High Times is a monthly magazine and cannabis brand with offices in Los Angeles and New York City. The magazine was founded in 1974 by Tom Forçade and the publication advocates the legalization of cannabis. The magazine has been involved in the marijuana-using counterculture since its inception.
What better way to celebrate High Times’ 44th anniversary than to pay homage to the best of the cannabis plant, which provided the founder, Thomas King Forçade, and so many others with the inspiration to cultivate a movement and put forth a publication dedicated to one goal for so many years.
You’re probably wondering just how, exactly, we came up with The List? We do admit it’s not a bad gig to have, deciding which strains are the best of all time — but still, the task did come with its challenges.
Sorting through the varied histories of these strains wasn’t exactly easy as the lineage, parentage and even the birthplace of some of these strains are murky at best.
So we had to rely on a few main factors, the first being each strain’s influence and overall contribution to the cannabis gene pool — hence many of the old-school varietals on the list. Next, we had to consider the awards (specifically, Cannabis Cups) that each strain has won.
And after that came popularity and market share, qualitative factors that helped shape The List greatly.
Lastly, we made use of our movement’s greatest asset: Science. We looked at a host of quantitative characteristics, such as potency (both THC and CBD; see #8 for proof) as well as terpenoid profiles, which produce the flavorful aromas and tastes that we all love so much.
Hopefully, we did right by all of High Times’ readers.
But we’re also pretty confident that if you were starting out on a new planet and had to take a handful of cannabis seeds along, you’d be choosing from among these 25!
So here’s to our Lady of Cause, and all of her beautiful children. Enjoy.
Highest lab-tested THC at a HT Cannabis Cup: 24.04 percent (Denver, 2013)
So here we are at #1… and there is no denying the OG Kush her rightful throne. The Queen of Cali is one of the most popular strains ever to grace the pages of High Times and is hands down the flower of choice on the West Coast of the United States. Not only is she one of the strongest strains on Earth, but she is also among the most varied, exhibiting more phenotypes than almost any other strain we’ve seen and demonstrating that she’s a true product of her environment.
When grown well, the OG Kush can take home a Cup in any competition, at any given time anywhere in the world, already claiming dozens of Cups via various OG phenos and crossbreeds. Nearly one out of every three new hybrids that come to market has the OG stamp in their genetic code, almost making the OG its own subspecies within the Cannabis genus. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the OG Kush for helping to usher in the next generation of excellent cannabis lines. Without a doubt, the OG is another strain that will forever be on The List.
Known to most simply as Haze, this lady also goes by the name Nevil’s Haze or A5 and was created by the Haze Brothers of Northern California. In the early ’80s, she was brought to Amsterdam by Dave Watson, a.k.a. Sam the Skunkman, where she was backcrossed and stabilized by Nevil, another of the legendary godfathers of breeding. A crossbreeding project of Mexican x Colombian x Thai x Indian (all landrace sativas), the Haze was a seminal import at the onset of the genetics trade that formed in Amsterdam during that time.
Highest lab-tested THC at a HT Cannabis Cup: 19.50 percent (San Francisco, 2012)
I won’t lie: If we were selfish people here at High Times, the Sour Diesel would — for sure — benumero uno on The List. How- ever, as we explained in the opening to this article, there was more to the process of compiling these rankings than just personal (or personnel) preference. That being said, if there’s a tastier bud on the planet, we haven’t smoked it. When grown right, from the true East Coast cut (think AJ — and true connoisseurs know what we mean here), there is simply no better flavor in cannabis. Period. The Sour Diesel reigns supreme on the east side of the United States and will be on The List for eternity.
Highest lab-tested THC at a HT Cannabis Cup: 17.87 percent (Los Angeles, 2014)
It’s no coincidence that the Super Silver Haze is the only other back-to-back champion in Cannabis Cup history. Both she and her daughter (Super Lemon Haze, at #18) are nearly one and the same when it comes to killer Haze strains, with the only real difference being the infusion of Lemon Skunk. Bred from superb Hazebackcrosses, the SSH has all the true- breeding landrace sativas in her DNA, as well as a quarter NL #5 and a quarter Skunk #1. Make no mistake about it: The SSH was up for the #1 slot and might have gotten there if it wasn’t for the fact that the next three entries to come are…
This slot isn’t just about the indica-heavy cannabis supermodel known as Chem Dog; it’s also a shout-out to all her sexy sister phenos (Chem ’04, Chem’s Sister and so on) that were spawned from the legendary 13 seeds found in a pound of Colorado kind bud purchased on a Grateful Dead tour back in the early ’90s. Out of those beans came a line that launched a whole new generation — and genetics revolution, of sorts — of the world’s newest and best marijuana. For her part, the Chem D has mothered more Cup-winning strains than any other in the current cen- tury, including the original OG Kush (and thus all other OG phenos), Sour Diesel, Stardawg and a whole host of Chem D crosses. Enough said.
So why we do call this keystone strain “Afghani,” as opposed to just “Afghan”? The answer reaches back into the history of this powerful indica, to a time when she was commonly called “Afghanica,” a reference to both her nation of origin and her classification as a truly pure indica variety. Today, the name has been shortened to the familiar “Afghani.” That being said, the Afghani #1 is one of only a handful of cornerstone genotypes that can be credited with aiding in the creation of nearly every major breeding achievement of the past 30 years. The Afghani is a major contributor to strains such as Skunk #1, the original Northern Lights, Sour Diesel, Cheese, Blueberry and Mazar, just to name a few.
Highest lab-tested THC at a HT Cannabis Cup: 18.71 percent (Denver, 2013)
One of the true all-time greats, the NL #5 was winning Cannabis Cups in Amster- dam way back in 1990. Grown and entered by the Seed Bank (one of the first such enterprises in the world for cannabis seeds), she was later released through the iconic Sensi Seeds and went on to play a role in producing generations of award-winning strains, including Super Silver Haze and Romulan. Another NorCal native, her lineage is unknown, but her taste and influence are not.
Highest lab-tested CBD at a HT Cannabis Cup: 19.1 percent (Michigan, 2011)
Yes, that’s right, Cannatonic: This lovely lady earns a spot on The List for her contributions to the world of medical cannabis. While there are many CBD-rich strains out there, the Cannatonic has exhibited some of the highest CBD values ever recorded. In fact, one of her phenotypes, the Cannatonic X, which we came across in Michigan in 2011, went to 19 percent — a true accomplishment for her breeders, and a real boon to patients and the medical community.
Highest lab-tested THC at a HT Cannabis Cup: 28.35 percent (Denver, 2013)
The most potent strain ever tested in the history of the High Times Cannabis Cup, the Bruce Banner was born and bred in Colorado and hit the 28 percent mark for THC, putting her squarely in The List’s Top 10.
The OG-dominant #3 phenotype was created in a hybridization project that crossed an OG Kush mother crossed with a Strawberry Diesel male. The #3 exhibits a nose-crackling, rocket-fuel aroma that scores high in flavor profiles — including a tall order of the much-favored terpenoid limonene. If you haven’t tried out the Bruce Banner #3 yet, put her high on your list.
Highest lab-tested THC at a HT Cannabis Cup: 17.45 percent (Seattle, 2013)
A perennial favorite with pot aficionados across the globe, the Blueberry could not be omitted from The List—and especially the top 10. Bred by DJ Short of Legends Seeds out of western Canada decades ago, the Blueberry is a powerful indica-dominant hybrid that has no less than eight distinct strains contributing to her lineage (yes, even some Mexican, for those of you reading the whole article)—a true benchmark of planned breeding.
Undoubtedly, this was one of the toughest exercises in our 40-year history! Here are the other classic strains that were oh-so-close to making The List, but just missed the cut: Bubba Kush, Jack Herer, AK-47, Kali Mist, Lavender, Headband, Skunkberry, Purple Haze, Chocolope, Maui Wowie, Bubblegum, OG Ghost Train Haze, Hashplant, Chem ’04, Big Bud and the
# 1 OG Kush Highest lab-tested THC at a HT Cannabis Cup: 24.04 percent (Denver, 2013)