I’ve never regretted my move from Arizona to Colorado a few years ago, even though I’m sure a lot of “natives” regret it for me. But while the scenery here is hard to beat, and seeing the Rocky Mountains on the way to work is a daily reminder of this state’s beauty, I’ll always miss the desert. And as I was longing for sherbet skies and shorts last week, cannabis provided a breath of home. Cactus Breath, to be exact.
I wish I could tell you that “cactus breath” was an Arizona redneck saying for what happens when you eat too many cacti (that’s the plural of “cactus,” dingus), but that would be a lie. While Cactus Breath’s flavor is specific enough to leave a mark on your mouth, the name stems from the strain’s Cactus and Mendo Breath lineage. Cactus is an old-school cross of Afghani and Northern Lights indicas, while Mendo Breath is a heavy indica with OG Kush characteristics. The pairing makes for a blissful high, but it doesn’t carry the debilitating indica melt you’d expect.
Still, most breeders and dealers label Cactus Breath an indica because of those mind-numbing genetics, garnering expectations of visual, spacey effects that could hurt the strain’s popularity. The high, though, is actually much closer to the middle, sending euphoric, hazy streams of contentment flowing through your mind for a couple of hours before the inevitable comedown. The bliss and lack of concentration can make users more keen on visceral feelings and less aware of social norms, so be aware if consuming before going out.
I personally love Cactus Breath’s intense funk, with sweet, grainy flavors and a creamy back end that remind me of tomato sauce and lemongrass. The weird combination of characteristics can be an acquired taste, but any seasoned toker will appreciate the strain’s full-course flavor. With roots tracing back to British Columbia and California, the strain typically sticks to the West Coast and doesn’t stray much. While I’ve found it in Arizona and California, the only Denver dispensary I’ve seen carrying it is The Herbal Cure — and after you try the shop’s resin-glazed cut of sweet funk, you just might find yourself planning a trip west.
Looks: The strain’s dense nugs could easily pass for a barrel cactus hiding under a rock; its chunky, full calyxes create round buds, but with protruding limbs and an opaque coat of trichomes that stick to your fingers like fishhooks.
Smell: Sweet, zesty and doughy with a floral back end, Cactus Breath carries an interesting scent that might confuse your nostrils. But the funky mixture can get intoxicating after a few sessions.
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Flavor: Although still very complex, Cactus Breath doesn’t assault the tongue quite like it does the nose. Sweet, floral notes with a zesty twinge of hash cover the tastebuds for a sour, earthy flavor that can be hard to pinpoint.
Effects: Like its smell and flavor, Cactus Breath’s effects can be hard to figure out the first time around. The strain’s indica genetics don’t seem to hold up with the initial sativa burst of enthusiasm and energy, which is accompanied by stupid grins and a lack of focus — but beware of the indica comedown. The hybrid high is great for stress and sleeping and eating disorders, as well as creative lulls and intense boredom.
Commercial grower’s take: “I don’t know of anyone other than The Herbal Cure growing it — that’s not a surprise, as they have a lot of rare strains — but I’ve seen it in Washington and California more. It’s supposed to take upwards of ten weeks to flower, so I can see why a lot of dispensaries don’t carry it: When you try selling try a strain with average yields and a long growing period, that’s a risk. Either way, it’s great for blasting or rosin presses, if you have one, because the trichomes really pop out. “
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