I’m excited to share with you what NukeHeads does that is radicalizing the seed bank industry. So how did I take the age-old seed bank industry and turn it upside down on its head you might be wondering?
I did it with robotics, automation, C/C++ programming and 3D SLS, SLA, and FDM printing technologies combined with building relationships with the world’s best breeders and seed production farms!
Wow, what a mouth full right? So, what is it that NukeHeads does for marijuana growers differently than other seed banks?
When you order from NukeHeads we 3D design a laboratory container with your name designed into it, custom to you, that can protect your seeds from over 300lbs of crush force.
This customized container is just cool factor, right? Well, it’s not just cool. It’s practical to ensure that when we ship your seeds in the mail they get to you safely, but it’s more than that. Imagine when you show your medical patients or customers this customized lab container box with your name on it holding the seeds you’re growing. This tells your customers or patients that you only grow the best, that the genetics you purchase are meticulously cared for and a lot of work goes into the breeding work. The presentation shows you’re a serious grower and you buy from the most legitimate quality seed bank, and you grow genetics that’s seriously going to help medicate people.
So as you see the job of the lab container is to protect your seeds in shipment, but it’s much more than that. Using 3D design software, we at NukeHeads are able to predict how much weight the design can sustain before your seeds get crushed. We carefully design around practical situations that can very much happen like a mailman stepping on your box or dropping something on your box. We want you to not have a bad day with crushed seeds that we hear occurs with how our competitors send seeds. Most of our competitors ship seeds in poorly structured glass tubes, encased in cardboard boxes that have flashy looking printing which means nothing when it arrives crushed in the mail. Even worse is most seed banks sending seeds in mylar baggies which have a huge percentage of seeds being crushed in the mail; this can really set you back on your grow schedule. With NukeHeads you won’t have this issue!
Our designs have proudly boasted a zero loss in the mail. We have had our containers get crushed badly but no seeds lost. When you need your seeds on time for a grow cycle you can count on NukeHeads.
Not only do we send this strong lab container we designed using generative design processes within computer aided drafting, but our lab containers are designed to take a few hundred pounds of crushing.
Each lab container we send you comes custom with your first and last name on it or your business name (it’s customizable just email to ask how info@NukeHeads.com).
Customers who order 1,000 seeds or greater—bulk customers—we design you something completely unique. In fact, you can request a design you want. Some customers have requested a custom designed treasure box, or custom designed lock box with a key and lock, or their business logo be designed onto the box, or all the above combined. We can fully accommodate those customizations as we do all designs in house. We use $120,000 3D Printers boasting Hewlett Packard’s latest technology in their Model 580 Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer, as well as older technologies we incorporate into our production processes. We also use $500,000 Omax water jet cutting machines to make our grow light designs in house; we build them here in the United States of America. Most of our products are USA designed while we do have some of our products manufactured offshore in China, we mostly keep what we do here in the USA!
When you want top phytocertified lab grade genetics, NukeHeads seed bank is the leader in this regard. We are not only open to working with other seed banks who cannot match us in our technologies but produce amazing genetics, but we also work with huge farms producing feminized seeds at wholesale prices. NukeHeads has some of the lowest priced seeds in this industry, but lowest price doesn’t mean lower quality. No, what we have done in the four million dollars spent over three years is negotiate relationships to make NukeHeads seed bank the giant in the industry. We bulk order in advance from our fem seed breeders and farms and we bulk supply numerous businesses, and home growers. What our customers like most about our seeds is how fresh they are, and the high germination rates, and super low hermaphrodite reports. Sadly, the only complaints we see seem to be from dirty tactics of competitors having their people write false reports or making fake YouTube videos with false complaints about us. To combat this, we created, and invite everyone to join, our Facebook group with thousands of growers who grow our genetics who can share their actual buyer experience with you. We did this to remove any concerns new customers may have simply just click here and start talking with real growers on Facebook like yourself and ask them about NukeHeads genetics. Let them show you their plants and you will see for yourself why choosing to order from NukeHeads for all your feminized seeds is the best choice! You can also simply search for the NukeHeads Medical Cannabis Growers group on Facebook and join it that way, too!
I’d like to thank you for your time today, but one last thing: If you grow magic mushrooms or drink coffee, we sell spores and green coffee beans you can purchase and roast yourself to your own darkness level. Providing you the most epic combination of quality coffees, mushroom spore genetics, and marijuana seeds to enjoy in the morning before you do that hard grow work in the garden!
So you want to play around with plant intercourse! That’s great. I’m here to help you with that, and I’ve enlisted the help of some of the finest weed wizards on planet Earth to assist me. It’s not exactly simple, but it’s easy enough to accomplish in the comfort of your own home if you’re dedicated enough. For the sake of simplicity and efficiency, I’m going to boil this down to some very rudimentary and basic options. Breeding is a complex art that has an unlimited complexity threshold, and as such, it would be insane to explain all of it in a short article such as this.
First thing’s first, you’re going to need space, at least 4×4 feet if not 4×8 or more, and a grow tent. I’d recommend at least a 4×8 but you can make it work with a 4×4. Vivosun makes superb grow tents and I’ve used my 4×4 for years. They also have a whole line of at-home grow equipment that works great, with the exception of the lights. I haven’t tried them myself but we all know by now you’re either running 1000 watt HPS light or fancy-pants LEDs and this isn’t a how-to-grow article so figure out your own damn equipment and nutrients and all that.
As with most living creatures, drugs or otherwise, you need male and female cannabis plants to make seeds. If you grow cannabis enough to want to learn breeding, you probably know how to weed out male plants from female plants but to briefly summarize: in the little node under the branch of the cannabis plant are the plant’s sex organs. Male plants have actual balls or “pollen sacs” and female plants have “pistils” which look like wispy little hairs.
If male plants are allowed to pollinate the female plant, the female will grow seeds within the buds that you would normally smoke. Every seed will grow into a unique “phenotype” of whatever the “strain” is. So if you cross a DoSiDo plant with a Chemdawg plant and they produce 100 seeds, all the female seeds would grow up into unique combined versions of both the parent strains, each exhibiting slightly different flavor, smell, and effect profiles. That, dear reader, is where the fun part starts. You can build your own cannabis experience from scratch in a sense and every breeder likes to build differently.
“Most of the time, I’m looking for something hybridized with the best components and [traits] of each cross,” said Alex from Clearwater Genetics, whom I have personally dubbed the reigning king of Now N’ Laters crosses. “I need to see kind of the best of both worlds there. I need to see a real 50-50 hybrid, or, depending on what I’m going for, you know, maybe a 75-25, something like that. Otherwise, you just grow the fucking strain.”
Now it isn’t quite as easy as saying “I want to make a strain that tastes like Zkittlez, yields four pounds per light and gets you high like OG.” That’s what Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory would call a unicorn strain and while they do come around every so often, they’re one-in-a-million. Genetics also don’t really work like that. There tends to be a give-and-take which is why you might notice strains that taste amazing don’t get you as high as you might like and vice versa. So keep that in mind when embarking on your breeding journey.
There are two main methods of doing this that you’ll want to consider:
Method 1 – Reversals
Reversals are a process of taking a female clone of a strain you want to cross and spraying it with Silver Thiosulfate spray during the early stages of flower to reverse it into a male plant which you would then use to pollinate your chosen female plants.
“It’s hard to find a good male of your favorite cultivar ultimately. If you have like a Trainwreck or Pink Certz or a Pave, it’s hard to find a male with those traits,” said Chris Compound, formerly of Compound Genetics and the mastermind behind strains like Apples & Bananas and Grape Gas. “With fems, you can create a male, reverse male of those strains.”
This method makes it much easier to pick traits you want to pass on to your cross because you don’t have to play a guessing game like you do with male plants, you can just take clones from your female plants like you normally would and pick your favorites to reverse and breed with after the previous generation has been harvested and sampled.
“My Oreocake cross with Now N’ Later #47 was the winner out of like 120 plus. So, we flowered it. They hit 3.8 pounds per light. All right, just a beast, just a fucking beast,” said Alex from Clearwater Genetics. “I’ll take that. and I have 27 that I’m reversing right now. I’ll take those. And I’ll spray those down with SDS and do our thing, and basically just have a huge fucking stash of pollen.”
Method 2 – Playing With Dudes
This method involves popping regular, unfeminized seeds and sorting through the males and females. You would then pick a strong male and use it to pollinate female plants of your choosing. Choosing a strong male is where it gets complicated.
“Your only indicator early on is stem rubs,” said Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory, the company that bred the illustrious Randy Watzon. “Another indicator later on in life is pollen sacks. Pollen sacks and plant matter will start to develop trichomes just like the female plant, but just in different areas. So you’ll have indicators of what the resin and the fragrances will be, if you’re lucky to find a male that will exhibit these trichomes because it’s not all males that do it.”
Once you’ve chosen your stud you can either collect the pollen to apply to the female plants as you choose or just keep the plants in the same room until seeds form.
This method is a bit more complicated, especially in a limited home setup. You very well might fuck up the timing or choose a male that isn’t the best stud, which is why a lot of commercial breeders choose method 1. Method 2 just requires a bit more patience but it gets much easier if your at-home setup has a divider to create two different rooms, which is why I specifically recommended the Vivosun 4×8. You can keep your males and females separate and pollinate on your own time, rather than dialing everything in by the exact day of flower and all that jazz.
No matter which method you choose, you don’t have to waste all your bud just to get some seeds. If you separate your male plants and collect pollen, rather than keeping the plants together and allowing them to openly pollinate, you can literally take a paintbrush, dip it in pollen and place it on however many buds you wish to impregnate. Be sure to wrap the rest of the plant in a trash bag when you do this so you don’t get any pollen in places it shouldn’t go.
Breeding for Hash
I had to squeeze this in for all the low-temp warriors and hash dorks out there. A big topic in the industry seems to be how in the Sam-hell to intentionally grow plants that will produce a lot of hash. For those who don’t know, hash washing is the process of knocking the trichome heads off of the cannabis bud to collect, dry, and vaporize. As with the other traits of the cannabis plant, breeding for hash involves seeking out strains we already know produce good hash yield or good hash taste and choosing those strains to cross.
“When I cross, first of all, the plants I want to pollinate I kinda make sure they already have characteristics for hash washing like good trichome production,” said Compound. “If you’re doing a reverse you don’t want to reverse something that’s a bad washer to begin with.”
Other indicators of good hash yield include a “sandiness” or “grittiness” to the trichomes, but it is important to note that a good yield does not always equal a good flavor. Scott from Sexual Chocolate Factory explained that it’s a dichotomy between genetic traits, a give-and-take essentially between taste and yield that isn’t necessarily a direct correlation.
“Sandy [trichomes] is what you’re looking for when you’re touching flower, and you can feel the grittiness of the trike zones and between your fingers. That is an indicator of a good washer. Whether it’s a desirable washer is another story,” Scott said. “With race cars, you can have a lot of horsepower. But that comes with a lot of weight.”
When it comes time for TreeHawk Farms CEO Jason Olsen to determine the strain allotments for his indoor grow space, he always saves plenty of room for Magnum PI. A top seller for his Chimacum, WA-based business, Magnum PI is a citrus-heavy sativa cross of Blue Hawaiian and Agent Orange. According to Olsen, the strain has become quite popular with local consumers looking for a functional, daytime high.
“If I’m going to a [Seattle] Seahawks’ game, or if we’re going to sit down and have a cup of coffee, I’d be smoking Magnum,” Olsen says. “It gives you that ‘happy day’ feeling, like the sun’s out. It’s a euphoric, stimulating sativa high, which a lot of people love.”
Proof of Magnum PI’s popularity in Washington is evidenced by the fact that Olsen and his small staff of ten are constantly seeking to restock supply of the strain to the 30 or so stores within the state that currently carry TreeHawk’s products. A holdover from Washington’s days as a medical-only market, Magnum PI is believed to have originated with Seahorse Gardens, a breeder near Puget Sound.
For the past five-and-a-half years, however, consumers eager to taste this explosion of orange-centric terpenes and enjoy the ensuing, energizing high, have had only one option: Olsen. In truth, it was his great-grandfather and grandfather who first put his family on their current path when they bought the property that’s now TreeHawk Farms back in the 1950s and started a dairy farm. Eventually, diminishing returns and deaths in the family left Olsen, 38, to determine what course to pursue next.
“Small dairies had started to go out of business,” Olsen says. “There were eight dairies in this little valley that all shared a milk truck. We were all land-rich and money poor. Once my uncle passed away, and with costs around the business going up, it just didn’t seem like it could be profitable going forward, so we closed down.”
From Patient to Producer
As a lifelong cannabis consumer, Olsen says he applied for and received a medical card with the state as soon as the opportunity first arose. During his time as a medical patient, Olsen recalls observing the potential for a retail cannabis market and quickly realizing that if he wanted to act, the time was fast approaching. Seeing cannabis as a viable way to reinvent his family’s property with a new agricultural slant, Olsen and his wife made the decision to use their life savings to start TreeHawk Farms.
Despite a lengthy application process, battles over water usage and a spate of other bureaucratic hurdles, their efforts would ultimately prove highly successful.
Today, Olsen oversees an indoor production flow that yields about 60 pounds of cannabis each month. In addition to perennial favorite Magnum PI, the farm’s also renowned for their Candyland Cookies strain, which combines two classics in the form of Granddaddy Purple and Bay Platinum Cookies. Other notable strains on the TreeHawk menu include Chocolate Thai and The Wills, although Olsen acknowledges that his Magnum PI is likely a cut above the rest.
“It has the bag appeal,” he says. “It’s covered in sugar. It’s just a really beautiful plant. It really liked our feeding regimen and everything just fell into place.”
Room to Grow
Currently encompassing a trio of 600-square-foot grow rooms, each with 21 lights, TreeHawk Farms will soon expand its operations to include a fourth room, which Olsen confirms will include a whole row of what amounts to a third of the room’s potential production—to growing Magnum. The reasoning is simple: people just can’t get enough of it.
“A lot of people get strain-tired,” Olsen says. “With Candyland, I’m probably going to back off on that a little bit because people just want something different after a while. I haven’t had to do that at all with Magnum. I sell out, so I have to divvy up our harvest to spread it out to our stores as best we can, but everyone will take twice as much Magnum as any other strain, without blinking. The demand is still there.”
What is it about this tropically flavored, funk-forward blast of cerebral stimulation that makes it such a mainstay for Washington State cannabis regulars? Perhaps it’s the cut, maybe it’s the care that goes into cultivating it but most likely it’s a potent combination of both. After all, beyond the caché that comes with growing rarer, more exotic strains, there’s a family legacy inherent to TreeHawk Farms that clearly informs not only its craft approach but the quality of the finished product.
And for now, Olsen is proud to say that the reputation of Magnum PI can be directly traced to his efforts to bring his family’s farm back to life under the auspices of his new cannabis enterprise and its star strain.
“Honestly, there’s no one else that has this particular strain,” Olsen says, “So, if you’ve smoked Magnum PI in the last five years, you got it through TreeHawk Farms.”
Strain: According to Olson, the name is a play on the strain’s lineage: Blue Hawaiian x Agent Orange. It reminded him of a Hawaiian private investigator, like Tom Selleck from the TV show Magnum P.I.
Breeder: Seahorse Gardens in Seattle, Washington.
Type: Sativa Hybrid
Genetics: Blue Hawaiian x Agent Orange
Taste: A citrusy orange-lemon flavor with a little tropical earthy funk on the back end.
As all good cultivators know, the most crucial part of growing cannabis is twofold: choosing the right genetics and sourcing them from a reputable seed bank or breeder. Royal Queen Seeds, regarded as one of Europe’s leading cannabis seed banks, just launched a new range of F1 hybrid cannabis seeds—the first cannabis company to offer a true F1 hybrid cannabis cultivar.
With over ten years of experience breeding exceptional cultivars and delivering world-class customer service, Royal Queen Seeds (RQS) is a leader in the cannabis genetics space. The Barcelona-based company’s new F1 hybrid seeds are already being touted as revolutionary for today’s cannabis industry, just as feminized seeds were in the ‘90s.
“F1 hybrids are uniform plants with countless benefits for all sectors of the cannabis industry: Medical patients will benefit from consistent, quality cannabinoids; commercial growers will be able to streamline their operations by working with a reliable crop; and even home growers will have access to more potent, higher-yielding plants for their gardens/tents,” says Shai Ramsahai, CEO of Royal Queen Seeds. “The new autoflowering F1 hybrids have a solid structure, are nicely uniform, and have a beautiful inflorescence structure—almost indistinguishable from a photo-dependent cannabis plant.”
Understanding F1 Hybrid Seeds
F1 hybrid seeds result from cross-pollinating two different parent plants to breed a plant selectively. Genetically speaking, the term is an abbreviation for Filial 1, which means “first children.”
The RQS team started developing the F1 hybrid seeds in 2019 when the bank created its first pure inbred lines (IBLs), a technique the vegetable industry used for decades to create uniform produce. Breeders select two plants (or lines) with desirable qualities—for example, high yields or particular terpene profiles—and then intentionally mate the plants together. Once confident they had created the optimum traits, RQS applied the same technology to cross its IBLs, creating the new genetics.
The initial RQS F1 hybrid seed launch includes a CBD strain called Cosmos F1, which offers high CBD levels, high yields and seven THC cultivars with the following favorable characteristics:
Hyperion F1: Touted as the tallest plant, this is a vigorous and resistant cultivar.
Apollo F1: A compact and robust plant with a lavender aroma.
Titan F1: The plant’s highest THC level offering is matched its high trichome density.
Milky Way F1: A uniform and convenient plant with a delicious, chocolatey flavor.
Orion F1: This sizable and resilient plant delivers large yields.
Epsilon F1: With a low odor output, this plant is a great option for discreet growers.
Medusa F1: Offers the highest flower density and high levels of the CBG cannabinoid.
The Benefits of Choosing F1 Hybrid Seeds
With a promise of unbeatable consistency and superior results with exceptional traits in every harvest, the autoflowering F1 attributes include high THC levels, fast flowering, larger yields and greater resistance to stress and uniformity.
Let’s explore three of the ways F1 hybrid seeds will outperform traditional seeds:
1. Greater Yields
Certain inputs will affect a cannabis plant’s end output, including lighting, nutrients and even the size of the pot. However, every cannabis cultivar is genetically predisposed to produce yields within a specific range. With F1 hybrid seeds, every plant is selected to deliver the most significant yield. As they say, the greater the yield, the greater the reward.
2. Consistency and Stability
Medical patients will benefit from the uniform cannabinoid and terpene profiles offered with F1 hybrid seeds. One of the perks of synthetic cannabinoid medicine like Dronabinol is its consistent cannabinoid delivery, which some patients find therapeutic for their health concerns. This helps give patients peace of mind, as they can rest easy knowing the cannabinoid content in their medicine will always be consistent.
The new F1 hybrid cannabis seeds are auto-flowering, meaning that after two to four weeks of growth, the plants will start to flower independently. This is a convenient characteristic for growers, as it removes the need to switch the light schedule to initiate and maintain the plant’s flowering phase.
As Ramsahai says, “Royal Queen Seeds’ new F1 hybrids are set to transform the cannabis industry with superior performance, offering growers uniform plants with higher yields, increased THC potency and unbeatable F1 stability.”
Whether it’s for orchids, berries, or bananas, plant tissue culture has been widely used in agriculture for nearly 40 years to produce uniform and disease-free stock. But when it comes to cannabis, this technology has only emerged within the last few years as scientists working with weed cracked the code of what the plant wants to reproduce successfully at a small scale. Joining in the fight against one of pot’s primary foes, hop latent viroid disease, cannabis tissue culture is a new path forward towards preserving the genetics of one of the most diverse botanicals on the planet. And, while cultivators have been able to get their hands on tissue culture-grown cuts for about eight years, tissue culture clones were made available to the public for the first time through Node Labs at the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball held in December 2022.
“Cannabis is a very tissue culture resistant plant. There are certain plants that are that way,” says Lauren Avenuis, CEO of Node Labs, explaining why it took so long for the technology to become viable for cannabis. “So, like avocados, grape vines, they just don’t like to go into micropropagation. They don’t like that kind of replication. And since cannabis is an annual plant, it likes to grow from a seed, flower, and die.”
The scientists working with Node, a small lab located within an unassuming red barn in rural Petaluma, California, spent years studying tissue culture before discovering the methodology that made stem cell technology for cannabis work. Now that they have, their facility houses an impressive bank of cannabis genetics. It causes a few snickers when I say it aloud, but being inside a room filled with shelves devoted to tissue culture clones, each in their own container, reminds me of being in a pet store aquarium. All the plants are growing within a clear jelly-like substance derived from seaweed called agar, allowing their whole root structure to be seen. They are tiny terrariums that hold the story of pot’s past, present, and future.
Chief Science Officer Chris Leavitt walks me through the procedures at Node by explaining that plants, unlike humans, do not have an awareness of their entire body.
“[Plants] are a colony of cells that are attached to each other,” Leavitt says. “So if a stem is receiving all the like sap that it would be getting normally in the agar, it doesn’t even know that it’s not still attached to the plant. You can grow plant parts in tissue culture in a way you cannot grow outside. You can grow a dissection of just a leaf or just a stem… you can really break the rules of typical plant growing by having it in that setting.”
My tour at Node starts in the pre-fab clean room where the media, the agar, is mixed within an autoclave, a device designed for sterilization. This room is also where the other tools used for the tissue culture process, such as scissors and jars, are sterilized. I put on a second set of surgical booties before heading into the growth chamber and transfer room, where I watch the hot agar being dispensed into the same clear plastic containers I see in the bulk food section of my local grocery store. Within this room, the air quality is at ISO 8, a measure that contains a thousand specks of dust within a cubic yard that is also used in electronic and medical manufacturing. All the sterilization and air cleanliness ensure no contamination enters the lab.
“One of the things that we do here is we clean plants,” says Luis Mautner, Node’s director of propagation. “Cleaning plants is a process by which you take a plant from the outside world and you run it through a process that we developed here. We select the plants that do not have any issues associated with them like pathogenic bacteria, fungi, fusarium being one of the ones that affects the cannabis industry very much. Also, we index for HLVd, which is hop latent viroid.”
Mautner started working with cannabis after a career in tissue culture that included work with the berry company Driscoll’s and tropical ornamental plants such as peace lilies. He says the clear media is used because it’s diagnostic and shows when things should not be growing on the plant.
Next, we enter another room where shelves store cannabis plants in various stages of growth. There are also shelves containing some other plants Node is testing for research, including wine grapes and the cutest tiny Tempranillo.
To start work with Node, clients provide 10 clone stems from a cannabis plant to form what Mautner calls a bouquet. The clones are broken down to the cellular level because cannabis has a strong affinity for endogenous contaminants within its stem, Leavitt explains. The scientists at Node cut the clones down to one part, the meristem, a type of tissue in plants that houses stem cells, or cells from which all other types of cells develop.
“What we’ve found is when you have the meristem dissection, you can avoid that,” Leavitt says.
“What you’re basically doing is taking [the cannabis clones] down to essentially the stem cells of the plant,” Avenius adds. “So you’re eliminating all of the epigenetic, all of the genetic toggles related to stress or environment. You’re getting [the plant] down to its pure expression, its genetics, and then also removing essentially all the vascular tissue. So you’re just getting a brand new pure example and sample of that cannabis plant that we can now grow into tissue culture free of any other influences and then see its pure genetic expression.”
When cut down to the meristem, the clones are only about half a millimeter to a millimeter in size. Once the plants grow bigger and start looking like cannabis plants instead of little blobs, they are tested for HLVd. HLVd is a widespread pathogen in cannabis clones that causes growth stunting and reduces the plant’s ability to produce trichomes. Leavitt explains that HLVd is like skin cancer in that it can affect one part of the plant, but not another. This is another reason tissue culture has been such a valuable tool in combating the virus because it reduces a plant to its most basic elements.
After the plants have passed the extensive screening process, they are grown to about 3 to 4 inches and are used to fill the bank, the system in which Node keeps cannabis genetics within a genetic library.
“These two refrigerators play a huge role in the large genetics cannabis market,” Avenius says as I eye Node’s genetic bank, containing work from cannabis breeders like Sherbinski and Masonic as well as companies like Cannarado, Connected, and smaller growers like Sonoma Hills Farm, which banked its Pink Jesus.
The seed bank aspect of the company ties into the beginnings of Node Labs. Node was founded in 2018 after Felipe Recalde, CEO of Compound Genetics and Node co-founder, lost his genetic library of cannabis cultivars and his home in the Tubbs Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California’s history that tore through Santa Rosa in 2017. Recognizing everyone around him had also lost their mom stock, Recalde saw tissue culture as the future for genetic preservation. He’d been experimenting with faulty kits for tissue culture since 2010. Still, it wasn’t until he partnered with Leavitt, who had been working on using tissue culture to preserve endangered species, that he saw that tissue culture could be viable for cannabis. Nowadays, genetics are stored within the lab and at a place offsite to serve as an additional backup against a disaster like a fire.
Some of the work Node does is private client services of storing the genetics, but some companies like Connected Cannabis Co. also have certified genetics available for licensing. The consistency of the tissue culture clones one receives from Node Labs ensures that brands that operate in many states, like one of the lab’s partners Khalifa Kush backed by rapper Wiz Khalifa, can provide standardized, consistent flowers across the country. Node’s primary partnership with Compound Genetics allows the lab to grow clones to flower for clients to test. The minds at Compound Genetics grow plants from seed in their San Francisco facility and phenohunt to provide the best clone selections for their clients. The process at Node gives the genetics an authentication that does not occur if someone obtains a clone cut from a friend.
The future of the tissue culture industry is not in creating a million plants to order, but instead holding genetics and delivering mother plants that growers can multiply through traditional propagation, Leavitt says.
“The main functionary of [tissue culture] here is not in micropropagation. It’s not to get you 50,000 plants in one go,” Leavitt explains of the difference in tissue culture techniques in cannabis versus traditional agriculture. “It’s germplasm storage, which is the fancy term in the agriculture issue of holding genetics, genetic banking.”
Another indication of the future of cannabis propagation occurring at Node Labs is the process of in vitro phenohunts or growing seeds within the agar jelly within test tubes. Node takes a tissue culture from small plantlets the seeds produce and grows those plants out, saving time for cultivators because if they like the results, the tissue culture already exists.
“It allows us to save a lot of time, but it also means that when we pop that seed and then we take that clone and put it out, we already have some of the advantages of tissue culture the first time we grow,” Avenuis says. “As an immature plant, it hasn’t been exposed to any viruses or pathogens. And then it has some of the unique morphology that you get from tissue culture plants. They tend to have higher vigor, higher yields, better stem strength. So you’re already seeing a better-performing plant from the very beginning.”
Leavitt points out an example within the lab, Gastro Pop #5, a cross of Apples & Bananas and Grape Gas which was developed in-house via an in vitro phenohunt.
“That Gastro Pop #5 over there, the plants in this lab have never seen microbial fungus and bacteria in their entire life,” Leavitt says.
If someone finds an outstanding cultivar they are in love with, a six-month process to get a tissue culture clone could stunt the excitement, he explains.
“With that process, in vitro, we could have the excitement of smoking the joint and going ‘This is the one’ and going, ‘Cool, it’s here at the lab’ at the same time,” he says.
An in vitro phenohunt is how Sherbinski and Compound created Tribute, a cross of Gelato #41 and Apples & Bananas. Look out for future collaborations between Compound Genetics and Tiki Madman and Compound Genetics and Green House Seed Company.
At the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball held in December 2022, Compound was able to offer “bare pulse” tissue culture clones of their newest offerings. These came without the agar jelly because the clones are more transportable that way. The bare pulse part comes from the fact that they are bare root or stored without soil around the roots. The bare pulse clones can be planted in a chosen medium and become a mother plant to power a grow with consistent genetics.
“We love this as the next gen of clones,” Avenuis says.
The whole process of tissue culture clones is an exciting new frontier for cannabis, one which I was able to experience firsthand when Recalde gifted me a tissue culture clone at a social gathering. I took the test tube, filled with a clone held in suspense within what I’ve since learned is agar, home and grew it out into a plant. At the time, I didn’t know that tiny plant contained within a test tube had the mighty makings to power a brand.
Read more about Node Labs in the upcoming Science & Technology issue of High Times Magazine.
In a world of pot pantheons, one must be exceptional to be crowned “The King of Cannabis.” Arjan Roskam, founder of the Green House Brands empire holds this moniker, thanks to a heady mix of being a passionate proponent for the plant and his tenacity for growing phenomenal phenos that rise well above the norm.
In an exclusive, wide-ranging conversation that covers everything from world leaders to exciting new cultivars, I catch up with the busy Roskam, who’s looking fit and rested from his home in Spain.
Roskam leads myriad cannabis ventures that have flourished for more than three decades and the magnitude of this magnate’s influence and connections isn’t to be underestimated.
A natural entrepreneur, his kingdom includes Green House Seed Company (GHSC), Green House Coffeeshops, Green House Feeding, Green House Kitchen, GH Medical and the revolutionary Strain Hunters documentary series. He held the Netherland’s first federal grow license for pharmacies for the Stichting Institute of Medical Marijuana. And his quest for the planet’s rarest genetics has enabled scientific research into rare landrace strains—potentially unlocking untold medical advancements. He’s an ardent advocate for legalization and works with governments around the world to achieve that goal.
Born in Holland and raised in Zambia, Africa, Roskam’s journey to reefer royalty began when he was 17 while backpacking through northern Thailand. There, a medicine man treating heroin addicts with cannabis gave him a handful of seeds and told him, “Keep those seeds. In the future, these seeds will overthrow governments.”
Young Roskam had no idea how prophetic those words would come to be.
In 1992, together with his wife Rose, he opened his first coffee shop, Green House Pijp, also known as The Green House, on The Tolstraat in Amsterdam. Fittingly, the area is known as the city’s Diamond District. Rose, an interior designer, created an airy, artistic space that was deliberately different from the style and vibe of Amsterdam’s existing coffee shops. Today, Green House Pijp continues to be a regular stop for A-list celebrities.
I ask Roskam about the now legendary event that changed everything: the day in January 1993 that High Times, the groundbreaking counter-culture journal of its day, went to Roskam’s coffee shop and asked him to take part in a cannabis competition they were sponsoring.
“Why not?” Roskam recalls saying. “The owners told me they’d come with maybe 100-200 people in November during the Thanksgiving holiday, to celebrate the first cannabis competition. We had totally forgotten about it when, suddenly, November arrived and 500 people appeared at my front door.” Not just customers, but international media, too.
That first year, Roskam won multiple awards, including the top prize in the coffee shop category. Naturally, people began asking for seeds.
In 1995, Roskam launched Green House Seed Company and, together with his team of master cultivators, has continued to produce cultivars with exceptional cannabinoid levels and unique terpene profiles. To date, GHSC has won dozens of worldwide accolades—a testament to the legendary genetics Roskam and his team have amassed in almost four decades.
These accomplishments have made GHSC the crown jewel of cannabis genetics, home to rare and popular varietals including Himalayan Gold and White Widow, the most popular cultivar of the 1990s. By happenstance, White Widow was my favorite strain as a young adult living in London during that decade. I loved its hazy, euphoric buzz that helped me tap into my creative flow when I was at art school.
Super Lemon Haze is, arguably, Roskan’s most celebrated—and what he credits as being “probably the most famous strain ever.” He tells me that he’s a Sativa guy and that his favorite cultivar is Hawaiian Snow—a Hawaiian Sativa x Laos cross with an uplifting high.
Our conversation then turns to the hot topic of the last couple of years.
In December 2020, the Dutch government introduced a strict lockdown throughout the entire country following a rapid rise in COVID cases. I ask Roskam about how it affected his businesses and he recalls the events that transpired.
“The prime minister went live on television at 4pm and two hours later, the whole country was shut down,” he says. “Across the whole of Holland, hundreds of people were lining up outside coffee shops and street dealers were handing out pamphlets with prices of cocaine, ecstasy and God knows what to everybody waiting in the line. This was of course, very, very visible to everybody. The Justice Minister panicked and called all the mayors the next day to pull it back. We were told, ‘You’re essential, now reopen immediately.’ So, we reopened for takeaway-only and that went on for a while and then we instituted the one-and-a-half-meters distance policy. We had screens in our shop and all that kind of stuff.”
For Roskam, this period presented an opportunity to really utilize the time and reset his goals—both at home and further afield.
Initially, he took the opportunity to remodel all five of his coffee shops for the first time in 27 years. Roksam explains that his style of coffee shop was still from an era when hash bars had to be at the back of the store “because it wasn’t allowed to be visible from the street under law.” Fortunately, his team included people that were handy with tools, including a plasterer, a carpenter and a plumber. “We had everything in-house,” he says.
Then, he reframed GHSC, which Roksam claims was needed because he’d been working in the Congo, Canada and was busy with other projects for the past decade. Together with Dust Lion, the head grower and breeder for GHSC, he started making new strains by crossing Old World with New World genetics. My pupils almost dilate with heady pleasure as he tells me details of the 20 to 25 new varietals in the pipeline.
Roskam then surprises me by revealing that in March 2022, Green House ended its partnership with Canopy Growth Corporation—Canada’s largest licensed producer of cannabis with globe-spanning operations—that had been in place since 2017. The fact that he quietly did this speaks volumes.
The split from Canopy is seismic news, potentially signaling more downturns for the dominant multiple state operators (MSOs) running in Canada and in the US. Overproduction is choking demand and sending prices, stocks and confidence ever downward. MSOs have been gobbling up the majority market share in newly legal markets including Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, which is proving to be detrimental to smaller, social equity license holders.
Roskam says he decided that it was time to “reset some programs that were running and that we also wanted to be out of the deal because we don’t agree with their business model,” noting, however, that it was “a happy divorce.”
“We came out of this COVID period doing new things, basically with a new wind,” he tells me with a smile and a purposeful tone.
Roskam’s commitment to creating cannabis fit for a king extends beyond cultivation. He has spearheaded advocacy work that’s led to unprecedented changes to draconian laws. He advises many governments around the world—including Colombia, Macedonia and, most recently, Thailand—on how to best move forward with cannabis legalization.
Until recently, Thailand had some of the most stringent anti-drug laws in the world, but in June 2022 it became the first country in Southeast Asia to decriminalize cannabis for medical and other purposes. The Thai government recently gave away one million cannabis plants to citizens so registered households can cultivate up to six plants to sell. Recreational use, however, remains illegal, but the government also aims to release around 4,000 cannabis prisoners.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand and we chat freely about our mutual love for the beautiful country—Roskam tells me he attended the very first Full Moon Party more than a quarter century ago in Ko Pha-ngan. When I bring up Thailand’s recent 180-degree turn from lock-up to liberation, Roskam became clearly animated. He pulled out his iPhone and scrolled through a shocking number of messages that he claimed to be between him and Thai government officials.
“I can’t say too much, he tells me, clearly pleased with the role he played in shifting policy so dramatically, “but what I can say is that we’re one of the forces behind this. My team went to Thailand three times and we advised the Thai government on how to take care of this.”
With his global perspective and place in helping to change laws, I ask about his perception of the US and the country’s drawn-out move toward federal legalization. What he said next made me nearly fall off my chair.
“For me, it was a total surprise that Donald Trump didn’t pull the cards eight weeks before the election, because we were lobbying like crazy,” he says casually. “We told him to pull that card because he’d get re-elected, but he didn’t. Through his famous daughter [Ivanka Trump] and son-in-law [Jared Kushner], we had some people there. But I don’t know what went wrong.”
Is the self-proclaimed King of Cannabis saying that legalizing weed could have helped Trump win the 2020 election? Roskam came across as resolute as he has been on everything. But it stopped me in my tracks. Would legalizing cannabis have moved the needle enough to get him reelected? I understand if you need a minute to process. I’ll wait…
After taking a quiet moment to absorb the steady flow of breaking news Roskam is casually dropping, I start to wonder what’s left for him to do, and in a broader context, what’s the lasting legacy of Green House.
He tells me that the company’s impact is much more than great genetics.
“I started making cannabis movies in 2006,” he says. “I’ve traveled my whole life—I grew up in Africa and have been everywhere and I thought, ‘You know what, let’s show the world what’s really going on, with 200 million poor people around the equator, depending on marijuana’. In Africa, kids can’t go to school because they have to guard the cattle, because if they don’t, the cattle will eat the vegetables and the whole family will starve. I thought it was a very important thing to show. At the same time, we were going into countries to show how really ridiculous the system was. One example is Colombia where it’s now legal. After we left, the Colombian president told the BBC: ‘I’m not going to put people in prison anymore for an ounce of weed—it doesn’t make sense anymore.’ Exactly.”
At this point, Roskam’s teenage son—who has just returned from boarding school—comes into the room. Roskam excuses himself from our conversation while he focuses his attention on his son and the two have a brief exchange in their native tongue. Just after his son leaves the room, Roskam tells me about his children’s plan to take over the family business one day—his eldest daughter is currently Green House Brand’s creative director—adding some healthy sibling rivalry.
We get back onto the topic of activism and Roskam’s role in changing the perception of cannabis.
“Being an activist and creating awareness for cannabis, together with great genetics, of course, was our main focus all the time,” Roskam says. “Giving seminars, doing interviews with CNN—it’s actually the package—what we try to show people is what makes us different. Also, our dispensaries are quite different from most dispensaries. It’s more of a smoke experience. We like people to sit down and enjoy themselves. The Dutch coffee shop system is the only system in the world where you’d see a Chinese guy, a Black guy, a white guy and an Eskimo all at one table, smoking a joint and sharing their social life. This, of course, is a really good thing, you know, to bring all these people together. And that’s one of the few places in the world where this happens.”
For more than 15 years, Roskam had an idea brewing for a show that investigated cannabis on a global scale, enlightening viewers while removing those all-familiar, outdated stigmas associated with the plant. Launching in 2008, the show became a series of documentaries called Strain Hunters.
Together with his close friend and GHSC master cultivator, Franco Loja, Roskam would spend the better part of two decades scouring the faraway mountains and jungles of the world, searching for unique and prized landrace genetics. More often than not, they were successful.
Landrace cannabis is distinguished by the fact that it’s unique to its geographical origin and adapts to the land and environment in which it develops. Landraces can be utilized for breeding, cross-pollination and the creation of new genotypes.
For the uninitiated, Strain Hunters remains must-see TV. There are some genuinely sketchy and scary times that show the astonishing lengths Roskam, Loja and their intrepid team have gone to secure those sought-after genetics.
I ask about what his most prized landrace is, and he says, without a moment of hesitation, “Punto Rojo.” Then, he holds up his phone once again, scrolling for a moment before showing me an enormous Christmas tree-like cannabis plant. It’s nothing short of amazing.
“We’re planting 9,000 [cannabis] trees in Sudan and South Africa with our partner,” Raskam says. “Because this variety comes from Colombia, which is humid, this plant has outperformed any other plant in the rainy season. When you harvest there’s a lot of rain, so you need something that’s adaptable. And so yeah, I’d say for now that’s our strongest landrace and we’re crossing that with a lot of really nice plants. As a matter of fact, we’re coming out with one special one very soon—a Watermelon Zkittlez x Cloudwalker (Punto Rojo x Mendobreath)—it’s going to be awesome.”
I was curious if Roskam had ever truly feared for his life on the expeditions over the years.
“Look, it’s very dangerous,” he says seriously. “There are some things I can’t speak about because they’re still extremely dangerous. There are some episodes [of Strain Hunters] that haven’t been broadcast because things went out of control. Anything can go wrong. I always warn my team that guns and drunken soldiers are dangerous, but the most dangerous thing is a very little animal you cannot see. It could be bacteria, it could be Ebola, could be Dengue, could be Malaria.”
In 2016, the Strain Hunters crew was filming in the Democratic Republic of Congo, searching for new genetics while also learning how CBD can be used to treat cerebral malaria, a preventable condition that kills more than 405,000 people a year when the unthinkable occurred.
Tragically, Loja contracted malaria in the Congo and succumbed to the aggressive disease on January 2, 2017. His passing was a devastating shock to Roskam and the Green House family and the tremors were felt by the cannabis community around the world. In March 2017, VICE on HBO featured Kings of Cannabis: Congo, which was Franco Loja’s last appearance before he died.
“How dangerous is it?” Roskam continued. “Well, Franco died. There are just a lot of things that can go wrong. It’s a mission. It’s always scary. But it’s my goal to create awareness on this planet and I put my life up for it. Franco put his life up for it, and I’ll put my life for it. My kids sometimes say to me, ‘Shut up, Papa,’ but they understand. I say, ‘Listen, maybe I don’t come back (from one of the dangerous expeditions). I wrote a letter to all of my children and they’ll get it if and when I don’t come back. It is what it is, but we—all of us—are fighting for something important. And someone has to do this.”
To honor Loja’s legacy, a tribute appears on the Green House Seed Co. website: “Franco’s high-risk, fast-paced, full-gas career was only just taking off. He had invested all his time, money and passion into building up a future for himself and his children, while helping people in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His children were everything to him, and he was an amazing father.”
I wanted to know what Roskam thought Loja’s enduring legacy should be.
“Passion,” he tells me, softly. “Passion.”
So, what’s next? Roskam says he’s working on more adventures and what he reveals next is another gem of information—an as-yet-unnamed venture between GHSC and Cookies.
“The most spectacular adventure is the announcement that, with my friend Berner, we’re going to take care of Cookies seeds worldwide,” he says, smiling from ear to ear, referencing the red-hot brand owned by the Bay Area entrepreneur, rapper and newly minted billionaire, Berner. “We’re going to make that in our facilities in the US, Colombia, Denmark—everywhere.”
Oh, but there’s more.
Roksam, Dust Lion and Joa Helms, CEO of Green House Coffeeshops, recently traveled to Jamaica to create a new brand with Damian Marley, youngest son of the legendary Rastafarian singer Bob Marley, called Hurb. Talk about the knights of the roundtable.
Roskam says this important new partnership “will include dispensaries and some very special strains.” The end goal, he says, is to create a breeding project that incorporates strains from Jamaica as well as Cookies’ genetics. Mind officially blown.
“Maybe this is the time for a new era in cannabis,” Arjan Roskam says, with a telling, mischievous smile.
The King of Cannabis is still clearly setting the agenda for the rest to follow. Exactly what leaders do.
This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.
When Fig Farms took first place at the 2017 NorCal Cannabis Cup, it was with the flowers from a single plant. That Banana Fig, a cross of Purple Fig with Banana Split, was exceptional enough to propel the company to what it has become today—one of the most well-respected and prolific creators of new kinds of cannabis. I would be remiss not to say upfront that the unique cultivars put out by Fig Farms rank among the most exquisite indoor pot I’ve ever smoked.
“Winning that cup was special to us,” Keith Healy tells me from an office within his Oakland, California grow facility. “It changed our lives. The next day we got offered this space.”
And the space, which Healy and his wife and business partner Chloe run together, is an incredibly impressive operation. Across from the large boardroom table where we are sitting is a fridge filled with 12 different kinds of cannabis pollen, and Chief Sales Officer Mike Doten is pulling large plastic bags of yet-to-be-released strain combinations for me to examine and smell. Fig Farms is not only a cannabis flower brand, it’s also the birthplace of new types of pot through its extensive breeding program.
“Every two-and-a-half, three months, we’re popping 500 seeds,” Keith says. “We try to pop about at least 50% ours and 50% somebody else’s. I think that the biggest hurdle is that we might find something that’s extremely special to us but doesn’t have the highest THC. Or we find things that are just so special like right now we’re dealing with like 20 plants where we can’t decide which one we’re going to put in the marketplace.”
Keith admits he has a hoarding problem when it comes to amassing cannabis genetics. The Fig Farms room for mother plants contains more than 300 different types of marijuana. When we walk inside this room while touring the facility, I don’t even initially spot a few people because they are hidden behind a wall of pot plants.
“One of [the phenotypes we grow] may be something that had a really high terpene profile of this one terpene, but the THC [percentage] wasn’t good,” Keith says in explanation of keeping so many mother plants around. “And so we’re waiting until we find the right male to pollinate that female.”
Big & Beautiful
You’ll know the Fig Farms flower when you see it. Instead of tight, dense buds, Fig Farm’s buds are often shaped like foxtails, frilly and elongated like a fox’s tail. While many growers see this irregular, slender, and taller bud shape as a flaw to correct, the Fig Farms brand values and promotes this shape. The foxtail buds make the Fig Farms flowers stand apart in a line-up of more typical cannabis nugs and provide a visual indication of the uniqueness of the cultivars.
“The cool thing about us is that we are unique and not afraid to be unique,” Keith says.
Stepping into one of the grow rooms at Fig Farms feels like entering a tropical paradise. It’s humid and hot, and the air is intensely perfumed with the scent of flowers.
“I think about it like if you were in Hawaii, a plant would express itself really differently than if you were in Northern California,” Keith says of the growing environment. “I want a plant to express everything that it has to show. I don’t want to suppress it and keep it really cold and have it just kind of tight and squeezed together. I’d rather have it be big and beautiful, and I think the aromas, the flavors, everything comes out more when you’re pushing out a plant in a Hawaii-style environment versus a very cold environment.”
A Treasure Map to Independence
Back around 2014, Keith was growing and selling strains like Gorilla Glue #4 and XJ-13 for two medical marijuana dispensaries, Harborside and the Berkeley Patients Group. Those dispensaries were receiving a lot of Gorilla Glue #4 from different growers, but Keith’s stood out. A dispensary employee encouraged him to start branding himself and popping seeds to sell more unique strains.
Keith got the breeding bug and began amassing a collection of cannabis genetics in a warehouse. When the DEA raided the neighbor’s warehouse, their landlord, who thought he would be doing them a favor, cut down all the plants and filled the space with tomatoes and vegetables. Then Keith and Chloe, eight months pregnant at the time, came upon a scavenger hunt note from their landlord instructing them to go to another location, where they received another scavenger hunt note with a treasure hunt map on it. The motivations behind the landlord’s odd method to let them know he had destroyed their plants is unclear.
“Before we know it, we’re at some water tower on a hiking trail that we’ve never been on in our lives and Chloe’s like, ‘Is he going to stab us?’ And I’m like, ‘No, this is going to be the best thing,’” Keith says of thinking he might be getting a unique clone cut. “And he comes up to me and he says, ‘I killed all your plants.’ And Chloe just started crying. I mean, these were things that we had been growing for five or 10 years. Things that we were holding on to that we couldn’t have [gotten] anywhere else.”
This devastating news started Fig Farms on a path towards creating its own types of cannabis and the discovery of its original cultivars, Purple Fig and Pink Fig.
Keith grew up in Southern California near Figueroa Mountain (located in Santa Barbara County), and when he was in high school, the best cannabis in his area was called “the fig.” In his beginnings as a cannabis breeder, one of his first creations reminded him so much of that taste and aroma profile he remembered that he decided to name the company Fig Farms.
Fig Farms started as a brand name in the medical marijuana marketplace in 2016 and has since expanded from California to Illinois. Initially based out of Sonoma County, when Keith and Chloe entered the Cannabis Cup in 2017, they had just had their second child and Keith wasn’t even sure he wanted to enter the competition because they were so busy raising a family. The cup was before California’s 2018 transition to an adult-use cannabis market, and when they did decide to go ahead and enter the Banana Fig, which has about 20% THC, the line to enter the cup was around the block.
“Everybody that had a little grow in their two-car garage had a cannabis business,” Keith explains. “[The Banana Fig] is a strain from yesteryear. It doesn’t test high enough to compete in the modern marketplace. It’s something we keep in the mom room to have it for the day where people aren’t so stuck on THC.”
The Fig Farms Cultivars
When it comes to looking for new types of cannabis to release, Keith says, “the weirder, the better.” He’s looking for strange and unique cannabis combinations that put Fig Farms in a different lane than other cannabis cultivators. At the same time, the team at Fig Farms also has fun showing people what they can do with extremely common strains, such as Gelato #41.
“We want to be super unique, but we also want to show what we can do with things that everybody already has,” Keith says.
Fig Farm’s Holy Moly! is one of the more unique strains it has created. On my day’s visit to the grow, Doten pulls some Holy Moly! out to show me. The buds are completely frosted over with trichomes and are such a dark purple amethyst color that they almost look blue.
“I think it’s got sort of a cognac smell. It smells like the inside of a Tootsie Roll pop a bit,” Doten says. “That is a cross of the Cannabis Cup-winning Banana Fig crossed to a male found in an Animal Mints pack from Seed Junky, and miss Chloe made that strain.”
Along with that Tootsie Pop center taste, the tasting notes on this strain include sour cherry and mole sauce.
Next, Doten brings out five different phenotypes of Gelato #41 crossed with LD95 (an I-95 and Legend Dog cross) and I get to play the game of choosing a strain by looking for things like color, structure, and smell. Each of the samples looks and smells incredible. It’s not an easy job.
Choosing which phenotype to develop and put on the market is serious work at Fig Farms. A sample of Orange Cookies crossed with Sherb Crasher bursts with a tangerine aroma so thick my mouth starts to water. All the cannabis I’ve seen in development is worthy of any cannabis connoisseur’s head stash, and the work to create new unique types of cannabis shows no signs of stopping.
“We still have the original Purple Fig from 2015 in our mom room,” Keith says, noting that selecting a strain ultimately comes down to its THC percentage and how it smokes. “Like a chef that doesn’t eat his food or a winemaker that doesn’t drink his wine, a breeder and popper that doesn’t smoke their pot, that’s a red flag.”
The thought of California-grown cannabis rightfully brings romantic visions of massive outdoor farm areas nestled in between forests and trees, but today’s reality means that some of the state’s best weed is now grown in the indoor comfort of suburbia.
Tucked behind the San Fernando Valley’s housing sprawl just over the hills from Los Angeles, hidden in the middle of an unassuming business office district, lies an ordinary warehouse that produces extraordinary cannabis. This massive 40,000-square-foot grow is home to Terraform Genetics, a family owned and operated facility, producing not only some of the most remarkable boutique strains available in Southern California, but qualitatively, it’s some of the very best cannabis available in the US.
The workhorse behind Terraform is Brett K, a longtime cultivator whose genetics gained notoriety through a partnership with one of the first Los Angeles pre-interim control ordinance (ICO) dispensaries, WHTC Treatment Center.
“We try to be very selective in what’s going into jars and obviously the whole cultivation process from the beginning—how we’re managing these plants through the process and really cleaning them up and just showing them love,” Brett says. “Put love in, get love out.”
On a normal day, Brett tends to each of several grow rooms sectioned by specific life cycles. Despite the different stages, many of them bear similar hot and humid surroundings. “We run it like the equator for the first weeks: 75 percent humidity, 85 degrees,” he says.
Despite Southern California’s idyllic balmy weather, Mother Nature remains unpredictable at times. It’s why Brett prefers the control of an indoor grow rather than the unforeseen variables of sungrown flowers. Modern tech also allows him to monitor every plant with a camera system; plus, he can maintain optimal conditions with a few simple clicks on a tablet.
“You have to keep that environment on point,” Brett says. “No matter what the weather’s like outside, you have to have what you need in here.”
The brand’s latest customer favorites include Terra Herer (his own version of the classic Jack Herer), White Truffle and their best-selling strain of 2021, Terra Mints.
Black Gummy is a particular strain rising to the top of many lists. This pheno of O.M.F.G. (Runtz x Red Pop) has a lip-smacking balance of gassy and fruity tones, matched with kind waves of euphoria brought on by more than 30 percent THC.
Yet another crucial Terraform offering, Blucifer, is Brett’s take on the classic Blue Dream strain, which could be seen as the impetus for Terraform’s beginnings.
More than a decade ago, Brett’s version of Blue Dream captivated the senses of Yana B., owner of the popular WHTC Dispensary located just minutes away from Universal Studios. The cut was so impressive, Yana invited Brett to grow his flowers directly from WHTC as a pre-ICO Prop D dispensary.
“That’s where we started terraforming Terraform,” Brett says. “There was a little bathroom upstairs, and that’s where I had all the male plants and did all the breeding projects.”
The partnership began with a small six-light operation running on the dispensary’s top floor, and it eventually blossomed into Terraform and its current home base.
Yana’s medical dispensary background means that she always holds her patient’s best intentions in regard. It’s the reason why half of the partnership brings a well-known secret ingredient to the growth process. “Love,” she says. “It’s just like raising children. They say children are your biggest investment, and what you put in them is what you get out. Well, I think it’s the same with flowers. These are living plants, and they feel you, they feel your energy. I really think it all starts with the seed and that you show love.”
The love theme now determines a number of different strategies employed by the company. As a response to a disruption of business at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Terraform one-eighth ounce jars are now packaged at a generous 4.2 grams compared to the 3.5 grams standard.
“When COVID started, it was, like, ‘let’s give the community more love.’ Because we obviously need money to survive, to last, to build,” Yana says.
Terraform’s transparent relationship with the customer has produced a program never before seen in legal cultivation: Genetic Development.
“Genetic Development is special,” Brett says. “I love it, the team loves it—we want to bring it to the menu. But before we do that, we want to put it out to the consumer. The market dictates it, so let’s have the market be involved in that process as well.”
Specific strains marked as such contain a QR code linking consumers to the “TerraPortal,” where they can critique said strains. The overall response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially with Black Gummy and White Truffle which both graduated from the program with remarkable praise.
In this adult-use era, Terraform’s newfound facilities are quite impressive, but they literally have more room to grow, with at least five more theater-sized rooms being prepared to cultivate luxury-quality indoor cannabis.
“I was always into Total Recall,” Brett says. “I love that movie, terraforming Mars and this and that. I was thinking that’s cool because that’s basically what we’re doing. You’re creating the environment. Whatever’s going to happen in that room, you have control of that. Terraform is like shaping a world to be habitable, whether it’s human beings on Mars, or cannabis in a room.”
This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.
Common genetic variations in a particular serotonin receptor could be responsible for the varying effects psychedelic drugs have on different individuals, according to a recently published study from researchers at the University of North Carolina. The study, which comes at a time of reinvigorated research into the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs, could shed light on why the substances seem to have dramatically positive effects for some patients with serious mental health conditions while others find little therapeutic value in the drugs.
Bryan Roth, MD, PhD, led a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) to complete the study. The goal of the research was to explore how variations in this one serotonin receptor changes the activity of four psychedelic therapies. The laboratory research in cells showed that seven variants uniquely and differentially impact the receptor’s response to four psychedelic drugs—psilocin, LSD, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and mescaline. The researchers believe that the in vitro research could be useful for determining appropriate mental health therapies for patients.
“Based on our study, we expect that patients with different genetic variations will react differently to psychedelic-assisted treatments,” said Roth, who leads the National Institutes of Health Psychotropic Drug Screening Program. “We think physicians should consider the genetics of a patient’s serotonin receptors to identify which psychedelic compound is likely to be the most effective treatment in future clinical trials.”
Psychedelics and Mental Health
Research published in 2020 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. A separate study published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. And last year, researchers determined that psychedelic users had less stress during lockdowns put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior research has also determined that psychedelic drugs stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain. The 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor, also known as 5-HT2A, is responsible for mediating how a person reacts to psychedelic drugs. However, there are several naturally occurring, random genetic variations that can affect the function and structure of the 5-HT2A receptor. Much of the research into the effect that psychedelics have on mental health is inspired by the effect the drugs have on serotonin receptors, which bind the neurotransmitter serotonin and other similar molecules to help regulate mood, emotions and appetite.
Although they show great promise, psychedelic drugs do not seem to be effective as a treatment for everyone. Dustin Hines, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience in the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who was not involved in the UNC study, said the research could shed light on why psychedelic therapies work well for some patients while others find little therapeutic benefit from the drugs.
“Genetic variation in this receptor has been shown to influence the response of patients to other drugs,” Hines told Healthline. “While psychedelic therapies can provide rapid and sustained therapeutic benefits for multiple mental health concerns, there are a proportion of patients who fail to respond.”
Hines also noted that differences in mental health conditions from person to person could also contribute to how well patients respond to both psychedelic and more traditional treatments.
“Some individuals with depression may have a genetic predisposition that increases the likelihood that they will experience depression in their lives,” Hines said. “Other individuals facing depression may have more situational or environmental contributions.”
The researchers at UNC noted that the study could help provide insight to clinicians considering psychedelics as a treatment for their patients and called for further investigation.
“This is another piece of the puzzle we must know when deciding to prescribe any therapeutic with such dramatic effect aside from the therapeutic effect,” Roth said. “Further research will help us continue to find the best ways to help individual patients.”
What are the trends in the US cannabis market? Each state has its own laws and regulations concerning cannabis. But at this point, cannabis legalization in the United States seems like an inevitable possibility. So in the meantime, we can look to the legal States and discern some direction. Overall, US cannabis markets have matured […]