- Environmental Stewardship (5 / 5). Indoor cannabis is pretty, but the electricity required to produce it is very costly. Outdoor operations, in some ways blessed by the gods (or cursed), have less control than the indoor grower as they’re forced to work with incredibly large amounts. Just getting everything properly stored can be a monumental task - especially for little guys. The market undervalues sun-grown in comparison to indoor cannabis, but a few outdoor farms with great people and procedures are producing some excellent buds.
- Freshness (4 / 5). The freshest buds are the best, so since the soonest a producer can get high-quality buds to the retailer is 1 month, a sample being evaluated at 1 month is at its best. Most of our field ratings will take place at exactly 1 month after harvest as producers are packaging the product. This harvest took place Jan 3rd of this year. Four months of storage were very kind.
- Terpenoids quantified on the Label (0 / 5). None. Washington producers are not required to test their harvests for terpene content though such a requirement would serve to replace the sniff test Washington consumers are denied.
- Producer uses no pesticides (5 / 5), holds current certification or passes our inspection, and states this claim (e.g. “No Pesticides Used”) on the package label.
- Grower has hosted or welcomes a future SeattleBliss/HigherGround420 tour and inspection (5 / 5). All producers are given benefit of doubt until decided otherwise. This means every grower gets these 5-points until we decide at our sole discretion that the points are not deserved. A brief tour demonstrates compliance with laws and improves consumer confidence.
- Cannabinoids Labeling (3 / 5). For the sake of clarity to the consumer (not just what the law requires), a perfect five out of five would indicate a very informative label that has no less than ALL FOUR of the following: 1) CBD, CBD-A, or Total CBD, 2) THC or THC-A, 3) Total THC, and 4) Total Cannabinoids (four items: CBD, THC, Total THC, and Total Cannabinoids) clearly and accurately quantified. CBG, CBN, etc. may be included on the label as a bonus. This economical package, while labeled with THC, CBD and TOTAL values, could be clearer if THC-A were included as the fourth value. This label identifies THC, CBD and Total, which in the case of Strawberry Cough is all about THC. Three values earns three points.
- Terpene Presence (2 / 5) is evaluated with the First Sniff and is indicative of Concentration as an undetectable sample would rate at 0 and a very strong one at 5. Standard sniff evaluation includes the combined sniffing of the newly opened container AND subsequent grinding of 1 gram and sniffing the freshly-ground product. This step is for evaluating the whole buds in the newly opened container (the 28g zip bag).
- Product Purity is evaluated with the First Sniff and Microscopy (5 / 5). Any impurities may cause an unexpected odor, but should be detectable under the microscope. None were detected via either detection method.
- Product Color (5 / 5). The intensity of green color in the epidermis of cannabis flowers is an indicator of plant vigor, which could be due to nitrogen availability during late flower, and translates to elevated chlorophyll concentration (R.C. Clarke, 1981). The more white flowers have matured and cured slowly, then allowed chlorophyll harshness to dissipate. Flowers white with trichomes can achieve top ratings here, too. Product is evaluated again for smoothness in the final smoking steps. Color was exactly as it should be.
- Product Quality is evaluated during bud inspection (4 / 5). Points can be lost for male flower sites (more common recently due to the feminized seed market), insect or animal evidence, abusive handling, etc. Lots of broken trichomes were observed, but only on the high spots indicating normal care of massive amounts.
- Product Moisture is also evaluated during bud inspection (4 / 5). The most ideal buds are sponge-like, mostly dry, but a little bit sticky. The consumer will be able to open a bud, spreading the seedless bracts to reveal and snap the central stem without breaking the bud. This sample was a bit drier, but still very nice.
- Trim Quality (3 / 5). Sample has had most sugar leaves and stems, as well as most leaf matter removed; bud stems > 3 mm. Buds are in need of a manicure, but that’s why it was a bargain. Still, with this amount of sugar leaves and stems removed, the buds are worthy of three out of five points here.
- Trichome Density (5 / 5). Flower is densely covered with mostly capitate trichomes.
- Harvest Timing (5 / 5). Over 66% (two thirds) of glandular heads are milky-white or turning amber, Less than 33% (one third) are dark amber in color; few clear.
- Terpene Presence, 2nd Sniff (5 / 5). This step is for evaluating the freshly-ground buds and should garner a higher rating than the first sniff of the buds (unless both rate 5). Whereas the first sniff of the bag may have been unremarkable, the ground flower was incredibly fragrant with the unmistakable aroma of fresh strawberries.
- Smoke Terpene Presence, 1st, 2nd taste (5 / 5). Sample was rated only upon how fragrant the smoke was; not how well it was liked, though it was most delicious – like smoking a strawberry.
- Smoke Smoothness was rated (5 / 5) with no undesired pops, crackles, or unavoidably fast/hot smoke to affect this score.
- Smoke Pleasantness, 1st, 2nd taste (5 / 5). This evaluation criterion exists because some buds taste/ smell like feces, hay or vomit, perhaps a pesticide or soil amenity influences the taste; the pleasantness of the whole smoke requires rating.
- Effectiveness (5 / 5). Quite effective. Strawberry Cough's soaring cerebral high was creatively stimulating and enjoyable.
- Price-Value Rating (PVR), (5 / 5). PVR is calculated based on the price per gram versus the calculated average price regardless of potency. Those equal or above the average price earn 0 points here. Those under the average are scored according to the richness of the value. A $60-ounce (28-gram package) is a great value! [Helpful hints for keeping it fresh (video)]
This sample earned an overall rating of 85 out of 100 possible points. Outdoor cannabis operations, greenhouse grows and those with light-deprivation greenhouses impose a much smaller carbon footprint on the Earth. An outdoor operation could lose the 5 points on the HigherGround420 scale for Earth Stewardship for failure to conserve and protect water or soil, but it appears this grower shares that priority. They could also easily satisfy the consumer’s desire to know exactly what they are consuming by proactively printing an annually verified terpenoid profile on their package label to earn another 5 points. Also, other states have other requirements, but Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) rules state ALL FOUR of the following are required: “THC concentration (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) listed as total THC and activated THC-A and CBD concentration (cannabidiol) listed as total CBD and activated CBD-A” (WSLCB rules, https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=314-55-105 WAC Section 2, a, iv, E).
NOTE: The rules have errors. Activated THC-A is THC, and activated CBD-A is CBD. When transcribing these values from the lab report onto your label it is best to transcribe each exactly as the lab has it listed. THC is activated THC, THC-A is the non-activated, acid form of THC, and so on with CBD. The best policy is to copy five values; THC-A, THC, Total THC, Total Cannabinoids, and any one of the CBD values directly from the lab report. This makes everything clear for the consumer, while including everything required by law.
Okanogan Gold is an I-502-licensed Tier 2 Producer in the Okanogan Valley, Brewster, Washington. Hashtag is an I-502-licensed Retailer in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.