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Strain Review: Dark Karma from Fig Farms

In an oversaturated market, it is difficult for cannabis cultivars to stand out. By now, the average smoker has already had one on Dr. Seuss-looking purple strain tried, or a puckering, citrusy sativa that brightens the face. Trichome-covered buds and terpenes that are pungent enough to fill the room just aren’t enough to impress anymore. The line between uniqueness and irrelevant bells and whistles has become paper thin.

However, the flowers of Fig Farms are always worthy of attention.

There are very few companies whose product drops I will be following. But when Dark Karma from Fig Farms popped up on my Instagram stories, I drove 30 minutes across the Bay Bridge to pick up an eighth from my favorite pharmacy that same day. First off, pictures of flowers from Fig Farms always look incredible. Often displayed against a black background with bright, focused light, their buds are almost trichome-packed with sparkles. But the taste and high make Dark Karma really special. Like a top shelf wine, the profile of a Fig Farms cultivar is particularly complex.

The target audience of Fig Farms is the advanced connoisseur, and they tailor their potent and flavorful creations so that consumers have to pay close attention to appreciate each bloom – these buds reward multiple sessions.

The Fig Farms website and social media pages are covered with zoomed-in, stunning photos of popping trichomes, complemented by extensive descriptions of the genetics, tasting notes, and effects. Attention to detail is their specialty, and if you’re a nerdy, note-taking stoner, Fig Farms is right up your alley.

One of Fig Farms’ newest strains to hit Bay Area pharmacy shelves, Dark Karma is a cross between Dutch Treat and Strange Love. Dutch Treat is a fruity, piney Amsterdam classic less common on the west coast, while Strange Love is a cross of the famous breeder’s Girl Scout Cookies and Bubba Diesel Bodhi seeds. The cross was bred by Fig Farms themselves and the most recent batch became available for purchase in the second week of October. However, fewer eighths are available every day – Fig Farms has a following that likes to sneak up on product drops and buy them out quickly.

Although the effects of Dark Karma are on the drowsy side, it still provides a pleasant euphoric buzz from half an hour to an hour in the beginning. The physical effects, meanwhile, take a backseat to about an hour. Then my limbs got that classic weighted feeling. Fig Farms does not classify their cultivars into sativa, hybrid and indica categories, but I would say the effects of this strain are similar to what you would expect from an indica dominant hybrid. But instead of downplaying the effects of a head or body high, I experience both, powerfully, at the same time.

It is, of course, almost impossible to say how one species will affect someone. Each user has their own unique brain chemistry, and factors such as the drugs a person takes for the food they have consumed can alter the effects of a species. To me, however, Dark Karma just feels cozy. When I smoke it, I feel warm, relaxed, yet a little social, like drinking a big mug of hot chocolate by the fireplace with friends. There’s also something that feels very rich about the strain: My notebook reveals that I felt like I had dived into a pool of thick, gooey maraschino cherry syrup on my first taste.

While test numbers can be misleading (percentages can vary widely depending on the company that tested the flower, and the potency is also influenced by terpenes and other cannabinoids), it’s worth noting that Dark Karma contains about 32 percent THC. The strain can sneak up on the inexperienced user, largely because of the heavy, weighted effect it can have on the body. While some high-THC strains are known to give users headaches, Dark Karma gave me nothing more than laid-back bliss.

Just picking up an eighth of Dark Karma feels luxurious, not only because of its hefty price tag (Fig Farms eighths sell for $60-$70), but also because of the photogenic look of the buds. Dark Karma has some of the longest, stringiest trichomes I’ve seen on a bud in a while – so much so that I mistook them for the orange pistils on my first stoned inspection. On Fig Farms’ Instagram, they claim that “only the best make it in a fig jar”, and it looks like they definitely deliver on that promise. Just swipe through their tagged photos on social media and you’ll see a never-ending timeline of buds so icy they look like they’ve been rolled in sugar.

Buying their weed would probably feel excessive or precocious if it weren’t for their farmer-first ethos: Founders Keith and Chloe Healy are experienced farmers who grow the plants themselves at their Oakland facility. Colorful, star-covered packaging recalls the playful, artistic history of Northern California life, but in a humble way. Customers know they are paying for quality, not branding. Because their strains are also grown in small batches, customers know they are buying something that they may never get the chance to smoke the exact same version again.

Potency: Not for the faint of heart
Odor: Fruity, savory, diesel
Effect: Smooth, heavy body high with a crazy headstate. Euphoric but not energetic.

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