America’s next legendary weed strains continued their climb into the pot pantheon from the grimy streets of LA Saturday at the epic Transbay Challenge IV.
The long road to ganja farmer glory in the $25 billion legal weed game ran through a blazing hot, graffitied warehouse and backlot off Olympic Ave. and the 10E freeway. Just a short Lyft ride past Skid Row, the day-long, sold-out, bellwether event hosted dozens of booths and several hundred industry cannerati.
The competitive expo offers the best spot in the world to take the pulse of global cannabis culture. At 9.9 million-strong, LA county hosts the biggest legal weed market in the world. Weed celebs flew in from all corners of the state to see the best of boutique, craft, indoor flower and hash. Since Instagram knows no borders—smokers worldwide watched from the galleries as we sweated and roasted amid roaring fans, thumping bass, and blazing dab torches.
A large panel of high-tolerance peers from breeding (Masonic), growing (Alien Labs’ Ted Lidie), and media (Forbes’ Lindsey Bartlett; High Times’ Jon Cappetta) spent the day judging all entries in one herculean go. Behind velvet ropes they squinted and scribbled, sometimes waving and smiling down from orbit to us Earthlings.
For 12 hours in LA, promoters Jimi Devine (LA Weekly columnist and Leafly freelancer) and Neil Delacava at Chronic Culture helped make weed fun again—really fun. Lord knows we need it after surviving the ’rona, and everything else.
So who won the Transbay Challenge IV?
Two credible craft industry players rotated to new positions to score their plaques: Fidel, as well as LA Family Farms.
Best Flower—Fidel’s ‘KMZ’
Influential infused product manufacturer Fidel of Fidel’s Hash Hole—a mind-melting joint with a worm of hash in it—took Best Flower as a grower. The 30-year-old bested a world-class field of 21 entries using the strain KMZ, a Kush Mints x Zkittlez cross. Expect to see a lot more of this suddenly obvious smash idea. Zkittlez adds aromatic loudness, depth, and color to Kush Mints’ minty gas dank. It’s a clear win for white-green weed in the era of purple pot partisanship. We saw our first KMZ as Xeno from Alien Labs (our fave of ‘21), then we got some ‘KMZK’ at Tradecraft, LA a few weeks back. It’s hella strong, with a better taste than Kush Mints on its own.
Best Hash—LA Family Farms’ ‘Rainbow Belts’
Craft boutique LA Family Farms switched positions from grower to win the Best Hash challenge with Rainbow Belts. “I love what I do,” said the LA Family Farms’ rep.
This solventless, pure, whitish, electrically fruity, gassy hash never touched butane. The expensive extract process relies on ice water, cold temps, heat and pressure, labor, and time.
Sacramento grower CAM also got her 1st place plaque for best hash-infused joint, aka Best Hash Hole, at Chronic Culture’s event, the City Ride Smokeout.
The ‘Z’ + ‘Mints’ era arrives
What does the Transbay Challenge IV portend for global weed culture?
Shop for those Z crosses, especially into the Mints line. (Or make your own salad and get close.) We don’t know who made the KMZ (aka KMZK, or Xeno, or Zkittlez Mints) yet—there’s probably more than one. So let us know.
Meanwhile, Rainbow Belts is Archive Seed Bank’s Zkittlez to Moonbow. Behind that, Moonbow takes Zkittlez to Leafly Strain of the Year 2021 Dosidos, also from Archive Seed Bank’s Fletcher Watson, TheDocta.
You see all the Z genes flying around yet? Get at them, and thank you to the Z team at Terp Hogz.
It’s a weed buyer’s market
Promoters Chronic Culture persevered with a private event where you could smoke and dab, but also buy legal weed from the exhibitors, via the delivery service Alpaca Club LA. Alpaca crushed it. A QR code on booths opened up a menu on your phone, you filled your cart, checked out, and the bag awaited you at the Alpaca table; cash or debit.
Some of the best buys in legal California cannabis dotted the expo:
- LA Family Farms’ $50 grams of their Cup-winning Rainbow Belts hash rosin. Rosin prices keep falling thanks to a growing supply of fresh-frozen flower—a boon for heady bois.
- Capulator’s LA Made ‘Cap Junky’ flower eighths for $40. And Cap-certified MAC1 for $35. Being able to buy MAC from Cap makes the Peace of Green/LA Made state at 1155 E Pico Blvd, LA among the best in this universe.
- Ember Valley’s Red Runtz (Red Pop x Runtz) eighths were $35.
- MOCA’s California State Fair-winning Wookies (The White x GSC) went for $40. Wookies tested the highest in THC in the state.
The state of the terp union? Strong
High taxes, thick red tape, monster competition, and the resulting falling prices brutalize California growers. The upside? The pace of look, flavor, and effect innovation keeps ramping. We smelled every jar at every booth to come away with these release notes:
- Deep East released some of the most hotly anticipated flower of the year, their Zoap crosses—we scooped Opal, and Y Squared (The Y bx2). Stay tuned.
- Wizard Trees had their new RS54 and Sangria.
- Doja Pack had the new Scratch and Sniff.
- Fiore sold out of G.O.A.T. Milk amid intense demand.
- We need Sacramento Z farmer Heisenbern’s BTY (Better Than Yours) new CereZa and Fresa in our lives.
- Broken Promises clothing sister pot label, YourHighness, debuted a tasty Shady Meringue from their Shady Apples (Kush Mints #11 male x Apple Fritter).
- They’re hand-watering soil beds indoors at Santa Cruz’ Fuego Family Farms to grow Crazy 8s (another Zkittlez cross). And MOCA in Eureka also gardens in soil, indoors, smashing Gary Payton, Cherry Lime Runtz, and the terpinolene-forward Peach Tree.
- Keeping those terps fresh—Addison DeMoura’s Pyramid Pipeline operates one of cannabis’ first low-temperature-controlled supply chain networks. MOCA is also refining a ‘cold chain’ that keeps weed below 60 degrees till you smoke it.
The low-tech alternative if you can’t keep your flower and hash cold is to just smoke it faster, joked DeMoura.
“Two grams of rosin? Pssh. That’s just four dabs!” he cackled.
Rural and urban farms battle for the ring
The interior of California now goes toe-to-toe with coastal cities for the best indoor-grown trees—from Sacramento’s CAM, or Turtle Pie (get their Sidewalk Sundae), to Redding’s 1,800-light Ember Valley, to TruLeaf (buy the Run T.M.C.) in Modesto, CA.
Champion Fidel’s grow is in the Tatooine town of Adelanto, CA. No one can deny this desert heat.
“You’re going to see a lot more of this,” Fidel told the crowd.
Sign us up.