I'm a flower girl. A simple, flower-in-a-bong kind of gal. Since I never stopped smoking in the manner I smoked at age 18, I don't get surprised very often. But I should've known to leave it to Jeremy Plumb, currently director of production at Pruf Cultivar, to change that. Among numerous fresh releases of new strains bred and cultivated at Pruf, Steel Bridge has particularly refreshed the excitement of smoking flower. I tried No. 38, a batch that tested at 24.5 percent THC and 4.44 percent total terpenes. Made from combining the beloved Golden Goat cultivar and TH1 (#3), this plant is an example of successfully customized cultivation to bring out rarer, less common terpenes, with a dominant concentration of beta-caryophyllene. That may not mean anything to you—it wasn't something I necessarily sought out—but what it means is this cultivar may produce effects you've never experienced before. The taste is similar to citrusy, skunky varieties like Island Sweet Skunk, like a tropical breeze from very unfamiliar, untraveled waters. —Lauren Yoshiko, WW cannabis critic
The best thing I consumed this year was Pruf Cultivar's Astral Works. Jeremy Plumb's genius is behind the enchanting terpinolene aroma and soothing feel of the vapor on the lungs. Such a beautiful, bright, clearheaded experience, which I hesitate to call "intoxication." It's a sincere shame that Type II flowers like this (with a nice mellow balance of THC and CBD) aren't fetching more value on the market—it made me feel like buying a Bentley for the price of a Hyundai. —Adie Poe, cannabis researcher at Habu Health.
This year I learned a thing from Black Twitter: "There are two types of tired—one where you require sleep, the other where you require peace." In the pursuit of both (and an earnest self-care routine), having Make & Mary's Clarity and Calm personal aromatherapy inhalers at my fingertips has been clutch. In addition to the slick, discreet and conveniently refillable capsules, the cannabis-oil infusions in both inhalers is non-intoxicating and derived from CBD hemp and can last for six months or more—long enough to power through to the Oregon summer. —Tiara Darnell, host of the High, Good People podcast.
Despite working in the industry since 2015, I have experimented very little with consumption myself. My tolerance is low, and I'm mostly unwilling to try something that may have an unpredictable effect and derail a day of work. I'm all about a consistent, reliable outcome, which is why I love Gems by Drip Sweets. I prefer Vanilla Mint—it tastes like a sweeter spearmint gum, is discreet enough to pop in wherever you are, and gently brings about a relaxed, happy mood boost every time. This is also the perfect entry-level cannabis candy to share with friends who've been hesitant to try. —Steph Barnhart, organizer of Cultivation Classic
This goes out in dedication and remembrance to my glass chillum. While the best Oregon weed product of 2018, for me, is also the best of 2017 and 2016—Mount Hood Magic, flower, followed close behind by thatGnome Grown's White Rhino and Geek Farm's River Song—this past weekend, as I stole a pinch from the remains of what was once a giant frosted nugget of that River Song, I fumbled my beloved glass chillum. Like countless times before, it fell to the wood floor in my studio, but instead of bouncing a couple times and resting on its one bulbous side as it usually does, it shattered. I couldn't believe it. I hope Farma is still making that piece, because those other glass chillums I see everywhere are garbage—bulky, long and dumb-looking. I think it was $5, and it's the best piece I've found in Portland, particularly if you're a solitary smoker. RIP. — Spencer Winans, WW cannabis critic.
Nelson & Co. Organics is one of the few farms that keep permanent real estate in my jars at home. This indoor, organic-equivalent craft producer focuses on old-school flavors of the fuel variety, using in-house materials and time-honored techniques. Its Carefree Caramels are tasty and potent, created using the very same ice hash they now make available to the rec consumer. For me, the hash is the showstopper: The single-source concentrates are sold as a dust of trichome heads collected using traditional 73-micron screens and ice-sifting techniques. This solvent-free approach offers superior terpene and cannabinoid preservation, leaving behind a full-melt hash with zero additives or adulterants. Dabbers should expect one of the cleanest flavor experiences imaginable. Recently, I've been dressing bowls of East Fork's CBD-rich, grapefruit-flavored Blue Orchid with Nelson's Chemdog sift, which makes for an otherworldly flavor and a balanced mind-body experience. —Matt Stangel, WW cannabis critic
I love the strain Cherry Pie. Erick Russ, the dreaded eponymist of Pono Brewing, introduced me to it when he was a stoner-grower with Seven Points a few years ago. The flower is reddish purple, loaded with terpenes and clocks in around 15 percent THC. It kicks me in the face, in the best possible sense. And it's a convincing argument for the entourage effect—I have yet to find its equal, even at double THC levels. But as a husky bearded white guy in a plaid shirt at my first Dope Cup this year, I got the bad kind of face-kick, as though I was in a hall of mirrors. An elegant, tiny blond woman, teetering on cheetah stilettos, rescued me. "Whoa, Leather! You see a ghost? Here." It was wise Jenny Belushi, with a pen full of Cherry Pie distillate from her husband Jim's weed farm in Southern Oregon. The cartridge was true to the strain, and it worked, beautifully. My faith and conviction in the industry returned. Note, however, that I do not endorse the Warrant single of the same name. —Leather Storrs, cannabis chef