Yes, you read that correctly! Our annual review of the world’s most potent cannabis strains -- as tested by our partner labs around the globe -- has taken another big step forward, raising the bar this year to include only strains that have tested at over 23 percent THC! This represents a significant increase from years past, when the threshold was a mere 20 percent, and it’s surely a testament to our growing culture, legalization efforts and, of course, the cultivation skills and genetics trading of those setting the pace on the new frontiers in Colorado, Washington and California.

As an added bonus, and in celebration of HIGH TIMES' 40th anniversary this year, we’re including an up-to-date list of the 40 Strongest Strains of All Time (which is to say, since we began lab-testing the entries at every one of our Cannabis Cups, covering three years, six different cities and 15 Cups in the US and abroad). Prepare to have your mind blown!

2013: A Record-Setting Year
Aside from 2013 being the first year since 1937 that the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older was legal anywhere in the US (thank you, Colorado), it would appear that the cannabis gods had a couple of other firsts in store for us as well.

For instance, before the Denver ’13 Cup, the strongest strain entry ever tested at any High Times Cannabis Cup was 25.49 percent THC. In 2013,
 that record was broken -- six times! LA pulled off that trick twice at the Cup there in February, and then Denver did it four times in April, with the heaviest-hitting strain going over 28 percent.

Of course, a major challenge for the competition crew here at HIGH TIMES is maintaining consistency in the lab results reported by our partner labs in the various cities that host our Cup competitions. And you, as a loyal reader, may have noticed (as did the author of this article, who also created HT’s Scorebook rating system) that since the inception of this annual report some three years ago, the THC values we’re reporting have become higher with each passing year.

Of course, with dozens of medical marijuana initiatives, outright legalization in a couple of states, the availability of great grow information and the ease of today’s genetics trade, one might think that this rise in THC potency is inevitable. On the other hand, maintaining consistency among labs in terms of the cannabinoid standards (profiles) they use and the calibration techniques for their equipment -- to say nothing of finding qualified personnel -- is a difficult task and will certainly account for some variations. But even with all that in mind, we wondered if there would be a new record set every year, or if THC levels would eventually plateau. (For more on these record THC values, see the sidebar on page 78.)

1. Bruce Banner #3 (Strainwise – The Haven)

Denver U.S. Cannabis Cup
Not just #1 for 2013, but also the most potent strain every tested in the history of our Cannabis Cups, the Bruce Banner was born and raised in Colorado. The #3 phenotype (appearing twice on our list for 2013) is the OG-dominant phenotype in a hybridization project that saw an OG Kush mother crossed with a Strawberry Diesel father from Reservoir Seeds.

The male used was Kushman’s Strawberry Cough (which also appears again later) x Sour Diesel, while the OG mom is said to be that of the legendary Ghost OG from Oregon (or “Orgnkid” for our forum friends out there). That old-school Ghost cut was circulated during the days of Overgrow.com by a person known only as “Ghost,” making the Bruce Banner a true forum freak of nature. Incidentally, that same Ghost mother was used once before to create another Strongest Strains #1—the OG Ghost Train Haze from 2011.

But this Bruce Banner #3 may dominate the list for a while, absolutely crushing it at just over 28 percent THC. Talk about strong -- who knows what you’ll turn into after getting down with Bruce?

2. A-Dub (Southern California Patients Association)
Los Angeles Medical Cannabis Cup
Representing Cali in the #2 slot, A-Dub is the latest variation of the incestuous OG/Sour D/Chem D hybrids that tend to pop up quite a bit on our Strongest Strains rosters. Officially listed as Sour Double x Alien Dog, the expanded heritage of this strain looks more like (Sour Diesel x Sour Bubble) x (Alien Technology x Chemdog), where the Alien Tech is equal to a pure land- race indica. Still, the effects of this strain are more balanced than indica-heavy, and the flavor is sweeter than you might think.

3. R-18 (Denver Relief)

Denver Medical Cannabis Cup
An epic phenotype of OG Kush, the R-18 is reminiscent of the old OG #18 released by Reserva Privada years ago, with a more distinct Sour Diesel flavor and fuely undertones from the Chem lineage. Taking home a first-place win in the Hybrid Cup at the Denver ’13 Cup, this strain was unusual insofar as most super-potent strains usually fail even to place at Cup competitions. The fact that this girl climbed to over 27 percent THC while also boasting the terpenoid profile necessary to win over a majority of judges indicates that this is not only a keeper cut, but likely a repeat champion for years to come.

4. Tickle Kush (Greenwerkz – Denver)
Denver Medical Cannabis Cup
An F1 hybrid of Chemdog x LA Kush, this strain entry is one of two on this list that was grown from seed, not clone -- once again demonstrating the potential power of hybrid vigor, as the Tickle Kush surpassed the 27 percent mark in THC. Also noteworthy was the coco-coir medium that this strain was cultivated in. Of the 15 strains on this list, seven were grown in coco coir, seven were grown in soilless mix, and one was grown in rockwool.

5. Blue Cookies (TLMD Collective)

Los Angeles Medical
Cannabis Cup
Another new and unique hybrid, Blue Cookies gets her strength from her mom, Girl Scout Cookies, and her flavor from her dad, a pure Blueberry. This indica-heavy cross does best grown in soil indoors and finishes a few days early when compared to the straight-up GSC.

6. Bruce Banner #3 (Artisanal Medicinals)
Denver Medical Cannabis Cup
Here she is again, and deservedly so: When the cut is true and she’s grown right, the Bruce Banner cannot be stopped! Falling just two points below her sister at #1, this version of the #3 phenotype appeared around the same time for the Denver ’13 Cup. Both entries were propagated from clone and grown indoors in soilless mixes, but this girl went a week longer in flowering, according to the entry-form reports. Still, we’re guessing we’ll see her again this 4/20 in Denver as she tries to take home a Cup.

7. Veganic Strawberry Cough (Kushman Genetics)
Seattle US Cannabis Cup
A Haze-dominant sativa, the Strawberry Cough retains nearly all of the characteristics of your typical Haze strains -- the one exception here is flavor, which comes through exceptionally strong, with a real berry taste. Officially listed on the entry forms as a cross between the fabled Strawberry Fields and a pure Haze, this strain crossed the 25 percent mark for the first time in a Cup competition in 2013. And this won’t be the last time you see her on this list—in fact, she appears again at #14 ....

8. Veganic Girl Scout Cookies
(Private Stock LA/Buds & Roses)
Denver U.S. Cannabis Cup
Entered into the Mixed Flowers category at the first-ever U.S. Cannabis Cup held in Denver last year (our new stateside competition for non-medical marijuana), this ever-popular hybrid came all the way out from her home state of California to com- pete, tipping the scales at just over 25 percent THC and taking home a first-place finish. Grown veganically in a partnership between Private Stock LA and the Buds & Roses Collective, this is one strain collaboration that is a great example of what working together with others in the industry can accomplish.

9. Girl Scout Cookies -- Thin Mints

(The Cali Connection)
Los Angeles Medical Cannabis Cup
What can we say? We didn’t name it, and we certainly didn’t breed it. In fact, there is some debate as to what exactly makes this ticket so hot. Some say Durban, while others say Cherry Pie, and still others declare some type of Grape variation .... But one thing is for sure: At least one of the parents is an OG. Officially listed by Swerve on the entry form as a Tahoe OG Kush x Cherry Pie -- with the Pie spawned by a cross of Grand Daddy Purple and Durban Poison -- this super-potent Thin Mints pheno falls a nudge under the quarter-century mark for THC.

10. PsychOG

(Next Harvest)
Denver U.S. Cannabis Cup
Another twist on the OG phenomenon, this strain takes the ever-popular Headband and crosses her with the Fire OG pheno, making for a super-heavy indica hybrid that is mostly OG with a splash of Sour D. However, like most of the high- powered entries on this list, the PsychOG finished in the middle of the pack at the ’13 Denver Cup. Hitting almost 25 percent, the extra potency points here could come from the Fire OG parent, whose murky lineage has a mixture of sativas as well as some Chem D.

11. SFV Headband (High Level Health – Colfax)

Denver Medical Cannabis Cup
The name says it all for this fortified SFV Headband strain: By taking the traditional Headband (OG Kush x Sour Diesel) and then essentially backcrossing it with the SFV OG pheno, the crew at High Level Health lifted this entry to new heights at the Denver Cup, eclipsing the 24th percentile mark and making the list at #11.

12. Skunkberry (Green Man Cannabis – Downtown)
Denver Medical Cannabis Cup
Perhaps the oldest strain on this list, the Skunkberry has been around for many years, as have her parents. Also interesting is the fact that this hybrid of Skunk and Blueberry is one of only a very few strains that continually rank among the most potent without having an OG, Chem or Haze as one of its parents. On top of that, it has one of the more memorable flavors on this list (probably for the same reason). Grown from clone indoors in a soilless mix, Skunkberry takes nine weeks to finish.

13. Rugburn OG
by Mark
(Rare Dankness Seeds)
Denver U.S. Cannabis Cup
This OG pheno is close to an original rendition of the fabled Ghost OG (described earlier at #1), as it represents multiple backcrosses using the Ghost cut via a cross with the Rare Dankness #1. The Rugburn, officially listed as the Ghost OG x Rare Dankness #1, would look like this in its expanded genealogy: Ghost OG x [Trian- gle Kush x Triangle Kush (BX) x Ghost OG x (Ghost OG x Chem D)]. With true OG roots and a kick-in from a Chemdog cut, it’s no wonder this strain took home third place for hybrids at the 2012 Cup in Amsterdam and finds its place here again in the Stron- gest Strains of 2013.

14. Veganic StrawberryCough
(Kushman Genetics)
Denver US Cannabis Cup
Hitting the big board twice this year, the Veganic Strawberry Cough has solidified itself now as another perennial strain that, when raised under the proper conditions, simply blasts off the THC charts. Culti- vated directly by Mr. Kyle Kushman -- as was the previously listed #7 from Seattle --
this strain was grown using Pure Life VegaMatrix, a vegan-organic nutrient line created by the former HT cultivation editor himself. Veganic, tasty, potent and impressive, the Cough took home third place in the Mixed Flowers category at the first-ever U.S. Cannabis Cup held in D-town last year.

15. Jesus OG Kush (The Closet)

Los Angeles Medical Cannabis Cup
This indica-dominant hybrid takes its ironic name from its parents: Hells Angels OG x Jack the Ripper. An F1 cross using TGA genetics and grown from seed, the Jesus OG Kush rounds out our Top 15 for 2013 at just under 24% THC, showing yet again that an OG pheno mixed with a Hazey sativa is a recipe for serious potency. Moreover, with the last entry on our list showing this level of THC, it becomes evident that the threshold for the world’s strongest strains is climbing.