Why Colorado Tokers Love Hemlock

Herbert Fuego
Hemlock is more than ornamental.
We all have weird personal connections to certain words that cause us to hate them. I’m not talking about squirming when you hear “moist,” but about opinions that date from childhood, like my dislike for “hemlock.” Even before I knew the word’s definition, hemlock sounded like some fatal coughing disease from the 1600s, or a foreboding local swamp in which Timmy Flanagan drowned.

I wasn’t terribly off: Hemlock is a poisonous plant, notorious for being brewed into tea that was used to execute Socrates. It’s also the name of a shitty horror show on Netflix, the first (and last) heavy-metal band I saw live, and a popular weed strain in Colorado. As a result, my relationship with “hemlock” has gone from blocked to online lurking through dispensary menus.

But my early distaste for the word caused some trepidation when I decided to try the new strain, and Hemlock’s lineage of L.A. Confidential and Durban Poison — a landrace with a mind-racing high that makes me crash after its peak — added to my anxiety. Opening a bottle of Hemlock for the first time didn’t dispel my fears — every cut of the strain I’ve since come across carries a combination of fuel and sour citrus — but the high was much more soothing than I anticipated, erasing daily stress and relaxing my body throughout the day before I meteored into bed.

We’ve sniffed traces of Hemlock back to Berkeley Dispensary, the Clinic, Cross Genetics, Denver Dispensary, LivWell Enlightened Health, Local Product of Colorado and Simply Pure. My favorite takes come from the Clinic (bred by the Bank Genetics) and Denver Dispensary, which emanate gas fumes and leave me melting into a pool of stupid bliss and muscle relaxation within an hour.

Looks: Hemlock generally produces dense, hard football buds, which are lime-green in color with a moderate trichome dusting. The strain’s genetics produce average plants in height, with relatively light leaf coverage, making it easier on new growers.

Smell: A true child of its Durban and L.A. parents, Hemlock’s notes of grapefruit and a chemical-gas mixture smack you in the face up front, with spicier scents of sawdust and more citrus looping around after.

Flavor: That gassy, soapy flavor pushes through much more on the tongue, with sweet hints of grapefruit and light sandalwood playing backup. If you like Diesel and “sativa”-labeled strains, you’ll like the mix of fuel and citrus.

Effects: Hemlock is sought after for a span of reasons that don’t always line up from user to user, with some smoking it for energy and creativity, and others using it to wind down after work and eventually fall asleep. I get a little of both, jumping around with raw energy and a loose body for less than two hours before crashing hard.

Home grower’s take:
“I used to have to convince my friends to try this, because so many of them thought it smelled too much like a Diesel, and those are such strong sativas. This still has a head high, but it really doesn’t matter, because your body’s too stoned to act after long. Some impatient fuckers might not like waiting ten weeks to pull it down, but it’s worth it. The yields are good, and it’s reliable to knock you out at night during the descent. What else do you need?”

Commercial grower’s take:
“The genetics are actually more of a sativa, but we usually suggest this to folks in our stores looking for a hybrid. It’s very relaxing after a quick “up” period, and pushes me even closer to bed after I eat. Growing it isn’t very hard. Responds well to pruning, even though it doesn’t need a lot, and the buds are sturdy and dense. Hemlock doesn’t really stretch, either, so it’s pretty easy on us. The grow almost fumes when it’s in here.”

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