Strains & products

A Cannabis Judge’s 8 Favorite Products From the Humboldt County Cup

Published on December 7, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020

With the possible exception of the Rif Mountain Valley in Morocco, no place on Earth is better known for cannabis cultivation than Humboldt County, California. The very word Humboldt, of course, has become almost synonymous with cannabis, and not just in the United States. Recently, a longtime local resident told me about visiting a religious monument in Tibet, where (when he informed an inquiring monk where he lived) the monk’s response was to subtly put his thumb and forefinger together, bring them to his lips, and mime smoking a joint.

I recently traveled to cannabis’s heartland to judge the Humboldt County Cup, an annual locals-only harvest competition and community-wide cannabis celebration. Growers, edibles makers, concentrate artists, and cannabis activists gathered for two days of seminars, live music, cannabis comedy, and good vibes, which provided an incredible opportunity to sample the finest cannabis Weed Country has to offer.

With California legalizing recreational cannabis in 2018, Humboldt is bracing for a huge influx of herb-friendly tourists. For those who intend to visit (or to search out the products elsewhere in California), the following provides a run-down on some of Humboldt’s finest cannabis products—the best within a region already known for growing the best.

Humboldt Apothecary Tinctures

(Courtesy of Humboldt Apothecary)

A collaboration between two Humboldt-based botanists and herbalists with over 25 years of experience and a deep reverence for the cannabis plant, Humboldt Apothecary seeks to blend ancient wisdom with the latest science, thereby “using herbal alchemy to create human harmony.”

They offer ten different cannabis tinctures, each with a unique blend of medicinal and therapeutic herbs and different ratios of THC and CBD. The Breathe tincture aims to address respiratory complaints, and includes organic alcohol, cannabis extract, honey, elecampane, mullein, yerba santa, devil’s club, and peppermint essential oil. Love Potion #7 “supports a healthy libido,” and contains coconut MCT oil, cannabis extract, damiana, cinnamon, kava kava, cardamom, roasted cacao nibs, vanilla bean, vitamin E, and stevia.

Graham’s Brand Macktown Diesel

Hailing from the small Humboldt hamlet of McKinleyville, this extremely potent sativa-dominant hybrid (which often tests above 28% THC) is a cross of AK-47 with Sour Diesel. The cerebrally stimulating strain is high in the terpene myrcene, which is purported to have strong medicinal properties and is also found in mangoes.

Space Gem Gummy Candy

(Courtesy of Space Gem)

Made from pure ice water hash and organic fruit, these high-potency gummies come in sampler packs, so the only choice you have to make is sweet or sour. Each small sugar-coated square, or gem, delivers 13.3 milligrams of THC—so you can sample just one for test flight or eat all six in the pack for a trip to the moon.

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The flavors vary because Space Gems are made from fresh seasonal fruit from local Humboldt County farms, and they don’t simply taste great “for a cannabis gummy”—they are quite literary, and by far, the best infused gummy I’ve ever eaten.

Humboldt Hempwick

Produced entirely in Humboldt County from 100% organic hemp fibers and beeswax, Humboldt Hempwick helps you light up your joints, blunts, bowls and bongs fully and evenly without inhaling any noxious butane lighter fumes. Hemp also combusts at a lower temperature than butane, so you’ll get the purest taste possible.

Humboldt’s Finest Joints 6-Pack

(Courtesy of Humboldt’s Finest)

All Humboldt’s Finest cannabis is sourced from small-scale farms that produce sun-grown buds with strict ecological standards—for instance, without diverting groundwater or using any fossil fuels. Even the packaging for the joints (which clock in at 0.5g each) is compostable, and the joints themselves are rolled in raw, natural, unbleached paper with filters included so they’re ready to go. Choose from OG Kush, Sunset Sherbet, Scout Master, and  XJ-13.

hmbldt Vape Pens

Included in Time’s top 25 inventions of 2016, hmbldt’s vape pens heat Humboldt-grown cannabis oil to a precise temperature and then use airflow and time control to deliver a measured 2.25mg dose. The pens come in six different blends of THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids, and various terpenes, with each blend promising a different physical or mental effect. For example, bliss is 9:1 THC-to-CBD and high in terpinolene, while calm is 10:1 CBD-to-THC and high in β-caryophyllene.

True Humboldt Live Resin

(Courtesy of True Humboldt)

To make their live resin (and other concentrates), True Humboldt starts with top cannabis strains sustainably cultivated on over 200 small farms in Humboldt County that are rigorously tested for contaminants, terpenes, and potency. Those flowers then get harvested when they’re at their peak “aromatic maturity” and are frozen immediately to preserve delicate terpene profiles before going through a unique closed-loop system designed to produce dabbable concentrates with incredible flavor and potency.

Humble Flower Co. Pain Relief Salve

This homegrown Humboldt family business puts out a line of vegan and organic cannabis-based topicals including lotions, salves, bath soaks, and massage oils, all of which provide the plant’s healing properties without any cannabis smell or psychotropic effects. Made from ethically-sourced ingredients, their salve includes not only a high concentration of cannabinoids, but also arnica extract and a nourishing blend of essential oils (clary sage, lavender, marjoram, and rosemary) in a base of organic olive oil and beeswax.

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David Bienenstock
David Bienenstock
Veteran cannabis journalist David Bienenstock is the author of "How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High" (2016 - Penguin/Random House), and the co-host and co-creator of the podcast "Great Moments in Weed History with Abdullah and Bean." Follow him on Twitter @pot_handbook.
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