Freakshow! Weed Gets Weird

About six years ago, Jordan was approaching his 40th anniversary as a cannabis grower. He believed he was through — ready to quit a lifelong hobby and ready to liquidate a priceless (and, as it would turn out, wholly unique) seed bank, the product of decades of careful labor — because he was bored.

It wasn’t that the self-described “hillbilly,” whose last name Cannabis Now is withholding at his request, didn’t love weed. He’d had his first hit before he was a teenager, started collecting seeds at 17, and started sprouting huge trays, producing hundreds of seedlings, shortly thereafter. What Jordan didn’t love was what had happened to weed: It wasn’t weird anymore.

Jordan is an autodidact. Beyond cannabis growing, he also taught himself motorcycle repair, garment production, battle-ax construction and year-round permaculture — all useful skills when you live off-grid somewhere in rural California near Yosemite National Park, as Jordan has done for 39 years. Through his self-driven study of cannabis growing, Jordan had seen hints of what the cannabis plant could do. And it was much, much more than everyone else involved with the plant seemed to know or care about. He’d seen the freaks and the weirdos — like the “dwarf plants” no more than three feet tall at maturity, or the plants producing buds on the petioles — and he’d seen what happened to them, discarded, weeded out in favor of something predictable.

“People just want something that’s huge and looks good,” Jordan explained to Cannabis Now via telephone.

Judging cannabis based on expedient looks — bag appeal, or grow-room appeal, whatever you call it — “is such a mistake,” he says. And yet, because of market pressures or because of prohibition, predictability became de rigueur.

With legalization looming six years ago, it also seemed there wasn’t much room for weird in the cannabis industry. Just more homogeneity, more conformity. Companies touted themselves as “the Apple Store of weed,” the “Uber for cannabis.” That meant, maybe, as a grower who’d never done more than “medical cannabis patient numbers,” there wasn’t much room for him. Considering that he’s a lifelong lover of sativas and other narrow-leafed tropical-bred cannabis plants working in an era that prized Afghan-ized broad-leafed indicas, maybe that was always the way.

Doubts, boredom and a looming exit were the shadows flickering on the wall of his mind when Jordan set to work on his latest breeding project. He was attempting to stabilize a particular terpene profile, crossing a mother bred from the strains Big Bud and Skunk #1, with a male plant stemming from Big Sur Holy Bud and Banana Kush, when the plant decided it was time to act out.

It was time to get weird. It was time for Freakshow to make its grand entrance.

In his decades growing, Jordan had already seen some phenotypes produce bizarre, out-of-the ordinary mutations. He says that it wasn’t too rare, but also not too normal, to see mutations in the leaves: serrated leaves so deep that they reminded him of a wood saw or alligator teeth. One of these phenos from the above-mentioned cross, however, produced not only deep serrations, but also extra leaflets — not two or three on top of the usual seven, but “a crazy amount of extras,” he recalled, enough to support a millipede. Intrigued and encouraged, Jordan did the opposite of what you’re “supposed” to do: He threw out all the normies and kept breeding the freaks. He sprouted hundreds of seeds — how many he can’t recall.

“I had never taken time to sit there and try to create a mutant,” he said. “But once I did, it was working… Maybe I got kind of lucky. You can say that for a fact.”

He can say that, because the fact is that a mutant appeared: A cannabis plant with serrated leaves so long they almost look like ferns. He named the plant Freakshow, which has leaves so long they almost look like the cannabis plant has developed arms, like the plant is trying to reach out and grab your attention, give you a hug, or smother you in its embrace.

“As a manipulator of cannabis genetics, [Freakshow] shows you how far we can take things.” — JORDAN

“When I first saw that, it was, ‘Oh man, what have I done?’” Jordan recalled. “That was the moment. I knew right then and there that nobody had ever seen this before.”

A quick Instagram search revealed he was right. Jordan’s son, active online, started circulating photos of Freakshow. Weedheads around the world reacted with disbelief and anger. Surely this was a hoax. Surely this was a Photoshop job. No plant looks like this.

More photos — several generations’ of Freakshow worth — revealed that, no, this was a real plant. Soon shock turned to awe turned to envy. Growers around the world wanted Freakshow for themselves. And now, they can have this rare cannabis in their collection, thanks to a chance encounter with Nathaniel Pennington, the founder and CEO of genetics outfit Humboldt Seed Company.

By the time he crossed paths with Pennington, Jordan had pulled off the other trick of a cannabis breeder: Having “discovered” Freakshow, he’d also “tamed” or domesticated it. He’d breed enough generations of the plant so that its genetics were stable, or stable enough so that when a Freakshow plant produced seeds, those seeds would also reliably produce more Freakshow. Meanwhile, Pennington was running a massive genetics search, what he called the phenotype hunt. He hadn’t yet heard of Freakshow — he was after some other genetics that Jordan had developed — but when Jordan’s kids approached him and told him about this really weird plant, Pennington was intrigued. At the next meeting, at a small cannabis cup event prior to the passage of Proposition 64, Jordan himself appeared — and brought with him a living example, a small Freakshow in a pot.

“Immediately a light went off,” Pennington said. “‘Oh my gosh,’ I said. This is the most unique thing I have ever seen in my life.”

Even better than the weird “random stubby leaves” is the fact that Freakshow actually produces nice buds. It’s also a tough plant, able to do well in regular garden conditions or on the darker side of a house, Jordan and Pennington say.

“It literally could be classified as brand new,” says Jordan. He’s already coined a term (and filed for a United States patent) to classify the plant: Not indica, not sativa — but cannabis monstra. He says it could be the genetic foundation for a whole new breed of plant, a style of ornamental cannabis that you’d pick up at your local nursery.
Classifying the plant, and clarifying whether it qualifies as a subspecies of cannabis sativa or something else, is a job for the nerds and the scientists. More pragmatically, just because a plant is weird and cool doesn’t mean it will “survive” in “the real world.” Even though Freakshow was available, would anyone want to buy it?

Freakshow had what you could call its coming-out party at the Emerald Cup in December 2019, and the results were promising.

“We had a line out of the door to the Great Pavilion,” Pennington said of the thirst for Freakshow seeds. “We had people fly in all the way from London.”

And there was Jordan, signing seedpacks from total strangers who came an awful long way to find the mad genius behind this really freaky pot plant.

Pennington doubts this is the first time Freakshow has appeared on Earth.

“To be honest, I think maybe nine out of 10 breeders have seen those funky weeds — and then immediately gotten those genetics out,” he said. “I think most are like, ‘Uh oh, what did I do wrong? I’m starting to see a mutant.’”

And Jordan himself tends to agree. In Freakshow, he sees echoes of some of the very first cannabis he ever saw. “The first Thai stick, back in the 1970s, had a lot of these small, little serrated leaves,” he says. Maybe the old sativas of his youth, the plants he always loved, decided to return in his hour of need?

Freakshow is neither indica nor sativa – it is cannabis monstra.

Metaphysics and magic aside, the science behind Freakshow — what produced it and how — is evolving in real time. Humboldt Seed Company hopes to publish studies on the strain, produced in concert with botany PhDs and other plant scientists, Pennington said. In the meantime, Jordan himself has some theories, some of which already seem like they’ll be borne out.

Epigenetics, he notes, is the study of how mutations occur not when DNA changes, but when various genes in the same genetic sequences are expressed or suppressed. Think of it as reaching (or suppressing) inherent potential, sometimes in response to stress, other times in response to chemical exposure or another intervention.

In plant biology, a gene called the KNOX1 affects the shape and length of leaves and shoots. Maybe Freakshow has a suppressed KNOX1 gene?

The Freakshow experience also underscores how cannabis breeding should be approached with a sense of urgency given that the commercial industry might be breeding itself “into a dead end,” Jordan notes. Other plants offer ominous warnings, should we bother to heed them. For example, commercial bananas — the standard yellow fruit that most humans not living in tropical climates consider to be “bananas” — weren’t a thing before 1960, when a fungus ravaged the flavorful Gros Michel banana strain and freaked-out banana growers replaced it with the supposedly hardier, less delicious Cavendish.

Jordan also wonders how much he’s in control of Freakshow, about what the untapped potential of the cannabis plant means for the future.

“It far outdid what I set out to do,” he said. “It made me realize, ‘Wow — as a manipulator of cannabis genetics, it shows you how far we can take things.’”

The post Freakshow! Weed Gets Weird appeared first on Cannabis Now.

If You Want to Smoke (Christmas) Trees, Ask Santa for These Strains

The holidays feel like a time of year tailor made for creating wonderful sensory memories. Be it the comforting aroma of freshly baked gingerbread men wafting over the kitchen or the taste of a stiff eggnog, our various end-of-year celebrations and traditions are often packed with plenty of signature flavors and smells.

Though cannabis may not be on that list for everyone, it is a plant that relies on the very same aromatic compounds at the heart of everything from mistletoe to hot chocolate: terpenes. Today, terpenes are rapidly becoming an everyday part of the modern cannabis consumer vernacular.

Found in the essential oils of a wide variety of different plants, terpenes give cannabis strains their distinctive tastes and smells but also help in the wild by attracting pollinators and repelling invasive species. Secreted by the cannabis plant’s trichome glands, terpenes also offer any number of potential health benefits, including promising anti-inflammatory properties as well as relief from pain and anxiety.

Of course, that all depends on the terpene. Given there are over 150 of them found in cannabis alone, pinpointing precisely which terpenes can do what remains, with respect to the progress that has been made, an ongoing effort.

Fortunately, when it comes to the specific smells and tastes one can expect, we’ve gotten things down to a science. For instance, we now know that those who think of the holidays and immediately get a whiff of a pine tree echoing through their nostrils owe a debt of gratitude to pinene.

Regarded as the most common terpene in the natural world, pinene is a popular tool in aromatherapy and the pivotal player behind what we commonly refer to as “Christmas tree smell.” In fact, that particular scent has become so beloved that we now buy it by the bottleful to spray in our homes. If you are one of the many who wistfully smiles whenever a pinene-powered burst of pine hits your nose, you may be pleased to learn that this terpene also features prominently in many cannabis strains.

A terpene shared with the likes of orange peels, rosemary, parsley, turpentine, basil, pine needles, dill, and conifer trees, pinene can be found in notable amounts in such cannabis strains as Jack Herer, SFV OG, Sugar Pine and OG Ringo. Each of these four selections is renowned for their hearty notes of pine, which it should be noted will not necessarily be the case simply because a strain is packed with pinene. Instead, it is the presence of all the terpenes in a strain which work together to create a strain’s signature sensory characteristics.

In celebration of the holidays and the surplus of pine trees currently pleasing our sniffers, let’s take a closer look at four strains ready to deliver the evergreen all year round. As a bonus, we’ve paired each strain with a suggested holiday gift for any last-minute shopping on your list!

JACK HERER

Undisputed as a legend of the game, Jack Herer is a sativa-dominant strain named for the activist and author of the seminal “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” Featuring a hybrid of Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk, this strain is known for having a pine-forward, spicy quality that consumers love almost as much as its corresponding effects, which tend to induce a focused, uplifting high. Grab a jar of Jack Herer and pair it with a copy of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” for an inspiring combo gift!

SFV OG

Southern California’s San Fernando Valley is the birthplace of SFV OG, a hybrid descendant of OG Kush that delivers big on pain relief but isn’t known for being overly potent. The terpene expression in this strain is rich with notes of pine and lemon, leading some to refer to its resulting taste as being akin to Lemon Pledge (but in a good way). Popular with those seeking relief from physical symptoms, SFV OG should be a mainstay in any showcase devoted to strains that bring the Christmas tree heat. Try pairing a gift of this flower with another SoCal-specific item (you can’t go wrong with merch from Pink’s Hot Dogs) for a geographically themed twofer.

SUGAR PINE

With a name that sounds like a ski resort nestled in the Sierras, Sugar Pine is the result of decades of crosses and tinkering. The worthwhile payoff is a hybrid strain featuring genetics from Skunk, Sugar Bush, Afghani, and Sweetie. That’s quite the eclectic crew, which makes its ensuing flavor profile — a fragrant bouquet of sweet pine, vanilla, and hops — such a unique delight. With a name like Sugar Pine, it seems only fitting that any gift of this soothing, yet enlivening, strain should come with a home baked confection. Pair Sugar Pine with a tray of cookies straight from your oven and you’ve got the perfect present for anyone who loves both cannabis and sweets.

OG RINGO

Another relative of the OG Kush clan, OG Ringo is named not for the Beatle but rather Lawrence Ringo: a famed CBD breeder and activist. Regardless, the headline here is OG Ringo’s potent, high-THC payoff in the form of its long-lasting euphoric effects as well as its earthy, musky aroma, highlighted once more by notes of sweet pine. This holiday season, it’s actually possible to give a loved one the gift of multiple Ringos when you combine a jar of Ringo OG with a subscription to Disney+, which is currently streaming a critically acclaimed new, three-part documentary on the Beatles!

The post If You Want to Smoke (Christmas) Trees, Ask Santa for These Strains appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Doc Ray on the Battle to Save Heritage Growers and Genetics

Small-scale cannabis farms—the very pioneers of the industry—are being purged out of the legal market as the wholesale price per pound plummets, while at the same time, invaluable genetics are ripped off and renamed, often inaccurately.

Anybody who has been in the game long enough knows that craft cannabis grown in the Emerald Triangle—Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties—is among the finest in the world, representing a different class of flower.

Doc Ray is a U.S. Army Green Beret, a former art professor and a respected cultivator and breeder in Emerald Triangle for about 50 years. He’s the creator of countless terp-ridden strains—the type of varieties you want to write home about. He’s also a storyteller, with tales such as gun fights with DEA agents in the hills of Northern California since the ‘70s. He chatted with High Times to discuss his mission: save heritage cultivators and unveil a new collaboration with some of Emerald Triangle’s rising heavyweights.

“I’m an old-school outlaw cultivator,” Doc Ray told High Times. “I’m kind of an open book at this stage. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’m an old school Green Beret. I’m a little rough and crusty. At this stage in the game, I just call it like I see it.”

As a Phenotype-Specific Geneticist, Doc Ray owns some brands such as Doc Ray Genetics—with mouthwatering beans such as Malawi Gold Mango. He also operates a microbusiness in cannabis cultivation in Arcata, California. As an old school breeder, Doc Ray has gotten himself into all kinds of facets of cultivation.

But lately, amid unprecedented thievery and competition with cheap “deps,” Doc Ray has been exploring patented strains, intellectual property (IP) and blockchain technology as a means to protect small scale growers and the strains they love, almost like one of their own children.

Doc Ray examines a plant. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

“I just don’t want outlaws to come in and rip me off all the fucking time. That’s the model I’ve built, which is apparently pretty fuckin’ popular now. Three years ago, people said, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to patent plants!’” -Co-founder Doc Ray

Doc Ray’s Road to Divine Genetics

Doc Ray has been smoking grass since the ‘70s. “I was a kid in high school and smoked my first joint,” Doc Ray said. “Vietnam was tapering off. One of my buddy’s older brothers came back from ‘Nam in the summer of ‘72 when I cultivated my first plant. That was my first experience in cultivation. I grew up in Northern Mendocino County. It’s just a lifestyle there. Not like it is now—a Holy Grail mecca type of place as the Emerald Triangle. It’s a way of life.”

Doc Ray always had a hand in some sort of cultivation role. “Even when I was in college or teaching, I always had a closet grow or something going on in my garden,” he said.

Doc Ray was incarcerated in the mid-’80s over a miniscule amount of pot. But it didn’t cause him to deviate from his path. “I just shifted my game—going completely underground,” he said. “My voter registration card took you down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and it just stopped. I’m one of the original Mendocino outlaws—you know, green mountain boys. We were considered guardians of the valley so to speak. The ones in their ‘40s and ‘50s know me now. We kept everybody out. You just didn’t roll up in there, or you had to deal with us. We were all ex-Special Forces and are all hard, riding motherfuckers. That’s just how we were.”

Doc Ray got into an altercation with the County Sheriffs in the early ‘90s and over the next 10 years, the industry he once knew sort of slowly vanished before his eyes. Doc Ray was a Prop. 215 caregiver in Mendocino County in 1997—the first year anyone could. His travels to embark on cultivation-related projects would take him to Big Sur, among other destinations. 

By the time it got to the early 2000s, things started shifting and Doc Ray couldn’t stand it anymore, with the price per pound reaching new depths. He was responsible for producing a lot of medicine for a lot of people. Twenty years ago, what goes for a few hundred dollars now, used to be worth thousands of dollars for the same flower. And nothing’s changed—if anything, growers have gotten better at it. The price for cultivators nosedived as adult-use took form.

His gears shifted over the past 10-12 years, after barely surviving a serious motorcycle accident in 2009, when he returned to Humboldt County. “I got my eye knocked out and I was left for dead on the side of the road,” he said.

Over the last 12 or so years, Doc Ray has been playing with genetics. The number of patented cannabis genetics continues to grow in 2021, as plant patents are granted by the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety—not to mention utility patents that also abound. The understanding of law is often murky. “Now I’ve got patented plants, and half a dozen flower lines and all this other stuff. It wasn’t there seven years ago, and it’s all here now. Now all of a sudden I’m involved in this project with my company and with Bentley [Rolling]. We’ve been working on the Terps By Doc & Bentley flower release, which is showcasing how badass cultivators here in the Emerald Triangle are, which I have access to. They’re part of my network.”

Cannabis for Veterans

Doc Ray slowly started working behind the scenes to fortify and protect his genetics, and in addition, also took part in studies on the efficacy of medical cannabis for veterans. “That’s one of my things,” he said. “My Bluestone genetics. My Bluestone has been around for awhile. It’s all sativa-forward now. There’s no purple. It’s heavy smoke. Most of my young friends they all love it. My daily smoke. It’s a Blue Dream x Skunk #1 cross that I’ve been playing around with forever. The breeder of Skunk #1 here in Humboldt is one of my mentors. He’s been gone for a long time. It’s an homage to him. The creator of Blue Dream is a friend. It’s an homage to her.” 

Dr. Sue Sisley is Principal Investigator for the only FDA-approved randomized controlled trial in the world examining the efficacy of smoked marijuana flower in combat veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The plants now are patented for post-traumatic stress therapy,” Doc Ray said. “It’s on the list with Dr. Sue Sisley and the Scottsdale Research Institute for one of the plants. It’s in pre-clinical trials for post-traumatic stress for veterans. I’ve been talking to a lot of medical experts at the University of Davis. Five years ago, nobody gave a fuck about it.”

Doc Ray explained that everybody wants it for stress relief as it’s one of the most grounding flowers around, with a calmness that rolls over you. “I’m old school,” Doc Ray said. “I have a lot of shit on my head from my military career and from my civilian life. This helps me get the ghosts and demons out of my head. Twenty minutes later, my back and shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore. That’s the advantage of this plant. Put it on a shelf in a retail environment, for the adult consumer.”

Bentley Rolling examines a specimen.

“When I first started Terps with legendary Heritage Cultivator Doc Ray, I had no idea this was going on. I just knew I wanted to help him get his phenomenal genetics out to more people.” -Co-founder Bentley Rolling

Saving Heritage Growers

Doc Ray explained that he’s growing top-tier, five-star indo, and his price point isn’t where the outdoor market is. “I’m at the top of the food chain,” he said. “Not at the bottom of the food chain. I have all these friends who are world class growers.”

He explained that small-scale growers are getting crucified under current conditions. People demand AAA bud, but nowadays they’re paying in the ballpark of $450 per pound. He finds it insulting—given the cost of manpower, payroll and workman’s comp., not to mention the overhead.

“That’s what this whole thing that I’ve mulled over these past couple of months,” Doc Ray said. “Supporting heritage farms, and [recognizing] the plight of small mom-and-pop farmers. Most of them don’t produce 1,000 pounds of flower, they don’t produce 200 pounds of flower annually. A lot of them are the 50-100 pound range. It used to be that you could get $2,000 per pound and make a living at that. At $400, that doesn’t even get you out of the hole to pay your bills and fees. They’re quitting left and right. Or even worse. On a personal note, I had a buddy kill himself because he didn’t see any alternative. When the hell did people kill themselves in this game?!”

When Proposition 64 rolled out, the whole landscape began to change, and fast. Around the year of 2015, Doc Ray started noticing people who were saying they’ve been ripped off of their genetics. He knew that it was going to happen eventually. 

That’s why Doc Ray and other OG farmers in the area started to consider legal protections a bit more seriously, despite the limitations of working in the “grey area” given the federal status of cannabis.

Doc Ray takes a break from a long day. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

Intellectual Property

“I’ve got the best IP lawyer in the country,” Doc Ray said. “I have a legal team now. I’ve got people that represent me. The whole nine yards: License branded agreements. I want minimum purchases. I don’t take percentages. I want a dollar a stamp for everything you cut. I want a percentage of every pound that’s turned. This is how it rolls now.”

He explained that it didn’t used to be that way. As an open-source guy, Doc Ray originally embraced open source genetics in the Emerald Triangle. But the truth of it is, he says, is that they’ve all been tried, ripped off, and stolen from and taken advantage of for decades. And today, you have people in suits who have never grown a plant in their lives taking over the industry.

He started experimenting how to get genetics in a position where small-scale growers can keep them from being ripped off. “Most breeders don’t get it, honestly, much less growers,” Doc Ray says. “I’m not asking for a lot, I’m asking for a few pennies on every transaction with the intention that it’s going to be millions and millions of transactions. That’s where I put this thing at now. I own all of my genetic patenting; I’ve got a couple of small principal partners who are invested in what I do. I control all of my genetics. I control who I work with. I have a couple of branding partners here in the state of California who represent me. You can get gear, but you can’t dilute it. And by that I mean, and I tell them. If you see Kit-Kats roll in without paperwork, they don’t get my gear.”

If a grower rolls into town and has his paperwork, his Metrc, etc.—Doc Ray will work with them by all means. “I just don’t want outlaws to come in and rip me off all the fucking time,” he said. “That’s the model I’ve built, which is apparently pretty fuckin’ popular now. Three years ago, people said, “I can’t believe you’re going to patent plants!”

Doc Ray explained that old school growers in the area see the “rockstars” as musicians or book writers. It makes the difference between a world class novel and a trashy tabloid article. He explained that the royalty portion of his genetics has to be through a controlled source. “You can make a killing on it, but you have to pay a little bit back to the source. That’s something that we’ve skipped over until now.”

Left to right: Doc Ray, Jerry Savage and Bentley Rolling. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

Registering Strains

Recently, Doc Ray is diving into intellectual property rights, with a little help from technology like Canopyright. Last October, Canopyright launched a beta version of its secure, free-to-use web platform on Hedera. Canopyright is the first and only cannabis herbarium where breeders can both register their unique strains.

“Canopyrights made a test project—a blockchain project—that’s just here in the Triangle right now,” said Doc. “But if we can get the thing to go out, it will be a way for mom-and-pop cultivators or breeders who have that one-of-a-kind can protect it by filing the paper with a digital timestamp on the blockchain that gives you some protection. And I went to my guys, and said, ‘will our thing be their thing in the court of law?’”

Doc Ray admits that there are a lot of hypotheticals. Anybody who’s not playing by the rules—this thing doesn’t protect them from shit. “My guys take DNA samples, and if it’s our DNA, we own your ass. That’s why genetic plant patenting is so important. That’s what I’ve done. The blockchain allows people to still barter their plants with the system. It protects them and gives them a little bit of control without having any real monetary expense to it. My way is not expensive.” Doc Ray said he thinks the next five years are going to be critical for the black market. 

He sees younger people entering the industry, and some are on their way to becoming breeder legends. “We have to work together, or we’re doomed,” Doc Ray said. “I’m known for small scale. You’ll never see more than 25 pounds of anything. You just don’t see that anymore. I’ve been holding my price point up.” Doc Ray wants to leave something for his grandkids.

Enter Terps By Doc & Bentley

Terps By Doc & Bentley provides heritage cultivation with its own patented genetics—also providing a path to market for other heritage cultivators in the area including Jerry Savage of Savage Farms and Sean Stamm of SoHum Royal Cannabis Co.

Jerry Savage of Savage Farms. Photo courtesy of Terps By Doc & Bentley.

The company was formed by old school Emerald Triangle legend Doc Ray and Bentley Rolling—both of whom set out to protect heritage cultivators and their original strains. There are two sides to the brand—its main flower line, with genetics grown by Doc Ray in-house; and its heritage Terps line featuring Emerald Triangle-based legends. 

“When I first started Terps with legendary Heritage Cultivator Doc Ray, I had no idea this was going on,” Co-founder Bentley Rolling told High Times. “I just knew I wanted to help him get his phenomenal genetics out to more people. He created and stabilized some of the most rare terpene profiles in existence, including Cup-winning Orange Cream Frost, Black Apple Kush, Blue Skunk and Pheno Select #5.” Bentley Rolling is also a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and photographer, who turned to cannabis for anxiety, like many others. On Bentley’s website, you can find advocate-oriented merchandise with slogans such as “Save Heritage Terps” or “Support Small Cannabis Farms.” 

FollowTerps andTerps By Doc & Bentley on Instagram or visit bentleyrolling.com.

The post Doc Ray on the Battle to Save Heritage Growers and Genetics appeared first on High Times.

Strain Check: We See You Rolling, But is it Loud?

What on earth am I doing at this millennial rap music festival? To be fair, I am a music industry lifer. I’ve done just about everything there is to do in this game, and I still do have a love for the music. So, I did my plantar fasciitis stretches, took extra-strength ibuprofen, bought a new insole for my sneakers that boast extra arch support, followed by several hours of procrastinating with my bong and then headed to Queens. 

My mission was simple: I am not here to watch performances–I am way more interested in what artists are smoking at Rolling Loud New York. So, I came up with a little thing called “Strain Check: We See You Rolling, But is it Loud?”

Within a brief walk through the Rolling Loud grounds, I ended up passing through the epic thrillride that was 300 Entertainment’s “Ride Or Die” public transit themed haunted house activation. I definitely needed to smoke after that, so I paid a quick visit to the Vibes Papers larger-than-life shipping container to stock up on supplies. It was at that moment that I realized something: a music festival that provides rolling papers to its attendees is a very self-aware festival. 

After a much-needed sesh, it was time for the Strain Check to officially commence.

Courtesy of Seth Zaplin
Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

The first person I spotted was Shiest Bubz, and we go back for decades. Years ago, I booked Shiest and prominent Dipset members at an intimate club in Connecticut. “Purple City Byrd Gang” was the song of the night right before the place got pepper sprayed. For those who don’t know Bubz, this notorious Harlem MC and entrepreneur smokes like no other and isn’t afraid to let you know it.

Shiest Bubz: Seth, you started with me, and you’re ending with me, ‘cause if you ain’t smoking the Iyyyeeeee Kiki Shiest Bubzy, you don’t know what you’re doing. I just smoked my Cherry Critters, but check this out:

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

The next person whom I spot is a familiar (tattooed) face who goes by the name Slayter. I’ve been rocking with him since his 2016 Dirty Game debut, and seeing him rock big festival crowds and concert venues nationwide on tour with OhGeesy makes me proud. With a reputation for smoking loud, we had to Strain Check what he was rolling, and the response he gave was quite honest.

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Slayter: Cheetah Piss! I can’t front; this is not really my favorite, but it was quick block finesse on my way over here—and it gets me right.

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

What is some crazy shit you remember happening while smoking?
Slayter:
I remember the first time I ever smoked weed. I was in a Target parking lot, and I swear I saw […] a zebra lady. I always think about that…

Strain Check
Courtesy fo Seth Zaplin

Shortly after, I found the newest member of Griselda: Rome Streetz. Rome is killing the underground with gritty bars filled with substance. I’ve been bumping his collaboration with the legendary DJ Muggs, Death And The Machine. Can’t wait to see what happens on his first Griselda project, but in the meantime, we must know what in the world is Rome smoking. 

Rome Streetz: I’m smoking this Big Apple Greens Blue Guava. 

Ever smoked something that really knocked you out? 

Rome Streetz: Yes! One time I smoked this stuff called Halo OG. It was so strong, I almost stopped smoking weed. This was, like, 2013, and I was like, “This is just the best ever; I might need to quit!” But nah, I smoke a lot! 

Strain CheckLater on, I ran into Florida’s own Danny Towers. Danny is a super talented and versatile artist, and I always respected him as such. But after this encounter, he now has my ultimate respect as a pothead. Most people would ask, “Danny, how you feel?” but in this case, we ask Danny, “What are you smoking?”Danny Towers: This is my strain: Turbo Towers. It’s really, really good, and we’re coming out with more flavors very soon, G shit.
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Later on, I ran into Florida’s own Danny Towers. Danny is a super talented and versatile artist, and I always respected him as such. But after this encounter, he now has my ultimate respect as a pothead. Most people would ask, “Danny, how you feel?” but in this case, we ask Danny, “What are you smoking?”

Danny Towers: This is my strain: Turbo Towers. It’s really, really good, and we’re coming out with more flavors very soon, G shit.

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Woods or papers?

Danny Towers: Aw man, I was abusing Backwoods! I was smoking 15 to 20 per day. It was getting too crazy, so I’m on papers and mixing in a little Grabba now. 

Next, I stumbled upon OMB Peezy, and I just had a gut feeling that Peezy smoked big gas. The Mobile, Alabama sensation who is signed to E-40’s Sick Wit It label did not disappoint. 

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

OMB Peezy: I’ve got this Gelato 41 right now for whenever I run out of my Peezy Purple or that Overkill Purplato. This is my go-to when I run out of my own strain. 

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Do you have a super memorable blunt or joint you can recall smoking? 

OMB Peezy: I remember when my homeboy put me onto Backwoods. I was still smoking Swishers and shit. That motherfucker rolled a Backwoods, bent it, and still smoked it! I was like, oh yeah, I ain’t never smoking a Swisher again!

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Through a crowd of average-height folks, I easily spot the tallest artist I know, Dave East, who has been impacting the scene for the past several years with a Nas co-sign and a slew of notable projects. I remember being super impressed when hearing his early stuff with Scram Jones. Fast forward to 2021, and Dave is a superstar actor hybrid playing Method Man on Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga. Oh, and of course by now he has his own strain. 

Dave East: The only thing I smoke these days is the East OG. Here, let me show you: 

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

What was it like being a heavy smoker before all the money and fame? 

Dave East: I used to take all of the roach clips out of my ashtray. Before I had a lot of weed, I would break ‘em all down, take the clips out, and roll new blunts. I’ll never forget my roach blunts. 

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

It was starting to rain, and I was ready to give up and leave, but before doing so, I passed by CJ, who is from my borough of Staten Island. CJ broke through last year in a huge way with his hit record, “Whoopty,” so I had to see for myself what “zaza” of his was going “straight to the māthā.” 

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

CJ: One the homies just handed me some of this Gumbo, which is going crazy in NYC right now. But usually, you can catch me smoking my own strains of “Whoopty,” “Zaza,” and “Blue Cheese.” Got the hybrid, sativa and indica.

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Before finally making my departure from Rolling Loud, I had to pay a visit to an old friend named Ski Mask The Slump God: a man I’ve personally helped fog out a tour bus with an absurd amount of spliff smoke. After a high-energy performance full of mosh pits and front-flip stage dives, we must know what this man is smoking!

Strain Check
Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Ski Mask: Ayeeeeeee! Your Highness always be blessin’ me with the fire-ass weed that gets me fried as fuck, haha! G shit! Right now I’ve got the Half Evil collab, this shit is getting me extra right. I’m ‘bout to roll me a hot one now, haha!

What in the hell is a hot one?

Ski Mask: You don’t wanna know, haha! A spicy ass spliff… with extra Grabba! G shit!

Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Throughout this gathering of stoners and hip-hop fans alike, I managed to get what I needed out of it. I acquainted myself with artists who were rolling some seriously loud bud and had some compelling conversations. Shoutout to Statik Selektah for the artist meal ticket. I was able to successfully slam down a pretty tasty falafel burger and ultimately take my very stoned self home. 

A word to all cannabis-smoking recording artists: When you see me at your show, please act accordingly… this is a Strain Check!

The post Strain Check: We See You Rolling, But is it Loud? appeared first on High Times.

The 8 Best Weed Strains for Your Spooky Halloween Weekend

Trick or treating might be out for you, but you can still have some fun that is equal parts cool and creepy. Scary movies are always an easy go-to for celebrating Halloween as an adult without feeling like you’re missing out on anything — especially if you’re not really into the idea of costume parties or haunted house attractions. And if you add some weed into the equation, you have the beginnings of a perfectly content night at home.

Need some help picking out a strain for your movie marathon?

These particular strain pairings are just for the fun of the holiday and not at all based on matching the post-consumption experience with the type of movie you’ll be watching…. which is a good thing. It’s probably not a good idea to try to intentionally smoke strains that will mirror the potential fear and paranoia of watching a scary movie. Instead, these strains will mellow you out, help you chill and just add to the entertainment factor.

“It” + Pennywise

Whether you choose the original (which you should) or the remake, there are lots of moments that you’ll be glad you went for a high-CBD indica to calm your nerves. Plus, seriously, what is more peak stoner than smoking a strain that is the exact same name as the main character of the movie you’re watching? Like, really, just pat yourself on the back for this one.

“The Shining” + Jack the Ripper

Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance in this classic film about a family’s weird and disturbing winter at a hotel in Colorado. This energizing sativa might be a good choice to help keep you and your friends upbeat during some of the more slow or meandering parts of the movie where you could lose interest. Instead, you guys can giggle your way through until the next scare.

“The Hunger” + Blood Orange Kush

Bust out this oldie but goodie where the infamous David Bowie plays an ageless, but still somehow relatively youthful vampire on the hunt for fresh blood. This movie is definitely more eerie than downright scary and the paired strain works well with keeping you relaxed and feeling good with the calm, methodical pace of the movie.

“Carrie” + Killer Queen

Mean teens, hella blood and a nightmare prom? Check. Though this film adapted from a Stephen King novel was made back in the ’70s, it’s still just as creepy now as it was then. You can expect lots of cerebral effects with this hybrid strain that will keep you feeling energized as your body settles into deep relaxation.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” + Sweet Dreams

Wes Craven did a pretty good job at making people never want to fall asleep again thanks to the disturbing and frequent appearances by Freddy Krueger in their dreams and waking life. This creeper strain is good for lasting through the movie and getting you nice and relaxed for a good night’s sleep — minus the nightmares.

“Psycho” + 3x Crazy

Considered one of the best psychological horror movies of all time, this movie is home to the infamous shower scene that has been copied and parodied since its introduction in 1960. Pairing a nice indica strain with this film will have you feeling zenned out and comfortably relaxed even through all the screeching.

“Night of the Living Dead” + Zombie OG

Take a break from your “Walking Dead” marathon and throw on this classic movie all about the undead feeding on those still living. Like the name suggests, this strain is super potent and will have you feeling heavily sedated. It’s great for a late night solo smoke where you have every intention of falling asleep right afterward.

“The Exorcist” + Holy Ghost

This strain is good for stress and anxiety which could help you keep your cool during an intense, high stakes movie about clearing a kid of demon possession. And to help with the residual trauma, Holy Ghost is good for a mood boost that can help you shake that lingering sinister feeling.

The post The 8 Best Weed Strains for Your Spooky Halloween Weekend appeared first on Cannabis Now.

8 of the best strains for focus

It’s 12:47 p.m. and you’ve got a whole heap of work that you’ve been avoiding. You know none of the tasks are too hard, but for some reason, you just can’t sit still and concentrate for long enough to do them. Still, sunlight is ticking, stress is mounting, and you know you’ll feel like hot garbage if you end the day with nothing to show for your time. You think, “All I need to do is smoke a little weed and I can zone in.” 

Which strains are you picking?

There are plenty of cannabis strains that can help you focus. And with so many constant distractions in the world, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to try them all. While I could never name every single one, here are eight that might help you block out the noise for long enough to get shit done.

White Fire OG

White Fire OG, also called WiFi OG, is a cross of Fire OG and The White. The nugs are light green and frosty with trichomes, and the smoke tastes like gassy pine needles — which is perfect for anyone that loves chemmy diesel flavors. On the high side,  WiFi OG is great for people whose thoughts are always moving at 744 mph. It’s potent yet manageable high can help clear your mind of anything that’s not immediately in front of you.

Lemon Thai

Most strains with Thai genetics are good for a clear-headed high that can help you defeat procrastination. Lemon Thai is no different. A cross of a Thai landrace and a Hawaiian sativa, this citrusy strain is great for anyone who’s been caught with that middle-of-the-day lag that makes even simple tasks feel the most daunting. If you’re the type of consumer that likes to puff on a vape pen throughout the day, Lemon Thai is a great cart to have handy.

Jack Frost

When you’re talking strains that help you focus, it’s only right that we bring Jack to the table. A cross of the famed Jack Herer, Northern Lights #5, and White Widow, Jack Frost is for those who need to get dumb stoned to focus. It hits you with a potent high that’ll have you knocking out the day’s to-do list without issue. Like most strains with Jack genetics, it usually has a citrusy and earthy aroma, however some people report that it may also have a somewhat fruity smell to it.

Dutch Treat

Believed to be a cross of Northern Lights and Haze genetics, Dutch Treat pushes out strong piney terpenes that alert your senses in the same way walking through the forest on a hike does. 

The delicious flavor is followed by a potent, clear-headed cerebral stimulation that many describe as the “hybrid high.” Old school and tasty, , Dutch Treat is a perfect suggestion for the dabbers.

Canna-Tsu

As your cannabis knowledge bag gets deeper, you’ll learn that not every desired effect comes from THC. There are plenty of CBD strains out there that can help you focus too. 

Canna-Tsu is a CBD-dominant cross of Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. It has sweet, earthy flavors, and the effect is relaxing in the body. I get a little anxious sometimes, and anything with Cannatonic genetics usually chills me out in a way that smoking too much THC doesn’t. If you’re looking for something light and manageable, this (or either of its parents), are solid options.

Jah Goo

A lot of times, being able to focus isn’t about energizing yourself or clearing out your mind, it’s about relaxing your body. Jah Goo is a great strain for doing just that.

This cross of Goo and Purple Jasmine produces colorful flowers with purple hues and pink hairs, and a somewhat sweet and woody flavor. The strain’s stoney high may be a little much for inexperienced consumers, but the vets may find it just right for that 10 am smoke before flipping the Go switch.

Bay Dream

If you love Granddaddy Purple then you might love Bay Dream too — it comes from the same breeders. Bay Dream, or GDP Bay Dream, is a cross of the beloved Blue Dream and a Bay 11 hybrid. Like Blue Dream, it has a sweet flavor profile, but also features woody and piney attributes. The cerebral high provides a nice, long-lasting euphoria that helps people get active for everything that needs to get done before 5 p.m.

Harle-Tsu

Harle-Tsu is another CBD strain for consumers that don’t want to get high, but still want the benefits that come with smoking weed. As its name suggests, it is a cross of Harlequin and Sour Tsunami, two of the most well-known CBD flowers. If you’re here for taste, look elsewhere, as Harle-Tsu is pretty earthy and bland; but if you’re here for effects, this strain usually makes people feel relaxed in the body and focused in the mind.

Find thousands of strains on Weedmaps


Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

The post 8 of the best strains for focus appeared first on Weedmaps News.

The Story of Cannabis in Five Essential Strains

Arguing over which strains of cannabis are the best is a time-honored tradition. In good company and armed with some basic knowledge on the seemingly endless bounty of cannabis varietals now available, the quest to defend your chosen strain as the best of the bunch is often a largely subjective exercise. But a fun one nonetheless. By contrast, a conversation on which cannabis strains deserve to be considered essential in an overall survey of the plant’s long, strange history is a different matter entirely.

While there are unquestionably many candidates worthy of consideration, telling the story of weed through but a handful of its most seminal specimens is a challenge that quickly yields some obvious answers. Even if your favorite strain is not among the five examples highlighted below, it is likely that one of these featured options is a genetic cousin, forbearer, or offspring to the strains you hold nearest and dearest.

Thus, consider these selections a series of strain stepping stones that collectively offer a brief but pertinent overview of just far cannabis has come — and where it may be headed next.

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Panama Red

Before cultivators began breeding cannabis to create new crosses, consumers were smoking exclusively what is known as landrace strains. These varietals were often named for the geographic area in which they naturally grew, which is how we got Panama Red. This classic of the industry is a pure sativa that would go on to became a household name for pot fans in U.S. in the late 1960s, mostly for being widely available at a time when few strains were even on the market. Known for its lengthy flowering time (often at least 11 weeks), the desire to combine the effects of landrace strains with the shorter flowering cycles of cannabis originating from Afghanistan and other similar climates kicked off what would ultimately become a cross-breeding revolution.

high quality strains for the hobbyist
PHOTO Sensi Seeds

Northern Lights

When it comes to hybrids, the story can’t be told without including Northern Lights. A cross of multiple Afghani landrace strains, Northern Lights is revered for its potency and quick, bountiful yield. By the time we arrive at Northern Lights #5 (so named for literally being the fifth manifestation of the strain), the recipe had evolved to also include genetics from a Thai landrace sativa. The result was the addition of both a fruity taste and a more notably cerebral high for consumers. Reaching its peak of popularity in the early 90s, Northern Lights — and the #5 varietal specifically — is renowned as a sturdy, reliable strain that would also feature prominently in the next phase of the cannabis story, wherein hybrids were at last crossed with one another. And the sky truly became the limit.

Teen Marijuana Use Down, Adult Use Up
PHOTO Taylor Kent

OG Kush

The story of cannabis often takes the West Coast as its setting, and for good reason. Encompassing California and its famed Emerald Triangle, as well as pivotal neighboring states like Oregon and Washington, weed’s evolution was one that largely took place where the U.S. meets the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps no strain better exemplifies this journey than OG Kush. Forever shrouded in mysterious origins, the best guess of those eager to trace its lineage suggest it was a cutting smuggled from the West Coast to Florida and back again that ultimately yielded this iconic example of cannabis at its finest. Forever enshrined in the lyrics of classic rap songs and still namechecked today as a titan of the field, what is known is that we have a cultivator in Los Angeles known simply as Josh D. to thank for ushering the market into a hybrid frenzy that’s never truly dissipated.

PHOTO Gabe Perry

White Widow

Rivaling OG Kush in terms of name recognition is another hybrid that rose to prominence in the ’90s: White Widow. Named for its buds laden with white and crystal resin, there is no actual venom to worry about, however, a highly-potent experience is all but guaranteed from this Netherlands-born heavy-hitter. Derived from a cross between Brazilian indica and South Indian sativa landraces, White Widow has long served as a staple of Dutch coffee shops. Furthermore, the desirable effects of White Widow — often described as a mix of euphoria and energy — makes it no surprise that this strain would soon be utilized to create a host of popular offspring strains, including White Russian and Blue Widow.  

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Gelato

Turning our eye back to the West Coast, the story of modern cannabis is rather perfectly encapsulated by the balanced hybrid known as Gelato. Having gone through multiple incarnations, all courtesy of San Francisco’s Cookie Farm Genetics — led by famed cannabis breeders Mr. Sherbinski and Jigga — phenotype #33 is affectionately (if unofficially) nicknamed “Larry Bird” in reference to the famed Celtics basketball player’s jersey number. Featuring a cross between two already famed hybrids (Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies and the mouth-wateringly fruity indica Sunset Sherbert), Gelato served a pivotal role in establishing the Bay Area as a new headquarters for innovative, legendary cannabis strains. Still popular today, the amount of strains that owe a debt of recognition to this modern marvel are simple too numerous to name.

As for what comes next, the answer is as simple as paying a visit to your nearest neighborhood dispensary. New and incredible advents in the strain game are arriving seemingly every day, making the strains listed above but a starting point for any cannabis connoisseur on a quest to touch (and taste) all the magic of the cannabis rainbow.

The post The Story of Cannabis in Five Essential Strains appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Zkittlez: The Unique Cannabis Strain That Lets You Taste the Rainbow

Gobs of aroma and flavor await openers of bags of Zkittlez — one of America’s most trending, flavorful, fragrant and award-winning cannabis strains.

Zkittlez surfaced slowly over the last five years, originating from a single garden in the West Coast’s most dominant farm — 3rd Gen Fam, winners of 38 awards, including Grand Prize of Chalice California for their Zkittlez rosin processed by Moonshine Melts.

The lovely, pungent, balanced indica hybrid strain began when the 3rd Gen Fam gifted “Brandon” a cut of Zkittlez, which he took and ran with.

It was a cross of a primal grape-flavored strain and another local grapefruit-tasting strain, as well as likely something with fuel in it. Zkittlez lacked bag appeal, but more than made up for it with gobs of tropical candy terps and wholesome, positive effects.

“When we first introduced it to people, we could only do it in joints and pass it around to our friends,” Brandon said. “If they were to see the jar, they would be dogging us right away. It was a blessing and a curse. When we passed it to [rapper, businessman] Berner, we couldn’t show him — it was just too ugly.” 

Zkittlez demonstrates how a high-THC count alone cannot match copious terpenes— which contribute to an ‘entourage effect’ far bigger than higher-THC-testing flowers. If THC is the engine, terpenes are the wheels.

Zkittlez leaves a strong impact on people who try it. Exhibit A: seven awards won in four weeks, including the title belt in the World Secret Cup with an old school Zkittlez bubble hash. 

“[Zkittles] handles like a beauty —it’s enjoyable no matter what… but I’m really proud of that one,” Brandon said. “That made me feel really good. The solventless revolution is here.” 

Zkittlez genetics are now available through the Fam’s “Dying Breed Seeds” label. And look out for a new line of exotics with Berner, under the “Connoisseur Union” brand — including Rose, Dragonfruit and The Lemonge.

Look

Zkittlez looks like an indica hybrid — with its dense, moderate-to-small size and rounded density. It features copious pistils, which are reddish brown, gold and blond over a medium-green to lime-green color.

Smell

Cannabis aficionados love this strain for its huge nose, which isn’t loud like gasoline, but more thick and syrupy sweet. It’s the precise ratio of linalool (floral), humulene (hops), limonene (lemons), myrcene (perfume), pinene (pine), nerolidol (orange) and terpinolene (fuel) that creates the inviting aroma and strong yet balanced effects.

Feel

Zkittlez feels moderately dense and powdery with THC resin as opposed to sticky. Its fused leaves break apart nice and chewy rather than locking the grinder. Great for Js, bowls, vapes — you name it.

Taste

That huge terpene load translates into huge tastes as well — a rainbow gobstopper of sugary orange and pine, with a floral-fuel bite, then orange again.

Effect

Fast onset, physical relaxation and mental stress relief with neither couch-lock nor raciness.

Condition

Indica hybrids are often used by patients managing anxiety and chronic stress, as well as depression. Many report it can also relieve pain and nausea. Outdoor versions of Zkittlez are the perfect accompaniment to inner-tubing a lazy river. It’s too enjoyable to ruin on hard work. It’s brunch weed, or back-from-the-club weed. Not go-to-the-club weed. You’re going to be content, so don’t put too much on the agenda. Go see a chill movie, or just Netflix and chill.

Zkittlez fast facts:

  • Breeder: 3rd Gen Fam/Terp Hogz
  • Grown by: various
  • Type: Indica hybrid
  • Genetics: Original Dallas Grape Ape X Humboldt Grapefruit X [undisclosed]
  • Flowering: 56 -63 days
  • Yield: High

Originally published in issue 22 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you tried Zkittles?

The post Zkittlez: The Unique Cannabis Strain That Lets You Taste the Rainbow appeared first on Cannabis Now.

A Guide to the Evolution of Cannabis Strains

The discussion of cannabis strains has evolved to a point where it can feel like an entirely foreign language. While most consumers are familiar with the bedrock categories of sativa, indica and hybrids, concepts like minor cannabinoids and terpene profiles have expanded the conversation dramatically. Additionally, the sheer volume of strains on the market today can make the experience of selecting the best option for your needs feel downright overwhelming.

Fortunately, getting a better grasp on exactly what makes a strain a strain can be as simple as taking a quick journey through cannabis history. To start, let’s take a closer look at the aforementioned bedrock strains.

A Botanist’s Desire: The Origins of Indica and Sativa

While mainstream cannabis culture has long relied on sativa, indica and hybrids to define a given strain, these terms are largely considered outdated. For many years, common wisdom suggested that sativas offered a more cerebral high while indicas, by contrast, would put consumers “in da couch,” courtesy of a body high. Hybrids, by extension, offered varying combinations of the two.

This line of thinking can be traced back to the mid-1700s, where the terms indica and sativa were separately established as cannabis subspecies by Swedish botanist Carl Linneaus and French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Though far less prevalent, it should also be noted that a third subspecies, ruderalis, was identified by Russian botanist Dmitrij Janischewsky in 1930. Owing to the murky taxonomy of cannabis — a situation undoubtedly exacerbated by the fact that cannabis was illegal in most of the world until recently — indica and sativa caught on while ruderalis became more of a historical footnote.

What’s important to understand is that these terms are botanical in nature, not pharmacological. Rather than telling us about the potential effects that come with consuming a sativa or indica, these categories speak to the shape and size of a given cannabis plant’s leaves and the fiber they produce. In short, these concepts remain helpful to cultivators but do little to give consumers a clear picture of what they can expect to experience.

Landrace strain growing in Santa Cruz, California. PHOTO Gracie Malley

All Crossed Up: Hybrids and Cannabis Naming Conventions

Fast forward to the 1960s, and we arrive at the onset of modern cannabis breeding.

As demand for cannabis in the U.S. continued to grow, the longer flowering cycle required of the pure sativas grown and transported from Mexico and the Caribbean caused a lack of supply. In search of a solution, California cannabis breeders began crossing these sativas with indicas native to Nepal and Afghanistan, hoping to create strains that offered the quicker flowering cycle of the latter with the higher potency of the former. Their success would ultimately establish California’s position as a capital for world-class cannabis while also kicking off a hybrid cultivating craze that continues to this day.

Naming conventions for cannabis strains can also be pegged to this milestone moment.

Prior to the 1970s, strains were usually named for the geographic region in which they originated. Also known as landrace strains, this straightforward process resulted in mainstays like Panama Red, Afghan Kush, and Acapulco Gold. From there, these strains were crossed, and then those crosses were crossed, and so forth. As a means of establishing lineage, subsequent strains were named to reflect the “parent” strains of a given hybrid.

Today, however, strain names are inspired by a variety of factors. In some cases, the name may speak to the strain’s effects, while others may highlight a given strain’s notable coloring, trichome density or aroma. And then there are strains named for pop culture figures, cannabis icons, and in some cases, just whatever the breeder in question felt like using. As a result, while some names can tell us a lot about a given strain — though even that can vary from market to market — going off name alone is not always a reliable metric.

Instead, most budtenders will likely tell you about a strain’s terpene profile and featured cannabinoids. Unlike strain names, knowing the amount and type of terpenes and cannabinoids a strain contains is an excellent method for determining which options will work best for you.

5 Basic Tips for Finding the Best Cannabis Genetics
PHOTO Jorge Barrios

Safe Keeping: The Importance of Seed Banks

As cannabis breeding continues to diversify the strain pool, it’s never been more important to ensure that cultivators have access to the seeds that make it all possible. Thankfully, we have seed banks.

Seed banks are businesses that specialize in storing and selling cannabis seeds. With many showcasing incredibly robust inventories, seed banks can be seen as a kind of living library for the flower’s genetics, featuring both classic options as well as the latest and greatest.

In addition, seed banks will often feminize the seeds they sell — an incredibly important facet of the process considering it’s only the female cannabis plant that can produce the buds we know and love. Some seed banks also offer what’s known as auto-flowering seeds, which some growers may prefer as the resulting plants mature quickly and produce maximum yields.

Lastly, it’s important to note that the story of strains is still being written. As advances in genetic mapping continue to evolve, it’s possible our understanding of strains will dramatically expand in the months and years to come. But for now, with the above information in mind, you should feel fully empowered to begin your own strain quest in search of the perfect match.

The post A Guide to the Evolution of Cannabis Strains appeared first on Cannabis Now.