Sniff it out

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Is there such a thing as a strain identification resource? I have a bud from Philly that I love, but I’d love to know what it is.


First of all, does Philly have good local bud? I am inclined to believe that your weed is from California, Oregon or Colorado. Kidding! I’m sure Pennsylvania has some good strains. Congrats on getting a medical marijuana law, by the way.

As to your question, the answer is: kinda. Leafly has a vast, comprehensive, and nicely laid out list of just about every strain ever. They break it down into different flavors and effects so you can cross-reference your observations and get a good idea about what you have in your bag ( Say your weed smells like pine trees and gives you a super-buzzy high. It’s probably Trainwreck, although it could be a Jack Herer or maybe a Pure Haze. It could also be a Trainwreck crossed with Haze. Or a Herer and Headband cross, or a T.W. x J.H. x Haze, or any of a kajillion different variations.

Pot strain identification is not an exact science yet. Mostly, you have to rely on your experience and memories to recognize the different strains. It’s really like being a sommelier, except for weed. Someone should start teaching classes.

That being said, there are a few folks working to make it easier for cannabis users with less experienced pot palates. The folks over at the Cannabis Genomic Research Initiative (
) are looking to map the DNA of cannabis, and the good people of MyDx ( will sell you a machine that uses an “electronic nose” to figure out the THC, terpenes and other chemicals present in your pot sample. My guess is that in another five to six years, you will be able to pop a sample into some sort of device and get all kinds of information about whatever strain you have. Until then, keep smoking different strains to increase your personal database. Also: You can always bring me a sample and I will taste it for you and give you my scientific opinion.

Can I get a quick California legislative update?

—H.M.S. Wonkatania

My pleasure. There are two interesting bills going around right now: AB 2300 ( sponsored by Jim Wood, D-Eureka, would allow landlords to prevent cannabis users from smoking pot. Landlords can already prohibit tobacco smoking, and Jim Wood sees this as the same issue, never mind the fact that pot smoke may be less dangerous than tobacco smoke. Wood also has an excise tax bill in the works ( Beside the fact that Wood sneaked this bill into an unscheduled hearing to avoid getting an earful from cannabis advocates, this bill is not a good idea. Weed will make the state plenty of money. Call him at (916) 319-2002 and let him know how you feel.