Cannabeginners: The Fairfax Four-Way

While those of us on the West Coast have legendary homegrown cultivars like Haze and Blue Dream, for those veterans of the East Coast hippie music scene, the pinnacle of pot was the Fairfax Four-Way, hailing from Fairfax, Virginia. High Times spoke to two cannabis cultivators with deep Virginia roots who wanted to help introduce the West Coast to “the loudest weed ever.” 

The Origins of The Four-Way and the Fairfax Four-Way

Unlike landraces like Acapulco Gold, Durban Poison, and Panama Red, we do know who bred the Four-Way, and that was Sensi Seeds, it was even featured in “some of the earliest seed-catalogues” in the 1980s. This cultivar gets its name from the complex mix of genetics that went into it, in a time when most bud out there was either a landrace or a very basic hybrid, the Four-Way was a stable multi-hybrid of Afghani, Pakistani, Indian, and Skunk #1 genetics. This was a painstaking process that Sensi Seeds did across several generations of plants and through careful hybridization and back-crossing. 

According to Sensi Seeds, the “Four-Way Regular was re-launched back in 1995.” High Times spoke to Virginia-native and the founder of Equilibrium Genetics, Jason Matthys, to learn more about the Four-Way and what that 95 relaunch meant when attempts to reach Sensi Seeds were unsuccessful. Matthys said it wasn’t “clear what Sensi Seeds did in the 1995 relaunch,” and he suggested speaking to Mr. Bob Hemphill, who had a cut of the original Fairfax Four-Way until very recently, but lost it in a natural disaster. When High Times reached Hemphill, he was currently back home in Virginia on the hunt for a new cut to replace his “family friend.” 

At this point, you might be wondering, “what makes the Fairfax Four-Way different from the Four-Way Regular being sold by Sensi Seeds?” As Matthys summed it up, “The Fairfax Four-Way was a magical unicorn phenotype, it wasn’t the kind of seed you would find in just any bag.” Hemphill gave High Times the details of the story, “It was in the very early part of 95, my friend Biggie bought the seeds from Sensi,” and when they popped them they knew they had “a really special one.” They bought as many packs of seeds as they could get but could not duplicate that phenotype. Biggie shared the phenotype widely with the Deadheads he knew and, like 420, the Fairfax Four-Way was spread to the world by Deadheads. “It pretty much was an East Coast thing, it was huge in the northeast,” said Hemphil, noting that it never went much further west than Ohio, save for one cutting brought to Arcata for personal consumption which is now gone.

Credit: Mr. Bob Hemphill

Flavor and Effects

Sensi Seeds describes their Four-Way Regular as 80% indica and 20% sativa, and the effects as “typically indica in personality; a potent total-body stone, which users claim is relaxing and sedative.” Matthys agreed, saying “I would get so stoned on Four-Way,” but added that it had “A good blend of cerebral and body effects which makes sense given the genetics that include sativas and indicas.”

Like many old school cultivars bred from landraces and skunk genetics, the Four-Way has a very funky flavor, which Sensi Seeds says “Users describe the taste as sweet and spicy, with notes of soil and skunk, thanks to the Skunk #1 influence.” Matthys had a bit of a different take on the flavor “it was all skunk with maybe a hint of fruit in the background but I don’t want to confuse people, it is not fruity, maybe a small undertone of sweet flavor.” 

The scent is truly what makes the Four-Way a legend. Sensi Seeds, doesn’t do it justice, and merely says the “aroma is spicy and strong, with a hint of sweetness and pepper. There’s also a touch of earthiness, which becomes more prominent as the buds approach harvest-time.” Leafly has a more accurate take on it, saying “Four Way produces an odor that could tip an elephant, much less fill the room it’s being consumed in.”

Matthys and Hemphill had countless stories to share about the powerful funk of the Four-Way. “It was on some other superhuman level of stink, that shit was the loudest weed ever,” said Matthys. Hemphill added to Matthys’ account of the otherworldly funk, telling a story about a friend who bought an 8th of Four-Way, and when he got home his parents called animal control because they thought there was a skunk in the house. “It really amplified the skunk,” said Hemphill, “I went to a reggae show in DC and someone was talking to everyone about a skunk and I only had three grams in my pocket.”

“You knew you had the Four-Way instantly when you opened the bag,” said Matthys, “If you broke open a nug and put your nose near it it would fill your nose with this burning skunk smell.” Matthys shared a story about going to a hippie music festival at the Sunshine Daydream Campground in West Virginia, where he bought some Four-Way from a dealer in a rainbow clown wig. He had been in the middle of buying from another dealer, but then clown wig showed up and opened his gallon-sized jar of Four-Way and instantly sold out. When he got home, he was in the kitchen and the Four-Way was stashed away in another room, and his mom asked “did you hit a skunk on my way home from West Virginia?”

Credit: Mr. Bob Hemphill

Too Loud for Prohibition

Unfortunately for the Fairfax Four-Way, like Blue Dream, the cause of its success was also the cause of its failure – those same terpenes that attracted legions of skunk connoisseurs also attracted law enforcement. “That is the subject of your article, that elusive skunk bud, what happened to it,” Matthys then answered his own question, “I assume everyone who was growing it got busted for it.” This was corroborated by Mr. Bob Hemphill, “A lot of my friends got popped for growing Four-Way. I used to grow it before they had carbon filters available on the East Coast and you smelled it outside of the house, no problem.” As Hemphill did not want to get busted, he “moved out to Cali in 97, because of Prop 215.” 

Matthys succinctly summarized what killed skunky weed, “There was a natural selection against people growing stinky weed back then.” That natural selection has continued into the regulated market, as once those skunk genetics are lost they are hard to breed back, and with the loss of that acrid, assaulting funk, a piece of cannabis history was lost too. “When I moved out to California to work at Harborside I thought all the weed would be like that, but none of it lived up to the standard the Four-Way set,” Matthys lamented, “That is still the best weed I ever smoked in my life.”

Do you have a Fairfax Four-Way story to share or a tip about its origins? Let us know with a comment!

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Doja Drops Bring Weed to the People

When the Hollywood Strain Premiere Party initially launched in the summer of last year, it was the place to be when it came to weed in Los Angeles. For an event that had no public advertising and for which the address and method for entering were a secret, attendance was regularly packed. Smokers looking for the best top-shelf weed mingled with industry insiders, all talking about the latest hot strain drops.

Doja Exclusive founder Ryan Bartholomew is no stranger to creating events and buzz. His brand has been at the bleeding edge of strain trends in California for years now. As far as hype in the industry goes, Doja is one of the biggest names out there. Originating from Sacramento, the brand is now based in Hollywood, California, aka the center of the weed world.

In a sense, both the pop-up model and selling directly to consumers harken back to an earlier time when excitement around legalization made the Prop 215 medical marijuana era in California a constantly buzzing scene of seshes and pop-up events. For Bartholomew, this approach to sales and marketing is just one part of a larger plan for Doja Exclusive to circumvent traditional retail as much as possible.

High Times Magazine, August 2023

For the most part, Bartholomew said, the dispensary is a fading concept that is becoming increasingly impractical for marketing weed. He says that few people these days are excited to go shop at a dispensary. Most importantly, getting fresh product on the shelves has become a huge challenge. The supply chain to the dispensary shelves can be slow and, after testing and distribution, the product often arrives less than fresh. If it doesn’t sell out immediately it languishes for months. For Doja the situation was unacceptable.

“The shit was old inventory and I’m thinking this isn’t good for what I do. I’d rather just let people know where I have the latest drops and then let them come out and get it directly from fresh batches that I’ve recently QC-ed and feel comfortable about,” he said.

It led Bartholomew to conceive the idea of a direct-to-consumer sales event, which manifested as the Hollywood Strain Premiere Party. The idea was simple: “Let’s do something where consumers can come grab new flavors and meet me in person. The weed will be good every time. We make sure of that,” Bartholomew said.

The event also allows Bartholomew to build hype around the new strains that Doja is bringing to market.

“I wanted to do something a little different since we had constant new phenos that we were rolling out with JBeezy [of Seed Junky Genetics] at the time. We also had the project in motion with Duke of Erb and some new strains dropping with Fiya Farmer,” he said.

Ryan Bartholomew of Dojo Exclusive and Juan Quesada of Backpack Boyz. Photo by Dan Wilson, @visithollyweed

Part of the early buzz of the event was that you could try new genetics that weren’t yet widely available, hence the “Strain Premiere.” It became the only place in the world to get the freshest and latest in Cali genetics.

“We had new genetics that no one else had,” Bartholomew said. “We were one of the few brands to put out new staples last year, so it was dope to be able to have a curated menu of flavors that were new and unique.”

Doja premiered strains such as Permanent Marker and Push Pop, and has released multiple phenotypes of Giraffe Puzzy so that fans can see the process of isolating a new strain. Doja has also dropped exclusive clones and seeds at the event, as well as street inspired merch that quickly sells out.

In 2021 Bartholomew held several industry-only mixers in cities such as Las Vegas and Miami, which were well attended by his many industry acquaintances. Last year he wanted to expand on the concept, but this time to create a space that was partly for the industry and partly for the consumer.

“I felt like I needed to focus more on connecting with the people that actually buy the product, not just other people in the industry. One of the ways that I knew I could get people out was to have these Hollywood events where I invite my industry friends like Wizard Trees, Sourwavez, Don Merfos and Gerb, Fiya Farmer. But at the same time, everyone else can come too,” he said.

 “So now smokers can talk to Wizard Trees and be like, ‘Yo, I really fuck with what you’re doing.’ That was always the idea behind it. That’s why from the very first one, I invited all those people.”

Sourwavez of King Sourwavez Genetics and Chico Shyne of John Doe Supply Co. Photo by Dan Wilson, @visithollyweed

The spot has always been a place to sight weed industry insiders and celebs. Big players like Sherbinskis, Terphogz, Mr. Gelatti, Super Dope/Fear of Boof, TenCo, Fiya Farmer, Wizard Trees, Fidel’s, Freddie Biggs, Ray Bama, and culture makers like Desto Dubb, Lil Meech, Lupe Fuentes, and Jewice have all been spotted there.

For Bartholomew, the success of the event shows that it’s time to start thinking about what comes next.

“We can always keep a consistent amount of people in there but we’re not looking to keep a consistent amount of people. We’re just looking to touch and go. We want something hot, new, fresh all the time,” he said.

Doja Exclusive has done direct-to-consumer pop-ups all over the U.S. and Europe, and he says that Hollywood is one of his smallest, crowd-wise. But it has gotten the most buzz, including regular press coverage.

“Does it help sales? Yes, it does boost sales all over the board. There are people in New York that are buying the product because they’re like, ‘Damn, those guys are having the Thursdays in Hollywood,’” Bartholomew said.

As for why his Hollywood event gets so much buzz, Bartholomew said that it’s all about the legacy and reputation of California weed.

“I think there’s just a fascination with Cali weed,” Bartholomew said. “We’re from the most influential place for cannabis. It’s like if you’re a fashion designer and you’re from Milan or a sommelier from Bordeaux.”

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Maven Genetics is One of the Rec Stars of 2023

If you’re a regular consumer in California’s recreational market, it’s pretty hard to miss Maven Genetics these days. Since the team broke out of their shell, they’ve made an epic run on shelf space up and down the state this year. The growth has been backboned by a solid spread of house genetics, and a few new accolades they received for their flower recently won’t hurt either. We sat down with the team at Maven Genetics a couple of days removed from their top-five finish with French Laundry in The Emerald Cup’s hyper competitive indoor division.

Maven’s co-founder and President Mike Corvington started the tale by noting how long the team had been working together previously to Maven being formed as an entity in the era of adult-use legalization.

“We obviously all come from the traditional side and have collectively been doing our thing since the late ’90s, early 2000s and kind of slowly scaled up our endeavors throughout that time from backyards and house grows to entering into the warehouse game,” Corvington told High Times.

Pink Monet / Courtesy Maven Genetics

Corvington’s partner, Maven CEO David Bosworth, was the first of the group to get a warehouse going in the early 2000s. From there they went off in downtown LA for a bit. But while Maven is now known for having a giant spread of flavors to pick from, they weren’t at that point back then.

“We were strictly OG,” Corvington stressed. “We were blessed with the original Triangle Kush cut from Miami. Essentially the same one Josh D had. Our other buddy Chad had a pre-98 that we traded for that back in the late ’90s. So we grew a little bit of Bubba here and there, but predominantly from the early 2000s all the way until, I think 2016-17, we just cranked out lots and lots of OG. We basically flooded the valley with OG and just really top-quality OG.”

In 2015, the team would eventually start to work with the XXX OG cut they run to this day. It’s still a staple of their lineup and breeding work, and Corvington swears by the cut.

“That one is just super special,” he said.

XXX OG is one of the strains they don’t expect to cycle out from the 20 or so they have in production at the moment. It’s a mainstay on their menu.

While Corvington isn’t spending as much time in the garden as he did back in the day, he’s a critical piece of the Maven brain trust that determines what they’ll be growing, how much, and when, to make sure they keep a constant supply of product.

Before formally establishing the company, Maven sold genetics. Now they offer flower and concentrates featuring their genetics. Corvington explained that Maven officially became an entity when they got the trademark for the logo in 2017.

Blue Agape / Courtesy Maven Genetics

“The logo kind of evolved through a few different iterations. I mean, we had the brand established in like 2015. And then it kind of went through a couple of iterations,” Corvington said. “I think it’s 2017 we actually officially trademarked it as an apparel brand federally.”

Corvington went on to note that 2015 was also the year they really saw the writing on the wall as far as the need to become their own brand, as opposed to dudes just pumping out fire OGs.

“We entered a few competitions and we started to see the slow transition from deli-style and then realizing that people are entering our flower into competitions and winning,” Corvington said. “And so we’re like, ‘We just need to do this.’ And kind of early on we saw that brands were going to be the way of the future so that’s why being vertically integrated has always been our approach.”

Corvington added that Maven has never been looking to have a massive retail footprint but instead wanted to have a few flagship shops to distribute the flower they work so hard on. Their two shops make up a small fraction of a percent of the shelf space they now have throughout over 400 dispensaries across California.

2017 was the year that Maven started hunting down all the flavors they’re now famous for. The decision to start hunting new terpene profiles coincided with the transition to the recreational market.

We asked Corvington if the team hadn’t hunted anything in 15 years at that point.

“Yeah, pretty much man. I mean, you know, small scale. There were a few packs of seeds here and there that we’d pop but very rarely at that point was I finding anything that was worth growing on any kind of scale,” Corvington said. “So 2017 was really when we started pushing a larger genetic line.”

Maven Genetics
White Dahlia / Courtesy Maven Genetics

Maven will pop about 100 seeds when they’re hunting for new flavors. Some hunts have gotten up to 200 but they find that 100 number to be their sweet spot. Corvington noted they are looking for everything. Sure, the economics of things are critical, but they’re still excited to see those wild flavors and outliers that might not make sense in a full production run.

Maybe Maven can do something else with them given how robust the inhouse breeding program got in 2020 a few years after they started popping all the seeds.

“I’d say the breeding program was not really in full swing ‘till like 2020. We definitely popped different gear, but it wasn’t until 2020 that I would say we had any kind of impactful programming,” Corvington explained.

Some of the early successes of the program included the Blueberry Skunk. Maven would go on to run a few more Blueberry lines—such as Blueberry Zkittlez which is still in production—but Corvington argued they have evolved a lot since those early wins in the breeding room.

“I feel like you know, we’ve really kind of made some impacts in the past year and a half because initially even in the breeding that we’re doing, it was kind of more we were kind of feeling our way through it and finding more things that were commercially viable, but that I don’t know if I would at this point say we’re long term keepers like our XXX OG and things that, you know, we’ll forever hold on to at this point,” Corvington said.

Right now Maven is running about 1,100 lights. They’re also deep in the process of converting a couple of their spaces to double-stacked LEDs. They had previously run HPS exclusively, but they’ve already done some test runs with Hawthorne as they look to dial it in on the LED side.

Corvington believes a lot of the people who have struggled with LEDs aren’t handling the environmental conditions the right way. But he also admits some cultivars seem to do better under LED compared to HPS despite many being convinced it’s always the other way around.

“I think with LEDs you really have to have your environmentals tuned in properly,” Corvington said. “A lot of people will not be getting the yields—are not getting the quality—and it’s just a result of their photosynthetic photon efficacy being off or just their environmental not being dialed in properly. You really have to have your stuff on point to grow well with LEDs.”

French Laundry / Courtesy Maven Genetics

We asked Corvington if their cultivation standard operating procedures were strain-specific or if the genetics needed to fit into the system that Maven has built out. He argued it’s a little bit of both. While they certainly cater to the plant, they try and group the room with things that have similar tolerance levels to the environment.

Some of those rooms can get up to 162 lights. Corvington admits they obviously have a bit more control on the stuff in the smaller rooms where it’s easier to keep a tight rein on things. That being said, he’s happy with what the big rooms are putting out.

Corvington went on to speak about concerns that the big menu makes it hard for their rock stars to shine.

“I mean, that’s always there and I thought we could reduce the menu, but, you know, I feel like our cadence with our strain offerings works for the buyers that we work with in our relationships,” Corvington explained. “Because you get some groups that just kind of want six different strains and they’re happy with that. But inevitably, there are other groups that they’re perfectly happy. They want variety because the customer base wants variety.”

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Cannabeginners: The Adventures of Panama Red

Panama is a country most known for two things, the Panama Canal and Panama Red; while a lot is known about the canal, very little is conclusively known about the cannabis cultivar. High Times reached out to cultivators and did a deep dive into the available information about Panama Red to try and paint the most complete picture of this iconic and legendary cultivar that defined an era.

The History of Panama Red

It has been claimed that much of the Panama Red cultivation took place not on the mainland of Panama, but on the Pearl Islands, a remote archipelago of 200 islands off the Pacific coast. A different account of the origin of Panama Red holds that it “grows in the mountains north of the Panama Canal. The soil is red to black, with rain all the time.” A third telling of the tale claims that Panama Red was grown on the Pacific coast, but not out on the Pearl Islands, specifically in an area that was less rainy. As all three of these accounts have little in common, all we know for sure is that at one time Panama Red did come from somewhere in Panama. 

As Panama Red was already widely known enough to be written about in the 1969 book The Drug Beat, chances are it had been around for some years before, but like Acapulco Gold, the exact year it arrived in the United States is a mystery. A major reason why Panama Red took the counterculture movement by storm was that it seemed to have a naturally higher THC content than other cultivars that were popular at the time, though there would have been no way to verify that in the 1960s. 

High Times reached out to Jason Matthys from Equilibrium Genetics (EQ), to learn more about Panama Red, specifically, the CBD-rich Panama Red seeds he sells. The blurb on EQ’s website says “This landrace cut came from seeds that were popped in the 1970s. A Peace Corp volunteer brought the seeds back from Panama.” Matthys expanded on that story in our interview, saying “The story that I heard was that some missionaries who were in Panama in the 70s brought those seeds back.” Matthys got his seeds from Bob Hemphill of Coastal Seeds, and says this variety “has been in California for decades and has been acclimatized to the California climate; it finishes quicker than you would expect for an equatorial strain.” If someone was looking for a classic Panama Red experience, a CBD-rich variety like this would likely be truer to what hippies experienced during the Summer of Love than one that was bred for just THC. 

Flavor and Effects

Like Durban Poison, Panama Red is known for its energizing, cerebral effects, and some sources describe it as bordering on being psychedelic, others note its ability to boost creativity and appetite. Anesia seeds says their Panama Red, “provides a mellow cerebral high that is on the euphoric and energetic side…a great visual experience…It is one of the most psychedelic sativa highs.” At the more poetic end, Raven Glass describes the effects as, “A step inside a vivid dream. Colors pulse richer, laughter carries like a breeze. Moments shift, easy as sunshine. Between the light and the profound, bringing hints of significance. Messages from the beyond or within yourself.”

Panama Red has as exotic a flavor as you would expect from this tropical cultivar. Descriptions of the taste range from the tame “a delectable flavor of candy and lemon,” to the more extravagant “a delicious concoction of flavors that can be described as herbal and spicy with some intriguing notes of tropical fruits reminiscent to the sweet and citrus taste of grapefruit.”

Panama Red in Pop Culture

Like Acapulco Gold, Panama Red has a rich history in pop culture, and was actually the topic of songs and movies even earlier than the Gold. Throughout the 1970s, Panama Red was frequently mentioned in the underground stoner comix series, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. In 1973, it hit the radio waves with the release of “Panama Red” by the New Riders of the Purple Sage, their most well-known song, from the album, The Adventures of Panama Red. Peter Rowan, who wrote the song, joined Jerry Garcia to form the supergroup Old and In the Way that same year, and they did a cover of “Panama Red” on their self-titled album in 1975. The next year, Panama Red made it to the silver screen two years before Acapulco Gold would be similarly immortalized in Up in Smoke, in the appropriately named film Panama Red, about a hippie musician selling weed to pay back “The Money Man.”

Is Real Panama Red Actually Red?

Unlike Acapulco Gold, where the color was largely a result of environmental factors rather than genetics, it appears that Panama Red becomes red due to its genetics, potentially from an elevated amount of certain anthocyanins. Anesia Seeds notes that “The buds are long, conic and covered in long thin hairs that can turn red. The leaves and stems can also turn reddish and brownish towards the middle of the flowering phase.” Matthys has also observed this in certain phenotypes: “There are some amazing reddish/purple phenotypes where if you did some line breeding you could make it come out a lot more.”

Do you have a Panama Red story to share or a tip about its origins? Let us know with a comment!

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Cannabeginners: The History of Acapulco Gold

One of High Time’s 25 Greatest Strains of All Time, Acapulco Gold is a legendary cultivar that is so rare these days the gold in the name might as well be a reference to its scarcity, rather than its color. Yet it was once one of the most commonly found cultivars in the hippie days of the 1960s on the West Coast of the U.S., and later was a crucial lifeline to funding the growth of the early punk scene in the 1980s. 

History of Acapulco Gold

As legend has it, Acapulco Gold (also called Mexican sativa) originated high up in the Guerrero Mountains, east of the port city of Acapulco. Not only was this warm, wet, coastal climate ideal for cannabis cultivation, the location on the Pacific coast made it primary territory for Californian surfers searching for big waves and strong bud. It would only be a matter of time before those surfers and others would bring Acapulco Gold back home with them.

According to Royal Queen Seeds, “Acapulco Gold first showed up in the United States back in 1964,” which tracks with the history of Romulan, where Mexican genetics first appeared in the 1960s. If that timeline is accurate, Acapulco Gold would have arrived in San Francisco just in time for the birth of the hippie movement and 1967’s Summer of Love, a perfect time and place to become a cultural icon. Cementing its status as a connoisseur-grade cultivar, Cheech and Chong immortalized Acapulco Gold by featuring it in Up in Smoke and creating a slogan for it, “No sticks no seeds that you don’t need. Acapulco Gold is….Bad Ass Weed.”

Gary Tovar: From Acapulco Gold to Goldenvoice

When you scour the internet for information about Acapulco Gold, while some finer details of stories might be a bit different, they all tend to mention the same man, smuggler and concert promoter, Gary Tovar. Tovar smuggled a variety of goods over the years, but in the late 1960s he began to smuggle cannabis into the U.S., both seeds and bud, which became “California’s largest marijuana operation.” The most notable cultivars that Tovar smuggled were Afghani, Thai Stick, and Acapulco Gold. Eventually, he would earn millions of dollars before being arrested for drug trafficking in 1991, and imprisoned the following year until 1999. 

In 1978, Tovar entered a new phase of his life, with the hippie movement long dead, the counterculture sought a new music to define the era, and Tovar found that in punk rock at a Sex Pistols concert. Three years later, Tovar founded the concert promotion company Goldenvoice (named for a different cannabis cultivar) to bring punk to the masses. The 1980s was a very different time than 2023, and many venues were afraid to host punk shows out of fears of violence; punk also faced law enforcement crackdowns. 

According to a profile on Tovar, “Punk’s lifeline was cash from cannabis, and music provided a way to wash the proceeds from the trade.” By his own estimation, Tovar spent over $4 million promoting punk music and bringing major British bands to the U.S., which all came from his cannabis business. “When I was doing both my things – smuggling and concerts – I considered them crusades,” Tovar said, adding “Now I think we won on both ends. Our music won – you can hear a Ramones song in an elevator – and we won on the marijuana front.” It wasn’t just punk music though, Tovar was an early booster of goth, industrial, and all sorts of alternate music, and he worked with artists including Siouxsie and the Banshees, GBH, Public Image LTD, Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses, and Jane’s Addiction, just to name a few. Even though Tovar stepped away from Goldenvoice in 1991 when he went to prison, Goldenvoice has thrived and their flagship festival, Coachella, is one of the most well-known music festivals in the world. 

As the history laid out by Royal Queen Seeds says Acapulco Gold came to the U.S. earlier than Tovar was smuggling it, chances are, he may not have been the first person to bring Acapulco Gold to the U.S., but the identity of that person is lost to the ages. The other name mentioned in connection to Gary Tovar is an associate of Tim Leary known as LaRue, who was Tovar’s connection for Afghani seeds, but no sources clearly connect LaRue to Acapulco Gold. 


Flavor/Terpene Profile

True Acapulco Gold is a pure sativa, which makes sense given how close it originated to the equator. As we have discussed, the terms indica and sativa aren’t the most scientifically accurate terms for predicting the effects of a cultivar. That being said, Acapulco Gold is known to be a very energizing cultivar, as one would expect from a sativa. Some sources online have it listed as a hybrid with some indica genetics in the mix, though most refer to it as being a sativa landrace, this discrepancy may be a result of the lack of clarity over what denotes a “pure sativa” cultivar.

The flavor and scent of Acapulco Gold ranges in description from “an intense fruit cocktail flavor,” to “earthy overtones mixed with hints of spice, citrus, and rich toffee/honey-like sweetness.” From my past experience smoking it, nearly a decade ago, it was very fruity, more of a tropical than citrus sweetness, with some spice to balance it out. This makes sense given that its terpene profile tends to be dominated by myrcene (which is found in mangos and would impart a tropical sweetness) and beta-caryophyllene (which would give it that spiciness), there also are notable amounts of limonene (which is responsible for the citrus flavor often noted). 

Is Real Acapulco Gold Actually Gold?

As we discussed in the last section, there is some debate over the exact genetics of Acapulco Gold (how sativa-leaning it is), which could be because it is so rare you have people claiming something is Acapulco Gold when it is not (similar to what some have claimed about Blue Dream). Royal Queen Seeds has this caveat emptor, “Nowadays, many seed banks sell their own version of Acapulco Gold. Some of them can trace the genetics back to Mexican origins, whereas others have slapped the title on unrelated hybrids.” 

One of the most notable characteristics of Acapulco Gold, the source of its namesake, is its color. So does that mean that all Acapulco Gold should be golden in color? According to Tovar, the golden color was from the wind burning the bud yellow, and the older it was by the time it got to the US, the more the color faded to gold. That means the color really was due more to environmental factors and poor storage practices during smuggling than a result of genetics, and perhaps Acapulco Gold grown in a different climate would not be gold.

Do you have an Acapulco Gold story to share or a tip about its origins? Let us know with a comment!

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Cannabeginners: The History of Romulan

Like many of the earliest cultivars bred in modern times, the exact origins and history of Romulan are more shrouded than the Jem’Hadar. 

Who Created it?

Like Blue Dream, the exact origins of Romulan are a bit of a mystery, but unlike Blue Dream, there is pretty wide consensus around who the original breeder was, and also like Blue Dream, there is a Santa Cruz connection. Romulan is widely believed to have been bred by the cultivator Romulan Joe (formerly known as Mendocino Joe), who was involved with Sacred Seeds along with other legends like Skunkman Sam and Maple Leaf Wilson. Sacred Seeds was based out of the Santa Cruz area until they were raided in 1982, and the members split up around the globe, and Mendocino Joe made the trek up to Victoria in British Columbia (BC), and became Romulan Joe. Once he got up to Canada in the 1980’s, Federation Seeds (now Next Generation Seeds) got a cutting from Romulan Joe and now they are the main suppliers of Romulan genetics.

Or at least, that is one story. Another story that can be found online is that “Legend has it that Canadian growers started breeding this strain in the 1950s,” suggesting that it was a mix of “Korean, Columbian, Afghan, and Mexican genes.” Whoever created Next Generation Seed Company’s page on the Seedfinder website claims to have “had many conversations on the origin of this strain” with Romulan Joe, and the purported facts of those conversations echo that alternate storyline. According to Seedfinder, Joe said “the original breeders started growing in their backyard and greenhouse in the 50s, after being introduced to cannabis in the Korean war and bringing home seeds to Victoria.” In the 60s and 70s, as Mexican and Colombian genetics made it to BC those got mixed in, and finally in the 1980s when Afghani genetics got to Canada those further got crossed into Romulan. That final step of Afghan genetics being added to the mix might be Romulan Joe’s contribution, as Afghani genetics had arrived in California before BC. As it is not clear who wrote that page on Seedfinder, it is impossible to verify if that person has ever truly spoken to Romulan Joe. 

What are the Genetics of Romulan?

As there are two main stories about who first bred it and where it was first bred, it shouldn’t surprise you that there are at least two competing theories about the genetics. The first theory is that it is a cross of a North American Indica landrace with White Rhino. This theory seems somewhat dubious, as cannabis was not native to the Americas until it came over with colonizing armies in the form of hemp, which over years adapted to become cannabis, with higher cannabinoid and terpene contents. That doesn’t mean there can’t be such a thing as a North American landrace, but there is little evidence of those existing before people brought them here to be cultivated (which makes it definitely not a landrace, as those are cultivars bred by nature not humans). 

A more believable version of that first theory is that Romulan was bred from a Afghani indica landrace, which in 1996 Federation Seeds saved “from near-extinction by crossing it with the popular White Rhino indica.” Due to generations of back-crossing, it is estimated that under 3% of the White Rhino genetics remain, making Romulan fairly close to a pure indica Afghani landrace. Some sources refer to the original Afghani landrace genetics as being from “a group of cultivars in the 1980s called Blue Indicas.” The Blue Indicas are believed to have gotten their name because they have elevated levels of anthocyanin and can turn bluish-purple in cold climates, like up in BC. 

The alternate theory, which holds that Romulan originated way back in the 50s in Canada, says it is a mixture of Korean, Columbian, Afghan, and Mexican landrace genetics. While it certainly could be a combination of all those landraces, it seems odd that something which is half sativa-leaning Mexican and Colombian genetics would be a pure indica. If the source on that Seedfinder page is to be believed, this theory of Romulan’s genetics is the one supported by Romulan Joe himself, which would lend some credibility to it if one can believe that page. According to the lore, the Mexican and Colombian genetics were hidden by phenotypic selection for plants that presented as indicas (they grew smaller and denser, which is better for colder climates like in BC). 

A Cultivar with an Out of This World Flavor

Romulan has a unique scent flavor unlike many of the cultivars you will find in dispensaries today, it is both earthy and piney (like rich in pinene) and also sweet and citrusy. Romulan’s scent has been reported to be “a chemical blast of pine (think Pine-Sol, but less toxic), with varying degrees of citrus, black pepper or lavender playing supporting roles.” The flavor has been described, almost poetically, as having “a zesty aftertaste with skunky notes jumping around the back of my tongue, but they’re both minimal compared to Romulan’s thick, resinous pine flavors.”

Star Trek Romulan costume, photo by Doug Kline

What is a Romulan, and Could it be the First “Celebrity” Cultivar?

Given the underground nature of the cannabis industry in the early days, it is hard to know for sure what the first celebrity cultivar ever was, but if rumors are to be believed that Canadian cultivators have been growing Romulan since the 1950s, it could be one of the first cultivars named for a famous person, show, or movie. As Star Trek fans will know, a “Romulan” is a member of an alien race from the planet Romulus. Romulans are known to have foreheads with a huge V in them. An old joke about the cultivar Romulan is that it is so potent it can “dent your head,” and that is believed to be the origin for the name. However, Star Trek wasn’t created until 1966, which means there was more than a decade of Romulan existing when it was known by another name, and what that original name was has been lost to history.

So no matter who bred it, or what its exact genetics are, the next time you are looking for some new bud to try, look for some Romulan and dent your head. 

The post Cannabeginners: The History of Romulan appeared first on High Times.

Cannabeginners: Celebrating Two Decades of Blue Dream

Haze. Skunk. OG. Cookies. There are some cultivars that take the cannabis market by storm and quickly come to define an era, and for Blue Dream, that era began around 2003 and lasted until around 2011 before market tastes changed and a new cultivar came to dominate. Yet, for a cultivar celebrating its twentieth anniversary and considered by some to have been at one time the “most popular strain on the planet,” surprisingly little is known for sure. 

What are the Genetics of Blue Dream?

Despite no one knowing who the original breeder of Blue Dream is, there is wide consensus around what its genetics probably are, though no one can know for sure until the breeder is identified and can confirm the lineage. Legendary cannabis breeder Ed Rosenthal confirmed to Ellen Holland, High Times Editor in Chief, for her seminal piece on the history of Blue Dream, that it is a cross of “Haze and DJ Short’s Blueberry,” and many sources online support this. There is, however, some debate over if it actually was DJ Short’s Blueberry or another Blueberry cannabis cultivar, and if it was the original Haze Brother’s Santa Cruz Haze or Super Silver Haze. 

“What blueberry it was, what haze it was, I don’t know, but I know people who grew it in Santa Cruz for years,” said Jason Matthys, the founder and owner of Equilibrium Genetics, a formerly-Corralitos based nursery. “I know some old timers who back in the 70s drove down to Santa Cruz to get blueberry, not DJ Short’s Blueberry but something like it,” Matthys told High Times. “Haze is also known to be from Corralitos (near Watsonville),” said Matthys, “it was grown by the Haze Brothers who passed their seeds on to people like Sam the Skunk Man.” Holland also followed this lead in her article, adding further support to the idea that Blue Dream was bred using a Santa Cruz Haze, not a Super Silver Haze. 

Rumors of a “Two” Dream

Multiple sources for this article mentioned a rumor of not just one Blue Dream cut, but two. “I’ve heard someone from Mendocino say once that there are two cuts of Blue Dream, a slightly more sativa one and a slightly more indica one,” said Matthys. Eva Erikson is a Corralitos-based cannabis cultivator and a co-founder of Haze Valley Nursery along with her partner, Sjoerd Broeks, and they were able to elaborate slightly on the rumor. What they have heard is that “The imposter Blue Dream was likely a hybrid or some offshoot of the original Blue Dream,” which was bred using a DJ Short’s Blueberry and a Santa Cruz Haze. So perhaps some Blue Dream out there could have been bred using Super Silver Haze rather than the original Haze Brother’s Haze. It also could be possible that what is being observed is a phenotypic difference based on the environment or other factors, rather than a genetic difference. 

Handfuls of fresh Blue Dream flower. / Shutterstock

Who Created it?

Now that we know what Blue Dream most likely is, who created this incredibly popular cultivar that has dominated much of the market for the past twenty years? Like Holland, I chased down several different leads but was not able to locate the original breeder. Erikson told High Times that they got their cut through someone that Bodhi Seeds put them in touch with, and that “I asked Bodhi about it and he didn’t know who first grew it.” Craig Johnson, who runs Alpenglow Farms with his wife Melanie, said “This could just be legend, but I know the hills above Bonny Doon as a place where Blue Dream may have been developed and originally grown.” Johnson added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it came out of that patient group WAMM.” Attempts were made to contact Valerie Corral, a co-founder of WAMM, but were not successful.

Flavor and Terpene Profile

Descriptions of Blue Dream’s flavor focus heavily on its parentage, more on the Blueberry side than the Haze. Some sources describe it as just a blueberry flavor, others get more elaborate saying it has a blueberry muffin flavor, and some do note the Haze traits saying there is a sandalwood or musk flavor. If you look at the certificates of analysis on Blue Dream, the most common terpenes usually are beta myrcene (found in overripe mangoes and spices, with a sweet, spicy, pungent scent), alpha pinene (what makes pine trees smell like they do), and beta caryophyllene (found in black pepper and many spices/herbs with warm, woody, spicy smell). Interestingly, the predominant terpenes in blueberries are cineole and linalool

“A really high quality Blue Dream would have a translucent bluish tint to the buds, the really good indoor would look otherworldly, like it would glow under blacklight,” said Matthys, “It had a super fruity blueberry aroma to it and excellent effects.”

Blue Dream CoA. / Courtesy Haze Valley Nursery

Green Rushing the Market to Low Quality Blue Dream

According to an analysis put together by Leafbuyer and the Trichome Institute, Blue Dream is the “Most counterfeit strain in Colorado.” While this was not necessarily a scientific analysis, it highlights an important issue that continues in the cannabis industry to this day, that is, there is no regulation requiring, or method readily available, to guarantee that a cultivar being sold actually is what it is claims to be. Or, could there be another reason that, for a number of years, much of the Blue Dream on the market was very low quality?

The cultivators and industry experts that High Times spoke to were unanimous that, while it could be possible some people were passing off other cultivars as Blue Dream, the main issues that caused Blue Dream’s downfall were also the cause of its success.

“During the Green Rush a lot of people started to grow Blue Dream,” said Barron Lutz, CEO of Nasha Hash, “It was the combination of being easy to grow, with high THC content, and a great nose appeal.” Lutz noted that compared to OG, the other dominant cultivar at the time, “Blue Dream was much easier to grow” which resulted in overproduction. Thankfully, as a result of market changes since the Green Rush days, Lutz said “Blue Dream is making a comeback this year,” adding that their hash is so popular they needed to add “an additional grower to grow Blue Dream.”

Craig and Melanie Johnson are the additional growers Lutz mentioned, and Johnson largely agreed with Lutz. “In the Green Rush, so much Blue Dream was grown in bagged potting soil with salts, it didn’t have that taste of terroir like we have at Alpenglow,” said Johnson. Those low quality inputs lead to a low quality output, mediocre Blue Dream flooded the market, instead of the glowing blueberry nugs people were used to seeing. “A lot of those Green Rushers didn’t know how to grow it well and it didn’t do the plant any justice,” said Johnson, noting that Blue Dream “didn’t come into her full potential until later in the season” and many novice growers rushed it to harvest early, leading to poor flavor and low potency. 

Matthys says that back in the early 2010s, Blue Dream was “the most popular strain on the planet.” At the time, he worked at Harborside Oakland and they would have “twelve people bring in Blue Dream a day and they would only buy the best of it,” maybe from 2 to five of them. That was a sign of both the overproduction that Lutz mentioned and the abundance of low quality Blue Dream that Johnson discussed. Matthys added another reason why Blue Dream was popular with customers, “It was a quality buy that was more economical,” cheaper than the OGs but still very good for the money. 

In the end, what really challenged Blue Dream’s dominance in the market may not have been low quality imitations, either outright counterfeits or low quality bud, but could have been the breeding of a new cultivar — Cookies. Like Blue Dream, Cookies also was a pretty easy-to-grow cultivar, with a great nose appeal, and high yields, and it hit the market around the same time Blue Dream’s popularity was waning. Johnson has another theory, rather than it being the Cookies, it could have been a resurgence in the popularity of OG. “Everyone I knew was putting out some of the most gorgeous OG,” said Johnson, “Southern Humboldt had the cut that was absolute fire. It was an amazing time in OG Kush history.” 

The post Cannabeginners: Celebrating Two Decades of Blue Dream appeared first on High Times.

Cannabeginners: The History of Durban Poison

South Africa has a long tradition of cannabis cultivation and southern Africa is home to numerous landrace cultivars that many may never have heard of outside the region. For many years, Durban Poison was one of them, but thanks to the birth of Amsterdam’s coffee shops and the work of American cannabis enthusiasts, the whole world now can enjoy this unique, THCv-rich landrace cultivar. 

What is a Landrace Cultivar?

A landrace cultivar is one that was bred by the land and not intentionally bred by people (though often these landrace cultivars have long and rich histories of cultivation and use by local people). As the Pondoland area, right next to the province where Durban is located, is home to nearly a million small-scale cannabis cultivators and is basically South Africa’s Emerald Triangle, it is likely that these families and their ancestors have been the traditional cultivators of Durban Poison. While they may not have originally bred it, these traditional growers have played a role in selecting the best phenotypes to cultivate and which genetics will get passed on to new generations. 

History of Durban Poison

The modern history of Durban Poison began in the late 1970s, when the legendary cannabis breeder and grower, Ed Rosenthal, took a trip to Amsterdam. Despite many websites claiming Rosenthal went to South Africa to get the genetics, he told High Times, “I did not travel to South Africa, that is totally not true, I don’t know who created that urban legend.” 

The truth is he went to “a coffee shop called the Transvaal,” which was named for a province in South Africa and “was run by white South Africans who were importing cannabis from South Africa.” Rosenthal noted that “South Africa is far from the equator so it is seasonal like the US,” which means cultivars that do well there might also do well back in California. While he admits that none of those original seeds were “super powerful,” Rosenthal said the benefit of the Durban seeds was that they “were very fast growing and ripening.” At the time, Rosenthal was living with the botanist Mel Frank while they were working on the Marijuana Growers Guide, and he gave some seeds to Frank and “many other people.” 

Frank then passed on some of the seeds to Skunkman Sam, the legendary cannabis grower who bred Skunk #1 and many other classic cultivars. Like many landrace cultivars, Durban Poison originally suffered from intersex characteristics, which needed to be bred out of it before it could be a stabilized cultivar. Skunkman Sam spent several seasons working on it in California to get rid of those intersex traits, before Durban Poison would make the leap back across the Atlantic to Amsterdam.

In the mid-1980s, Skunkman Sam relocated from California to Amsterdam and brought his valuable cannabis genetics with him. Once he got to Amsterdam, Skunkman Sam met with cannabis breeder and creator of the first cannabis seedbank, Nevil Schoenmakers. It was through Nevil, his Holland Seed Bank, and other Dutch seed banks, that Durban Poison would become internationally known. 

There is a history to Durban Poison before it ever made it to Amsterdam, while it was still a landrace in South Africa. According to the 1987 Super Sativa Seed Club catalog, Durban Poison was believed to have originated in the Pinetown area, about 10 miles into the mountains west of Durban. Beyond that, little else is known about the exact origins of Durban Poison (i.e. which person or group of people cultivated it first and maintained that genetic legacy until the seeds got to Amsterdam). 

Flavor/Terpene Profile

Most sources online describe Durban Poison as having a sweet and piney scent/flavor. Durban has also been described as having a flavor of licorice with a citrusy aftertaste. Some sources note that Durban Poison has elevated levels of D-Limonene, which lab certificates of analysis show to be one of the more common terpenes in samples tested. Other terpenes commonly found in Durban include myrcene, pinene, and beta caryophyllene.

Elevated THCv Levels

The effects of Durban have been compared to drinking a shot of espresso and it is often referred to as a pure sativa with the uplifting and energizing effects associated with those cultivars. Many believe those coffee-like effects have to do with the elevated levels of THCv in Durban Poison, which give it a stronger psychoactive effect with a shorter duration. Recent research casts some doubt on previous claims of THCv being psychoactive, showing limited interaction at the CB1 receptor, leading the researchers to say, “The main advantage of THCV over THC is the lack of psychoactive effects.”

Durban Poison has been bred with numerous other cultivars, and generally elevated THCv levels get passed on. A couple of commonly found cultivars Durban is part of are Cherry Pie and Cookies. Beyond having elevated THCv levels, Durban has very low amounts of CBD, it’s mostly THC and THCv. 

Durban is a Sativa, but Does that Matter?

Durban Poison is widely regarded to be a pure sativa. Those cultivars have long been associated with producing a powerful cerebral high and uplifting effects (as opposed to indicas which have long been viewed as creating a body high and sedation). While recent research calls the entire indica and sativa dichotomy into question, one thing is not in doubt, Durban Poison is very energizing and is definitely recommended for anyone looking for a coffee-like effect from their bud. If you can’t find Durban Poison, look for other African landrace cultivars like Red Congolese of Malawi, which are both known for similarly speedy effects. 

The post Cannabeginners: The History of Durban Poison appeared first on High Times.

The 8 best fire strains

Considered by many to be the most potent of the Kush phenotypes, Fire OG is a contemporary strain with genetics featured in several heady, powerful, indulgent, and uniquely complex cultivars. Fire OG is a cross of OG Kush and SFV OG Kush, delivering brightly euphoric effects with a body buzz that’s both stimulating and restorative.

Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Though crosses of this strain may express similar traits to the parent, many are singular strains that, while borrowing some parental qualities, are exclusively their own. But for aficionados of Fire OG flower, exploration of the strain’s many extraordinary phenotypes is practically a requirement.

Below, find eight incredible strains with Fire OG parentage.

White Fire OG

Bred from a cross of Fire OG and The White, White Fire OG (aka WiFi OG) is a turbocharged cross of what seems like two remarkably similar flowers. However, while both Fire and The White’s effects are heady and relaxed, WiFi reportedly delivers a peppier, more uplifted, and altogether energetic high. Therapeutic consumers report relief from chronic pain and nausea.

Expect a pungent, earthy nose and lemony exhale.

Fire Engine #9

Stoners hoping for a social lubricant that will keep them engaged and perky might appreciate Fire Engine #9, a giggly balance of a sparkling head high and a bouncy body. Recreational consumers describe mild to moderately potent highs that are equal parts chatty and chill. Therapeutic consumers report relief from depression, mood swings, and stress.

Expect a flowery perfume and earthy, botanical exhale.

Fire Alien

This cross of Fire OG and Alien Kush delivers a super-balanced expression of cannabinoids and terpenes, resulting in an even-keeled cerebral and languid high. Wake-and-bake stoners avoiding manic energy boosts might appreciate Fire Alien as a morning toke.

Consumers describe a quick onset and bright, semi-trippy euphoria. Therapeutic consumers report relief from PMS, depression, and fatigue.

Expect a wet-wood aroma and a fruity, funky exhale.

Blue Fire

Those in the market for a Kush/Skunk phenotype with smooth, uplifting couchlock vibes should have a close look at the sugary colas of Blue Fire.

This deeply relaxing cultivar is a panacea for insomnia and anxiety, putting many consumers to bed after extinguishing their stress. Blue Fire reportedly delivers a super potent and lasting high that further develops in complexity after a swoon-worthy onset. Therapeutic consumers report relief from anxiety and insomnia.

Expect a flowery, herbal bouquet and a commensurate exhale.

Rocky Mountain Fire

This mysterious hybrid was supposedly bred in secrecy, so whether it contains Fire parentage is unknown. However, it’s an exceptional representation of a Fire strain, boasting nearly 30% THC and impressively heady effects.

Rocky Mountain Fire reportedly delivers a potent, crashing onset that dissipates into a sedative body high and cerebral buzz. Consumers cite this cultivar’s powerful appetite activation and recommend having munchies prepped pre-sesh, lest your spacey head high leads to some culinary misadventures.

Expect a bright, citrusy-funk perfume and a skunky lemon exhale.


Those who love body-buzz cultivars might enjoy Firecracker, a deeply relaxing strain that is described as peaceful, calming, and “body-centric” rather than cerebral or euphoric. For consumers whose mental relief hinges on their physical state, Firecracker may be the cultivar to soothe them into complacency. Therapeutic consumers describe relief from chronic pain and insomnia.

Expect a funky fruit aroma and a grassy, woody exhale.

Firewalker OG

With blissful effects that are eye-opening rather than mollifying, Firewalker OG should be a stash box staple. This cross of Skywalker OG and Fire OG is a peppy, uplifting cultivar that delivers a bright, sunny head high and an elastic body buzz perfect for waking-and-baking. Therapeutic consumers report this strain’s efficacy in treating chronic pain, headaches, and depression.

Expect a lemon-pine perfume and a wet wood exhale.

Hell’s Fire

Another Kush phenotype to explore is Hell’s Fire (aka Hell Fire OG), a slightly euphoric, deeply relaxing cultivar that delivers a creative, sometimes giddy high. Artistically inclined stoners searching for creativity fuel may find a new fave in Hell’s Fire. Despite the polarizing moniker, this cultivar is renowned for its colorfully cerebral high and smooth, pacifying body buzz.

Expect a powerful citrus profile in both the nose and the palate.

The post The 8 best fire strains appeared first on Weedmaps News.

Scientists Identify Viroid-Resistant Purple Cannabis Strain

While humans battle COVID, cannabis plants face an equally devastating threat: Hop latent viroid (HLVd), a viroid that occurs worldwide in hops, but in recent years jumped to cannabis, destroying THC yields in infected plants.

SFGate reports that scientists from Massachusetts-based Medicinal Genomics observed a cannabis variety, Jamaican Lion, that appears to be partially resistant to HLVd, and it turns purple as it fights the viroid. 

Chief Science Officer for Medicinal Genomics Kevin McKernan presented “Hop Latent Viroid Shares a 19 Nucleotide Sequence with Cannabis sativa COG7” at CannMed23 at the Marriott Resort at Marco Island, Florida. The late Raphael Mechoulam was originally scheduled to speak at the event alongside other cannabis science leaders such as Ethan Russo, MD; Bonnie Goldstein, MD; Debra Kimless; and others. 

The strain Jamaican Lion appeared to be resistant to the viroid, and also continued to turn purple as it fought the viroid. Jamaican Lion is an award-winning strain rich in CBD.

Viroids can be spread by biological avenues, or it can be spread by growers via touch or from tools. Sterilizing with a 10% bleach solution can reduce infection. Scientists rubbed the viroid directly onto cut leaves of the plant to infect them, then injected a plant with the viroid. Six weeks later, the plant variety was still not infected after repeating the test 57 times. While the researchers were able to detect HLVd in the plant’s roots, the leaf and flower tissue tested negative up until harvest time.

“We don’t know why [this is happening]. This could be an immune response, but we’re not seeing this [purple coloring] as heavily increased in the control that’s not infected,” McKernan said.

What HLVd viroid Does to Plants

HLVd causes plants to produce smaller flowers and significantly less THC. Upon observation with an electron microscope, it causes mature trichomes—where most of the THC is located—to look like a deflated balloon instead of their normal ball shape.  A study shows that as many as 90% of California cannabis is infected with HLVd, and that it could cost up to $4 billion in lost yields. While the viroid is bad news for cannabis, viroids only infect plants, therefore it’s not a physical danger to humans.

It’s not immediately clear why the plant was resistant to the viroid. McKernan said it turned purple as the production of anthocyanin, a chemical that can turn plants purple, was increased. The team believes that scientists should set out to determine if there are more purple plants that are resistant to HLVd, because anthocyanin production is already linked to fighting viroids.

The cannabis variety could help save pot farms. “There is literature that links anthocyanin production with viroid infection. This is in different plants and with different viroids but these anthocyanins are a known immune response for plants,” McKernan told SFGate.

McKernan turned to cannabis to help combat his father’s stage-4 prostate cancer. He used professional guidance from Mechoulam, Goldstein, Kimless, and others to maximize the health benefits of cannabinoids.

Zamir K. Punja said at the conference that HLVd should be considered  a “major threat” to cannabis farms. Punja calls HLVd the “COVID of the cannabis world.” Findings suggest that THC yields from infected plants can drop as much as 40%, which is bad news to a cannabis farm.

Medicinal Genomics’ long-term solution in the battle against HLVd is to breed resistant cultivars—perhaps some purple varieties—that do not experience yield or potency loss.

The post Scientists Identify Viroid-Resistant Purple Cannabis Strain appeared first on High Times.