by Dan Ketchum
Oversized pants, ‘70s fonts, and the return of the Mexican Pizza are trending in 2023, but all that stuff is a little too earthly for true Tough Mama stans. We know you need a little somethin’ somethin’ to elevate you to the stars and back.
The Year of the Rabbit continues our zaza renaissance in a big way, with plenty of strains that combine flavorful terps with brain-shattering highs. Some of them prove that not all of 2023’s strongest weed strains rely on THC content to get you there, others pack unexpected flavor combos, and all of them are worth your smoke.
On THC: Let’s Be Real, Though
If we’re talking about the strongest weed strains, or even just plain the best weed strains, we’ve gotta talk about THC content upfront. In the years leading up to 2023, THC percentage has been blasted by canna-marketers, and sellers are more than happy to charge out the ass for high-THC flower. But is THC content all-important when it comes to the strongest weed strains you can get?
According to researchers at the University of Colorado (of course it would be people from Boulder), the answer is “not as much as you’d think.” UC’s 2020 study found that when people were given weed with 16 percent and 24 percent THC content, their monitored physical signals and self-reported “highness” levels didn’t correlate with THC content. Like, at all.
We’re not saying you should totally ignore THC content (Tough Mama’s own pre-rolls blast past the 30% THC mark, and we like it that way), we’re just saying that it’s just one piece of a whole pie rather than the be-all end-all indicator of any strain’s potency or quality. It’s a rough estimate, but the actual experienced high is a holistic one. It’s the result of all kinds of factors jelling together, including terpene profiles and the literally hundreds of other cannabinoids present in bud. That’s where that whole “entourage effect” comes from, and it really can color your high.
The Best Weed Strains of 2023
All that science shit aside, 2023’s most powerful and promising strains pack a punch with their THC content as well as plenty of those other equally important factors. You’ll notice that hybridization continues to be absolutely out of control in the best way, and that flavor profiles are getting wilder than ever this year. Long story short, these are the strains that are gonna take you to space in a whole bunch of different ways.
Whoa Si Whoa
Forget the highest THC strains of 2022, which ones won the SoCal High Times Cannabis Cup so they could ascend in 2023? That’d be Whoa Si Whoa at first place in the indica category, and for good reason. It adds a touch of CBG — AKA the “mother of all cannabinoids” — to its high THC content, resulting in a high-school-assed high that’ll make you feel giggly, talkative, and tingly all over.
In 2022, Jokerz dominated the hype cycle, so it’s only natural that a Jokerz x Apples and Bananas strain is one of the hottest flowers of ‘23. Leafly’s already calling this taffy-scented fat boy of a nug one of the very best of the year, thanks to the turbo high it facilitates. It’s an elated sort of creative high, and one that’s best left for veteran canna-sseurs.
It’s called Afghan Kush, but it might as well be called Indica AF. The grandaddy of longtime faves like Northern Lights and Amnesia Haze, this high-CBD strain is finally getting its own time in the sun this year. But when you partake, you might miss out on that sun for a good while — Afghan’s heavy sedative power has the potential to knock your ass out good.
Speaking of Afghani strains, this sweet citrus refresher crosses Afghan with the iconic Lemon Haze for a sativa that’s equal parts spicy, diesel-y, and sour. It hits real quick, too, slapping you with euphoria upfront and packing a clear-eyed creative boost that can stick around for hours and hours. For an easy way to give it a toke, try our 1.6g live-resin infused hemp-cone sativa blunt, featuring this THC-heavy lemon lime contender.
One thing that’s hot in 2023: Diesel-inspired, gas-machine, muscle-car flower. The Alien Cookies x Animal Mints cross known as Cap Junky is blowing up in LA thanks to its abundance of everything: it’s high in THC, high in terps, high in trichomes, and high in getting your whole ass high. Like Leafly’s David Downs says, “Buckle up and enjoy Cap Junky with a couch and a wall to stare at — you’re going on an inward journey.”
Ghost Train Haze
On the complete other end of the spectrum from the in-da-couch magnitude of Cap Junky is rising star Ghost Train Haze, the insane baby child of Ghost OG and Nevil’s Wreck. This is the one to try in ‘23 if you want sativa-dominant energetic intensity and don’t mind running the risk of getting a little psychedelic. Ghost Train Haze is like tie-dye rolled into a blunt, and it tastes like sour citrus flower power.
It might sound like a place to get $18 ice cream in WeHo, but Cookies Gelato (a descendant of stoner legend Girl Scout Cookies) is nothing to f**k with. Gelato tastes just as sweet as the name implies, and it makes your brain palace feel pretty dang sweet, too, with a fierce cerebral high. The growers at Royal Queen Seeds say, “she’s pretty much as potent as you can get, delivering an immediate high that hits from the top down.”
Get High Your Way
Consider these potent 2023 up-and-comers the Seven Gnarly Sins of the year, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re the only way to get absolutely zonked this year. We love flower, but one of the beautiful things about ‘23 is that your options for weed vessels span the spectrum.
Tough Mama supports your quest for the highest peaks of highness with our own hybrid live resin vape carts featuring 80.73 percent THC and potent terpene extracts, convenient Mini Mofoz with the big body highs of Ice Cream Cake, and party-starting Yolo Shotz shooters with rapid onset nano-emulsion. But we’re not leaving that flower power behind — Tough Mama’s exclusive Loudpack strains pack a universe-exploding THC content of more than 30%. Plus, it’s greenhouse grown, so you know it’s just as au naturale as Mama herself.
Whatever spaceship you’re taking to the moon in 2023, we’re here for it.