Pink Kush by MedReleaf (San Rafael ’71)

I’ve had Pink Kush from a handful of producers: Broken Coast, CannaFarms, Tilray. Each variety had their differences, and their similarities. Overall, I find it all very hard to get excited about. Before diving right into MedReleaf’s Pink Kush, first we talk about the my diluted experience with Pink Kush as a popular variety of cannabis. Then we’ll theorize on sensation, memory, brand perception and its restrictions. Afterwards, we’ll muse about first experiences and tie it back to this particular version of Pink Kush.

I prefer to review varieties that I can track from the place of purchase, to the producer and back to the breeder. And, largely, Canada’s legal channels have allowed me to do that. There are many unique varieties to explore, many different characters to know and it is much easier to tell their stories in situations where the origin is intact. So I am happy for the times as they allow exploration with information we never had before.

Like the snake, the rat, the cat and dog, the history of Pink Kush is much in the fog. It’s said to be an OG Kush phenotype. But that’s about as far as I’ll go for this review. This is a better place to talk about ambiguity. Ordering Pink Kush is more like ordering drip coffee, you’re going to see wild variability from producer to producer. And this is likely true with any of the big names (OG Kush, Blue Dream, Sour Diesel, Jack Herer), as popularity increases, so does variability, in a sense. This is compounded by other breeders creating individual varieties with the same name, further compounded by resellers, ripoffs, counterfeits and the like. But I suppose we can marvel at the entropy. 

Broken Coast’s Pink Kush

The part of your brain that makes memories lives next to the part that receives your olfactory senses. I am suggesting memories created alongside a specific smell or flavour are more potent, and easier to recall. Don’t believe me? Smell your Mom or Dad. Smell your old childhood blanket or stuffed animal and feel that rush of emotional memory that you probably forgot was there. We used to do marketing for single family homes. A scent would be designed for the builder and diffusers would be placed in each of the bathrooms. Paired with the sound of running water, the scent was used to create a strong brand association between the customer and the builder. But that’s just forcing soft science and shower thoughts, this tactic is nothing new, from BMWs to buttered popcorn, scent is used to sell, it’s the hook. In cannabis, this commercial property comes built in. Flavour sensation and perception determines the brand, which is largely unique to the moment, and then everything else comes secondary.

So let’s use the case of MedReleaf’s Rex (Tangie, I argue), a variety I would say was very memorable to me. I experienced it twice, about a year apart and I felt it very easy to recall my memory during my second experience with it. I would tell you I am certain about this, despite the two varieties being branded under two different names. My association with the scent/flavour back to MedReleaf’s Rex is strong, there is a connection between that specific composition of taste and MedReleaf. And I won’t get that anywhere else. I will not have a Tangie from the MedMen store on the Las Vegas strip and be reminded of the MedReleaf version, because there is a high probability that the original stimulus, the scent/flavour, will be different between the two.

Wine has this term, terrior, that is widely used to describe the environment in which the grapes used to make the wine were grown. This is a good term for cannabis as well. MedReleaf grows their Tangie in a specific environment, likely precisely replicated from batch to batch. I surmise their methodology is finely tuned. Likewise, an outdoor grower of the Tangie has perfected their methodology over time but the environment is so different, the output will be a mix of similarities and differences. Both might be called Tangies but have different flavour profiles and will create very different memories. A factor which is further compounded by location, time of use and a slew of other demographic variables.

So bringing it back, we have a precise production methodology that eventually translates into an olfactory stimulus, creating a physiological association that tends to be paired with multiple layers of branding. The weight of this mechanism is largely based on the olfactory stimulus, not the branding. And this is my problem with Pink Kush or any ubiquitous variety, it skips the most important steps in the brand narrative in favour of capturing the built in demand.

For a producer, I can see why this is attractive. People want Pink Kush, there is demand based on name alone. Hell, that’s why I bought it ($10.99/single gram). But as a user, it fails to create a strong association along the pathway I’ve described above. It merely dilutes the association I already had with Pink Kush. Never is a producer going to make a Pink Kush that will fully wash out the memory of my first Pink Kush (Tilray) or the darkest (Broken Coast) or the smoothest (CannaFarms). Furthermore, in these cases with duplicate variety names, I think product quality actually matters less than personal experience.

South Bronx on a cold October Sunday

There is a small place in the Bronx that allows space for local artists to paint wall murals. I visited there once on a cold fall morning, we took the train from Manhattan to SoBro (South Bronx) and walked a fair bit to find the place was actually closed. We called the number and someone was inside that allowed us in to take photos. The space was an industrial building that ships imports for Italian restaurants in the New York area. While outside, the importer offered us some espresso, I took the remainder of my photos and went inside. The espresso was sourced from Italy and was prepared on a stove top in a Moka Pot. As it was being served, the importer explained her story within the larger narrative of the neighbourhood. I sipped the espresso, inside the expanse of the cold morning, soul opened by the street art, listening to this fantastic person weaving a tale of her life inside the larger story of the soul of New York City.  It is, by far, my most exceptional experience with a roasted bean and, you may have noticed, I haven’t said a word about the taste.

And if you asked me about the best coffee I’ve had, telling you where I got it from might get you 25% of the way there, at best. I cannot tell you where the beans were produced, who grew them or anything beyond the point where they were ground and placed on the stove. I would tell you it was ‘the best’ but why I feel that way is based on the depth of my experience that morning, not so much the taste of the espresso. Speaking about the memory doesn’t provoke the sensation. But, if I were to taste that same espresso, it would remind me of the way I felt that morning. And I would be more likely to reflect back that it was ‘the best’. What I said before, olfaction is the hook, it is the anchor to the story I’ve told myself, connecting olfactory sensation with my larger experience during that moment. Brand/name recognition won’t make the connection, it has to be authentic on a molecular level.

Gustiamo, 1715 W Farms Rd, Bronx, NY 10460, USA

So let’s go back to Pink Kush. My associations with it are a tired goat-rodeo of tastes and memories. I’d much rather explore taste to a traceable lineage, like Emblem’s Quantum Kush, which is not nearly exact, but I can do it with a straight face because the story is very linear to me. It starts with a taste that I associate with the variety name, the producer that I tie back to the breeder. With Pink Kush, the track is not linear. There are many tastes linked to one variety name that I associate with a handful of producers with no breeder. And then bring in depth of experience, the story gets even more confusing. This is why I usually try not to talk about how I perceive the variety’s effect, they are unique to me and my experience.

Boiling this all down to usable brass tacks, the Pink Kush name did lead me to make this purchase, after that, Pink Kush really leaves the equation. I view MedReleaf as one of the top producers and I was curious to try their version. In my larger hierarchy of ‘good’ cannabis, a worthless measure, the question really comes down to the experience of my first Pink Kush against my idea of MedReleaf as a producer. And my hypothesis, the defining moment will never be surpassed by anything that came after it. Like your first love and all the schlubs that came afterwards. The first memory tends to be idilic and everything after is comparative. This Pink Kush did not create a definitive moment for me and thus, was awash in the larger expanse of my definition of Pink Kush. But, as we discussed above, I argue that this is more related to my personal experience than quality.

After all this, I can tell you two things about the MedReleaf Pink Kush, both are less specific to the variety and more to the producer. The structure is decent, I’ve definitely seen larger PK buds from Broken Coast, MedReleaf’s were smaller, but still felt dense and spongy with a crispy, resinous shell. Combustion was very clean with pronounced taste. I felt it did get a bit rough at the end but it was mostly pleasant throughout. 

Flavour wise, I’ve had it along side CannTrust’s Gold Kush and find the profiles to be similarly aligned. Expect peppered earths, laced with soft sweets in a smoother profile, less biting. A profile I am tiring of but still hasn’t jumped the shark I suppose. But I hope I’ve made the case here that my opinion really shouldn’t matter to your experience, more so if it’s your first experience with Pink Kush. This is likely true with any variety.

Pink Kush, it is worth a try. Many producers have it and they’ll all be unique, in the most insignificant way. Any interested newbie would do well to research how it was grown and select on that basis. I can find favourable aspects on all three varieties pictured in this review. All are recommendable, and, like triplets separated at birth, raised by different parents, I would suggest they are best enjoyed together rolled up in one big mish-mash. Better blow it out the first time, because it’s all downhill from there. For me, legal cannabis brings a bevy of new tastes and I’ve probably had enough of varieties like Pink Kush. I’m much more interested in new creations with thoughtful design. And I suppose, once upon a time, I did feel that way about Pink Kush because it provoked me to buy it many times, including this one, but I’ve found the initial impression will never be surpassed.

Thanks for reading. For anyone interested in continuing, I’ve written about CannTrust’s Gold Kush, it has a similar flavour. You can also go back and read about MedReleaf’s Tangerine Dream offering, which we have discussed here as well. Much of the psychology we’ve talked about here is sensation & perception mixed to a bit of abnormal psychology, which has huge application to the marketing themes we touched on. If further reading on that interests you, I can recommend a textbook (sorry):

Sensation & Perception, 4th Ed. Jeremy M. Wolfe, Keith R. Kluender, Dennis M. Levi, Linda M. Bartoshuk, Rachel S. Herz, Roberta L. Klatzky, and Daniel M. Merfeld

Pink Kush by San Rafael ’71