An example of Trainwreck, grown in Colorado. (Ry Prichard, The Cannabist)

Trainwreck (marijuana review)

In my experience in Colorado circa 2016, meeting friends out for a drink is generally complemented by a smoke.

But it’s also no fun when you just sit there in a daze, silently glancing from person to person because you smoked a heavy indica beforehand. So I knew I needed a nice sativa-dominant hybrid like Blue Dream before meeting up with some friends on a recent Denver evening.

Having recently moved to the Highland neighborhood, I wanted to check out a nearby and new-to-me pot shop. I found the Grass Station about five minutes from my house in an industrial area just north of the ramp onto I-25 south from West 38th Avenue. At first I wasn’t sure I was in the right place, but then I turned the corner and saw the store — bingo.

Trainwreck by the numbers: $20/gram at the Grass Station — Downtown, 4125 Elati St. in Denver

I went inside and was able to shop right away with no line, a total bonus. The store only had a couple of strains available in eighths, but when I told the budtender I was looking to purchase a gram there was a much wider selection. I decided on a gram of the shop’s Kindman-branded Trainwreck. (The Grass Station brands its flower as Kindman, making it easy to recognize at its home shop and others who carry it.) At $20 per gram, it was more than I wanted to spend, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to hit another shop before the city’s mandatory 7 p.m. closing time. I inquired about wholesale while the budtender checked me out and went on my way.

As with most strain theory, the exact origin of Trainwreck is uncertain. According to Michael Backes’ Cannabis Pharmacy, the first Trainwreck cut was supposedly discovered circa 2000 in Arcata, Calif., by Eric Heimstadt, a well-known breeder and cannabis advocate. Although Heimstadt passed away in 2009, his legacy lives on through Trainwreck and the many crosses it has spawned over the years. While the true genetics behind the strain are shrouded in mystery, it is believed to be a mix of Mexican and Thai landrace varieties, resulting in a sativa-leaning cerebral high.

I went over to the Art District on Santa Fe neighborhood to meet up with my friend Kayvan, who co-owns Colorado pot shop Denver Relief. Fellow Cannabist strain reviewer Jake Browne was also hanging out, and I greeted my friends with some bud and a pipe for a quick pre-beer smoke.

The first thing I noticed about the Trainwreck was the branding and packaging of the product. Both reminded me of the way products are sold in Washington recreational cannabis stores. I opened the cardboard box to find a labeled medicine bottle. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill push-top bottle, but rather a small white one you would see behind a pharmacy counter. It had the state-required warning labels as well as a the Kindman-branded strain label (in a font that looked like an italicized version of signs at a German hauptbahnhof). I had to navigate a tamper-evident seal and branded tissue paper before I actually found the flower.

I emptied the nugs onto the tissue paper, and they were somewhat stringy — with forest-green leaves of a much darker shade than other Trainwreck varieties I’ve smoked. They were covered in frosty trichomes and a plethora of orange hairs, some so dark they almost appeared to be brown. I gave it a pinch and it decompressed almost immediately, a relief compared to the overly dry flower running rampant through the Colorado cannabis market right now.

A man smokes at a recent 420 rally in Denver's Civic Center Park. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)
A man smokes at a recent 420 rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)

This Trainwreck weed smelled extremely earthy and piney, with hints of musk and citrus. I broke one of the smaller nugs and loaded a spoon. The first hit was piney and spicy, with a harshness that hit the back of my throat on the inhale. I could feel the smoke in the bridge of my nose on the exhale. I passed the pipe while I took in the planty aftertaste. The second hit was equally harsh — a product of the uniform trichome coverage on the nug. By the time we finished the bowl, I almost sneezed from the sensation in my nose. I emptied the clean white ash from the pipe, signifying a proper flush.

And then the stone set in.

My body warmed up within the first five minutes, as if I had abruptly added another layer of clothing, and I felt a slight increase in my heart rate. Jake and his fiancée, Sam, were ready to hit the road, so we said our good-byes. The bowl had left my mouth dry and prepped for a beer, so Kayvan and I headed to a bar near his house.

As we walked over, we reminisced about how much Denver has changed and how gentrified its neighborhoods have become over the past 10 years. I bought today’s cannabis in chi-chi Highland, but we were smoking it on Santa Fe, a grittier, gallery-dominated ‘hood that has potential to become the stylish bar-and-resto neighborhood of Denver’s future.

By the time we got to the bar and had a seat, my body felt extremely relaxed — but my mind felt stimulated, and my face felt extremely alert. We chatted over a few beers about life, work and the future of the cannabis industry. With thoughts flowing effortlessly off my tongue, I enjoyed the stimulating conversation, making me appreciative of my choice of flower earlier that evening. (Note to self: Trainwreck is a brilliant accompaniment to happy hour.) We finished up our drinks and snacks and headed out.

The proximity and ease of shopping might bring me back to the Grass Station occasionally, but the price was a little steep to make me a regular customer. The Trainwreck was a decent smoke, but with increasing competition among stores, $20 a gram is hard to justify.