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California marijuana farmers clamber to avoid major ‘extinction event’


The problems facing all California cannabis growers is forcing Busy Bee's Organics in Santa Barbara County to go fallow this year. (Photo by Heather Gildroy)

Marijuana farmers across California are scrambling to revamp their operations to stay in the licensed market at a time when hundreds, if not thousands, of cultivators are in danger of going out of business.

Oversupply, high taxes and licensing fees, as well as depressed wholesale prices, are creating cash-flow shortages for farmers across the state, according to several industry insiders who spoke with MJBizDaily.



As a result:

    Scores of farmers are opting to let costly licenses expire to save money.
    Most are trimming overhead and production, with many forgoing planting altogether this season.
    Others are combining expertise and resources to make one final run at viability.

In a last-ditch effort to remain in the legal market, Northern California grower Mark Shaffer is partnering with Daydream Valley Farm in Mendocino County on a 10,000-square-foot grow after his single cultivation license expired in late March.

“We are going to just combine our resources to help stay alive together,” said Shaffer, owner of Shelby Ridge, a small farm in unincorporated Mendocino County, “instead of us both shutting down.”

Mass ‘extinction’?

Shaffer is among throngs of California cultivators facing a reckoning this year, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only compounded existing problems by throwing the cannabis supply chain into further turmoil.

Shaffer, for his part, is not optimistic about the outlook for cannabis farmers across the state.

“This is going to be the biggest extinction event of cannabis that we’ve seen, and it’s unavoidable,” Shaffer said.

Shelby Ridge hasn’t been profitable with wholesale prices hovering in the $250 to $300 range per pound.

Shaffer’s productions costs are nearly double that per pound, causing the company to fall behind on bills and payroll.

“We’re just going to take a deep breath and cross our fingers,” Shaffer said with some lingering doubts about the new partnership.

“I don’t think it’s going to work. I see the odds stacking up against me.”

Immediate relief isn’t in sight for California growers.

And there’s little optimism for a quick turnaround because many of the challenges are systemic, requiring major policy shifts at the local and state levels.

For instance, the world’s largest marijuana market has more than 8,300 licensed cultivators in the state, yet only about 1,200 retailers, according to state records analyzed by MJBizDaily.



Eaze to become America’s largest cannabis delivery service after buying Green Dragon


Eaze this week announced significant plans to expand into one of the U.S.’s largest cannabis delivery services. One of the original on-demand cannabis delivery services, the Bay Area-based company is set to acquire cannabis retailer and cultivator Green Dragon, which operates in the hot markets of Colorado and Florida. Combined with existing operations in California and Michigan, the deal would find Eaze operating in America’s four largest cannabis markets.

Less than two years ago, it was unclear if Eaze would have enough cash to continue operating. According to TechCrunch’s reporting, it was experiencing significant trouble raising funds and went through unannounced layoffs. The company was switching from providing delivery services to operating as a delivery dispensary. Eaze was effectively the Uber of weed, attempting to become the Amazon of weed.

Founded in 2014 by Keith McCarty, Eaze has raised over $255 million to date. The company cycled through leadership and has seen three CEOs, with Rogelio Choy leading it since 2019. Former CEO Jim Patterson recently pleaded guilty in a $100 million scheme to deceive banks into processing credit and debit payments in cannabis purchases. The case is similar to one brought against Eaze in 2019, though the company denied involvement and is not a defendant in the case against Patterson. The future was unclear, but now two years later, it’s raising more funds and is on track to become the nation’s largest multi-state cannabis delivery service.

The company switched gears in 2019 and closed a previously announced Series D financing round of $90 million in August 2020. This year, Eaze is trying to close a $75 million Series E, with 80% of the funds already committed. The company expects this round to close in November. Eaze tells TechCrunch that this round will value the company at more than $700 million — double its fundraising valuation in 2019. The anticipated funding will be used to drive additional retail expansion.

Eaze Chief Strategy Officer Cory Azzalino justifies the higher valuation as such: “The company is fundamentally different. Even our California operations are significantly larger than they were back in 2019 from a revenue standpoint. But also just in terms of future growth opportunities. There’s a substantial increase in our addressable market. Florida, Michigan and Colorado create some $6 billion worth of incremental market size.”

Eaze is quickly becoming a major national cannabis operator. Earlier in 2021, it announced that its delivery service will be moving into Michigan, the hottest cannabis market in the Midwest. If the Green Dragon purchase closes, the company also gains delivery operations in Colorado (now approving cannabis delivery companies) and Florida (a state with a massive medical marijuana market). According to a press release, Green Dragon saw more than one million transactions in 2020, and its Colorado stores grew 39% in 2020. In July, the company turned to Florida, announcing the opening of its first two dispensaries in the state and its intention to secure 20 more locations by the end of 2021.

The timing couldn’t be better for Eaze. In June 2021 Apple changed an App Story policy, allowing licensed cannabis dispensaries to list and sell cannabis products (flower, edibles and vapes) directly from an iOS app. Eaze jumped, becoming the first retailer to sell weed from an iPhone app. However, purchases are only possible in Eaze’s two markets: California and (soon) Michigan.

“Eaze has achieved exponential growth over the last two years by successfully shifting to vertical operations and continuing to grow our loyal customer base,” said Eaze CEO Rogelio Choy said in a released statement. “Green Dragon’s airtight operations in Colorado and expansion into Florida’s booming market adds key operational capabilities to our national footprint and cements our leadership as California’s largest MSO. Together, we are well-positioned to leverage the market’s explosive growth now and into the future.”


4/20, the marijuana holiday, explained



It’s 4/20, the day tens of thousands of Americans gather around the country to celebrate a drug that remains illegal in the US: marijuana.

April 20 (or 4/20) is cherished by pot smokers around the world as a reason to toke up with friends and massive crowds each year. Major rallies occur across the country, particularly in places like Colorado, California, and 15 other states where marijuana has been legalized.

But as support for marijuana legalization grows, the festivities are becoming more mainstream and commercialized. As a result, marijuana businesses are looking to leverage the holiday to find more ways to sell and market their products. This puts 4/20’s current iteration in sharp contrast to the holiday once embraced by a counterculture movement largely made up of hippies and others who decried greed, corporate influences, and all things mainstream. And that tells us a lot about how cannabis is changing in America as marijuana is legalized.

What is 4/20? And why is it on April 20?

4/20 is, in short, a holiday celebrating marijuana.

Why April 20? There are a few possible explanations for why marijuana enthusiasts’ day of celebration landed on this day, but the real origin remains a bit of a mystery.

Steven Hager, a former editor of the marijuana-focused news outlet High Times, told the New York Times that the holiday came out of a ritual started by a group of high school students in the 1970s. As Hager explained, a group of Californian teenagers ritualistically smoked marijuana every day at 4:20 pm. The ritual spread, and soon 420 became code for smoking marijuana. Eventually 420 was converted into 4/20 for calendar purposes, and the day of celebration was born. (A group of Californians published documents giving this theory legitimacy, but it’s unclear if their claims are valid.)

One common belief is that 420 was the California police or penal code for marijuana, but there’s no evidence to support those claims.

Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana, hence an obvious connection between the drug and the number. But that’s not quite true either, with nearly 500 such components in marijuana.

A lesser-known possibility comes from the 1939 short story “In the Walls of Eryx” by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling. The story describes “curious mirage-plants” that seemed fairly similar to marijuana and appeared to get the narrator high at, according to his watch, around 4:20. Since the story is from 1939, it’s perhaps the earliest written link between marijuana and 420.



Cannabis industry in Las Vegas gears up for addition of consumption lounges




Roger Bloss sat parked in his vehicle near a smoking area outside a prominent Strip casino resort.

Bloss, the CEO of MJ Holdings, a Las Vegas-based company that grows cannabis in Nevada, observed dozens of people inhaling and exhaling for about an hour.

“I’d say 90% of them were obviously smoking weed,” Bloss said. “I feel that’s not conducive for certain kinds of tourism and I certainly think it will impact our convention business in Las Vegas Mondays through Thursdays.”

What Bloss said he witnessed isn’t an uncommon sight for those walking the Strip, in parking garages, or downtown on or around Fremont Street. And if a person in the tourist corridor doesn’t see someone smoking marijuana, they’re likely to smell it at some point when outside of a building.

There soon could be another option.

Legislation approved by lawmakers at the recently concluded Nevada legislative session and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak paves the way for marijuana consumption lounges to open in Nevada next year.

It’s now the responsibility of the state’s Cannabis Compliance Board, which regulates the industry, to approve licenses for lounges at existing dispensaries, and for free-standing independent lounge businesses.

At Planet 13 on West Desert Inn Road near the Strip — a 112,000-square-foot dispensary paradise — plans are already underway for a consumption area.

Most of the customers who come into Planet 13 are Las Vegas tourists. In the first quarter of this year, Planet 13 reported nearly $24 million in earnings at its Las Vegas dispensary, about 9% of all dispensary revenue reported in Nevada for the period from Jan. 1 through March.

Now they’ll have a place to smoke.

“It’s been kind of a dream of ours to allow for consumption within this complex,” said David Farris, a spokesman for Planet 13. “We’ve gone back and forth on ideas, just waiting for a bill to pass. Now, we’re gearing up and getting a team together to put together some solidified plans.”

The general idea, Farris said, will be to build something that could potentially cater to hundreds of cannabis users and become an attraction that “rivals the Strip itself.”

Allowing tourists — Southern Nevada welcomed over 42 million in 2019, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority — a place to consume cannabis was one of the driving ideas behind Assembly Bill 341, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Yeager.

“Obviously, there have been some problems with people consuming in public,” Yeager said. “Soon, there will be an answer when tourists ask where they’re allowed to consume. I think that will add to the experience that tourists have. I also think we’ll get some tourists to come here because of that consumption lounge experience.”

Bloss said MJ Holdings will explore the possibilities surrounding a consumption area in Las Vegas that would “encompass the health, wellness and social side” of the cannabis market.

Since federal law still recognizes marijuana as an illegal drug, it’s doubtful that the major resort companies, and other gaming license-holders in the Las Vegas Valley, will have on-property consumption lounges anytime soon.

Citing federal law, the Nevada Gaming Control Board in 2018 required that gaming licensees “shall not participate in the marijuana industry.”

Bloss, however, said he sees possible future daylight on that front with the new Nevada law.

“There’s going to be consumption lounges, and people will be leaving the resorts to go to these lounges,” Bloss said. “Casinos will eventually have consumption lounges. It will happen when competition forces it to happen. No, you won’t be able to smoke a joint at the tables, and the smell (of marijuana) is just too pungent to be out on the casino floor, but there will be lounges.”

Layke Martin, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, said officials with the organization are excited by the legislation and ready to see how the compliance board sets up the license process for lounges.

She said she hopes to see license applications available late this year or early in 2022.

“There are about a dozen dispensaries in Clark County that have the space — or are acquiring the space — for a lounge,” Martin said. “The hope is that some of these places will end up being destinations in and of themselves. Maybe it’s a video game venue with cannabis, or a comedy club, but we see some new and interesting concepts coming from this.”

The law will ban dispensary owners from operating a standalone consumption lounge that isn’t located inside an existing cannabis store. Alcohol sales will not be permitted in any consumption lounge, though single-use cannabis products will be allowed to be sold.

The compliance board is expected to issue 20 independent lounge licenses, half of which will be reserved for “social equity applicants,” which is defined as any applicant who has been “adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalize activity relating to cannabis.”

The compliance board will be tasked with defining exactly who would be eligible under that set of criteria.

The drafters of the bill "really contemplated how to increase the inclusivity and diversity in the cannabis industry in Nevada,” Martin said.

Just like with dispensaries, any free-standing consumption lounge that goes up will need to sit at least 1,500 feet away from any casino establishment with an unrestricted gaming license. A lounge will also need to be 1,000 feet from a school, and at least 300 feet from a “community facility,” according to the law.

And Martin said talk of soon having a consumption lounge inside Caesars Palace or at MGM Grand is likely not as close as some think.

“We’re not there yet,” she said. “These new lounges will still have separation requirements from non-restricted gaming establishments, just like current dispensaries have to be 1,500 feet from a gaming establishment. That’s what the lay of the land is right now.”

Simon Nankervis, CEO of The Source, which has dispensaries in Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno and North Las Vegas, said the company could add a lounge space at an additional dispensary that is still in the planning stages, assuming it’s granted the appropriate green light from the compliance board.

The Source tends to cater more to local clientele, although it also sells to tourists. He said any lounge area would likely be something that would fit two or three dozen people at capacity, smaller than what Planet 13 officials have in the works.

“We should be able to have a better way of controlling how cannabis is used now,” Nankervis said. “We know that tourists are using on the Strip and on Fremont Street. I think this (legislation) will change the way we, as an industry, think about the market.”

Nankervis said industry leaders are anxious to learn more about the specifics of what the licensing process will be in Nevada.

It’s the next step, he said, for a maturing cannabis industry in Nevada, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2017.

Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, allows for legal consumption lounges, as does California, but the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult for the business model to flourish.

“If you look at the markets that are more developed, like Colorado and California, they’ve had consumption lounges for some time now, and that creates an environment where things are more controlled,” Nankervis said. “This law in Nevada puts us in a place as an industry where we’re on par with our neighbors.”

For Yeager, Sisolak’s signature on the legislation marked the end of a process that started with meaningful discussions on what a bill could look like about a year ago.

“What we could see here in Las Vegas could be better than Amsterdam,” Yeager said. “I can’t tell you how many people I talked to from the cannabis industry, the Chamber of Cannabis, gaming, the governor’s folks, and those looking to get into the industry. In the end, we got more support than I thought we’d get.”


10 trending cannabis cultivars of ’22

America’s high-THC weed-loving masses—prepare to enjoy some truly phenomenal smoke in 2022.

From Cali to Maine, countless acres of the rowdiest, mind-meltin’-est strains ever conceived are flowering; destined for the top shelf of your local store. Growers big and small are standing on the shoulders of breeding giants like Compound Genetics or Seed Junky Genetics, delivering near-perfect buds.

These breeders in select hotbeds like L.A., the Bay, Humboldt, Portland, and beyond, are rapidly evolving the exotic pot genome before our eyes. Seed and clone sellers then distribute these remixed varietals nationally and internationally. From one-light garage tent growers, all the way up to corporate mega-grows—the breathtaking buds flood our social feeds first, then store shelves.

So how did we select the 10 trendiest strains of ’22? We looked at US search and menu data, crawled The Emerald Cup Dec. 11, interviewed growers, studied Cup-winners lists, seedbank newsletters, and smoked, like, hundreds of strains.

Trendy means new, hot, and often limited in supply: like the ’22 Tesla Model S, or the PlayStation 5s of weed. Here’s the heat that’s burning up our feeds—these are Leafly’s 10 trending strains of ’22.
Jokerz is best-in-class, fruity, spicey, gas that’ll make you grin. Its maximum-THC indica-hybrid effects deliver what connoisseurs demand. Share this elite indica hybrid with a fellow heavyweight and enjoy it along with a fine film.

California-based exotic breeder leader Compound Genetics mixed the parents White Runtz x Jet Fuel Gelato, and selected Jokerz #31 to first bring to market at The Emerald Cup. Lines ran long all day.

Jokerz is the platonic ideal of exotic cannabis in ‘22. It’s icy, dense, dark, and massive— smelling of purple candied pine trees drenched in fuel.

The people have voted with their cash and hashtags—they demand pot that pairs with getting off work, kicking back, trying to relax, eat, love, and sleep. In a world gone mad, Jokerz offers top-flight respite.

See also: Can’t catch Jokerz? Try Leafly Strain of the Year 2020 Runtz, Jet Fuel Gelato, or Alien Labs Kryptochronic.

Got S.A.D.? Add sunlight, nature, and puffs of this neon hybrid to your routine ASAP. An olfactory array of syrupy tropical fruit and uplifting hybrid effects awaits.

        


10 trending cannabis cultivars of ’22

Thug Pug's Garlic Breath brings the loud nationally in '22. (Courtesy Hava Gardens)

America’s high-THC weed-loving masses—prepare to enjoy some truly phenomenal smoke in 2022.

From Cali to Maine, countless acres of the rowdiest, mind-meltin’-est strains ever conceived are flowering; destined for the top shelf of your local store. Growers big and small are standing on the shoulders of breeding giants like Compound Genetics or Seed Junky Genetics, delivering near-perfect buds.

These breeders in select hotbeds like L.A., the Bay, Humboldt, Portland, and beyond, are rapidly evolving the exotic pot genome before our eyes. Seed and clone sellers then distribute these remixed varietals nationally and internationally. From one-light garage tent growers, all the way up to corporate mega-grows—the breathtaking buds flood our social feeds first, then store shelves.

So how did we select the 10 trendiest strains of ’22? We looked at US search and menu data, crawled The Emerald Cup Dec. 11, interviewed growers, studied Cup-winners lists, seedbank newsletters, and smoked, like, hundreds of strains.

Trendy means new, hot, and often limited in supply: like the ’22 Tesla Model S, or the PlayStation 5s of weed. Here’s the heat that’s burning up our feeds—these are Leafly’s 10 trending strains of ’22.
Jokerz
A close up of a purple and green, dense, icy Jokerz nug — Compound Genetics Jokerz #31


Sweet gas, and smashing THC scores—Compound Genetics Jokerz #31.

Jokerz is best-in-class, fruity, spicey, gas that’ll make you grin. Its maximum-THC indica-hybrid effects deliver what connoisseurs demand. Share this elite indica hybrid with a fellow heavyweight and enjoy it along with a fine film.

California-based exotic breeder leader Compound Genetics mixed the parents White Runtz x Jet Fuel Gelato, and selected Jokerz #31 to first bring to market at The Emerald Cup. Lines ran long all day.

Jokerz is the platonic ideal of exotic cannabis in ‘22. It’s icy, dense, dark, and massive— smelling of purple candied pine trees drenched in fuel.

The people have voted with their cash and hashtags—they demand pot that pairs with getting off work, kicking back, trying to relax, eat, love, and sleep. In a world gone mad, Jokerz offers top-flight respite.

    See also: Can’t catch Jokerz? Try Leafly Strain of the Year 2020 Runtz, Jet Fuel Gelato, or Alien Labs Kryptochronic.

Rainbow Belts
A close up of a light green and yellow-haired nug covered in trichomes. (David Downs/Leafly)
Archive Seeds Rainbow Belts, grown by LA Family Farms, via Greenwolf Zalympix 2021. (David Downs/Leafly)

Got S.A.D.? Add sunlight, nature, and puffs of this neon hybrid to your routine ASAP. An olfactory array of syrupy tropical fruit and uplifting hybrid effects awaits.

2022 will surely include a slew of new Z crosses (formerly called Zkittlez). Leading them—Archive Seeds’ cross of Z x Dosidos, which is not recommended for beginners.

Rainbow Belts looks so amazing and smells outrageous that it’ll make you mad at your other weed for being so basic. Archive Seeds describes the nose as “a wonderful Zkittlez-dominant potpourri purple Zkittlez candied lime sugar-coated OG Kush skunk funk.”

Exactly. Yes, please.

R.B. showed off in the influential L.A. Zalympix exotic pot contest twice in ‘21. Archive Seeds pumps out seed packs of crosses, and other breeders work the Belts line heavily.

Rainbow Belts bloom all across the US: from CRU, Kingpen, and Artisan in Cali; to The Heights Co. in Oregon; as well as Seattle’s Private Reserve. The Belts are poppin’ in Michigan from Pure Options; and Sira Naturals in Mass.

Guess life just looks better behind rainbow-colored glasses.

    See also: No Rainbow? Mix the parents: Z (aka Zkittlez) plus Dosi.

Hella Jelly

Cap an epic surf sesh with this sweet rush of blue cotton candy, strawberries, and grapes.

Humboldt Seed Co. did the sativa world a solid when it wedded a Very Cherry to a Notorious THC. Hella Jelly looks, smells, and feels like sativa, but flowers fast—like an indica. You can grow greenhouses of it easily and flawlessly, and America has started to, thank God. We still love our classic Durban or Jack. But Hella Jelly has the potential to make classic sativa heads envious.

Hella Jelly won us over with its superb pedigree, hella early finish, and terps like standing next to the blue cotton candy machine at the fair. So, we made it a Harvest Strain of 2021, only to see it revealed as the coveted strain for The Grow-Off contest in California.

Agronomically optimized, Hella Jelly also makes fabulous extract, and Humboldt Seed Co is a major seed seller in multiple states. If you’re not hella stoked yet, you will be once you get a taste.

    See also: classic sativa Pineapple Express

Apples and Bananas

Space out to the sounds of beat-God Madlib on this powerful, creative hybrid. Its fruity, soft, dank gasoline taste and super-high THC scores will ensure you stay one of America’s most blunted on the map.

When rapper Berner debuted this collaboration with Compound Genetics at Berner’s on Haight in late 2020, heads braved a raging pandemic with no vaccines to stand on lines for two hours. German tourists tripped out: “You’re waiting in this line? For weed?”

Well, the lines continued again at the Cookies dome at The Emerald Cup in December 2021, where seeds of new Apples and Bananas crosses fetched hundreds of dollars per pack. Cookies and Compound Genetics mixed (Platinum Cookies x GDP x Blue Power) x Gelatti for Apples and Bananas—a perfect example of the quality buds the Bay Area exotic scene has to offer the world. As breeders work A&B crosses, seedbanks retail even more A&B, and Cookies opens stores across the country, ensuring plenty of Apples and Bananas to smoke, smoke, smoke, nationwide in 2022.
MAC V2
Return of the MAC? Pfffth. It never left.

apulator’s Miracle Alien Cookies (MAC) made legions of fans by delivering on the promise of a maximal-THC hybrid indica smackdown. MAC is big, white with trichomes, dense, and complex-smelling—a crushing kaleidoscope of sweet, biting, hashy, herbal mint. Prepare for take-off, because you are about to be abducted by some out-of-this-world terpenes.

Capulator crosses Alien Cookies x Miracle 15 genetics for MAC V2, which he sold in person at The Emerald Cup, via the boutique, new, high-end indoor flower brand ‘L.A. Made.’ You can see how ‘Cap’ is driving at this particular weed aesthetic and effect with his selections: impossibly big, chunky, iced-out indoor alien weed; devastating even to the connoisseur.

Cap got kicked off Instagram in 2021, but only got stronger on his grower forum The Bean Basement, adding a newsletter, and now the licensed affiliate L.A. Made. MAC V2 is for sale in seedbanks. Grow rooms have fired it up. We expect Cap, MAC, and his grower army to smash it this year.

    See also: MAC Cap’s Cut; Dinosaur Food

Layer Cake

No strain trend list would be complete with a nod to Wedding Cake—a top-searched strain of 2021. Alas, Wedding Cake fans have started looking for a side piece.

Enter Swamp Boys Seeds’ Layer Cake—that is Seed Junky’s Wedding Cake crossed to their famous GMO x TK Skunk.

Layer Cake smells like sweet vanilla icing layered atop biting, savory skunk.

    My food tasted better, and everything was funny to me. That was after one hit….no joke.

Pre-game your brain with this intense, layered trip before an adventurous return to in-person dining. After the initial rush, it’ll take the stress out of stress-eating.

“Within 10 minutes, tiny vibrational sounds were louder, colors were more vivid, and my body felt numb,” a reviewer states. “It was intense and almost scary. I’ve tried many substances in the past, and this reminded me of an MDMA buzz at first. Very cerebral. It mellowed out nicely after about 45 minutes, then I was just pleasantly buzzed. My food tasted better, and everything was funny to me. That was after one hit….no joke.”
Oreoz
Oreoz is creamy sweetness atop chocolatey dankness that’ll get the whole squad lit. Treat the team to this dessert-encouraging hybrid from Michigan-based 3rd Coast Genetics.
        

 10 trending cannabis cultivars of ’22

Thug Pug's Garlic Breath brings the loud nationally in '22. (Courtesy Hava Gardens)

America’s high-THC weed-loving masses—prepare to enjoy some truly phenomenal smoke in 2022.

From Cali to Maine, countless acres of the rowdiest, mind-meltin’-est strains ever conceived are flowering; destined for the top shelf of your local store. Growers big and small are standing on the shoulders of breeding giants like Compound Genetics or Seed Junky Genetics, delivering near-perfect buds.

These breeders in select hotbeds like L.A., the Bay, Humboldt, Portland, and beyond, are rapidly evolving the exotic pot genome before our eyes. Seed and clone sellers then distribute these remixed varietals nationally and internationally. From one-light garage tent growers, all the way up to corporate mega-grows—the breathtaking buds flood our social feeds first, then store shelves.

So how did we select the 10 trendiest strains of ’22? We looked at US search and menu data, crawled The Emerald Cup Dec. 11, interviewed growers, studied Cup-winners lists, seedbank newsletters, and smoked, like, hundreds of strains.

Trendy means new, hot, and often limited in supply: like the ’22 Tesla Model S, or the PlayStation 5s of weed. Here’s the heat that’s burning up our feeds—these are Leafly’s 10 trending strains of ’22.
Jokerz
A close up of a purple and green, dense, icy Jokerz nug — Compound Genetics Jokerz #31
Sweet gas, and smashing THC scores—Compound Genetics Jokerz #31. (David Downs/Leafly)

Jokerz is best-in-class, fruity, spicey, gas that’ll make you grin. Its maximum-THC indica-hybrid effects deliver what connoisseurs demand. Share this elite indica hybrid with a fellow heavyweight and enjoy it along with a fine film.

California-based exotic breeder leader Compound Genetics mixed the parents White Runtz x Jet Fuel Gelato, and selected Jokerz #31 to first bring to market at The Emerald Cup. Lines ran long all day.

Jokerz is the platonic ideal of exotic cannabis in ‘22. It’s icy, dense, dark, and massive— smelling of purple candied pine trees drenched in fuel.

The people have voted with their cash and hashtags—they demand pot that pairs with getting off work, kicking back, trying to relax, eat, love, and sleep. In a world gone mad, Jokerz offers top-flight respite.

    See also: Can’t catch Jokerz? Try Leafly Strain of the Year 2020 Runtz, Jet Fuel Gelato, or Alien Labs Kryptochronic.

Rainbow Belts
A close up of a light green and yellow-haired nug covered in trichomes.
Archive Seeds Rainbow Belts, grown by LA Family Farms, via Greenwolf Zalympix 2021.

Got S.A.D.? Add sunlight, nature, and puffs of this neon hybrid to your routine ASAP. An olfactory array of syrupy tropical fruit and uplifting hybrid effects awaits.

2022 will surely include a slew of new Z crosses (formerly called Zkittlez). Leading them—Archive Seeds’ cross of Z x Dosidos, which is not recommended for beginners.

Rainbow Belts looks so amazing and smells outrageous that it’ll make you mad at your other weed for being so basic. Archive Seeds describes the nose as “a wonderful Zkittlez-dominant potpourri purple Zkittlez candied lime sugar-coated OG Kush skunk funk.”

Exactly. Yes, please.
Related
Cannabis Cup 2021 winners and where to buy them

R.B. showed off in the influential L.A. Zalympix exotic pot contest twice in ‘21. Archive Seeds pumps out seed packs of crosses, and other breeders work the Belts line heavily.

Rainbow Belts bloom all across the US: from CRU, Kingpen, and Artisan in Cali; to The Heights Co. in Oregon; as well as Seattle’s Private Reserve. The Belts are poppin’ in Michigan from Pure Options; and Sira Naturals in Mass.

Guess life just looks better behind rainbow-colored glasses.

    See also: No Rainbow? Mix the parents: Z (aka Zkittlez) plus Dosi.

Hella Jelly
A branch and bud shot of a thicc green and orange Hella Jelly flower top. Humboldt Seed Co Hella Jelly (Courtesy Humboldt Seed Co.)
Don’t be jelly: Humboldt Seed Co Hella Jelly. (Courtesy Humboldt Seed Co)

Cap an epic surf sesh with this sweet rush of blue cotton candy, strawberries, and grapes.

Humboldt Seed Co. did the sativa world a solid when it wedded a Very Cherry to a Notorious THC. Hella Jelly looks, smells, and feels like sativa, but flowers fast—like an indica. You can grow greenhouses of it easily and flawlessly, and America has started to, thank God. We still love our classic Durban or Jack. But Hella Jelly has the potential to make classic sativa heads envious.

Hella Jelly won us over with its superb pedigree, hella early finish, and terps like standing next to the blue cotton candy machine at the fair. So, we made it a Harvest Strain of 2021, only to see it revealed as the coveted strain for The Grow-Off contest in California.

Agronomically optimized, Hella Jelly also makes fabulous extract, and Humboldt Seed Co is a major seed seller in multiple states. If you’re not hella stoked yet, you will be once you get a taste.

    See also: classic sativa Pineapple Express

Apples and Bananas


Fruity hues show in this Cookies+Compound project. (David Downs/Leafly)

Space out to the sounds of beat-God Madlib on this powerful, creative hybrid. Its fruity, soft, dank gasoline taste and super-high THC scores will ensure you stay one of America’s most blunted on the map.

When rapper Berner debuted this collaboration with Compound Genetics at Berner’s on Haight in late 2020, heads braved a raging pandemic with no vaccines to stand on lines for two hours. German tourists tripped out: “You’re waiting in this line? For weed?”
Heads fed: The Cookies dome at The Emerald Cup 2021. (Photo by Hannah X Clover; Courtesy The Emerald Cup)
Heads fed: The Cookies dome at The Emerald Cup 2021. (Photo by Hannah X Clover; Courtesy The Emerald Cup)

Well, the lines continued again at the Cookies dome at The Emerald Cup in December 2021, where seeds of new Apples and Bananas crosses fetched hundreds of dollars per pack. Cookies and Compound Genetics mixed (Platinum Cookies x GDP x Blue Power) x Gelatti for Apples and Bananas—a perfect example of the quality buds the Bay Area exotic scene has to offer the world. As breeders work A&B crosses, seedbanks retail even more A&B, and Cookies opens stores across the country, ensuring plenty of Apples and Bananas to smoke, smoke, smoke, nationwide in 2022.
MAC V2
A macro of MAC V2 from L.A. Made just sleeted with trichomes over a greenish purple, orange-haired nug. — MAC V2 from L.A. Made (David Downs/Leafly)
All CAP when you spell the man’s name: MAC V2 from L.A. Made. (David Downs/Leafly)

Return of the MAC? Pfffth. It never left.

Capulator’s Miracle Alien Cookies (MAC) made legions of fans by delivering on the promise of a maximal-THC hybrid indica smackdown. MAC is big, white with trichomes, dense, and complex-smelling—a crushing kaleidoscope of sweet, biting, hashy, herbal mint. Prepare for take-off, because you are about to be abducted by some out-of-this-world terpenes.

Capulator crosses Alien Cookies x Miracle 15 genetics for MAC V2, which he sold in person at The Emerald Cup, via the boutique, new, high-end indoor flower brand ‘L.A. Made.’ You can see how ‘Cap’ is driving at this particular weed aesthetic and effect with his selections: impossibly big, chunky, iced-out indoor alien weed; devastating even to the connoisseur.

Cap got kicked off Instagram in 2021, but only got stronger on his grower forum The Bean Basement, adding a newsletter, and now the licensed affiliate L.A. Made. MAC V2 is for sale in seedbanks. Grow rooms have fired it up. We expect Cap, MAC, and his grower army to smash it this year.

    See also: MAC Cap’s Cut; Dinosaur Food

Layer Cake
A Layer Cake nug shot—greenish purple and caked in white THC. (Courtesy Talking Trees) copy
Wedding Cake lovers—meet your side piece: Layer Cake. (Courtesy Talking Trees)

No strain trend list would be complete with a nod to Wedding Cake—a top-searched strain of 2021. Alas, Wedding Cake fans have started looking for a side piece.

Enter Swamp Boys Seeds’ Layer Cake—that is Seed Junky’s Wedding Cake crossed to their famous GMO x TK Skunk.

Layer Cake smells like sweet vanilla icing layered atop biting, savory skunk.

    My food tasted better, and everything was funny to me. That was after one hit….no joke.
    Leafly reviewer, Layer Cake

Pre-game your brain with this intense, layered trip before an adventurous return to in-person dining. After the initial rush, it’ll take the stress out of stress-eating.

“Within 10 minutes, tiny vibrational sounds were louder, colors were more vivid, and my body felt numb,” a reviewer states. “It was intense and almost scary. I’ve tried many substances in the past, and this reminded me of an MDMA buzz at first. Very cerebral. It mellowed out nicely after about 45 minutes, then I was just pleasantly buzzed. My food tasted better, and everything was funny to me. That was after one hit….no joke.”
Oreoz
A bud and branch shot of icy black and green Oreoz grown by CAM Photo by The High Red Beard (Photo Courtesy of CAM)
Oreoz is back in the rotation in ’22 at the artisanal California grower C.A.M. (Photo by The High Red Beard, Photo Courtesy of C.A.M.)

Oreoz is creamy sweetness atop chocolatey dankness that’ll get the whole squad lit. Treat the team to this dessert-encouraging hybrid from Michigan-based 3rd Coast Genetics.

3rd Coast Genetics’ ‘Max Yields’ crossed a Cookies n Cream to Secret Weapon—adding some much-needed novelty into the aging GSC line. It’s one of several cultivars with near-black leaf that sets off that white THC frosting.

With 50% hybrid effects, reviewers report stuff like: “Fire strain. Helps me see the field in Madden better.” Fair.

Others note the teeth-clenching THC levels: “Hooolyyy fuck. Jesus Christ. This shit had me in another galaxy within 15 minutes. I was literally seeing stars.” Indeed.

Oreoz is on shelves nationwide: in San Francisco from Lyfted; in Oregon from The Heights Co. at Archive; from Cloud9 at Have A Heart in Seattle, WA. It’s in Colorado and Arizona, and Lil Wayne’s GKUA brand has Oreoz in Detroit.

The popular name might pose problems, so look out for ‘Secret Cookies’ in some parts.
Garlic Breath

Carbo-load your brain on this comfort food, then embrace a nap as an end in and of itself. Garlic Breath offers a savory, pungent, umami contrast to prevailing terps. It is high-THC sabor for your Cali Sober lifestyle.

Influential Michigan breeder of Peanut Butter Breath, Thug Pug, purportedly bred this GMO x Mendo Breath cross. That sounds like his M.O. because this stuff reeks.

“No less than five people asked me if I was holding it because it was that strong of a scent,” wrote one reviewer.

    “I was ready for it all, just was hella stoned to the bone.”
Thug Pug’s not currently selling seeds of the Garlic Breath (he’s working on his Meat Breath line). But existing crops of Garlic Breath are dialed in, and stinking up the nation: from San Francisco as shatter; to Oregon, Washington, and Arizona. Even better—Garlic Breath hash by The Greenery in Colorado, or fresh flower from Veritas, or Hava Gardens.

Expect a relaxing mood lift, reviewers agreed. “I was ready for it all, just was hella stoned to the bone.”
Black Cherry Punch

Netflix and chill with The Witcher all winter on this heady indica hybrid. The sweet, citrus, grape-cherry dankness punches with a velvet glove, leaving you relaxed, happy, and tingly. Perfect with the spooky vibes.



As of press time, anyone could tap in with Black Cherry Punch seeds on Neptune Seedbank. It’s za-za for the people.

“You could be picking up dogshit, and on this stuff, you’d be having the time of your life,” one reviewer states. “Every inch of my body is burning relaxed and I feel like a huge Sour Patch Kid.”
Kush Mints

Kush Mints returns for the second year in Leafly Buzz’s trending annual forecast, thanks to its uniquely minty dankness and towering THC scores. Pair this queen of L.A. with blunts and bass—it’s perfect for a chill afternoon or evening.

Keep in mind, we tried to exclude it, but Kush Mints didn’t care. In 2021, it made so many more fans, took over so many more farms, and stayed so influential—we’d look silly leaving it out.

Seed Junky Genetics of Los Angeles’ cross of Bubba Kush and Animal Mints has changed the game the way Zkittlez has.

The ’22 forecast: next-level Mints crosses for the cannasseur, plus gorgeous bargain Mints for the masses.

Here comes Seed Junky Genetics’ The Menage (Zkittlez x Triangle Kush x Gelato 41 x Kush Mints 11), or Tiki Madman’s Apple Mints or Gelatti Mints.

Meanwhile, $25 bags of Kush Mints from California’s Pacific Stone are about to flood in like a king tide. The company harvests 27,000 plants per week in Carpinteria, CA.

We could go on and on—and we will all year—but this brings us to the end of Leafly Buzz’s 10 trending strains of ’22; for now.

We’d proudly pack you bowls of any of these, and stand by their quality. And we hope we can make good on that offer soon.






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