Northern Emeralds Durban Poison Strain (2019 Review)

Tricia Cleppe | February 20, 2019 | 1 Comment

I used to work at an acclaimed Beverly Hills restaurant, but I only had the chance to dine there as a full-blown guest once. It was the best meal I ever had, each little detail adding up to a memory still vivid in my mind today. I can still remember tasting the love and effort of the kitchen staff in each delicious bite. The craftsmanship exuded from the final product and I almost felt proud of the chef for mastering his craft to such a degree.


When sampling a new cannabis flower, I want to feel similar emotions as the night I dined at this Michelin-star restaurant. Of course, I don’t want that kind of price tag… but I do want to see, taste, and feel the love and effort of the cultivators. When I do find a product that elicits those same emotions, I know it’s something I’ll add it to my repertoire. Anything less and, odds are, I’ll never buy it again.


It’s with this mindset that I try Northern Emeralds Durban Poison. I am cautiously hopeful once I look into the brand and discover it is made up of a collective of farmers in Northern California, seemingly dedicated to their craft. I’m intrigued by their simple yet lofty mission to “grow the best possible version of the plant, to serve the intent of the seed, [and] to cultivate the highest quality of cannabis achievable.


Will Northern Emeralds live up to their creed with this eighth of Durban Poison – and my (practically unaffordable) fine dining expectations? Keep reading to find out!


In this Northern Emeralds Durban Poison strain review, you'll learn about this product's:

[Click any of the section titles below to jump there]


Packaging, Labeling & Product Design


As I hold the moderately sized glass jar with white screw-top lid in my hand, I am sort of underwhelmed. It’s like walking into an upscale chain restaurant – not bad, but not life-changing. I give the company props for using a glass jar rather than plastic since I’m a sucker for more sustainable packaging. But I think the brand could up the ante in two ways:

  1. A two-way humidity pack to keep the nugs from getting crunchy 
  2. Some UV protective coating on the glass (UV rays degrade THC and I want to make sure the packaging preserves all the potency it can).


A Northern Emeralds logo is affixed on the side and top of the jar in a glossy gold that looks great on the dispensary shelf. Gold accents can sometimes look tacky, but it’s done subtly and tastefully in this instance. From a branding perspective, I find this jar chic, modern, and clean.


The label on the back retains that simplicity, but gives me a lot of great information, including the cannabinoid content of THC (26.2% and 917mg), CBD (0mg). That THC level hopefully means I am in for a treat. They include an interesting detail unique to Northern Emeralds: a graphic scale explaining the strain is far on the sativa side of the spectrum, which helps me know what to generally expect of the high. I’m inferring this because there aren’t any actual instructions for reading the chart, just a simple “S” on one side and “I” on the other. I don’t think a cannabis newbie would know what this meant.


Quality and Ease of Use


Okay, let’s cut to the chase: this strain’s aroma is a showstopper. As I twist open the jar and the pungent, lemony scent wafts out, I feel like there should be a record scratch with a voiceover that says, “This is when everything changed.”  


The aroma is citrusy and spicy and the first thing I can think of is a jalapeño margarita. The lemon notes hit hard and first, followed by an earthy pine that smells reminiscent of diesel fuel. It’s incredibly pleasing. The aroma is my first sign that I’m dealing with thoughtful, experienced cultivators; I can feel the love and effort they put into this just by sniffing.


I begin to pull the dark green, dense, and compact nugs out and line them up like a kid organizing their presents on Christmas morning. A healthy outer layer of glistening trichomes are still present on the bud and the moisture level is better than I thought it would be without a humidity pack. The buds have the kind of texture I always look for: densely tight but not dry. They’re all moderately-sized nugs, with the largest weighing in at a healthy one gram. I break the largest nug down to go into my grinder and the pads of my fingers are left coated in a slightly sticky residue. I feel like I can see the pungent aroma bursting out of the nug like I’m zesting a lemon.


Quickly and easily, I wrap the ground flower into a joint. My first hit is a flavor explosion, eliciting the same emotions as a meal made by a top chef. I am instantly hit with a sweet, citrusy flavor, with rich earthy undertones that come together in a complex and bold way. While I can’t tell from the labeling, I’m sure this Durban Poison has high levels of terpenes limonene, myrcene, and pinene, all working in concert that a highly-trained kitchen staff to deliver me the ultimate decadence.


Potency, Effectiveness & Affordability


Within just a couple seconds of my first hit, my body begins to buzz. There’s no doubt that the 26.2% THC level in this strain is working full-time. After three puffs, my energy levels are on the rise and it feels like I drank a cup of coffee. While a fantastic option for a morning session to jumpstart the day, but I could also see it causing anxiety because it really does get the heart racing.


With a price point of $55-$60, this Durban Poison by Northern Emeralds is on the higher end of the flower spectrum. But considering the aroma, flavor, potency, and high, I would absolutely pay for this product again.


Nugg Score: How the Nugg Team Rates This Product


Packaging: 4/5


  • This package is your standard child-resistant glass jar with a white label around it and a tamper-proof seal/sticker that breaks when tampered.
  • Compared to other 1/8th containers on the market, this is average size and nothing too large.
  • It conceals the scent pretty well but does not have a humidity pack or UV protection


Labeling: 4/5

  • Besides the logo and sticker with the strain name and type on it, they also include where it was harvested, cannabinoid profile, size/weight, harvest and expiration date, batch number and ID, lab testing source and results and necessary prop 64/65 compliance notes.
  • I would have liked to see more information on the growing techniques, brand, and cannabinoid and terpene profile on the label.


Aroma: 5/5

  • When you first open the jar, you get this very spicy lemony piney smell that takes over immediately.
  • The lemon is very prevalent with the pine/gas coming after and boy does it smell good.
  • When I first opened this jar, my roommates were like, “dude we can smell that over here, what the heck is that!?” so know that is has a very nice and strong smell.


Taste 5/5

  • Just as when you are smelling the strain, the taste is there and in point; imagine being hit with a sweet, citrusy earth taste that coats your mouth and leaves you wanting more…that is this Durban Poison.
  • High levels of limonene, myrcene, and pinene must be behind this strain’s wonderful conglomerate of flavors.


Texture: 5/5

  • Overall when opening this jar, the “bag appeal” or texture and appearance was pretty impressive.
  • When you open this jar, the buds are semi-glistening and retained their moisture okay.
  • They are all moderate in size and largest nug came out to be 1g which is okay for how many others were in there.


Quality of Smoke: 5/5

  • After smoking before a long day, this was a darn good smoke.
  • Rather than the slight irritation that I usually get, there was no scratching at the back of my throat; very pleasant.


Ash Test: 5/5

  • After the first couple puffs from this and allowing the joint to burn slow, you could tell that the ash was clean and mostly white.
  • Throughout the entire smoke, you could see that the ash was a nice and clean white color; exactly what I look for when smoking.


Effectiveness: 5/5

  • After my first two hits of this Durban Poison, I completely understood how/why this is hailed as one of the best sativa’s of all time.
  • The energy and uplifting effects that I felt after just 3 puffs of this joint was a perfect way to get my day going.


Consistency: 5/5

  • Most of the nugs have the same look and taste and provide the same effect and smell the same.
  • I only tried two batches, but they gave me confidence in Northern Emeralds’ consistency.


Price: 4.5/5

  • For the quality of packaging that you get and the experience/effectiveness that comes from the actual product, I would say that it is worth the price.
  • But it is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, so I may not be able to buy it as often as I would like.


Overall: 4.7


Overall, Northern Emeralds Durban Poison is a quality sativa strain that has the ability to get the heart pumping and my day started on a productive and energetic level. What really sets it apart is the bright lemon aroma and pungent, complex flavor. The packaging and labeling could have used a bit more attention to detail, including a humidity pack, UV protection, and more information about the flower and brand. Overall, I’d absolutely buy this again when I need an energy boost!


Find out if this strain from Northern Emeralds is available for delivery through Nugg Club – if you live in the LA area, click here and enter your address!


1 Comment

  • Vincent Bonacco

    Im leaving CA for WA after 45 years in San Diego, made the Poison my final CA purchase. Exceptional to the letter. Thank you.

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