed.” It doesn’t. And a breast doesn’t feel like a bag of sand. A lot of people in the weed business are content to fake it.

Without a frame of reference, the funky cheese notes you get from Space Queen could absolutely smell like something had gone terribly, terribly wrong. Most dispensaries tout the fruitiness of the strain, adding in another perplexing angle. My friend had unknowingly bought fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, only reversed. This is why you smell jars instead of just window shop.

I can explain all of the tropical fruit (particularly pineapple) and light strawberry notes with the presence of Cinderella 99, one half of Space Queen. What has always confused me was the Romulan half, even if it makes for a fairly clever name. Romulan, as far as I’ve smelled, has never had much dairy to it, but more of a dull earthiness.

It would be helpful to have a lifeline to “Romulan Joe”, a Vietnam veteran who many attribute the strain to. Rumor is that the strain had been kicked around for decades along the west coast, but who knows if the real deal ever made it out to Colorado? Did Joe have an actual Romulan-esque dent in his head, or was that simply how the strain made him and others feel? Can we put his name ironically on the side of a milk carton?

The Queen, on the other hand, is incredibly easy to find lately. With nugs that resemble the squat, low-growing indica plants, I’m usually expecting to see what amounts to popcorn shrimp in a jar, with nearly fluorescent orange hairs against a more subdued green backdrop. Cured to perfection, I broke a bud up with one hand with a bowl in the other as my friend watched in disbelief. We were actually going to smoke it.

If he had just smoked a bowl, the rendezvous would have been wholly unnecessary. Space Queen gives me a raucous buzz that I’ve never experienced from expired half-and-half. When smoked socially, you feel connected with the group in a way that only occurs for me when my consciousness has been altered. Energy and empathy can be an odd combination — I imagine anyone who spent extended time in a bathroom with someone in the ’80s knows what I mean — but here it absolutely works.

My friend and I hadn’t caught up in a while, and Space Queen was the perfect conduit. He’s about six months into a new relationship, a make-or-break point for him in the past, and I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with the new lady friend. After 20 minutes of bringing me up to speed, he suggested we put on some tunes out of the blue. My new favorite Pandora station, Summer Hits of the ’90s, turned out to be fitting for the nostalgia fest we dove into like a summer watering hole from a more picturesque youth.

I asked him if he had any particular aches or pains, and while the consensus was we were feeling like relatively healthy thirtysomethings, he shot back, “What, in my body?” — a moment that had me doubled over in laughter. In a text the next day, we both agreed we need more nights like that.

For a hybrid, Space Queen draws out the more playfully sativa headiness of the Romulan in the same way your old dog still surprises you with a spry day every now and then. With winter drawing to a close, I love strains like this to boost my mood and get me through ’til spring.

Next time you’re smelling a jar and think there’s some pasteurization going on, consider it a hint of creamer in your coffee.