Strain Spotlights w/ Danny Danko: Romulan, the Big Smooth, & Chocolatina

May 28


The great Willie Nelson has famously and accurately stated that “the biggest killer on the planet is stress, and I still think the best medicine is and always has been cannabis.” But the reality is that some strains are more calming than others and few have the powerful relaxing and sedative effects of Romulan.

Named for the humanoid extraterrestrial antagonists in the science fiction series Star Trek, the Romulan strain was born much closer to home in Northern California in the late 60’s. Growers in the Emerald Triangle used a combination of Landrace strains - Thai, Mexican, Colombian sativa, and Afghani indica - to create an out-of-this-world variety that truly stands the test of time and space (the final frontier).

In my 2011 book, The Official High TImes Field Guide to Marijuana Strains, I wrote “It was first brought to the Vancouver area in the 1970’s by Romulan Joe (aka Mendocino Joe) and local breeders have worked with his rare clones to select for and isolate the classic ‘Rom’ traits”. The legendary attributes sought out by Jay from Next Generation Seed Company include the strong piney scent, the spicy flavor and the powerful “high-school” high.

The obvious medicinal benefits of the “couch-lock” effect of Romulan will help patients suffering from insomnia or seeking deep body pain relief. Anecdotal evidence also reveals that the combination of Myrcene and Pinene as dominant terpenes helps soothe nerve damage and calm muscle spasms.

There’s a reason Romulan is known as a “day-wrecker”. People tend to put their plans on hold upon feeling the calming effect and pain-relieving properties of this potent pot. It’s also known to induce a strong case of the munchies followed by unstoppable bouts of the giggles so you might want to stay home the first time you toke this one.


Big Smooth perfect example of what I like to call “dessert weed”. It smells and tastes like a freshly baked slice of blueberry pie and it’s best enjoyed at the end of a long and fruitful day. Reward yourself tonight with a sweet treat that will make you feel very mellow and fill the room with a delightful herbal aroma.

Mike, the breeder behind Exotic Genetix pollinated an old school cut of Blueberry with his male Cookies & cream to create this amazing indica-dominant hybrid. Cracking open a jar, I was greeted with dense lime green nuggets completely covered in glistening trichomes and bright orange pistils.

Grind up a Big Smooth bud, and you’ll feel like you just entered a bakery. The overwhelming scent of buttery dough, vanilla, and tropical berry pancakes will enchant you and a dry toke on a joint only sweetens the deal. Light that thing up and experience the joyful and blissful mood enhancement that melts away any lingering anxiety.

The joint of Big Smooth I smoked burned clean and stayed well lit, producing a light white ash indicative of proper feeding and flushing by the grower. The sugary and creamy terpene profile shined through even after smoking it halfway down. It hit me in my forehead at first, causing a slight sweat on my brow before traveling to my body and feeling downright vibrational as it settled in. I felt like sitting down and not getting up for a while and that’s exactly what I did.

Don’t be fooled by the relatively mild and calming initial effects. Big Smooth will creep up on you quickly and I recommend this strain for experienced smokers only as it can induce paranoia in newbies. Wait until after dinner for this tasty treat and you’ll be rewarded with a sweet and sublime soothing buzz.


Another Exotic Genetix creation, Chocolatina will enchant you with her scent and then elevate you with her immediate and upbeat effects. For an indica-dominant hybrid, this cultivar provides a surprisingly euphoric and energetic experience perfect for anyone suffering from depression, stress or social anxiety.

The buds practically shine bright like diamonds - light green nuggets with prominent glowing orange and red hairs. My first impression of the aroma reminds me of chocolate-covered cherries paired with a soft sweet cheese. Breaking open a dense flower reveals a hint of mint along with a rich earthy and somewhat nutty scent reminiscent of cocoa and freshly ground coffee.

I fired up a Chocolatina pre-roll and experienced the hashy and skunky flavor immediately with a gassy fuel taste lingering on the exhale. The best way I can describe it is like a spoonful of raw cacao on the tongue followed by an Altoid breath mint to cleanse the palate.

The high came on fast and furious, giving me a pleasant feeling that made me want to accomplish a few tasks. I felt creative and gleefully alive - with an overwhelming urge to be in nature. Visiting a waterfall at the park, I sat on a rock enjoying the sound of the white noise while happy thoughts flooded my brain.

The high lasted longer than three hours and when I finally arrived back home I realized why a few people looked at me kinda funny. My eyes were like headlights on a northbound train - bright red! I was visibly as stoned as I felt.

Do yourself a favor, pick up some Chocolatina to taste and feel her intoxication for yourself. Just remember, she might leave you with dry and crimson-colored eyeballs so bring along some moisturizing eye drops if you plan to be discreet.

About the Author

Danny “Danko” Vinkovetsky is a cannabis editor, writer, and photographer who was the senior cultivation editor of High Times Magazine and worked there for 18 years (2002-2020). He personally selected High Times' annual Top 10 Strains of the Year from 2005 to 2018 and created and founded the High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame in 2007. He has judged more Cannabis Cups than anyone else on the planet.



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