Breeding Tropical Genetics With the Hawaiian Seed Company

Hawaii — the name alone evokes glistening visions of paradise; emerald hills and valleys, topaz waterfalls and lagoons, diamond white beaches and shimmering obsidian stretches of volcanic coastline, all sprawled across a sapphire sea and drenched in the floral perfume of perpetual spring.

For lovers of cannabis, that gem-encrusted island cluster possesses an extra layer of allure thanks to the long-standing (and well-earned) reputation it has cultivated where cultivation is concerned. The unfettered fertility of Hawaii’s volcanic soil and the ceaseless beaming of its nearly seasonless sun produce some of the most highly prized agricultural products on Earth, including sugar cane, coffee, pineapple — and yes — cannabis.

Hawaiian bud earned a place in the pantheon of pot during the 1970s, the first golden age of modern ganja. This was long before formal branding was a part of cannabis, but “Maui Wowie” still made a big enough impact to become a global household name. To this day, not only do people still recognize and respond to that name, it’s on the short list of old-school cultivars that are still grown and enjoyed in (roughly) their original form. Bottom line: Hawaiian cannabis is the stuff of legends.

Hawaiian Seed Company co-founder and CEO, River Young, is counting on the tangible expression of that legend in the feeling and flavor of the company’s proprietary genetics to propel the fledgling company to soaring heights.

Powerline 41 is a cross of a Kauai Electric mother plant with a Thunderf*ck father.

Young is no stranger to Hawaiian cultivation. He was raised on Kauai’s North Shore and worked as the manager of a lettuce, tomato and cucumber farm there, giving him an intimate understanding of the unique advantages and challenges of island agriculture.

As far as he’s concerned, finding “the best genetics possible” is the first step in establishing a successful brand.

“We foresee that genetics will ultimately control the growth of cannabis and hemp companies,” Young said. “The genetics here in Hawaii can withstand trade winds and high humidity, so they tend to be tougher strains, meaning people in Florida and other climates with high humidity find them especially appealing.”

But those hardy genetics didn’t just appear from thin air: they’re the result of the fastidious seed hoarding of his business partner, co-founder and head breeder Sol Kahn.

From Bags to Riches

About 25 years ago, in 1994, Kahn planted the literal seeds that would eventually blossom into Hawaiian Seed Company. As is often the case in these stories, they were generally unremarkable bag seeds he just happened to find, but when they bloomed, so did his lifelong passion for cultivation.

“I started breeding in 1994  and I haven’t stopped since,” he said. “I remember exactly what that plant looked and smelled like. It was this light green and orange with popcorn nugs and a very tropical sweetness, like mango. I grew them out, I had some males and grew them all, then realized they crossed and created seeds.”

That simple discovery inspired Kahn to pursue increasingly complex breeding projects in his backyard and at hidden spots up in the mountains, using seeds which he obsessively collected — a habit that Young, a childhood friend, used to laugh at, until it formed the foundation of their company.

Sol Kahn, the head breeder at Hawaiian Seed Company.

“I thought he was completely nuts for collecting seeds all these years and it looks like he was correct — there’s definitely value in those genetics,” Young said.

What started as an eccentric hobby has grown into a massive private stock of cannabis genetics, encompassing over 60,000 seeds, including the heirloom island genetics (and accompanying tropical flavors) that serve as the brand’s signature.

It’s worth noting that, despite the brand’s island roots (and still island-bound leadership team), the official corporate headquarters of Hawaiian Seed Company is in Oregon, where the laws are already in place for this level of cannabis commerce. The company is working towards bringing their company “full circle” with operations in Hawaii, but for now, Oregon provides them not only the legal freedom to operate but a unique space to do so — a former elementary school.

“We didn’t kick any kids out. It was vacant and had moved to a new location,” Kahn said. “It turned out to be a perfect location for us and we’re ultimately hoping to turn it into a cannabis learning center.”

Hawaii’s Colorful, Unstable, Terp-Filled Edge

There’s a lot of different factors involved in growing a trusted cannabis brand, but chief among them is establishing the legitimacy and value of your signature strains. Like many contemporary cannabis cultivators, Hawaiian Seed Company utilizes the massive — and ever-growing — Phylos Galaxy to identify and validate their flagship strains.

Khan said Phylos — a company he describes as “frickin’ awesome” — offers him and other cultivators the perfect tool for elevating their brand above the noise of a crowded field and protecting their genetics from unscrupulous dudes looking for a quick come-up at the expense of someone else’s hard work.

“There’s so many bullsh*tters out there who will take your strain and change the name, and [the Phylos Galaxy] just keeps the growers honest and keeps track of strains so they don’t get lost in the wind,” he said, adding that the ability to quickly discover other strains with both similar and distant genetics helps him “map out a more visual interpretation of the genetics’ travels.”

That ability to map the ancestry of cannabis cultivars has proven invaluable when working with the ephemeral genetics endemic to Hawaiian herb. Some cultivators, at least publicly, place a high premium on genetic stability, but Kahn is not among them. He typically just lets Mother Nature do her thing when it comes to phenotype variation, a philosophy rooted in the aggressively diverse lineage of old-school Hawaiian pakalolo.

“I don’t really worry too much about stabilization. Back in the day, there was none, everything just got cross bred with each other,” he said. “In Hawaii especially, everything was breeding and getting crossed with all kinds of pollen — Thai, Afghani, everything got so mixed up — so I’m not trying to make one pheno that’s ‘perfect’ and then clone it.”

Midnight Splendor, a Kali Mist hybrid crossed with GDP and Kauai Purple, creates a beautiful fuschia flower. The flavor of this cultivar include bubble gum, butter pie crust and sharp lemon.

But when he does find a need to stabilize something or just feels like jazzing around with genetics, the year-round sunlight of the North Shore allows him to do so in less than half the time it would take a breeder on the mainland

Another thing Kahn doesn’t worry about much is potency. Most of his creations test in the high teens to the mid-20s for cannabinoid content. This is partially because he personally prefers lighter, more mellow effects, but mostly it’s the result of an intense focus on other characteristics like terpene profile and — here’s a novel idea where flower cultivation is concerned — color.

That success of that last mission, discovering vibrantly colored cultivars, is immediately apparent in the mature flowers of Akala Kush, a deep lime-green flower punctuated by dazzling bursts of pink and fuchsia pistils sprawling out like glowing antennae.

And while color is an important (and deeply undervalued) aspect of cannabis, it’s practically impossible to overstate the importance of a strain’s terpene profile when it comes to how it’s received by the public. At a time when potency is more or less a given — particularly for cannabis destined for extraction — the smell and flavor of a strain is the main source of its unique identity.

Young is confident that those searching for terps will find much to love in the distinctly Hawaiian flavor profiles of the company’s flowers.

“From the lab tests and feedback we’re getting it seems like these strains do hold some tropical flavors in terms of terpenes,” Young said. “If you’re a processor and you get a hold of some of our flowers the terps are going to have a very unique flavor, so it’s very attractive to them and it stands out for growers as well.”

Coming to the Mainland

Those living in Northern California will soon be able to see (and smell) for themselves: Hawaiian Seed Company has coordinated with Dark Heart Nursery to make some of their top strains available to consumers as clones, including Kahn’s undisputed favorite strain, Midnight Splendor, an “absolutely fantastic mix” he’s been working on for nearly a decade.

“It’s Kali Mist, an old school strain that’s been grown on Kauai forever, crossed with Kauai Purple — a deep purple indica I got from an uncle a couple years ago — crossed into Girl Scout Cookies for potency and flavor and then crossed with Grandaddy Purple for a little more color,” he said. “What we got was giant, long fuchsia spears of amazingness. It’s covered in resin and when you grind it up, it’s purple, pink, green and beautiful.”

Kahn is proud of the terpene profiles he’s harnessed and excited for people to taste them, whether that means smoking a bowl or dabbing concentrate extracted from his flowers, but he’s most enthusiastic about the whole plant — and much less so about the direction and character of the industry surrounding it.

Hawaiian Seed Company searches for terpenes that evoke tropical flavors.

He hopes his love of the whole plant will translate to the final product and help those who enjoy it embrace a more holistic view of cannabis.

“Part of why we founded Hawaiian Seed Company was to bring that retro ’70s vibe back to cannabis,” Kahn said. “There’s a lot of disrespect in the new cannabis industry… we do this because we love it, we love this amazing plant and we want to share it, but we want to respect it.”

No matter how you feel about the direction of the cannabis industry, it’s hard to find anything bad to say about beautiful cannabis cultivars with unique terpene profiles, and that’s exactly what Hawaiian Seed Company is all about — providing a mouthwatering slice of the islands.

“It’s the originality of the flavors, just having something that’s tropical and different,” Young said. “Maybe there’s a certain connection to vacation or something, but people just seem a little more relaxed when they smoke our strains.”

There’s no substitute for experiencing the North Shore in person, but breathing in a fragrant, intoxicating cloud of its tropical essence and sinking gently into a mellow, productive buzz is almost like a smokeable Hawaiian vacation — and it’s certainly cheaper than buying a plane ticket.

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Sirius Black is Purple Perfection

Digital photo manipulation has blurred the lines between art and reality so completely that any truly remarkable image carries the weight of our collective skepticism; our minds no longer trust what our eyes can see. Such is the case with Sirius Black, a strain which boasts such a dazzlingly deep purple coloration it immediately inspires that nagging postmodern question: “Is it real?”

Thankfully, not only is the shockingly vibrant violet of Sirius Black real, it’s a natural result of some very deliberate work by the Oregon Breeders Group — not a byproduct of the cold temperatures most strains require to produce purple.

Or as OBG co-founder Wade Preble explained, it’s actually good.

The vibrant purple flower of the Sirius Black plant sits at the center of bright green leaves.

“Most purple weed isn’t very good — it’s not very good at all. And a lot of that is cold stress: you’re killing the plant, it’s unhealthy,” he said. “If you cold stress Sirius Black, I don’t know if it’ll get any purpler, but it would be crappy as well.”

Thankfully, the strain’s visually arresting aesthetics are a natural product of its unique genetics and no sacrifices to quality are required to obtain them.

“Sirius Black, when it’s grown outdoors, starts turning purple in August, when the temps are in the 90s and the 100s,” Preble said, adding that, while purple coloration was central to the breeding project, quality — not color — was the primary consideration.

“We know that purple weed is a novelty, but it’s gonna wear off if the terpene profile and potency are horrible like most cold-stressed purple plants are,” he said. “Color was secondary, but bottom line is, when you’ve got an A1 plant and it’s also beautiful, that doesn’t hurt you at all.”

A macro image of the purply Sirius Black cannabis plant.

Sirius Black as it exists today is a kind of homage to one of the original strains grown by the group, which Preble said is “long gone” by now.

“Back in the late ’70s, early ’80s, we had what we believed was probably a pure indica: a short squatty plant that got as purple as Sirius Black and was some killer weed, but had some limitations with yield,” he said. “Life got in the way and we kind of took a break, but then when everything started going crazy up here in the last six or seven years, we got back together.”

Sirius Black shares a first name with the “Dog Star” Sirius, so it’s right at home in the Phylos Bioscience “Galaxy” — a massive visual network of scientifically verified genetic information for cannabis that evokes a star map. The Phylos data for Sirius Black confirms its uniqueness: it has zero “immediate family” connections.

And while the DNA profile shows strong connections to the “Skunk” and “Berry” subgroups, Preble said only the latter is expressed meaningfully in the plant’s phenotype.

A huge clump Sirius Black nugs stuck together.

“The terpene profile is about as far away from the skunk smell as you can get… it is really berry, grape — when I cure this stuff it’s fricking amazing,” he said. “My wife, who hates the smell of skunky weed, just loves the smell. It smells like grapes, it’s really cool.”

Preble says people compliment the experience of smoking Sirius Black over and over again because the high walks the line between knocking you out and not being too weak.

A green field of cannabis plants is dotted with the purple flowers of Sirius Black.

And Sirius Black wasn’t always spelled that way. Or as Preble puts it “we didn’t spell it at all.”

“Back then there was no Instagram or anything, weed didn’t come with labels, so you didn’t write strain names down,” he said. “Strains didn’t really have names either, not like now — it was all based on where it came from or the color… we were just kind of like, ‘That’s some serious black,’ and the name stuck.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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9 weed strains to look forward to in 2021

Every year, we all look ahead and try to guess what might become the biggest weed strains for the next 365 days. It’s just the natural thing to do since we — as fellow consumers — are determined to stay on top of the freshest and hottest trends. For 2021, we scoped out which strains are sure to continue the momentum built in previous years, as well as some strains that are showing blow-up potential.

Here are 9 weed strains to look forward to in 2021.

Wedding Cake

In 2021, Wedding Cake is sure to remain one of the most popular strains in the world. 

Wedding Cake, also known as Pink Cookies, is an indica-dominant hybrid that was bred by Seed Junky Genetics. It’s a phenotype of a cross between Triangle Kush and Animal Mints that produces a sweet, dougy, vanilla-like strain — and it’s absolutely swept the cannabis world by storm over the past couple of years. 

It’s showing the same potential as OG Kush and GSC, in terms of becoming the hybrid of its generation. Look out for it, and the many other strains that come from its genetics.


We’ve all heard the whispers of the people hating on Runtz, but no matter how you feel about the strain, the hype around it will continue to surge. And from that, we’ll continue to get Runtz crosses and phenotypes while continuing to puff on this sweet, fruity, gassy plant that gets you dumb high if it’s from the right grower.

Runtz is a cross of Zkittlez and Gelato. It became famous for its frosty purple flowers and pungent sweet, fruity, and gassy terpene profile. Most people feel relaxed and happy after smoking it. Strains with its genetics include: Runtz OG, White Runtz, Raspberry Runtz, Pink Runtz, and the list goes. Even Exotic Genetix has a Rainbow Chip x Runtz called Runtz Buttonz.

GMO Cookies

If you were tired of Garlic Cookies before now, get over it, because it’s going nowhere in 2021. GMO Cookies is excellent, and we should all be thankful for the weed it has given us.

GMO Cookies is a cross between Chemdog and GSC. It’s always high in THC and will absolutely dominate you with both mental stupor and full-body relaxation. It’s named after its unique funky garlic scent and taste, and has led to many crosses, like Fatso and Donny Burger. 

In 2021, you might see people smoking a lot of Dirty Taxi (GMO x Chem D x I-95) and Turpee Slurpee (GMO crossed with Orange Zkittlez) too. 

Pink Rozay

Pink Rozay is one of three strains from the Rick Ross x Cookies Collins Ave collab. It’s seeing a huge increase in search interest, which makes sense considering people want to smoke like The Boss. 

Pink Rozay is an indica with London Poundcake #75 and Lemonchello 10 parentage. Its THC content frequently soars past 20%. Pink Rozay has a distinct fruity scent and delivers strong, long-lasting effects that ultimately leave you feeling happy in the mind and relaxed in the body.

Apple Fritter

Apple Fritter has started to surge in search interest as growers and consumers alike become more interested in apple-flavored weed. 

Lumpy’s Flowers made Apple Fritter from crossing Animal Cookies and Sour Apple. It’s said to have a sweet and earthy flavor, as well as a relaxing high that puts people in a chill and happy mood.

Kush Mints

Kush Mints has been around for a couple of years at this point, but search interest for it continues to rise. 

Seed Junky Genetics, who by now you can see has blessed the game with so many legendary strains, gave us Kush Mints from a cross of Bubba Kush and Animal Mints. It has a somewhat citrus and minty flavor that gives way to a relaxing high.

WiFi Cake

As stated above, with Wedding Cake’s continued popularity, we’re sure to see even more hybrids with its genetics. Currently, you’re probably most familiar with Ice Cream Cake (Wedding Cake x Gelato) and Jungle Cake (White Fire #43 x Wedding Cake). In 2021, expect to see WiFi Cake push the Cake namesakes even deeper into cannabis culture.

WiFi Cake is a Jungle Boys creation that crosses Wedding Cake with the legendary White Fire OG, better known as WiFi. 


Bonkers is absolutely fire and could definitely have a big year, and there’s a couple of versions of it out there. 

One of them is from Exotic Genetix, and crosses their famous Cookies and Cream with Lemon Tree. It has a citrus, creamy flavor that produces a smooth and easy high. Another Bonkers is from Canada’s Next Generation Seeds. The BC seed company crosses Grapefruit, Burmese, Purple Indica, and a ruderalis to produce their Bonkers. It tastes like berries and creates a powerful body high that can glue you to the couch. 

Apples and Bananas

Rounding out this list, Apples and Bananas is new from the first-ever collaboration of Compound Genetics and Cookies. According to their Instagram post, A&B smells fruity and gassy, but tastes more like its namesake. 

To get that fruit-forward terpene profile, Compound crossed a Platinum Cookies x Granddaddy Purple plant with a Blue Power plant, and then crossed that hybrid with Gelatti to finally result in Apples and Bananas. 

Grab it whenever you can as it’s sure to be one of those almost-always-sold-out Cookies strains. 

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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On Pheno Safari with the Jungle Boys

In a world of Blue Dreams and mystery bag-seed Cookie phenos, one might think the art of massive 1,000 seed propagation efforts in search of all-star genetics was dead — but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now, as preparations are made for the transition to the legal market, cultivators are putting more effort than ever into their brand’s stamps on the family jewels. To find out how the masters unearth their gems, we reached out to some of SoCal’s most respected cultivators and bean poppers: the Jungle Boys.

Since 2005, the Jungle Boys — long associated with TLC, one of Los Angeles’s premier collectives — have provided Kush (that could be mistaken for gasoline by the blind) to a decidedly OG town.

Like many of their peers who’ve been in it for the long haul, they had to fight off the DOJ’s infamous “landlord letters,” but they’ve checked every compliance and permit box over the years, positioning themselves to be one of the top producers of boutique cannabis in a state filled with sure to be short-lived, dollar store outfits.

Jungle Cake

The behind the scenes work to get their hottest new strains to the shelf can take years, after preserving mother plants and flowering hundreds to find those elite cuts.

We spoke with Ivan of the Jungle Boys to get the whole story.

“A normal pheno hunt — depending on the variety and traits we’re looking for — we’ll get our hands on anywhere from 250 to 1,000 seeds, then pop all of them, ” Ivan said.

To illustrate the stringent standards used to select first-round winners, he pointed to a recent Jungle Boys effort to find a keeper phenotype of Mimosa, a cross of Clementine and Purple Punch — one of the best purples in SoCal: out of 200 seeds, they only found 12 keepers.

“From there we’ll narrow it down to six then four,” he said. “We don’t keep anything that’s the same or test higher in terpenes than the rest of them — THC numbers, it has to have it all.”

A canopy of Purple Punch.

The new genetic material they’re working with typically need three runs to really express its full phenotype.

“Normally on the first run, something we might not even have been looking for just needs to be dialed in and put in its proper environment,” he said. “Then we really start to see the ones we’re going to keep.”

This dedication has produced some of the most popular LA cuts in recent memory. Names like Orange Cookies and the aforementioned Purple Punch are prime examples of the best non-OG strains in LA, according to the masses.

The Jungle Boys are also famous for their representations of Northern California-bred strains like Gelato and Cookies. With such a high degree of production quality already available in-house, we asked Ivan what it takes for other genetics to get in the mix.

“We’ve been getting free cuts from so many people for years, and we’d just never talk about them again after they were grown out,” he said. “Not because they were bad or the people, they just didn’t have it all.”

They stick to the three-run policy when investigating genetics propagated out of house as well. In those second and third runs, they’re able to decide if a cut checks all their boxes and “has it all.”

Sundae Driver #9

The Jungle Boys mother plants are numbered and tracked corresponding to their previous cycles. If they notice any shifts in vigor or rooting speed, they can narrow that down quickly and cut the fading genetics from the gene pool.

“The stuff that we pheno hunted, that we found, we know for sure what it is — we take vigorous notes on everything,” Ivan said.

One of the biggest propagation hits for the Jungle Boys was Sundae Driver. Ivan said they had a lot more winners in that run than usual.

“With most strains, 99 percent of people would think it’s the nicest one out there or best plants they’ve ever grown,” he said. “We just really narrowed it down and found the true elite. We have so many patients; even if we think it’s desirable, is it going to do it for the patients?”

Strawberry Shortcake

The patients at TLC play a big role in Jungle Boys folklore, inadvertently selecting many of the famed cuts.

“We’ll normally never even hype up a pheno number and just say these strains are amazing,” Ivan said, adding that with the recent Mimosa run, the most rave reviews circled around the #14 and #26. “It’s unbelievable citrus and oranges with a little bit of that purple punch on the backside — it’s really nice.”

Patients also played a huge role in the now Infamous Wedding Cake OG.

Many new exciting lines are in the work’s currently including Banana Punch, Grape Wedding Cake, Wedding Crasher and Orange Cookies x Grape Pie.

“We’ve got a bunch of really cool stuff,” Ivan said. “We’re always popping seeds.”


Ivan stressed the labor-intensive and time consuming nature of a Jungle Boys pheno hunt.

“A single pheno project will take us anywhere from a year to two years,” he said. “All the stuff we’re releasing next — the Jungle Cakes, Grape Wedding Cakes and The White Weddings —  we’ve been working on that. We have those going in all of our rooms, but we keep them hush hush until we can really dial them in.”

Once they’re ready for a full release, they’ll start showing samples off to patients, drawing from all the best variations that made the cut available.

“A lot of people don’t understand. They’re like ‘Why don’t you have enough for everybody?’” Ivan said. “They don’t understand the man hours, the rooms and the lights we set aside for all these seeds is just tremendous. At any given time we have a couple hundred lights dedicated to seeds.”

Sundae Driver #12

Out of all the Jungle Boys’ pheno hunt trophies —  those from recent years and those grown over the past 13 — Ivan puts the Jungle Cakes (WiFi #43 crossed with Wedding Cake) at the top of his list.

“I would probably say the Jungle Cakes is the best thing we’ve found,” he said, adding that it was a full circle cross, utilizing his very first pheno.

“[WiFi #43 was my first seed pop I did with OG Rascal — I popped 1,000 seeds. It’s in a lot of gardens now and almost every breeder has worked with it,” he said. “Eight years ago we found the WiFi #43 and now it makes one of our best crosses today.”

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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8 weed strains for focused studying

Weed can be a great tool for clearing your mind and slowing down the world. This is why it’s so good for people who like to smoke before studying. Though getting high before doing anything productive can be overwhelming and distracting for some, for others, cannabis is the first step before sitting in one spot for hours — all while giving the mind the tunnel vision needed to knock out daunting tasks.

Whether you’re sitting down to homework, cranking out a paper, or studying for your real estate licensing exam, there are hundreds of cannabis strains that may ease the process. Here is a quick list of eight to get you started.


Trainwreck is a powerful strain named for its cerebral effects that hit “like a runaway train.” If you’re the overactive type, and you need a strain with some potency to help study for the bar exam, or whatever your field, this could be the one.

Trainwreck was created from a mix of Mexican, Thai, and Afghani landrace parentage. Its terpenes produces an earthy, piney, and slightly gassy aroma, followed by an overall earthy flavor. The effects come on quickly with an invigorating, yet calming high, making it great for people who need to smoke before they can sit still.

Cinderella 99

Cinderella 99 dates all the way back to the 90s when Brothers Grimm Seeds found some Jack Herer seeds which grew into a plant they named “Princess.” They then used Princess to cross with Shiva Skunk, and after a series of backcrossings and working the strain, the upbeat Cinderella 99 was finally born. 

Cinderella 99’s terpene profile commonly features a floral and somewhat fruity flavor that translates into an earthy smoke. The effects tend to hit people with a heavy dose of cerebral stimulation, so if you’re about to lock into some study hours, Cindy 99 could be the one for you.


They said CBD strains won’t get you high, but anyone that has smoked a joint of Harle-Tsu, or anything CBD-dominant, will tell you that while these strains don’t get you stoned, you still feel a change in your mind and body. With Harle-Tsu, that change is a clear-headed focus that raises alertness, making it an absolutely perfect strain for studying.

Harle-Tsu was bred by crossing the CBD-dominant Harlequin with the even more CBD-dominant Sour Tsunami. Like most CBD strains, it has that familiar earthy, sour, slightly citrus flavor profile. It has little-to-no THC, and most people experience a creative euphoria.

Tropicana Cookies

If you’re looking for a staunch orange-forward terpene profile, because citrus strains usually give you uplifting effects, you may not find anything better than Tropicana Cookies. 

Tropicana Cookies is a cross between Tangie and a special cut of GSC that produces a surprisingly uplifting high. This sativa-dominant hybrid smells and tastes just like oranges, and its high will help you feel relaxed but mentally energized and alert for the tasks at hand. It’s a great pregame strain for someone that wants heavier effects before they sink into study mode.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake is another heavy-hitter with long-lasting effects. Also known as Pineapple Cake, it’s a cross of Pineapple Trainwreck and Cookie Monster. Those Pineapple and Cookies genetics give way to a sativa-dominant hybrid with a sweet tropical aroma that turns into a spicy-flavored smoke. 

Most consumers feel a rush of cerebral stimulation that keeps you upbeat and energized, which is common amongst many strains that have a pineapple-like terpene profile.

Jack Flash

Most strains with Jack Herer genetics will be great for daytime consumption, and especially great for anyone seeking a clear-headed focus. Jack Flash is just one of many Jack derivatives that serve as an excellent example.

Jack Herer was originally bred by Sensi Seeds. Jack Flash was one of Sensi’s many projects that enhanced the original strain. Bred with Jack Herer, Super Skunk, and Haze genetics, Jack Flash features that classic earthy, piney, and spicy terpene profile and usually makes people feel relaxed, centered, and focused.


When it comes to studying, you won’t always have the good fortune of working in the daytime. For nighttime studiers, you may want to smoke, but don’t want any stoney feelings that could make you sleepy. For that, ACDC is a great suggestion.

ACDC is a phenotype of the commonly featured Cannatonic strain. It is known for its CBD:THC ratio that can sometimes be as high as 20:1. ACDC features a sour, earthy flavor, followed by clear-headed effects that help you feel alert during all-nighters.

Allen Wrench

Rounding out the study suggestions list is the upbeat hybrid, Allen Wrench. 

This sativa-dominant strain was bred by crossing Trainwreck with NYC Diesel. The result produces resinous buds with an earthy, slightly citrus terpene profile with diesel undertones. After consuming Allen Wrench, most people feel an energizing boost in morale that helps tremendously when studying for the dreaded GRE exams — or anything alike.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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5 Cannabis Strains That Helped Cannabis Life Network Staff Survive 2020

2020 has undoubtedly been one of the craziest years in recent memory. Covid-19 took the world completely off guard and altered the way we all go about our daily lives. But here we are, on the brink of a new year full of new possibilities. Orders for the vaccine have been placed and are gradually […]

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5 of the top strains for 5 New Year’s resolutions

Each year, we arrive at the end of December and swear that in the new year we’re going to change all our bad habits. We’re going to work out more, save money, and pursue all the passions that we’ve let sit idle for a whole 365 days. 

I applaud you, I applaud us, because this time, we’re for sure going to evolve. And to help us along the way, here are five strains for five of the most common types of New Year’s Resolutions.

Working out: Green Crack

Green Crack is a classic sativa that people love for its energizing qualities. Smoke ethos, and your head is instantly hit with a rush of “Okay, what was I doing? Oh yeah — everything!” It’s perfect for when you need that boost of energy that’ll get you putting on your running shoes and grabbing your jump rope, while we await the day we can go back to our local gyms.

Green Crack is thought to be a cross of a 1989 Super Sativa Seed Club, a Skunk #1, and an Afghani landrace. It has earthy, citrus, skunky terpenes that will invigorate your senses.

Saving money: WiFi OG

When it comes to saving money on weed, the truth is: it’s damn near impossible. Going gram by gram on flower adds up, and don’t get me started on how much your bank account will hate you for walking out of the store with a bag of concentrates. 

Edibles are the most cost effective way to consume cannabis in bulk, but if you’d rather inhale your cannabinoids and terpenes, try buying just one strain that you can smoke at any time of day versus stacking up on a variety of products that produce a time-of-day-specific effects. Our suggestion is WiFi OG.

White Fire OG, also called WiFi OG, or even just WiFi is a cross of the sativa-dominant Fire OG and the indica-dominant The White. It’s known for being a potent and euphoric hybrid that hits hard, but isn’t necessarily immobilizing. When it comes to saving money on the amount of weed you buy for different effects, WiFi is an excellent one-smoke-fits-all type. Its terpene profile features hints of pine, citrus, and diesel; and most people feel relaxed and happy after consuming it.

Get more sleep: Granddaddy Purple

As someone who goes to bed at midnight every night and wakes up at 5 o’clock every morning, I can tell you that getting more sleep in this coming year is a great New Year’s resolution. And if you’re seeking the perfect cannabis strain that quiets your mind, relaxes your body, and puts you right to sleep for a solid eight hours of rest, you should probably get something potent that is known for having sleepy effects. The world famous Granddaddy Purple is your answer.

Granddaddy Purple — GDP for short — was created in California by Ken Estes. It’s a cross of Big Bud and Purple Urkle, named after its deep purple flowers and lauded for its nighttime effects. This indica has a mix of grape and earthy aromas that translate into a somewhat hashy-tasting smoke. On average, people report feeling extremely relaxed and euphoric after smoking this purple powerhouse.

Reduce stress: Blue Dream

Blue Dream is my all-time #1 favorite strain for everything in the world. It makes me so damn happy, and puts me in this happy-go-lucky state where not a single thing in life can penetrate my bubble of emotional security. If you’re looking for a stress reliever, I’m no doctor, and even they couldn’t give you a 100% certain answer when it comes to choosing cannabis strains, but I’ll tell you that Blue Dream is an excellent starting point.

Blue Dream is one of the most popular cannabis strains in the world. Originally, it’s a sativa-dominant hybrid bred by crossing a Santa Cruz Haze with DJ Short’s Blueberry strain. The result is a sweet, earthy, slightly citrus treat that hits your head and body with absolutely euphoria and bliss. Blue Dream feels good, and if you want to reduce stress in the coming years, it’s not a bad sidekick for the mission.

Learn a new skill: Canna-Tsu

You’re never too old to learn a new skill. You’re never too old to pursue a new passion. And to help you get in the right mindset for both, Canna Tsu is an excellent strain to consume. It’s a high CBD strain, so it won’t bring forth the type of high you’re accustomed to, but it will provide clear-headed effects that make it easier to block out distractions and focus on the task(s) directly in front of you.

Canna Tsu is a cross of the high CBD Cannatonic with high CBD Sour Tsunami. It tastes earthy, like many of these high CBD strains do. Focused, energetic, and happy are its most common effects, which is exactly how you want to feel when stepping out of your comfort zone to build yourself.

Find thousands of strains on Weedmaps

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Alien Labs Blasts Off

In recent years, few names have taken the world of California cannabis by storm quite like the cultivators at Alien Labs.

Through the sheer quality of its cannabis and sense of charm the team brought to California’s previously thriving event circuit, Alien Labs has become a household name faster than most. As its extraterrestrial-covered purple jars have come to be embraced in local markets up and down the state, it is easy for us to see that we have a winner on our hands.

Alien Labs founder Ted Lidie gave us the exclusive rundown on how the ship took off across the Golden State, abducting sobriety to the fullest as they entered each California market. Lidie dove into every twist and phenotype of the journey that led to the cultivators sweeping the first fully legal Cannabis Cup in California in 2018.

Back in 2010, Lidie and his partner Tyler Meeks owned a club called Medi Cali in Redding, a small city due east of the Emerald Triangle. Lidie had just moved back to Redding from San Francisco and was well aware that consumer-friendly brands were about to take off as the plant normalized in the public eye.

“In Redding, it was all hippie — not that that’s a bad thing,” Lidie says. “You went into a club and there were 50 strains of outdoor.”

So Lidie and Meeks began their own cultivation efforts, following the same philosophy that Alien Labs employs today: It’s always worth it to go the extra mile when you’re trying to produce the best flower possible.

Before the days of Alien Labs’ current spread of boutique cuts, they were working with classics like Green Crack and Purple Skunk. In 2011, they got their hands on Cookies, after paying someone $20,000 for the genetics. That’s when they started the strategy of trying to bring the best out of strains that were already on the map, Lidie says.

“We were growing Lemon Fuel and selling all throughout California as Mars OG,” he says. “That was our biggest thing before Alien Labs. Just selling Mars OG in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

A few years later, Lidie noticed that the cannabis industry was starting to shift towards branded cannabis, particularly thanks to brands like Cookies, so he founded Alien Labs in March of 2014.

“Cookies was the only one I knew about because I wasn’t on the weed internet like that,” he says. “In the forum days, we were on IC Mag and that kind of thing, but it was usernames, it wasn’t brands. I started making Alien Labs in my sh*tty little eight-light trap house. Every time I would harvest, I would go sell it as Alien Labs.”

Everything they were doing in those early days was an attempt to be ahead of the curve.

“When we started Alien Labs, legalization wasn’t even a thing yet, but we knew it was about to happen,” says Lidie. “It obviously paid off. We’re one of the few known brands in the legal space now.”

The Truth is Out There

Alien Labs’ first big event was the NorCal Cannabis Cup in 2014 at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, former home of the Golden State Warriors. They placed well with Dosidos, the delicious pairing of the OGKB Girl Scout Cookie Phenotype and Face Off OG. Alien Labs was now on the radar after its maiden contest. They returned to the competition in 2015 with Dosidos again, riding on the strain’s blend of cookies and kush flavor.

Lidie had scored the cut of Dosidos off the internet — and it turned out his cut was different than everything else on the market.

“I bought it off a guy on the internet, and we ended up having a different cut of Dosi than everyone else,” Lidie says. “I hit up NorCal, the breeder who made the original selection, and asked what was up with our cut. He says it was his number two selection that was more of an OG leaner. He didn’t mean to release it, but we ended up getting it and we were able to give it back to him.”

Lidie believes that those lucky runs of Dosidos put both the strain itself and Alien Labs on the map.

After Dosidos, Alien Labs helped establish another strain’s popularity in Northern California: Wedding Cake. In 2016, the cultivators obtained Wedding Cake from The Jungle Boys, the legendary cultivators who were behind the strain’s success in Los Angeles. Wedding Cake is a clone-only phenotype of Triangle Mints that was originally bred by Seed Junky Genetics from an awesome Triangle Kush mother dusted with pollen from an Animal Mints father. The Wedding Cake nickname came from the Jungle Boys, who noticed the strain’s strong vanilla cake frosting aroma.

In early 2018, Alien Labs’ Wedding Cake took first place in the Sacramento Cannabis Cup’s hybrid category, while Alien Labs’ Gelato # 41 collaboration with the Connected Cannabis Co. took home the indica cup with one of the spiciest renditions yet of Gelato’s increasingly complex flavor profile. Not to be outdone, the fruity upbeat blast provided by Alien Labs’ Melonade took home the sativa top prize. This meant a clean sweep of the three flower categories at California’s first legal Cannabis Cup.

Lidie noted that after their victory, Alien Labs has been “compared to these guys with thousands of lights, but we had 60.” Lidie believes those kinds of comparisons with the best in California are a testament of their branding effort. “We definitely chose the fake it til’ you make it route and it worked,” he says. Today, a new facility has tripled the capacity for Alien Labs to 180 lights.

“We’re riding the wave right now,” Lidie says. “There have been some ups and downs, and legalization was really tough. We only had 60 lights and there was no way we were going to survive without teaming up with someone.”

A Biscotti strain photographed at 2:1 magnification.

Interplanetary Truces

Lidie says Alien Labs has chosen to partner with other extractors, rather than angle for more profits by producing the concentrates in-house. He says he is always excited to work with the world’s best extractors with the goal of providing them the best material possible to work their magic. Working with big name extractors was also a good way to get the word out about Alien Labs.

“That was a really big thing for spreading our name early when we weren’t packaging our own flower except at events,” he says. “So when people would use our trim or flower for concentrates, they would put our logo on it and that helped a lot. I love concentrates, that’s personally how I smoke.”

Lidie says producing concentrates is always a loss. Producing concentrates means losing weight on the freeze and splitting the profits with the extractor, but for Lidie, it’s mostly about taking part in the process of creating something really special.

One forthcoming collaboration involves some Melonade and Gelato #41 going to Royal Key Organics for the brand’s relaunch. Lidie says Alien Labs will only make a few hundred dollars profit per pound, but they will have the boss sauce by the jar.

Today, Alien Labs continues to collaborate with Connected Cannabis Co., occasionally using space in their facility.

“We just did a 180-light run of pure Melonade — crazy enough, it’s the best Melonade I’ve seen and we didn’t grow it,” says Lidie with a laugh. “When Connected grows in their rooms, they use their style, it’s similar but still different.”

Lidie says Connected’s Melonade is almost a whole new take on the strain, with different purple shades than he’d never seen on it before. He believes it’s further proof that Alien Labs’ scale up via Connected is going well. Back in the day, Connected was the first company ever to buy a pound of Alien Labs’ weed.

Alien Labs has always been at the forefront of the collaboration scene. Lidie says it’s not necessarily a business ethos, but just a way they’ve chosen to structure their lives. He says a hatred for drama and the general goal of putting out the best weed possible has played a major role in their ability to form new relationships.

“But obviously when I see someone do something cool like come out with a new strain or hit 32 percent THC, even though that could be bullsh*t, I’m still like, damn I want to hit 33 percent. But it’s not an unfriendly competition, it’s just the competitive spirit.”

Alien Labs’ current effort to expand its genetics stock is taking place under eight lights. Lidie says they could have turned it into another flowering space and made good money but, “we like to hunt, we like to find new strains.”

“That’s what people like in the weed industry,” Lidie says of consumers’ thirst for new varieties. “There is never going to be one strain over all the rest. OG Kush, that’s about it. That’s the only strain that’s never really gone out of style.”

Taking the Saucer to SoCal

Of all the California markets, Los Angeles blew up the fastest for Alien Labs, according to Lidie. He believes things around cannabis just don’t matter anywhere else in California like they do in Los Angeles.

“Brands are built in LA, that’s why we’ve given so much out- reach to the LA area,” he says.

While he appreciates the other markets in California where Alien Labs is popular, he says they don’t push the dial for the brand. For Lidie, the fact that Los Angeles is now a legal cannabis destination for travelers from across the globe is a big plus.

“I feel like all my homies from London, everyone hitting me up on Instagram, they always go to Los Angeles,” he says.

But at the end of the day, you can expect Alien Labs to be very popular wherever the ship lands.  

TELL US, what’s your favorite strain from Alien Labs?

Originally published in the print edition of of Cannabis Now.

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The Emerald Triangle in California, explained

About 85 miles north of San Francisco, the Emerald Triangle comprising three counties — Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity — hugs the Pacific coast as it expands northward to Oregon. The Triangle hosts some of the finest cannabis growing conditions in the world, thereby producing some of the world’s best and most robust herb, with many plants reportedly growing up to 15 feet tall and producing epic yields. In no small part, this is because of the area’s exceptional microclimate, balance of rain and sun, and weather that is neither too hot nor too cold.

No doubt the fertile, loamy soil and clement weather play a part in producing such fine weed, but many of the growers in the area are cannabis veterans who earned their chops long before California Proposition 215 made cannabis legal for medicinal purposes in 1996. Knowing how much cannabis had yielded prior to legalization is difficult to know, but today, growers in the Emerald Triangle produce 1.7 million pounds of cannabis each year, making the region the number one domestic supplier for the United States market, according to California state estimators.

The transformation of the Emerald Triangle

But how did the lush region transform from sparsely populated logging towns to booming cannabis mecca? In the 1960s and 70s, many people adhering to the Back-to-the Land movement that rejected urban lifestyles and other social mores migrated to the area to seek solace and act with self-sufficiency. Cannabis, despite its illegality at the time, soon became a crop of choice to support their families and community. The topography of the Triangle also provides a lot of cover with its towering trees and remote locations, while the population is spread widely throughout dense woods and mountains. It’s a good place to get lost. 

Though Emerald Triangle cannabis thrived when it was illegal across the board — and came from the black market — a new era of legalization has presented some challenges to local growers and the surrounding communities. Since Prop 215, there has been significant growth in the area, not just in the industry but also from outsiders without much skin in the game, like poser growers, seasonal trimmers, and tourists. While an influx of workers and visitors can be good for localities in terms of tax revenue and tourism exposure, it can also bring its share of downsides and risks. 

The hard-to-access terrain of the area helped shelter the hippie farmers who grew there in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but today, it too frequently provides good cover for criminal cartels and illegal domestic growers that plant clandestine crops. Not only does this produce unneeded competition between legal and illicit growers for workers, it weakens the legal cannabis industry on the whole and often leaves devastating environmental impacts, like diverted and poisoned waterways full of toxic chemicals to grow supersized cannabis plants that can harm downstream crops, animal and plant life. 

Why is there high crime in the Emerald Triangle? Is Humboldt County dangerous?

Despite its idyllic appearance and its reputation as a “stoner’s paradise,” the Emerald Triangle has its fair share of crime. In addition to the aforementioned activities of cartels and illicit growers, Humboldt County in particular — despite a small population — has a lot of murders. In 2018, Humboldt Country claimed the dubious distinction of California’s second highest homicide rate, as reported by San Jose-based outlet The Mercury News

One such incident caught the attention of Netflix, who in 2018 created a show based on a murder in the Emerald Triangle titled Murder Mountain. The series explored the 2013  disappearance and homicide of a local grower named Garret Rodriguez and the ensuing tension his murder created with local cannabis insiders. To this day, Rodriguez’ case remains unsolved. 

While Netflix creates drama for viewers, real-life growers in the Emerald Triangle have drama of their own as they continue to adapt to changes brought on by the demands of operating in the legal cannabis marketplace (California legalized weed for all adults in 2016). Many growers in the area, some of whom have been successfully cultivating cannabis for decades, have been concerned that widespread legalization prioritizes corporate weed that elbows out the already established mom and pop shops. For others, there is concern about shrinking profit margins due to the spiraling costs attributed to the legal market, such as licensing fees, onerous paperwork, required security measures, and so on. 

The Emerald Triangle is definitely not the place that attracted the back-to-the-landers decades ago, and it has had its share of growing pains as it continues to straddle the complicated legalities of being state legal but not federally legal. Though some positive changes have been made by regulators to bring black market growers into the legal industry, there is still a long way to go. 

As long as federal cannabis prohibition remains intact, the Emerald Triangle will retain its sense of literal and figurative wildness. Both licensed and unlicensed growers will continue to cultivate high quality weed, some of whom will supply unlicensed markets, while cartels will continue their solely illegal enterprises under the canopy of trees. Nonetheless, licensed growers continue to supply high-quality weed to California consumers, and cannabis — whether legal or not — remains an integral part of the Emerald Triangle’s economy and communities.

Featured image by Canna Obscura/Shutterstock

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8 of the best Haze strains

Haze is no rare commodity. The heritage is parent to some of the most popular contemporary hybrids in shops today. Many of today’s haze phenotypes are genetically similar to the landrace strains our hippy grandparents smoked, but modern cultivation has presented a far wider range of complex effects. 

Below, check out some of the most notable examples of Haze genetics, making them the best Haze strains.


Haze (aka Original Haze) originated in Santa Cruz, CA sometime in the early 70s by a pair of storied cultivators named “the Haze Brothers” along with their partner “Sam the Skunkman.” The cultivation involved a number of imported landrace sativa strains — landrace referring to cannabis strains that, while not necessarily wild, have not been formally selected, developed, or genetically manipulated by breeders.

Haze is not a pure sativa, but it is a genetic pillar of contemporary cannabis for its expression of sativa effects, including, energy, euphoria, and wild creativity. Expect notes of berry and lemon and an earthy exhale. 

Super Lemon Haze

Varsity stoners often refer to Super Lemon Haze as a daytime strain for its energizing head high. For the majority of users, this strain delivers the kind of bright, euphoric mental and elastic body highs that can make a person positively enthusiastic about housework, errands, and all manner of daily minutia. 

Super Lemon Haze’s genetics combine Lemon Skunk with Super Silver Haze for an 80:20 sativa/indica genetic split. The resulting flowers are heavily sugared, sharply fragranced, and dense with resin. Expect a citrusy nose and a crisp, lemony exhale.

Strawberry Haze

Fans of peppy, energetic highs may find their perfect match in Strawberry Haze (aka Arjan’s Strawberry Haze), another strain almost universally approved for “daytime use.” Consumers report a clear, cerebral head high and languid, effervescent body high that is manageable, yet powerful. 

Strawberry Haze, has a complex lineage that reportedly involves a mix of Swiss Sativa, Northern Lights #5, Haze, and Kali Mist. The resulting hybrid is also a popular therapeutic strain for treating depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Expect a hint of strawberry in the nose and a sheer, herbaceous exhale. 

Cannalope Haze

Cannalope Haze is a popular strain for those looking to extinguish fatigue with a volcanic eruption of creativity, but fans of this cultivar also extoll it as a panacea with a wide swath of potential effects, including anxiety and pain relief. 

Bred from the heritage Haze Brothers strain and a Mexican sativa landrace from Michoacan, Cannalope Haze’s terpene profile presents as a fruity mashup of caryophyllene, terpinolene, and linalool that reportedly tastes remarkably like fresh cantaloupe melon. That unique flavor plus the ultra-resinous flowers of this cultivar make it popular for extractions and concentrates.

Blue Haze

Unlike the rest of the haze strains on this list, Blue Haze, or Blueberry Haze, is an indica-dominant hybrid, with fans widely reporting relaxing, tranquilizing, and deeply psychotropic effects. This cultivar’s complexity can also present an energetic euphoria for a slim margin of consumers. Go figure.

Blue Haze’s genetics are similar to a sordid love triangle. It’s a hybrid of Blueberry, a classic indica, and either Amnesia Haze or Super Silver Haze, depending on the cultivator. Either way, the resulting flowers are snowy, dense, and richly threaded with orange hairs. Expect a berry sweet nose and an exhale that’s peppery at the finish.

Amnesia Haze

Amnesia Haze, not to be confused with Amnesia, is a euphoric and sociable strain that is the perfect choice for creative collaboration or long, animated chats. 

Overall, fans of Amnesia Haze find it to be the perfect strain for social activities, but also find it useful in therapeutic applications; the strain has reported high efficacy in relieving anxiety and depression, fatigue, and chronic pain.

Amnesia Haze is another complex hybrid, a cross of Haze, Southeast Asian, Afghani, and Hawaiian landrace strains that’s resulted in a fruity, earthy, and brightly herbal terpene profile in a dense, deep green flower. Expect a woody, herbal perfume and a faintly sweet exhale.

Purple Haze

Purple Haze is one of the original Haze phenotypes to descend from the stabilized seeds cultivated by the Haze Brothers. And the effects can be inferred by the phenotype’s title: consumers report a technicolor euphoria supported by a weightless body high that compounds into effects that flirt with psychedelia.

Purple Haze flowers are typically deep violet in hue, and sparkling with a rich blanket of crystalline trichomes. Expect a sweet, earthy perfume and a dense, velvety exhale. 

Super Silver Haze

Perennial party favorite Super Silver Haze has a unique balance of giddy euphoria, softened cognition, and remarkable staying power which has given it not only legendary top-shelf status, but also the distinction of three first prizes at the High Times Cannabis Cup. 

Prized for its therapeutic values as a chronic pain/fatigue reliever, Super Silver Haze fans also laud the strain for its calm body buzz which can appeal to sativa-hesitant, indica-loving cannabis smokers.

Super Silver Haze is bred from a cross of Shiva and Northern Lights #5, resulting in fluffy, bright green buds dusted in trichomes. Expect a peppery nose and sharp, tangy exhale. 

Find thousands of strains on Weedmaps

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