Best Colorado Cannabis Strains of 2023 | Westword

Colorado's Best Cannabis Strains of 2023

Colorado's most talented growers never fail to step up.
Chimera's mythical status is well deserved.
Chimera's mythical status is well deserved. Herbert Fuego
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It's been a turbulent year for cannabis growers, who have seen falling dispensary sales, record low prices and many facility closures. Despite this current race to the bottom, quality has never been more important — and Colorado's most talented growers never fail to step up.

We saw growers draw from old hits this year as Sour Diesel made a welcome resurgence and an excellent CBD strain finally popped up in dispensaries. New creations also helped push growers forward, with rare genetics spurring trends toward tobacco aromas or soda-like flavors. Here are ten of the best cannabis strains we came across in 2023:

Orange Cream Cake
If any strain note needs more play in dispensaries, it's cheese. The funky, creamy punch of parmesan or blue cheese is my favorite cannabis flavor, but I know it's an acquired taste for less refined palates. Orange Cream Cake, a hybrid of Orange Zkittlez and Wedding Cake grown by Bubba's Kush, has enough sweet and sour orange notes to introduce sugar-loving philistines to the power of cheese, and those same fruity aspects are just as appealing to pot purists. Each sour, sugary sniff is accompanied by a creamy, nutty funkiness that reminds me of an Orange Julius one second and a cheese board the next.

Orange Cream Cake's high leans on the relaxing side but is far from sedative or debilitating. The calming effects provide an easy descent into bedtime without putting a magnet on my ass, and work for a daytime toke in a pinch, too, when accompanied by caffeine. Thank goodness, because this slice of cake is so goddam yummy that you probably won't be able to wait until after dinner.

The chimera was said to terrorize the ancient Greeks by flying down from the sky and scorching the land by breathing fire. That myth likely originated from a volcano in what is modern Turkey, but anyone who smokes Chimera today will be living that legend, because this shit is fire. Not just hot or worthy of praise. Fire.

Vivid colors on Chimera's buds remind me of a blue and purple flame. It's some of the best-smelling cannabis my nose has come across in a while — a unique mixture of griddled dough, skunky tobacco and berry jam. Chimera doesn't bring the same energy as a Sour Diesel, but the high is upbeat enough, and the focus and creativity more than make up for it. Reorganize the house, write a letter or get a little artsy; whatever activity you choose, Chimera livens it up. Add in a manageable comedown and munchies, and this could be my favorite daytime toke of 2023.

Now I know how Prometheus felt. Shoutout to Iion for growing such an incredible cut.

Cherry Lime Soda
Cherry Lime Soda's Colorado lineage includes Citradelic Sunset and Cherry Fluff, both of which are juicy and fruit-forward, bring lots of energy and destroy concentration. While I certainly support more Hazes, Diesels and other daytime varieties that have ceded grow space to more commercially friendly strains over the past few years, buzzing or finicky highs aren't my favorite. But I'd probably still smoke Cherry Lime Soda even if that were the case because of how tasty it is, which is where the small risk of THC freakout comes in.

The potency of Cherry Lime Soda could turn any cannabis user into a wide-eyed monkey with zero direction and the driest mouth on earth: Green Dot Labs' version is that strong. Take it one pipe rip at a time or go slow with the joint, and you'll reach the right altitude level and enjoy the sustained aftertaste — but no one buys a cherry limeade to take just one sip, so be prepared to test your discipline.

Party Animal
A hybrid born from Animal Cookies, Meraki's Party Animal is known for bag appeal and sociable effects. I couldn't care less about how stunning a nug looks on Instagram, but a strain that allows me to work out or take a swim while stoned out of my gourd is worth chasing. I took my first joint of Party Animal on a long walk to the park and smoked it halfway there. Other than forgetting to pack a tomahawk steak to satisfy the munchies, I couldn't have planned things better.

Party Animal doesn't deliver the energy of Waiting Game or focus and zeal of Sour Diesel, and turning my stomach into an insatiable Sarlacc pit of hunger isn't great for seizing the day. Smoke it on a full stomach, though, and the upbeat, euphoric and physically soothing high gets the job done until nighttime hits. Impromptu walks around the neighborhood, cleaning up the house and even pick-up basketball games were all enhanced by Party Animal.
click to enlarge Light-green Tally Mon cannabis buds
Tally Mon's effects are pure euphoria.
Herbert Fuego
Tally Mon
Coming across a strain called Tally Mon instantly put that song back in my head, which didn't thrill me. No one likes a public whistler, and that tune turns me into a songbird. I'm all for a gassy, tropical smoothie at the pot shop, though, and that's exactly what my nose was slurping up when the Tally Mon jar came around.

Also known as Tally Man, this relaxing strain is a mix of Papaya and a Banana OG/Do-Si-Dos hybrid, so it's no surprise that I smelled fruit cocktail so fast. The Oni Seed Co. creation is relatively new to Colorado, but quickly gained steam this year as more people discovered Tally Mon's buoyant effects and craft beer-like flavor. The high would be pure elation if more energy were attached, but it still puts a grin on my face — and, dare I say, makes me a little randy at night.

Loompa's Headband
Loompas Headband is a rare hybrid of OG Kush and Sour Diesel, two classics that have faded commercially but that growers still love. This Single Source exclusive reminds me of the unlabeled Skunk weed I chased before strain selection took over, with equal influences of Diesel and OG. The petrol-dipped juniper berry brings a 50/50 high that plays well with most hours of the day, but don't expect to fool anyone with hand sanitizer or body spray. The Headband doesn't wash away easily.

Forbidden Fruit
A mix of Cherry Pie and Tangie, two dominant strains of the mid-2010s, Forbidden Fruit has a strong pedigree and pumps out Golden Goat-like fumes of fruit cocktail. Finding real representations of the strain in dispensaries has been getting tough; most of the Forbidden Fruit options I come across are boiled-down versions in vape cartridges, which isn't the best way to experience a strain's characteristics. So thank heaven for Higher Function and Indico, two cultivations growing solid representations. Save Forbidden Fruit for one of those no good, very bad days: Within ten minutes, your melted brain will only be focusing on the strain's ripe fruity qualities, and none of the small stuff will matter anymore.

Rotten Rozay
This mix of GMO and Rozay (part of the Zkittlez family tree) doesn't sound like a combination made for flavor, but the mix of sangria, chemical cleaner and funk works. Rotten Rozay just happens to be a popular strain in dispensaries right now, as well, with around twenty different growers, extractors and pre-roll brands all selling various versions. My favorite cut so far comes from Antero Sciences, which was extremely fruity and rancid (in a good way), and also provided a creative high.

Rockin' Kush
A cross of second-generation phenotypes of Moroccan and Pakistani Kush, Moroccan Kush (Rockin' Kush for short) is a new-school spin on classic genetics. It has an unmistakable cheesy aroma and one of the creamiest smokes I've enjoyed in a long time, yet it's still somewhat of a rarity in dispensaries. I only know of two Colorado growing operations currently cultivating the strain, and it's not very popular across the country, either.

As an ardent fan of cheesy cannabis and citrus-free palate-stuffers, I hope dispensaries get their priorities straight here, because Cherry's Moroccan Kush has a spot in my evening rotation for as long as it's available.

Tester 51

Finding high-CBD flower or hash at a dispensary is a chore nowadays, but I'm glad that at least one quality cultivation is still fighting the good fight in 710 Labs. Maybe every grower would do the same if they could produce a CBD strain this delicious.

A mix of Alien OG and a Blueberry phenotype, this sweet, nurturing strain rarely, if ever, hits 15 percent THC while maintaining a strong CBD content of around 10 to 12 percent. The near-even ratio provides an amazing body high for soreness and hangovers, but it doesn't skimp on the giggles or munchies. Strong notes of blueberries and a surprise fennel/licorice flavor play well with the Alien OG piney characteristics, almost like a fruity Tom Collins. Tester #51 scores high across the board, and I hope other top growers follow 710's lead here.
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