Vintage And Landrace Strains: Back To Our Roots
We all have our roots, and where we come from influences our evolution. Just like music or clothing, cannabis carries important elements from history. These days, strains are being created every day from hybrids of hybrids, and though this cornucopia of the plant is amazing, it’s important to remember those classic strains that started it all.
Before going indoors with the introduction of hydroponics in the 1980s and after it was declared a Schedule I drug in 1970, landrace strains were the most popular form of cannabis. What we smoke today was originally bred from these naturally occurring varieties. In other words, landrace is about as OG as one can get with weed. Named after the region they’re native to, the most popular landrace strains are Mexican, Afghan, Thai, African and South American. Most of these strains were brought over by connoisseurs looking to bring the best possible cannabis to the United States.
If you were trying to score a bag 45 years ago, you might’ve been given a mix of landrace—what we refer to as a “classic” strain. The strains could range from Acapulco Gold (Cheech and Chong favorite), Red Congolese (a mix of African/Afghani/Mexican landraces) or what you might simply call “skunk” which actually referred to the strain we know now as Skunk #1, which we acquired a sample of from Dr. Atomix’s garden in Santa Cruz. A trifecta of landrace strains, Skunk #1 is a powerhouse of quality genetics. Since its debut in the 1970s, it has reached legendary status, winning the first ever Cannabis Cup in 1988—and has been used in the creation of numerous strains, including the well-known Sour Diesel (Skunk #1 x Chemdawg x Northern Lights).
Another strain encountered during that time was Durban Poison. Brought over from Africa in the 1970s by Ed Rosenthal—who admired its short flowering period and unique smell—Durban Poison has since been used to create many of the strains we love today such as the infamous Girl Scout Cookies (Durban Poison x OG Kush). Its euphoric effect makes for great offspring and has propelled demand for the strain. Even after all these years, Durban Poison is a staple on most dispensary menus.
In the 80s, technology designed to improve cannabis boomed. Hydroponics became a popular method of growing, and the control available to growers through hydro allowed for the cultivation of some of the classics we still enjoy today. Trainwreck is an excellent example of the quintessential strains to have come out of this decade. Thai, Mexican and Afghani landraces were mixed to create an intense and long lasting sativa high still loved today.
The 1970s saw a great influx of variety as so-called “seed hunters” brought in new landrace strains, followed by the 1980s where the process of indoor propagation began its path to perfection, but the 1990s brought in a whole new world of high-quality bud. One such variation was AK-47, a blend of South American, Mexican, Thai and Afghani landrace strains. Although it was created in 1992, AK-47 is still a stoner staple because of its high THC content and dank smell.
Other children of the 90s include OG Kush, a strain well-known and well-loved especially on its native West Coast, and Pre 93’ Bubblegum, a strain that started in Indiana then went on to Amsterdam where TH Seeds still has the original strain available today. California native, Blue Dream, also gained popularity at this time and is still a favorite of any old stoner. Ask them and they’ll tell you Blue Dream is one of the best strains for all day use.
Another hybrid 90s pot posterchild is the refreshing, pine-rich Jack Herer, which was named after the American cannabis activist and author. The strain was engineered in the Netherlands, where cultivators hoped to create a balanced strain with elevating effects of sativa while maintaining the resin-rich qualities of an indica.
Some things never go out of style, and Miss Mary Jane is one of them. The cultivation of cannabis has led us to new and exciting places. These classic strains have held up to the test of time. Now, it’s being discovered that landrace strains contain cannabinoids and terpenes which have been bred out of a lot of the hybrids and that may have therapeutic benefits not yet understood. Breeders are able to use these almost-lost elements to resurrect some of the original effects of cannabis. Not only have these strains travelled through the ages to help elevate and medicate, they’re still helping us stay DOPE today.
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