The West Coast comes to mind as the country's leading cannabis region. California is obviously recognized for its groundbreaking cannabis culture; Oregon, Washington and even Alaska were all early to legalize; and some people (the NCAA, at least) consider Colorado a West Coast state, too. That's a lot of collective weed weight on one side of the country — not that East Coast growers ever gave a shit.
Chemdog and Sour Diesel — from New Jersey or New York, depending on who you talk to — are two of the most legendary strains ever created, while Florida's gift of Bubba Kush is known nationwide. That's why I gave I-95, a branch on the Chemdog and OG family trees named after the interstate stretching from New York to Miami, a shot. Turns out I've met the strain's daddy, who's known for pulling the gas fumes out of his plants.
I was lucky enough to meet I-95's creator, a longtime grower from New Jersey who goes by J.J., a few years ago. J.J. is the breeder of Star Dawg, Tres Dawg and plenty of other popular strains through his Top Dawg Genetics seed operation; he moved to Colorado to make it as a legal wholesale grower several years ago. Top Dawg's reputation, built by strains like I-95, made him a hot free agent. But as J.J. waxed poetic about jumping warehouses to stay one foot ahead of police in the ’90s, I wondered if he preferred the old way. J.J. has since left Colorado's commercial cannabis space, tired of the fuss and hullabaloo that are legal-weed regulations. After feeling my face melt off from a joint of I-95, I realize we've lost a valuable asset.
J.J. stretched far along the East Coast to create his version of I-95, mixing one of his Star Dawg phenotypes with Legend OG and Triangle Kush, another infamous Florida strain. The mind-bending high nears psychedelic at its peak, fitting for a far-reaching inspiration. One minute I have enough bouncy energy to knock out pushups, the next I'm a zoned-out phone slug, stuck in a sad, hilarious hole of watching public Karen videos. Not the definition of productivity, but it's a solid achievement after losing my head to an I-95 cannon wrapped inside a Swisher Sweet.
I-95's routes have expanded to Denver, with Altitude, DANK, Denver Kush Club, Doctor's Orders, The Health Center, Karmaceuticals, Kind Love, La Conte's, The Lodge, Medicine Man and Solace Meds all currently or recently carrying the strain.
Looks: Glowing forest-green and foxtailing buds made me think I-95 was just a new name for Chemdog, but the nuclear aura and spiking calyxes are slightly brighter and the trichome presence more noticeable.
Smell: Smells of gas, mud and pine cleaner slap me right away, with a sour, rubbery gust coming in quickly after, followed by a subtle, peppery back end. The tart, earthy combination is potent and invigorating, with a sensory effect similar to that of a car air freshener.
Flavor: I-95's classic Chem and OG qualities, a blend of rubber, gas and pine flavors, loudly announce themselves, with stronger floral and citrus notes than the smell implies — almost like lemongrass. It doesn't fit the mold of today's pastry-inspired strains, but I-95's potent, raw qualities show the terpenes aren't lacking.
Effects: Stress never stands a chance on I-95, and we all have way too much of that right now. But I've been traveling down I-95 for over a week and still don't know where it's taking me. Sometimes into a stack of old comic books, sometimes into a workout, and sometimes it makes me read on the toilet for thirty minutes longer than I should. The intense head high doesn't significantly relax my body during the day, but it routinely puts me down for the count at night. A potent, unpredictable strain is a required taste, but when it hits right, there's nothing like it.
Is there a strain you'd like to see profiled? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.