Far be it from a stoner to notice an industry trend, but I couldn’t help but observe that Critical Mass has been taking up an increasing amount of space in local dispensaries. Looking around various pot shop menus online confirmed the strain’s clout in the industry. But is Critical Mass also deserving of critical acclaim?
It would be easy to pigeonhole Critical Mass in the same category as THC Bomb, Big Bud and other strains known more for potency and yields than terpenes. Critical Mass has been referred to as the “Blue Dream of Europe,” thanks to its performance in the grow and its commercial popularity in that continent. I’ve never been a huge fan of Blue Dream or its muddled genetics, but that doesn’t mean that Critical Mass is cut from the same cloth.
The indica-dominant hybrid certainly brings a renowned pedigree and classic flavor to the table. Critical Mass counts Afghani and Skunk #1 as its parents, a no-brainer for Dutch and Spanish growing circles. Classic but delicious flavors of bark, bubble gum and hash from its Afghani lineage pair well with Skunk’s pungent, tart notes, but that’s not what has made Critical Mass such a commercial hit. Its prolific yields and massive buds gave it superstar status in the grow, and a high-CBD version of the strain has added to its wider appeal. As with all heroes, however, its gift is also a curse. While short to bloom and considered relatively easy to grow, Critical Mass is also highly susceptible to bud rot and other molds thanks to its huge buds, which have a hard time releasing moisture. It might be best to wait until the spring rainy season in Colorado ends before trying this one out, but the bounty could be worth waiting for.
In the meantime, Critical Mass can be found at over a dozen dispensaries in the metro area. My favorites so far have been grown by Seed & Smith and Pineapple Exchange; both cultivations serve up hash-heavy cuts of the strain, with a combination of initial uplift and inevitable relaxation that’s much more like a ride on a Ferris wheel ride than a roller coaster.
Looks: Big cone- and football-shaped nugs tend to look more like stalagmites than cannabis, with dense buds, heavy leaf and pistil coverage and a light-green color reminiscent of Afghani.
Smell: Critical Mass’s indica effect extends into aromatherapy, with sedative scents of powdery bubble gum and spicy wood, subtle hints of berry, and a pungent, skunky smell taking over at the end.
Flavor: The indica’s flavor is slightly skunkier and heavier on the wood than its smell, but the two are largely similar.
Effects: Critical Mass delivers a short burst of vigor after the first few hits, but it should definitely be considered a nighttime and relaxation strain. Sedative effects are tough to keep at bay after an hour or so, making the mind eager for amusement but too tired to create its own, so have entertainment ready. Patients use the strain to treat insomnia, eating disorders, nausea, stress and minor pain.
Home grower’s take: “Kinda makes me float. I think it’s one of the easier indicas to handle, but it can still make you go to sleep after a couple hours. I can see why more shops are growing it, because it flowers pretty fast and yields over two pounds per plant. It’s a lot like Blue Dream in that aspect, but more like an old-school version. People today don’t appreciate strains that taste like hash and wood and skunk anymore. Everyone wants fruity shit nowadays, like beer.”
Commercial grower’s take: “I think Colorado is dry enough for it, but I think it’s better for Arizona, southern Nevada and maybe California’s Inland Empire. That being said, if you can ensure your indoor grow’s climate is dry and have a good eye for mold, it shouldn’t be too hard.”
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