At a recent make-your-own pizza party hosted by an old friend, I rolled up a fat joint from my private stash and passed it around just before the first pie emerged from the oven. A beautifully grown, perfectly cured, 100 percent organic, resin-coated wonder strain with a sweet, skunky aroma so powerful that it cut through the surrounding smell of melting cheese, my bud earned appreciative nods and smiles all around, plus one somewhat unexpected compliment.

“That’s the Kush, man, for sure,” my friend’s younger sister, just home from her first year at college, told me between puffs. “It’s so damn Kushy!”

What made her high praise so strange wasn’t the way she kept giggling, but the fact that I’d actually rolled up a strongly sativa-dominant variety that in no way resembles Kush. I didn’t want to embarrass her, so I tried to shift the subject.

“Do they smoke a lot of Kush at your school?”

“That’s all we smoke,” she replied. “Nobody smokes schwag ... although this stuff is definitely the Kushiest I’ve ever had in my life.”

Ah, I thought. Now I get it.

Like dank, chronic, and kind, the term Kush has apparently become some kind of generalized slang for high-grade cannabis. I can remember when the same thing happened with hydro.

But the truth is that Kush actually takes its name from
a region of the Himalayas called the Hindu Kush, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the world’s finest hash-makers once
plied their trade in peace and prosperity. They also, through selective breeding over many years, developed short, stocky, bush-like cannabis varieties that can grow in almost any climate and mature quickly, yielding fat, extremely indica-dominant buds coated in glistening trichomes.

Back in the days of the “hippie trail,” traveling heads of the late ’60s and early
’70s began returning from
the Hindu Kush with seeds
for these wonderful strains, which helped make all-American homegrown a viable option in northern climates. Those seeds also provided the genetic building blocks for many of today’s most powerfully pain-relieving varieties.

Unfortunately, after nearly 35 years of war and deprivation, taking a trip to the Hindu Kush definitely ain’t what it used to be. But we can still smoke some Kush and dream.