Weed smokers of America, your budtenders have spoken.
Today we present the voice of more than 900 budtenders from across the US to 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 decide Leafly 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.
Overview of Leafly Budtenders’ Choice 2023 strains and brands:
|Leafly Budtenders’ Choice Award 2023 —Strain
|Leafly Budtenders’ Choice Award 2023 —Brand
|Green Dot Labs
|Cereal A La Mode
|Chem D OG
|Sour Blue Diesel
|Lemon Cherry Gelato
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 coo-coo 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
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.
Winning strain: Cereal A La Mode
Winning brand: Aeriz
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 The Y line. Ariez 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.
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.
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 Massholes 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 there solidly recommend the strain Hypno Stank and the brans 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. 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 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.
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Winning strain: Apple Tartz
Winning brand: Cloud Cover
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.
Winning strain: Animal Face
Winning brand: Breakwater
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 across the state.
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 has blown 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’s 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
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
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
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
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.