Coachella’s cannabis ban continues, so to bring balance to the force, L.A. Weekly hit the desert for its first cannabis competition.
The inaugural desert smoke-off was a sight to behold. Numerous entries flooded in from some of the top producers in the state for the categories that included flowers, concentrates, prerolls, vape cartridges and edibles. Thought leaders on quality pot from around the state joined us poolside in Palm Springs, including Cannabis Now senior editor Ellen Holland, Rolling Stone columnist Amanda Chicago Lewis and the world champion artisanal bluntmaster himself, Weavers.
Flowers were the most heavily judged category, followed by concentrates. Lots of people came through during the day to judge with us, and then we gave people the weekend to really dive into each category. The results those judges produced is a map of hundreds of data points around things like packaging, flavor, strength and the overall experience of each product we looked at.
So here are the results for L.A. Weekly’s first ever Desert Smoke-Off!
One of the more dominant victories of the weekend went to Field Extracts’ Banana O.G. Sauce Pen collaboration with Str8organics. Many of the cartridge entries were well above average when it came to flavor and taste, but the offering from Field was on a whole other level. Judges frequently referred to it as their favorite and the top of the pack. Field also entered probably the nicest distillate pen ever with its Zkittlez but, in the judges' hearts, the sauce was boss.
Another product that stood out well in its category was Lit.Club’s Forbidden Fruit. Prerolls are prerolls, a tool of convenience more than anything, but certainly, some are nicer than most. In the case of Lit.Club, it was the classy glass tubes, flavor and slow, clean burn that caught the judges’ attention. None of the other entries had an aroma that jumped out of the packaging the way Lit.Club did.
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The overall winner in the edible category was Blenheim Apricot Camino Gummies from Kiva. It would face stiff competition, though, as some judges thought the Camino was too much, not in dosage but the amount you would have to eat to kill the whole bag. Those folks tended to lean toward Smokiez Sour Watermelon Fruit Chews. As for the beverages, Venice Cookie Company’s Cannabis Quencher was the top pick.
Field did well again in the concentrate category. The Biscotti live resin sauce collaboration with Alien Labs was the overall winner and the Ultraviolence live resin sauce also was a gem. The Biscotti was absolute gas, but one knock on it from the judges was a lack of labeling. The issue wasn’t exclusive to Field; lots of high-end concentrate extractors are labeling the box and not the jar. Another big hit with the judges was Alien Labs’s Fuelato, with one noting, “Smell and consistency of the product was amazing. Sugary crystals of dank.”
The growers of Alien Labs and Connected sent their best cannabis south for the weekend, and it was a spectacle. Area 41 and Gelonade were absolutely the two that stood out from the pack for everyone, but there was plenty of other great cannabis, too. Area 41 pairs Alien Lab’s famed Lemon Fuel O.G. with the Gelato #41 that won everything last year — not a bad recipe. As for the Gelonade, we simply could not get over the amazing flavor and uppity high attached to the cross of Gelato #41 and the most famous strain out of Santa Cruz in a generation, Lemon Tree. Another strain that really rocked our worlds was the Forbidden Gushers from Connected. While it did not provide the same impact as the Area 41 or Gelonade, the smell of crunchberries when you open the jar was nuts.