Banned Buds Week: Bruce Banner

Oregon puts kibosh on Girl Scout Cookies, Charlotte’s Web, 18 other strain names that they say “appeal to children” – but only the names. We’re highlighting these strains in a series we call Banned Buds Week.

In this installment of Banned Buds Week we will cover Bruce Banner, one of the heaviest hitters on the list of strain names recently banned by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

With the exception of the instant sensation of Girl Scout Cookies, and the Charlotte’s Web that peaked the interest of Dr. Sanjay Gupta and folks desperate to find viable CBD treatment options, no other banned Oregon strain name hit the scene like Bruce Banner. It would evolve into a family of three phenotypes, with number three becoming the most widely loved.

“We’re obviously very disappointed to see that happen,” Jason Holck, founder of Dark Horse Genetics, said of the OLCC’s decision to ban the use of the strain name on labeling in adult-use dispensaries. “The name Bruce Banner wasn’t meant to appeal to children. It was a joke based on my last name.”

Holck, originally from Denver, grew in college discretely. During the famed Strawberry Diesel hype of the mid-2000s, he was lucky to get in on a drop straight from the motherload at Reservoir Seeds. Despite a computer crash, he awoke to find he had been victorious in the auction. At the time Holck didn’t consider himself a breeder, but he knew once he had the pack in hand he had to do something special. It just so happened at the time of the score he had recently got his hands on and old school original LA OG pheno commonly referred to as Cold Creek Kush now in Colorado.

From those parents, Strawberry Kush #1. #3, and #5 were created. The #1 is the best blend of the parents right down the middle. The #3 is the most OG dominant, popular, and sometimes referred to as Banner OG. The #5 is the most Strawberry-dominant and also very popular, but often confused with the #3.

Holck went to a String Cheese Incident show with some friends who thoroughly enjoyed Strawberry Kush. Among his compatriots was a new acquaintance from Texas who took to calling him Bruce Banner in a continuous hunt for more of that dank Strawberry Kush. In that weekend, the strain Bruce Banner was born and it also proved an effective means of putting his name on the strain discretely while still in the still dark ages of cannabis.

“Ninety percent of the time I walk into a dispensary and see a jar of Bruce Banner in it’s the #5.” said Holck. “A lot of the real heads will be able to tell when it’s the kush and know they have the #3, but much of the general public think that the #5 is the #3.”

In 2008 after being discontent with state of the cannabis market, Holck opened the now closed Delta 9 Alternative Medicine in Denver, one of Colorado’s first 20 dispensaries. Among his original 12 strains was Bruce Banner, which has not been released to the public. It didn’t take long for word to get around town.

“There were lines of people, we called them Bruce Banner drop days. Usually twice a month, we’d do it on Friday. We’d have people out front Thursday night at midnight with a lawn chair. There was a quarter ounce limit, and lines of hundreds of people around the block. This was all in Denver while things were still really grey, I was very nervous.”

Holck kept the strain private for two and a half years before releasing it to the general public.

The Delta 9 connection has also been a source of much of the confusion surrounding the strain’s true origins, with some folks pointing to Delta 9 Labs as the original breeder. Nevertheless, the seedbank is quick to point to Holcke of Dark Horse as the original breeder.

Bruce Banner #3 and #5 are now widely available across the U.S.

Have you ever tried this dank strain? 

Jimi Devine has been involved in the cannabis movement since 2005, and joined the industry full time in 2009 after moving to the Bay Area from Boston. He currently works with Smell the Truth on SFGate,The Hash Podcast, and was involved in the organization of New West Summit in San Francisco last Fall. His writings on cannabis products and policy have been seen in The Boston Globe, SFGate, The Hill, The Chronicle of Higher Education, StopTheDrugWar.org, and HailMaryJane.com.

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