Walk into any dispensary or log on to any online delivery service and the menu of choices is almost immediately overwhelming—if you've seen the restaurant wine-list-style menu at The Apothecarium, you know exactly what we're talking about.
Let it be said that there are tens of thousands of growers in California, and loads of great strains out there. And we confess, we haven't tried them all. Here are a handful of our absolute favorite flowers and pre-rolled joints, all lab-tested to guarantee the highest quality (no pesticides, no mold, no other weird junk).
Don't see your fave? Email us with your suggestions!
The Warm Blanket: Love & Hope by Mendocino Medicinal
For anyone with frequent anxiety, high levels of THC and sativa-dominant strains can sometimes be panic-inducing—as can the hangover from a couple glasses of wine. When our stress levels kick up and we need to chill, we pack our Pax with the CBD-rich indica Love & Hope, grown by lady couple Jude and Lucinda of Mendocino Medicinal. Not only do we enjoy the nice name of this mellow strain, we appreciate the close ratio of non-psychoactive CBD (11.07%) to THC (14.69%). It's like a warm blanket at the end of a long day. —Chloé Hennen // Love & Hope ($50 for 1/8oz.) is available exclusively through Flow Kana while supplies last, flowkana.com
Ladies' Choice Pre-Rolls: Hepburns Petites
Seriously, these are the classiest joints you'll ever smoke. Founded by Alexandra Butler, a Berkeley native with a Master's degree in public health, Hepburns Petites are more than just pretty packaging. Butler brings passion and care to each hand-rolled cone, which are arranged neatly in fives in sweet little tins that you carry almost anywhere. Petites are available in several strains of whole flower and solventless ice water hash, and they're an absolute pleasure to smoke. —Andrea Brooks // Hepburns Petites ($50/tin) are available at Bloom Room, Sava, and to Hepburns collective members at hepburns.com.
The Granddaddy: OG Kush by The Green Cross
OG Kush is the undisputed daddy of West Coast cannabis genetics—never mind its slew of imitators, this indica (22.5% THC) rules supreme as an ancestor to countless awesome modern crosses. Few people take their OG Kush as serious as the folks at The Green Cross, where you'll find readily available flower and pre-rolled joints much of the time. Kush aficionados favor its earthy mountain aromas of western Afghanistan and its full-bodied, mostly functional high with a cerebral edge. —Jimi Devine // OG Kush ($37 for 1/8oz.), The Green Cross, 4218 Mission St. (Excelsior), thegreencross.org
Party Starter: Super Lemon Haze @ C.R.A.F.T.
When Arjan, the single-monikered chief breeder at Amsterdam's famed Green House Coffeeshop and Seed Company, mixed his notable Super Silver Haze with Lemon Skunk, he created one of the great strains of the last 20 years. Luckily for us, the master East Bay growers at C.R.A.F.T. got their hands on a smasher phenotype that's raking in the accolades. The collective's Super Lemon Haze, at a whopping 29% THC, has won Cannabis Cups on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Its lemony bouquet, which comes from the terpine limonene, is key to the quality—when that interacts with the THC, it makes for one of funnest experiences you can have with cannabis. —J.D. // Super Lemon Haze ($80 for 1/4oz.) at C.R.A.F.T., bayareacraft.org
Girl Scout Cookies(Mike Koozmin, via SF Evergreen)
Cult Favorite: Girl Scout Cookies by Cookies SF
Winner of more than five Cannabis Cup awards in a single year and heir apparent to the throne occupied for 20 years by OG Kush, Girl Scout Cookies is a San Francisco native daughter that now partially runs the world. Potent, sedative, pungent, and scrumptious, this indica combines a Florida-sourced OG Kush with a Northern California adapted sativa called Durban, and a longtime SF strain dubbed Purple Pain (for its color, grape taste and analgesic effects). The combo is more than the some of its parts, with a complex burnt cookie note atop a syrupy slurry of pine, fuel, grape, and berry that's great after work. —David Downs // The original Girl Scout Cookies is available at CookiesSF, 5234 Mission St. (Crocker Amazon), weedmaps.com
I love everything about In the Pines—it is such a complete and balanced strain in every sense. Grown by Nikki Lastreto and Swami Chaitanya at Swami Select, this strain has great aroma (pineapple, citrus, pine) and flavor, and the effect is cheery without the anxiety that most sativas bring thanks to its hard-to-find 1:1.5 ratio of CBD (12.6%) to THC (7.7%). As delightful as a walk in the woods. —Flavia Cassani // In the Pines by Swami Select is available at Flow Kana while supplies last, flowkana.com
Super Sativa: All Star Jack Frost at Berkeley Patients Group
BPG's All Star Jack Frost is a particularly famous sativa strain that's twice been named best Bay Area cannabis strain by the East Bay Express. The genetics on this potent wonder (24.07% THC) include such hall of famers of Jack Herer, White Widow, and Northern Lights #5. Expect a strong whiff of Jack on the nose with piney overtones and an uplifting vibe with just a pinch a of a body high. —J.D. // All Star Jack Frost ($60 for 1/8oz.) at Berkeley Patients Group, 2366 San Pablo Ave. (Berkeley), mybpg.com
The Blue Tarantula is recommended for sharing.(Courtesy of Ganja Gold)
The Monster of All Joints: Blue Tarantula by Ganja Gold
Cannabis oil can be intimidating to neophytes—the necessary accessories alone are a bit of an investment. For the novice oil smoker, the Blue Tarantula pre-rolled joint is a simple way to dabble, but take heed: Tarantulas are no joke. After stuffing natural rolling paper with top-shelf lab-tested cannabis flower, the folks at Ganja Gold then add layers of CO2 wax and hash. But that's not all. Things get really crazy when they roll the joint in kief—those pretty sparkly crystals (called trichomes) that grow on the buds and pack the strongest punch. Share this joint with (several) friends and let your homies know what's up—the Tarantula has a big mean name for a reason. —J.D. // Ganja Gold's Blue Tarantula ($18) is available at CBCB (Berkeley), cbcbberkeley.com, ganjagold.org
Meet our Cannabis Guide Authors:
(From left to right)
Andrea Brooks is the San Francisco–based founder and CEO ofSava, an online marketplace for high-quality, hand-crafted cannabis goods.
David Downs is a San Francisco–based award-winning freelance journalist, best-selling author, and 7x7's Cannabis Insider columnist.
Jimi Devine has been involved in the cannabis industry since 2005. He writes for SFGate's "Smell the Truth," Cannabis Now, and more.
Amanda Reiman, PhD, is a cannabis expert, vegan, Oakland evangelist, and teaches classes on sex and drugs at UC Berkeley.
Flavia Cassani is a cannabis enthusiast, entrepreneur, Flow Kana cofounder, and environmental devotee.
Chloé Hennen is 7x7's editor in chief who got curious about cannabis in the Bay Area and decided to make this guide.
(Illustrations by Julia Barzizza)