This article originally appeared on PotPlus.com on 10/19/17.
In anticipation of recreational marijuana becoming legal for adults in California starting Jan. 1, this year’s annual OC Weekly Best Of Issue for the first time featured an entire category of cannabis entries. Find the issue on your nearest newsstand and flip to page 156, where you’ll see a full-page photograph of Lexi, our official canine weed mascot (as seen above). Meanwhile, simply scroll down to see a list of this year’s winners!
Best Trend: Smoking Weed
With the legalization of marijuana, Orange County is flooded with first-time weed smokers. Every kickback or party you go to now, there’s always the people giddy about trying weed for the first time when you’ve already gone through two drug addictions. You can smell the devil’s lettuce everywhere from the San Clemente Pier to the hiking trails on Coyote Hills, and it’s usually smiling, middle-aged white people walking back to their cars. But it’s all love from the smoking community. More smokers means more weed to get smoked out with and less bullshit to deal with when you’re just trying to relax. So roll your blunts on an OC Weekly, support PotPlus and don’t forget to read the paper that covered cannabis before it was cool!
Readers’ Choice: Craft Beer
Best Prerolls: Lowell Herb Co.
Prerolls have a bad rep for being schwag weed. The flower inside is often dry, harsh and doesn’t taste right. Lowell Herb Co., however, has raised the bar. As with a pack of cigarettes, you can buy a pack of Lowell Smokes—10 premium prerolled joints. The flower inside isn’t shake, either. Each one is 0.6 grams of ground-up, pesticide-free nugs, making for a high-quality experience. www.lowellsmokes.com.
Readers’ Choice: Fatty’s Rosin Roll
Best CBD Product: Speakeasy CBD
It all started with a man from West Virginia and his fascination with the cannabis plant and the science behind it. Speakeasy 710 founder Josh Hartsel wanted to create a product that he would want, and now he has produced several of them, including these full-spectrum CBD softgel caps. Because Speakeasy places the medicinal value above all, it uses a third party to test its products, meaning you won’t find any pesticides, neurotoxins or other harmful chemicals. In fact, each 15 milligram capsule is infused with hemp seed oil, made with the finest extract and using all organic-plant-based ingredients. It also throws some terpenes in there for flavor and obvious benefits. Designed for medical purposes, these pills are meant to relieve pain, help with anxiety, aid in sleeping, reduce seizures—the list is seemingly endless. Most important, Speakeasy offers patients an alternative to Big Pharma and a better quality of life. www.speakeasycbd.com.
Readers’ Choice: Paladin CBD
Best Cannabis Lawyer: Chris Glew
This category remains a crowded field. On the one hand, there are activist attorneys such as Matthew Pappas, a constitutional-law expert who has stamped his name on some of the most important and controversial cannabis cases to hit Orange County in the past several years. On the other end of the spectrum is Aaron Herzberg, whose innovative practice specializes in pot-related real-estate acquisitions through his investment company, CalCann Holdings Inc. (Herzberg has also fashioned himself as a cannabis-policy expert via frequent quotations in Orange County Register articles.) Meanwhile, both behind-the-scenes and in the courtroom is Christopher Glew. A veteran courtroom advocate with a booming voice to match, Glew’s passion for defending his clients’ legal rights is matched only by his expertise in advising them on how to avoid ending up in the courtroom in the first place—which is exactly why Glew remains the most trustworthy source of information on the rapidly evolving landscape in California medical- and recreational-cannabis law. 1851 E. First St., Ste. 840, Santa Ana, (714) 648-0004; www.glewkimlaw.com.
Readers’ Choice: Chris Glew
Best Hydroponics System: SuperCloset
Things have changed in the cannabis industry, and the days of secretly attempting to grow bud in your closet are over. SuperCloset, also known as SuperPonics, is the leading manufacturer of automated grow systems and boxes. But let’s talk about its best one: the 24-site bubble-flow bucket-grow system, which uses combined technology for better yield and a more effective process. The recirculating ebb-and-flow upwelling feature allows for consistent PH and TDS readings, as well as an even nutrient distribution throughout each individual bucket. SuperPonics created what it likes to call a “root Jacuzzi” in each bucket by adding an air stone, which is intended to hyper-oxygenate the water, resulting in a faster harvest. The finishing touch is the rushing-river effect in each bucket as the water fills and drains to and from the reservoir, creating constant circulation throughout the entire system. The end result: quick, top-shelf flower. supercloset.com.
Readers’ Choice: Bluelab
Best Vape Pen: Brass Knuckles
Vape pens are all over the world nowadays, but only one sets the gold standard—literally. Brass Knuckles Vape Pen is a beautifully designed, Art Deco-styled beaut using only the best cannabis oils. It comes in 16 strains, including Abracadabra, which is CBD-only for those seeking relief without the hallucinogenic. Among the investors is rap artist XZIBIT, who says the company is named Brass Knuckles because “it’s going to knock you the fuck out!” Truth in advertising! Instagram: @brassknucklesog. Readers’ Choice: Speakeasy 710 Best Live Resin Wyldeheart Medicinals The rustic packaging initially grabs your attention, but after a dab of Gorilla Glue live resin, it’s obvious the cute container it came in is just for looks. Wyldeheart’s concentrates are produced with flower from its own farms. It strives to provide patients with resin that offers maximum relief from a company they can trust. Though the extraction method is solvent-free, Wyldeheart claims to have mastered a process that captures all the benefits of the plant. The “off-grid” community is committed to the education and practice of a regenerative lifestyle, explaining the heavy potency and delicious flavor you get with each hit that fills your mouth and blows your mind. www.facebook.com/nexusalchemy.
Readers’ Choice: Los Angeles Refinery
Best Moon Rocks: The Real Kurupt’s MoonRock
Don’t be jealous of the bomb-ass bud rappers smoke in the music videos and on television. The Real Kurupt’s MoonRock put moon rocks on the map. Composed of indoor OG Kush and a 96 percent THC clear oil that’s massaged into the flower, then rolled in OG Kush Kief, you get a super-faded feeling. These rocks are made only from the highest quality products, and though they’re the company’s flagship, Kurupt and his team take things up a notch by making strawberry, OG, banana, and Henney- and honey-flavored prerolls out of their rock—HWUT? kuruptsmoonrock.com.
Readers’ Choice: The Real Kurupt’s MoonRock
Best Shatter: Vader Extracts
All Star Wars jokes aside, Vader Extracts makes potent concentrates out of its Cannabis Cup-winning flower, including a shatter that sets itself apart from others because of its purity, flavor and BHO extraction process. And Vader helps out the community, with fundraisers and cannabis product and merchandise donations to patients, families and children in need. Instagram: @vaderextracts.
Readers’ Choice: Flight Brands
Best Cannabis Road Trip: Hearst Castle
Getting stoned is easy. But getting stoned and having the time of your life requires two things: adventure and nature. What better way to achieve both than road-tripping up the California coast to Hearst Castle? From zebras, horses, llamas and goats that run wild on the estate’s pastures to a European-style castle/home-turned-museum that sits upon a bluff called “Enchanted Hill,” there’s a hell of a lot to get lost in. Obviously DON’T make this drive stoned. But we do recommend eating a low-dose edible (20 milligrams of THC max!) about 15 minutes out, so you’re nice and toasty by the time you arrive. As we always say, there’s no better tripping than road tripping— especially when the plan is having an elevated experience at Hearst Castle. 750 Hearst Castle Rd., San Simeon, (800) 444-4445; hearstcastle.org.
Readers’ Choice: Humboldt County
Best Edible Brand: Canndescent
Cannabis branding can be tricky. Just because the packaging exudes sophistication and glamour doesn’t mean the product inside is good. And we don’t mean “good” as in stuff that’ll get you high; we mean good as in marijuana that’s pesticide-free and consistent. That’s what makes Canndescent such a stellar company: The brand not only looks chic as hell, but the cannabis is also exceptionally clean, so you know how the flower will make you feel. If you start smoking Canndescent flower and later go back to smoking cannabis that isn’t clean, you’ll instantly notice the difference—and realize that most cannabis isn’t clean. What also separates Canndescent from the rest is its philosophy of curating your experience. Instead of choosing the strain you want to smoke, you choose the effect you want the cannabis to give you: Calm, cruise, creative, connect and charge—a range of indicas, hybrids and sativas. Having the freedom to choose how you want your high to feel is what the company refers to as “the art of the flower.” www.canndescent.com.
Readers’ Choice: Punch Edibles
Best Edible: Défoncé Chocolatier
Culinary practices have progressed to the point that cannabis-infused cuisine is just as good—if not better—than non-medicated foods. Whether you’re eating infused candy, medicated pasta or herbal pastries, many edibles don’t taste like cannabis anymore (which is both fantastic and horrifying). Défoncé Chocolatier is not only the best medicated chocolate around, but it’s also easily in the top five chocolates you’ll ever eat (you heard right, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups). It has the rich characteristics of quality artisan chocolate, comes in a dozen flavors and leaves no trace of cannabis on the taste buds. That’s saying something for a bar that holds 180 milligrams of THC! The company uses sustainable, responsibly sourced ingredients, too, and the packaging makes it look as if the chocolates could be sold at Whole Foods. defonce.com.
Readers’ Choice: Miss Mary Jane’s Edibles
Best Patient Appreciation Day (Collective): Bud & Bloom
Patient appreciation days are the best because it gives patients the opportunity to meet the people behind their favorite products, try samples and get to know their cannabis community. The layout of Bud & Bloom’s chic showroom makes it easy to move around and socialize on such occasions. But what makes it different from its rivals is it’s generally focused on cannabis education—something the public needs more of. Bud & Bloom also has vendors from the top trending cannabis companies come in to keep its stock relevant. 1327 E. St. Gertrude Place, Santa Ana, (714) 576-2150; budandbloomoc.com.
Readers’ Choice: People’s OC
Best Medicated Drink: Habit Sparkling Beverages
The idea of infused drinks are far scarier than the reality. The truth is medicated libations are arguably the best way to get high. They don’t make you cough, the high feels as if you have buoyant cloud fluff strapped to your feet, and you can use them creatively. Habit makes the best medicated beverages because it not only offers an array of flavors, but it also uses healthy ingredients—and you can’t taste the cannabis. You can mix a Habit beverage into a smoothie, pour the concoction into ice trays and make medicated ice cubes, or you can get really wild and use it as a cocktail mixer for a cross fade. Just remember that, as with an edible, it takes about an hour or more to feel the effects, so start slow! www.habitcrafted.com.
Readers’ Choice: Sprig
Best Collective: 420 Central
A lot of cannabis companies and dispensaries are adult-use-oriented operating under the guise of medical cannabis. Then there’s 420 Central, a dispensary that has almost gone overboard in its effort to remain true to providing real medical cannabis to patients. If you’re looking for tinctures that are doctor-approved for treating epilepsy, 420 Central carries them. If you’re looking for a support and cannabis-oil-education group, 420 Central hosts one. If you’re looking for a dispensary that sells tested and trusted clean products, 420 Central offers an impressive collection. Although tons of dispensaries are hopping on the adult-use wagon, 420 Central plans to dig even deeper into the medical side. 420central.org.
Readers’ Choice: ShowGrow
Best Munchies Eatery: Taco Bell
Because nothing else explains Taco Bell’s astounding success other than the legalization and acceptance of the mota. Various locations; www.tacobell.com.
Readers’ Choice: In-N-Out
Best Hydroponics Shop: La Habra Hydroponics
Whether you’re growing your own cannabis or nurturing a hydro-vegetable garden, La Habra Hydroponics has what you need. The employees are stellar at pinpointing and providing equipment solutions to customers who come in with questions or issues. They’re also great at guiding horticultural novices through the beginning stages of growing. This commitment to education is why it’s the sweetheart of the local hydroponic stores. And if La Habra Hydroponics doesn’t have a part, the staff will order it. If some equipment doesn’t work properly, you can return or exchange it. The customer service here is unrivaled, making it easy to come back time after time for your growing needs. 1301 S. Beach Blvd., Ste. O, La Habra, (562) 947-8383; www.lahabrahydroponics.com.
Readers’ Choice: Orange County Hydroponics & Organics
Best Strain: Green Ribbon
This 19 percent to 24 percent indica strain is an anti-anxiety dream. Its picturesque crystals are breathtaking, and when Green Ribbon is sitting among other strains, the trichomes glisten as if the flower were rolled in glitter. Its orange hairs are meticulously woven and defined between the leaves. The aroma is strong, offering deep tones of dark berries, black currants and hints of anise, all wrapped in earthy greenness. The complexities of its scent could easily pass for a perfume. Green Ribbon is hard to find in Orange County because once it’s here, it’s gone in a snap. BudBud, a flower company from Venice Beach, grows some of the best Green Ribbon currently on the market. The Green Goddess Collective almost always has some available. Santa Ana’s Bud & Bloom sometimes carries straight Green Ribbon, too, but usually, it sells Fruity Pebbles, a Green Ribbon hybrid. If you’re looking for a smooth nighttime treat that’ll cradle you into a blissful, relaxed sleep, Green Ribbon will become an instant comrade.
Readers’ Choice: Nameless Genetics Watermelon
Best Evaluation Center: 4th Street Medical Center
It’s hard to find a place to get your doctor’s recommendation that doesn’t feel sketchy. Whether the entrance to the evaluation room is in a weird alleyway, the “doctor” seems loony tunes (or the doctor is not there at all, and you’re face-timing over a computer with one instead), or you have people hustling you in the door, eager to rip you off—getting your medical-cannabis recommendation can be an ordeal. But at 4th Street Medical in SanTana, you get actual face time with a white-coated doctor, no one is trying to gouge you with outlandish prices, and the facility is well-kept and clean. What more can you ask for? 2112 E. Fourth St., Ste. 111, Santa Ana, (714) 599-7970; 4thstreetmedical.com
Readers’ Choice: 4th Street Medical
Best Place to Get Lit: A concert
It’s an oasis for pot smokers, with almost everybody sparking blunts and hitting pipes once the headliners take the stage. Although weed is usually confiscated at the entrance, concertgoers somehow always manage to sneak it in (cochinos), and security always seems more occupied with drunk macho fuckheads. While not as beautiful as hitting a bong as you watch the sun go down at the beach, getting to dance with a lit joint in your mouth to your favorite music without worrying about getting kicked out or thrown in handcuffs is the way things should be.
Readers’ Choice: The beach
Best Cannabis Delivery Service: The Mint Leaf
It’s ludicrous that cannabis delivery services are outlawed. How can you expect someone who’s bedridden to drive as much as an hour to get medication? Thankfully, as with most things in the industry, being outlawed hasn’t stopped delivery services from operating. The Mint Leaf has one of the largest menus—at least 60 strains, with more than 70 edible options and a selection of tinctures, plus tons of topicals, wax and prerolls, and everything is lab-tested. The knowledgeable staff beats a lot of the local budtenders in terms of calculated recommendations and understanding how cannabis works with the body. The Mint Leaf is also one of the only ways South County folks can get cannabis without having to drive to SanTana—light up THAT! (949) 257-8544; www.themintleaf.org.
Readers’ Choice: Organic OC
Best Smoke Shop: Smokeez Smoke Shop
It has a wide product range, a dope glass collection and three locations to serve your smoking needs at a fair price. Smokeez boasts an inventory of pipes that’s roughly 85 percent American-blown glass and carries the latest and greatest smoking apparatus (check out the Helix). Mellow music (probably Rebelution Radio on Pandora) plays quietly as you browse. Only negative? If your smoke of choice is a frajo, tough luck: On the back wall are vape products and even CBD cartridges, but no cigarettes. 2301 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 617-5990; also at 210 Adams Ave., Ste. 1, Huntington Beach, (714) 374-0420; and 6000 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 642-0420. Instagram: @smokeezsmokeshop.
Readers’ Choice: Light It Up Smoke Shop
Best Nutrients: Dr. Earth
It’s disheartening to know that most of the nutrient companies—even the “organic” ones—are owned by Scotts Miracle-Gro, a company that has had a partnership with Monsanto for more than two decades. GMO, chemical-ridden cannabis is a trend and challenge of the future, which is why using ethical organic-nutrient companies is of massive importance. Dr. Earth’s Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer is one of the best, most natural nutrients you can add to your hydroponic or soil-grown cannabis (it’s recommended to use in soil for best results). The list of ingredients includes ground-up fish bones, feather meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, soft rock phosphate, mined potassium sulfate, humic acid, seaweed extract, pro-biotic champion strains of beneficial soil microbes, and ecto and endo mycorrhizae. drearth.com. Readers’ Choice: General Hydroponics Best Cannabis Event The Emerald Exchange Here is the antithesis to those big pot festivals that are all about #dablife and getting as lit as possible. Instead, the Emerald Exchange explores the healing aspect of cannabis right outside in nature. Always located within the inspiring Great Outdoors, this festival is more hippie than hip-hop and features some of the best cannabrands in the industry. emeraldexchangeca.com.
Readers’ Choice: High Times Cannabis Cup
Best Budtenders: Blüm OC
Nothing’s worse than going to a dispensary and asking the budtender for a strain that helps reduce anxiety, and they whip out a jar of sativa. At Blüm OC, you don’t have to worry about that. Not only do the budtenders know their strains, edibles and topicals, as well as which products are best at healing specific pains and ailments, but they’re also wonderful at connecting with patients. 2911 Tech Center Dr., Santa Ana, (949) 238-4203.
Readers’ Choice: Cookies OC