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Leafly Buzz: 13 top cannabis strains of November 2023



Listen up, high-tolerance flavor-chasers who need that lip-smacking goodness that only modern exotics can deliver.

After another stressful sprint to Turkey Day, we all deserve some euphoric, indelible tastes to smoke and share.

Leafly’s monthly fire flower roundup for November includes flavors like Connected’s Cherry Fade, The Otherside’s new Sunrise Papaya, Cipher Genetics’ Chikitaz, and Candy Fumez grown by Greendawg.

As always, we tirelessly traveled up and down the Pacific coast, visiting contests, grows, pheno hunts, art openings, and stores. We scoured strain search trends and menus across the Western US—the world’s cannabis innovation epicenter—to distill this list of cheat codes to the best bong loads of November 2023. 

It’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it. #NoDaysOff. So here’s November 2023’s Leafly Buzz, another installment in our influential, three-years-running series of strain reports.

Data grinder

Here’s the highlights of the West Coast’s monthly change in traffic to the strains in our 5,000 strain database (Sasha Beck/Leafly)
Highlights from monthly changes in traffic on the West Coast among our 5,000-strain database (Sasha Beck/Leafly)

Super Boof

⬆ 23%

(David Downs/Leafly)
The ironically named Super Boof. Boof is slang for low-grade. Grown by Triple 7, CA. Hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

The Trop Cookies x Cherry Punch project from breeder Blockhead heads into the holidays with crazy momentum on the West Coast. Super Boof boosted up 23% month over month in views to its Strain Detail Page, capping an extraordinary year for the strain. Superboof makes for a great wake and bake weed, with hints of old-school Tangie, just with more body and dankness in gargantuan nugs. Hit the Superboof before Danksgiving to make annoying relatives more tolerable and amp up hunger for seconds.

Bag it up

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⬆ 3.5%

(Courtesy The Minntz)
(Courtesy The Minntz)

Leafly Strain of the Year 2023 Jealousy nudges up 3.5% in traffic this month, capping an epic year that saw the elite Gelato project double its presence in stores nationally. Jealousy has risen to become the 24th most viewed strain in the database, up from 98th place this time last year. The creamy, berry, fuel-tasting strain has become the 48th most-ordered strain on Leafly, up from No. 339 in orders last year, and Jealousy took home at least four cannabis contest awards in 2023. Over 2,000 stores nationally now carry the LA-developed strain, showing how a wave of Jealousy washed over the US this year.

Sundae Driver

⬇ 15%

Best new marijuana strains - Sundae Driver
Sundae Driver grown by Ember Valley. (David Downs, Leafly file photo)

Breeder Cannarado’s cross of FPOG x Grape Pie shows its age with Sundae Driver getting into a bit of a fender bender and dropping 15% in monthly views. Smelling of grape, vanilla, and berry, with giggly happy, and relaxed effects—Sundae Driver will always work for cruising. But we’re seeing newer iterations of it like Devil Driver take the lead.

Super Silver Haze

⬆ 7.7%

The highly sativa Super Silver Haze. (Leafly)
The highly sativa Super Silver Haze. (Leafly)

Give up for classic Super Silver Haze, up 7.7% in views to the Strain Detail Page on the West Coast this month. This energetic sativa from the ‘90s pairs with that pre-Thanksgiving hike or run, with a spicy citrus skunky smell. Farmers grow Super Silver Haze as a commodity crop, with eighth-ounces going for just $15, leaving you some change in your pocket for our gift guide.


Hottest weed smoking, dabbing, and baking gifts of Christmas 2023

New in the Leafly strain database

Fresh tree for ’23.(Sasha Beck/Leafly)
Fresh tree deep into ’23.(Sasha Beck/Leafly)

Candy Fumez

Oooh, wee—watch out for this Bloom Seed Co sweet, pungent hybrid uniting the tropical Z strain with the fuel and creamy berry of Sherbanger. A Candy Fumez from California growers Greendawg won ‘Best of the Rest’ at the Transbay Challenge V statewide Finals in LA in October. But honestly, it could have won the entire event. Bloom Seed Co worked with Boston Roots to improve the Z genetics with Sherbanger’s banging shape, size, density, and bling. Watch out for it in flower, and even more pungent extract.

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Compound Genetics’ foundational member Chris Lynch has evolved into his new label Cipher Genetics. The first to the session? Chikitaz—his cross of Banana Runtz to Gelato 41 and Z. You can see Chris not exactly playing it safe, but ensuring there’s money in the bank by working with these three top flavors. Seed packs go for $250 for 12 feminized seeds. San Francisco brand Sense hunts a keeper this fall—looking for that perfect, ephemeral twist of Tropical Banana on top of the best-selling Runtz. Just like a Hollywood blockbuster sequel—strain producers seek “the same but different” and Chikitaz promises to put up big numbers.


There’s an old Pinnacle in the Leafly strain database comprised of aging strains Blue Dream and Hindu Kush. Set that aside. The new Pinnacle that everyone grew this fall comes from Oakland clone kings Purple City Genetics. PCG put together two bangers—Slurty 3 and Gush Mints—for a monster yielder that turns purple and tests over 28% so growers can stay in business. Gush Mints bring the polite minty note. Slurty 3 pairs Slurricane (Dosidos x Purple Punch) with Gelato #33. That’s a super-group of alleles chained together for a peak performance genetic. Look for bargains on outdoor and light-dep Pinnacle amid the flood of harvest season bud.

Tigerz Eye

San Francisco-based Compound Genetics keeps on rocking with Tigerz Eye, a cross of Jokerz 31 x GastroPop. That brings together two of Compound’s marquee strains Jokerz and GastroPop. The result? Ferocious THC power in an attractive, large purple, icy nug. It’s an indica-dominant hybrid designed for growers to get paid with notes of Gelato, figs, grapes, and floral fuel. Smoke this one after dessert to get heavy-lidded and watch reruns of “Elf.”

Picks of the dispensaries

(Sasha Beck/Leafly)
(Sasha Beck/Leafly)

New on shelves

Sunrise Papaya by The Otherside

The new California premium brand The Otherside launches in more than 20 stores this fall with three flavors including the delicious Sunrise Papaya—a cross of Papaya and Lemon Cherry Gelato. This bag went fastest at my house. You get warm tropical fruit smells with a petrol undertone when you crack the bag. Grinding up and smoking yields soft ripe papaya, mixed with bright, citrus notes. The effect hits active, alert, and uplifting. LA-based The Otherside grows it in 50 to 60-pound batches, which means plenty to go around this winter. Also, 20% off all The Otherside ganja on Green Wednesday. 

Burning up the charts

Red Eye by Seed Junky Genetics

LA’s Seed Junky Genetics have had a banger year with Red Eye, their cross of Permanent Marker to Lemon Cherry Gelato. There’s no world in which this bag does not stink up your pocket or backpack. Permanent Marker made an indelible impression on lovers of purple weed with a confection and fuel nose. Lemon Cherry Gelato dominated menus nationwide this year. The bag design looks dope, and the nugs look big, dark, and icy with the Permanent Marker making the LCG more dense and pungent. This indica-hybrid will sit you down and can help you get to sleep on that red eye, or at least blunt the pain of taking a red-eye flight. 


Ballin out

Cherry Fade by Connected

Cherry Fade from Connected is one of those special cultivars that truly knocks you on your ass. It dropped in late summer of 2023, a welcomed addition to the Fall lineup of flavors from Sacramento-based Connected. The hybrid gets its unique genetics from Red Pop crossed with Apples & Bananas #20. The cultivar was a stand-out from the Connected/Alien Labs 2023 pheno hunt, chosen by the Connected team before Ted could grab it, the Alien Labs founder told me in an interview earlier this year. It’s coveted by consumers for its densely packed purple, dark green, and orange nugs. The decadent, earthy, and fruit-forward strain impresses with a cherry cough syrup-like sweetness that coats the mouth and a rich, pungent nose. Don’t sleep on Cherry Fade.—Lindsey Bartlett

Ballin’ on a budget

Holy Moly! Smalls by Fig Farms

Size matters not in the Force—nor in tasty, strong weed. Save money this month by shopping at your local stores for “smalls”—the industry name for smaller-sized nugs that look cute, have a great personality, and get the job done on a budget. The thing about smalls in 2023—they’re not small at all. An industry race for size has made anything that’s not a massive 3.5-gram nug eligible for the ‘smalls’ category. The more for us. Holy Moly! consists of award-winning Fig Farms’ unique mix of Banana Fig x Animal Mints with a banana front note and Mexican mole finish and intense, psychedelic effects. 

High Note

(Sasha Beck/Leafly)
We end with something fuerte. (Sasha Beck/Leafly)

Nobra Venom infused rosin pre-roll by CLSICS

Rosin rolls are pre-made marijuana cigarettes fortified with extra potency and flavor from a type of hash. If you want to level the smokers back home, break out one from California leaders CLSICS

On Nov. 16 in West Hollywood, San Diego rosin brand CLSICS and St. Helena, CA. artist Porous Walker released a comical new collaboration—the most-high “Nobra Venom” rosin-infused pre-roll. That’s a 2-gram flower joint infused with a half-gram of pure extract made using only heat, and pressure. 

CLSICS boss Matt Traut told me the roll contains a combination that’s half the hype strain Cadillac Rainbow (Pure Michigan x Runtz) and half a secret flavor, selected by artist Porous Walker. Walker also did the artwork, showing off his playful, ribald, yet controlled and minimal ink, colored pencil, and paper style. We do not recommend trying to interact with relatives on this High Note selection. 

And that’s a wrap for Leafly Buzz November. See you next month for Leafly Strain of the Year 2023 on Dec. 5, with runner’s up and more end-of-year fuego.

About Leafly Buzz

So good they steal it—the popular, monthly strain review roundup Leafly Buzz is in its third year. We report independently on the connoisseur cannabis conversation, focusing on strains and branded flower of the US West. Reporting includes:

  • review samples
  • dispensary shopping
  • grow visits
  • events
  • Leafly search data
  • staff and reader tips, and more

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American budtenders’ best strains of 2023




Weed smokers of America, your budtenders have spoken.

Today we present the voices of more than 900 budtenders from across the United States to you, Leafly nation. In October, we enticed them to divulge their picks for best weed strain and brand in their state with three chances at a $1,000 check.

Why? We wanted to put our high in the hands of local experts—we want to live that omakase life.

All through October, budtenders responded with a phenomenal cross-section of what’s hot in the US, and their regional flavors. Their choice of Permanent Marker as the best in so many states helped us pick it as Leafly’s Strain of the Year 2023. 

But even more valuable were all the local picks: The Blu Froot in Colorado, the Gator Breath in Florida, and the Super Runtz of New York.

Whether you’re staying home or traveling this holiday season and into 2024, shop smarter with this distilled list of Leafly Budtenders’ Choice 2023 award-winning strains and brands in 19 states.

Nika at 7 Stars Richmond, CA tries to point you in the right direction. (David Downs/Leafly)
Nika at 7 Stars Richmond, CA tries to point you in the right direction. (David Downs/Leafly)

Overview of Leafly Budtenders’ Choice 2023 strains and brands:

State Leafly Budtenders’ Choice Award 2023 —Strain Leafly Budtenders’ Choice Award 2023 —Brand
Arizona Nightshade Alien Labs
California Holy Moly! Cannabiotix
Colorado Blu Froot Green Dot Labs
Florida Gator Breath Jungle Boys
Illinois Cereal A La Mode Aeriz
Maine Devil Driver Jar Co
Maryland Amnesia OG Strane
Massachusetts Chem D OG Happy Valley
Michigan Hypno Stank Higher Love
Mississippi N/A Southern Sky
Missouri Apple Tartz Cloud Cover
New Jersey Animal Face Breakwater
New York Super Runtz Matter
Ohio Sour Blue Diesel Woodward
Oklahoma Galactic Warheads Jubel
Oregon GMO Dog House
Pennsylvania Animal Face Strane
Vermont Elvis Glue Upstate Elevators
Washington Lemon Cherry Gelato Freddy’s Fuego
(see methodology below)


Winning strain: Nightshade

Winning brand: Alien Labs

California’s purveyor of advanced cannabis strain technology Alien Labs helped levitate standards for flower in Arizona this year. On the strain side, Connected brand’s Nightshade stood out from diverse budtender picks that include White Truffle and Moose & Lobsta.


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Winning strain: Holy Moly!

Winning brand: Cannabiotix

The US’ No. 1 weed economy includes more than 1,500 stores and delivery services. Budtenders’ roundly recommend Holy Moly! grown indoors in Oakland, CA by industry-leaders Fig Farms. It’s Banana Fig x Animal Mints, with a banana front note and a Mexican mole finish. It also gets you zooted. Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ indoor growers Cannabiotix win for their stable of delicious flavors. 


Winning strain: Blu Froot

Winning brand: Green Dot Labs

Coloradoans have gone cuckoo for Blu Froot—a Green Dot Labs cross of Sex on the Beach x Black & Blue. It’s got a blueberry, cheesecake and exotic fruit taste. On the brand side, Colorado budtenders repped Green Dot Labs, followed by Tical.


Winning strain: Gator Breath

Winning brand: Jungle Boys

Jungle Boys Gator Breath 3 (David Downs/Leafly)
Jungle Boys Gator Breath. (David Downs/Leafly)

LA winners Jungle Boys have taken their namesake brand to the actual swamps of Florida where they unleashed Gator Breath on the medical cannabis market. Gator Breath is Motorbreath (our Leafly HighLight for November) crossed to Florida’s Triangle Kush, and it packs a wallop. Florida budtenders demonstrate how legacy leaders have taken their strains and branding to newly-legal states and reaped the rewards—and Jungle Boys are going double platinum. It’s the nascent national industry rising.

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Winning strain: Cereal A La Mode

Winning brand: Aeriz

Cereal a la Mode photo by David Downs Leafly
Cereal A La Mode from Fiore with Powerzzup makes a splash. (David Downs/Leafly)

The legal cannabis program of Illinois continues to slowly ramp with higher-than average-prices and limited selection, but it’s getting better every month. Budtenders there chose a Zalympix favorite Cookies strain, Cereal A La Mode, and the brand Aeriz. Cereal A La Mode is cutting-edge GSC work on subl-lineage The Y Line (which also appears in Gary Payton and Cereal Milk; Deo Farms is working it in to Zoap). Ariez furthermore stays in the cannabis conversation with Jokerz 31, Cap Junky, RS-11, plus dabs of live rosin and more.


Winning strain: Devil Driver

Winning brand: Jar Co.

These nine strains ran in the front of the pack for Leafly Strain of the Year 2023. They’re all tasty and a must-buy, so add them to your cart now. Above, Devil Driver by CAM. (David Downs/Leafly)
These nine strains ran in the front of the pack for Leafly Strain of the Year 2023. They’re all tasty and a must-buy, so add them to your cart now. Above, Devil Driver by CAM. (David Downs/Leafly)

Maine does cannabis the same way it does lobster rolls—incredibly well. Its adult-use market launched just a few years ago, in 2020, but Mainers have refined palates and canasseur taste. Devil Driver, a Tiki Madman-bred strain made from a cross of Melonade x Sundae Driver, won budtenders over with its fruity, limonene-forward profile and potent energizing effects. One of its principal vendors is JarCo, a legacy cultivator with a portfolio of trendy and classic strains that budtenders deemed the best brand. 


Winning strain: Amnesia OG

Winning brand: Strane

Maryland launched their adult-use cannabis industry this summer to statewide fanfare. And budtenders at the helm in the Old Line State seem to like older school strains, with Karma Genetics’ Amnesia OG (initially released in 2013 under the name Where’s My Bike?) taking top honors. This is an earthy cross of the growers proprietary cut of Amnesia and Biker Kush, delivering that Haze and OG funk with a barrel of laughs. Best brand goes to Strane, a brand within the Holistic Industries umbrella that produces, flower, concentrates, and vape cartridges. 

Yonatan at 7 Stars rings us up in in Richmond, CA. (David Downs/Leafly)
Budtender Yonatan at 7 Stars rings us up in Richmond, CA. (David Downs/Leafly)


Winning strain: Chem D OG

Winning brand: Happy Valley

Massachusetts budtenders might tell you to get ahtta heah! if you pass up their 2023 favorite, Chem D OG. Two cultivar titans, Chemdog and OG Kush, unite for a heady, diesel-tastic experience that will have your mind buzzing. Happy Valley, a dispensary and brand founded by two good pals, wins best brand for its array of zaza and artisanal products, including bubble hash and rosin-based edibles. 


Winning strain: Hypno Stank

Winning brand: Higher Love

Weed people are getting weird in Michigan, and we love it. Budtenders in the Great Lake State solidly recommend the strain Hypno Stank and the brand Higher Love. Hypno Stank is Garlic Grove x Grape Gas, bred by Compound Genetics and released as Grape Stank—grapes and stank with maximum THC to boot. Higher Love is a Clean Green certified grower in Michigan, with award-winning flowers and top-rated stores. We can’t wait to visit!


Winning strain: N/A

Winning brand: Southern Sky

The early-stage medical cannabis program in Mississippi is too nascent to yield a Leafly Budtenders’ Choice Award for a strain yet, but we’re hearing good things about the brand Southern Sky. They’re growing indoor, medical-grade in a 70,000 square-foot facility, and run the gamut of cannabis production, from flower to pre-rolls to concentrates to edibles to vapes.


Leafly’s guide to marijuana legalization


Winning strain: Apple Tartz

Winning brand: Cloud Cover

SF Cultivators Apple Tartz (David Downs/ Leafly)
SF Cultivators Apple Tartz (David Downs/ Leafly)

Missouri had a banger year with the launch of their adult-use cannabis industry, the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl, and pop superstar Taylor Swift cuffing a certain wide receiver. The awards for Missouri Budtenders’ Choice strain and brand go to the Apple Fritter project Apple Tartz, and the indoor brand Cloud Cover, who nabbed a flower win at the 2023 Missouri Growers Cup.

New Jersey

Winning strain: Animal Face

Winning brand: Breakwater

Seed Junky Gxenetics Animal Face grown and sold by Seed Junky (David Downs/Leafly)
Beast mode: Seed Junky Genetics bred, grown and sold indoor Animal Face. Hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

Budtenders of the Garden State like their weed loud and laureled. They picked Animal Face, a Seed Junky-bred strain and a 2022 Emerald Cup winner. It’s a smooth, gassy, minty smoke with intense THC numbers that suits a post-work wind-down. As for brands, they chose the vertically-integrated Breakwater, a company that produces flower, lozenges, and tinctures in their own dispensaries and for others across the state.

New York

Winning strain: Super Runtz

Winning brand: Matter

You can’t do things by halves in New York, so it’s no wonder that New York budtenders chose Super Runtz for their best strain in the state. Super Runtz comes from Super Lemon Cherry Gelato, a runner-up for Strain of the Year 2022, and the incomparable Runtz—flavors high as the Empire State building. Matter, the best-voted brand, hails from Illinois under the PharmaCann umbrella, but fits right in on East Coast shelves.


Winning strain: Sour Blue Diesel

Winning brand: Woodward

Let’s hear it for Ohio, the 24th adult-use cannabis state! The Woodward brand is named for the one doctor who spoke up in Congress against cannabis prohibition back in 1937, and has a 20 year-history in the state. They’re growing Animal Face, Banana MAC, Beach Wedding, Mushroom Cake and more. Ohio budtenders chose Sour Blue Diesel, an East-meets-West hybrid strain popularized by Buckey Relief and made of (Grapefruit x NYC Diesel) x (Cookies & Dream x Ghost OG). Yum!


Winning strain: Galactic Warheads

Winning brand: Jubel Exotics

Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program blew up in its first years of operation, and now includes modern Sour Diesel strain work like Galactic Warheads—more sour and more candy than any thing before it. Oklahoma budtenders’ most frequent pick for best brand goes to Jubel, who is busy growing all the 2023 heat with a stable of award-winning strains.  


Winning strain: GMO

Winning brand: Dog House

C.A.M. grown GMO Cookies. (David Downs/Leafly file photo 2020)
C.A.M. grown GMO Cookies. (David Downs/Leafly file photo 2020)

Award-winning Oregon brand Dog House adds to its accolades with a Leafly Budtenders’ Choice Award 2023. The growers use soil as their growing medium for maximum terps. And let’s hear it for the funky, strong stalwart GMO Cookies (GSC x Chemdog), Leafly Budtenders’ Choice 2023 for Oregon. Much like Michigan, veteran Oregon smokers are into the funky, savory stuff.


Winning strain: Animal Face

Winning brand: Strane

Fig Farms Animal Face. Hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)
Fig Farms Animal Face. Hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

Seed Junky supremacy can’t be called a conspiracy at this point. Budtenders in Pennsylvania and New Jersey gave the strain crown to Animal Face, the Emerald-Cup winning cross of Animal Mints x Face Off OG. Animal Face melts your face with its cerebral effects couples with a body buzz and a rich profile of earth, sweet dough, and gas. And in the spirit of multiple wins, Strane gets its second win for best brand, after Maryland. 


Winning strain: Elvis Glue

Winning brand: Upstate Elevators

Like the King himself, Vermont budtenders’s favorite strain is an enigma. This mysterious strain could be a cross of Elvis x Original Glue, but we’re still looking into it. It’s clear, however, that the Green Mountain state has a refined palate. Their brand of choice is Upstate Elevators, a heady brand with a strong aesthetic that produces boutique flower, hash gummies, and rosin vapes. 


Winning strain: Lemon Cherry Gelato

Winning brand: Freddy’s Fuego

Lemon Cherry Gelato. Grown by Fig Farms, CA. Hybrid-indica. (David Downs/Leafly)
Lemon Cherry Gelato. Grown by Fig Farms, CA. Hybrid-indica. (David Downs/Leafly)

Large-scale indoor growers Freddy’s Fuego know how please a crowd, and in 2023 they kept the hits coming by engaging the public in their pheno hunting, as well as picking up clones of top hits like Permanent Marker. On the strain side, Washington budtenders chose December HighLight Lemon Cherry Gelato—a Gelato #33 bagseed from 2016 (also thought to be Runtz)—that delivers the fruity, creamy fuel and indica-hybrid effects that the market demands. 

How we chose the Leafly Budtenders’ Choice Awards

Budtender Shanara at 7 Stars in Richmond, CA shares her favorite strain and brand and got three chances at a $1,000 check. (David Downs/Leafly)
Budtender Shanara at 7 Stars in Richmond, CA shares her favorite strain and brand and got three chances at a $1,000 check. (David Downs/Leafly)

Budtenders did. We polled more than 900 of them in October for International Budtenders’ Day. We enticed answers by giving away three, $1,000 checks to respondents. The unprecedented insight into state weed tastes allowed us to make picks for 21 states in November.

Budtenders’ Choice awards went to the strains and brands most frequently mentioned by budtenders in that state. We also looked for regional flavors, and budtenders from multiple different stores all recommending the same thing.

Some nascent weed states like Arkansas lacked enough data to make a definitive pick. Other states like California, and Colorado had multiple top strains and brands loved by lots of budtenders. For example, 44 budtenders voted in California, and 62 budtenders voted in Colorado. When they point out smoke, you can bet it’s fire.

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devil driver

9 runner-up strains to Leafly Strain of the Year 2023




The Grammy Awards have Record of the Year. Time Magazine has Person of the Year. And Merriam-Webster even does Word of the Year. You know what’s way cooler? Leafly Strain of the Year, and it arrives Tuesday, Dec. 5.

So let’s wet your bong with nine badass strains that ran in the front of the pack to become Leafly Strain of the Year 2023. We repeat: the strains below are NOT Leafly Strain of the Year 2023—but they performed admirably and they deserve plenty of shine of their own. 

Here are some all-star strains that did numbers this year—find and shop them on Leafly and take a fat rip of transcendence.

9th runner-up—Grape Cream Cake

Hundreds upon hundreds of dispensaries served up fresh Grape Cream Cake in 2023, making Leafly take notice, and add it to the short list of potential winners this year. Bred by Bloom Seed Co from Cannarado’s Grape Pie x Wedding Crasher, it should emit grape, cream, and cake smells and tastes, and elicit an indica hybrid effect. Colorado ate it up, and so did hash-makers—they’re always on the look-out for strains that squish well and release gobs of sticky rosin. All of these attributes proved fashionable and delightful in 2023. Congrats Bloom Seed Co on another flower in your crown—look out for more ooey-gooey goodness from Bloom Seed Co in 2024. We love their new Candy Fumez.

8th runner-up—GastroPop

GastroPop grown at Sonoma Hills Farm, bred by Compound Genetics. (Courtesy Sonoma Hills Farm)
GastroPop. (Courtesy Sonoma Hills Farm)

Breeder Compound Genetics had a solid year with one of their royalty strains GastroPop—a cross of Apples & Bananas x Grape Gas. It’s purple with grape, fuel, and fizzy soda flavors that hits hybrid and can potentially help manage pain, depression, or stress. Also you will eat your entire fridge. Bred during the Chris Lynch era at Compound, Grape Gas itself has the winners Grape Pie and Jet Fuel Gelato in it. Apples & Bananas keeps winning with the potent parents Blue Power x Gelatti. Over the last year, we saw GastroPop start appearing on hundreds of dispensary menus nationwide, and generate significant buzz: two key attributes of any strain of the year contender. GastroPop crosses have had a solid year as well. Don’t miss Pink Certz, or Glitter Bomb. Even newer ones hit the grow rooms in 2024 like GastroPop S1, and GastroPop x Mellowz.

7th runner-up—Devil Driver

Devil Driver grown by  CAM in Cali. (David Downs/Leafly)
Devil Driver grown by CAM in Cali. (David Downs/Leafly)

We’re keeping a close eye on everything the relatively new breeder Tiki Madman works on—especially after seeing the year that Devil Driver had. Tiki combined Cannarado’s heavy hitting dessert strain Sundae Driver with Midwest Best’s Watermelon Z x Lemon Tree #11 hybrid dubbed Melonade. Devil Driver looks sleeted with icy white trichomes over a dramatic, dark leaf—really helping set the bar for weed aesthetics in 2023. It’s a rockstar in the grow room, said large-scale high-end California indoor grower Anna Willey, founder of CAM. “I love it. It literally is the most beautiful plant growing ever, ever, ever.” Devil Driver tests sky-high in THC with sativa-leaning hybrid effects and a muted, coy lemon-citrus-spice smell and taste. You know Devil Driver’s a hit based on all the breeders working to make crosses of it. Budtenders nationwide also recommended Devil Driver often in our first annual Budtenders’ Choice Awards survey, the results of which go live on December 5th with Leafly Strain of the Year. See also: Dante’s Inferno.

And that’s three of the strains we short-listed on our search for Leafly Strain of the Year 2023. Come back Thursday and Friday Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 as we unveil the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st runners-up to Leafly Strain of the Year 2023.

And set your alarms for 6 am PST on December 5th when we announce Leafly Strain of the Year 2023—it’s gonna slap! 

6th runner-up—To Be Announced

We reveal the 6th runner-up to Leafly Strain of the Year 2023 on Thursday, Nov. 30.

5th runner-up—To Be Announced

Leafly reveals the 5th runner-up on Thursday, Nov. 30.

4th runner-up—To Be Announced

Leafly reveals the 4th runner-up on Thursday, Nov. 30.

3rd runner-up—To Be Announced

Leafly reveals the 3rd runner-up on Friday, Dec. 1.

2nd runner-up—To Be Announced

Leafly reveals the 2nd runner-up on Friday, Dec. 1.

1st runner-up—To Be Announced

Leafly reveals the 1st runner-up on Friday, Dec. 1.

How do we choose Leafly Strain of the Year each year?

Leafly Strain of the Year aims to bottle the essence of the connoisseur cannabis conversation unfolding across the country and online globally over the last year. 

We fuse two approaches to land on Leafly Strain of the Year each year: 1) a qualitative approach informed by 2) data from unparalleled quantitative insight into national strain trends.

The qualitative: Leafly has nearly full access to the qualitative aspects of weed. We smoke hundreds of new cultivars per year and travel the world interviewing breeders, growers, buyers, budtenders, smokers, and influencers to get a tactile sense of what’s smoking. We got literal file cabinets full of new weed.

… there’s no ChatGPT prompt that’ll ever hallucinate anything close to Leafly Strain of the Year.

The quantitative: We take all those smoking notes and insights and go back to our analytics looking for new strains that had a break-out year in terms of national menu penetration, sessions to the Strain Detail Page, and other data factors—similar to the NFL picking its Most Valuable Player each year. With nearly 6,000 strains in the database, thousands of store menus listed, and millions of monthly active users—only Leafly has this level of insight into both the data of modern cultivars and the sensory attributes of smoking them.

 As long as computers can’t walk the US weed beat, smelling, tasting, and getting high, there’s no ChatGPT prompt that’ll ever hallucinate anything close to Leafly Strain of the Year. So thanks for rocking with us.

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90 points and up

Mexican Flan—Cookies, NJ, fall 2023




91 points out of 100

Price: $70/eighth

This classy strain should be on every stoners’ “Need to Try” list. The first hit releases a powerful, pungent sour aroma of mint and menthol, and that gas flavor immediately wakes you up. But then the Mexican Flan fades into something sweeter; the wonderful hints of cream and vanilla in its aftertaste mix and dance together beautifully. The Mexican Flan buds are an elegant and frosty green. The strain offers a clear head high that enhances focus, and puts that heavy pressure feeling on the eyes, too. The body high is strong and relaxes the body into a soothing state. —Lord Figo

Cookies New Jersey's Mexican Flan bag. (Lord Figo for Leafly)
Cookies New Jersey’s Mexican Flan bag. (Lord Figo for Leafly)


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About our ratings

Leafly Ratings’ 100-Point Scale

  • 95-100 Perfect: exemplary cannabis
  • 90-94 Outstanding: a cannabis product of superior character and style
  • 85-89 Very good: a weed with special qualities
  • 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made weed
  • 75-79 Mediocre: a smokeable weed that may have minor flaws
  • 50-74 Not recommended

How we rate

Dried, cured, packaged, and sold buds, reviewed from bag in tastings, are given a single score. We focus on aroma, taste, effect, look, pedigree, cultivation method, and more.
Special Designations
Our editors focus on excellent, widely available ganja at a reasonable price. Special qualities include:

Top-shelf: It ain’t cheap, or necessarily plentiful, but it’s really good. Welcome to the top shelf.
Smart Buys: Fine, affordable, broadly available pot.

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Leafly News aims to retain and expand its expertise, authority, and trust.

Expertise is built through years of reviews, interviews with growers, visits to weed regions, and accumulated knowledge about cannabis horticulture, flavors, history, and culture. Leafly News’ editors and freelancers have a combined 50 years of experience with cannabis.
We aim to be accurate and independent, with policies including:

  1. Actual tastings—If we didn’t smoke it, we’re not reviewing it. At Leafly Ratings, all ratings come from multiple tastings.
  2. Independence—Leafly expert reviewers are paid by Leafly and are independent. We accept review samples with no promise of coverage. Leafly rating staff cannot accept bribes. We generally pay our own expenses and report on what the readers want to see.

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