Behind the Name: Skunk #1

Written by BlackbirdGo January 23, 2019
The Plant

One of the first things that I’d learned about weed growing up was that the smellier the weed, the better the high. Sitting around school cafeteria tables, I’d listen to the conversations around me about people who had “good skunk weed.” Skunk weed, named after the smelly animal that shares its scent, had become synonymous with weed that was good—it was just a label to apply to any weed that really did the job. This, however, isn’t entirely accurate. The misconceptions surrounding the term “skunk weed” are varied and plentiful: that it is a dangerous superweed, that it was actually a strain engineered by the government, that “skunk” is just a handy adjective to express the quality of one’s weed. The truth about Skunk lies somewhere amidst all these rumors.

Skunk weed, plainly defined, is a variety of cannabis developed for indoor cultivation, producing hybrid plants, with early flower development, and a pungent aroma. This strain was developed in the 1970s and is a hybrid of Afghan Indica, Mexican Sativa, and Colombian Gold Sativa. The hybrid is most commonly referred to as Skunk #1. Surprisingly, this strain is actually an indica dominant hybrid consisting of a ratio of 65% indica to 35% sativa. Contrary to popular belief, Skunk #1 doesn’t actually have a wildly high amount of THC in it. In fact, the percentage of THC found within this strain is around 15-19%, so nothing wildly outside of the normal range. This strain is particularly popular because aspects of its hybridization allow for it to flower at a faster rate while still producing a large quantity of weed. Additionally, this strain was designed to flourish within greenhouses and other indoor environments, a grow environment perfected by Dutch growers.

Due to this ease of cultivation, Skunk #1 allows people, even beginners, to grow their own weed without having to rely on it being imported from other regions; this has made it a very popular strain. When cannabis is imported, there is typically a larger time frame between harvest and consumption. However, when people grow weed themselves, this time frame is much shorter. This may contribute to the narrative that Skunk has a higher percentage of THC than other strains, but, in reality, it just means that this strain typically gets smoked or otherwise consumed before the THC has a chance to decay.

Unfortunately, with this overestimation of the amount of THC this breed contains, there are also exaggerated negative effects. Particularly from news outlets in the UK, Skunk is often said to be a super strain of weed that spurs psychotic episodes and weakens users’ corpus callosum (the white matter tissues that connect the right and left sides of the brain). However, in spite of purported structural changes to the brain, these studies fail to show how these alleged structural changes impact a person’s thoughts or other functions. Additionally, these studies were contingent on users self-reporting the amount of THC they had consumed, something that could potentially lead to misreporting and unreliable results. To date, there have been no concrete studies that would justify this sort of fear mongering surrounding Skunk.

Outside of the many sensationalized and inaccurate takes on Skunk #1, there’s also an incredible mythology behind the strain. Skunk was initially bred in the 1970s by a growing collective called the Sacred Seeds. This Santa Cruz-based collective is famous for growing and breeding several notable weed strains, namely Skunk #1 and Haze. However, it is impossible to talk about Skunk #1 without also bringing up its number one purveyor: David Watson, aka Sam the Skunkman.

Sam the Skunkman is a divisive character in the cannabis history books. To some, he is a cannabis connoisseur who helped revolutionize, democratize, and sustain the growing and distribution of cannabis and cannabis seeds. To others, he’s an undercover DEA agent who sold out the Sacred Seeds by taking all their collective research for himself and capitalizing on it. Legend has it that Sam the Skunkman was busted by the DEA and, after spending an incredibly brief time in jail, returned to the grow house to see if the cops had left anything behind. Conveniently for Sam, they had. Behind the grow house was a dumpster filled with clones and thousands of seeds that the cops had discarded. Sam made off with the seeds like a bandit and whisked them away to Amsterdam, where he and his seeds were met with a warm welcome.

Regardless of the veracity of this statement, and regardless of whether or not Sam the Skunkman was actually a DEA agent or merely an ambitious man with a passion for bud, the end result remains true: Sam the Skunkman helped to further the life of the Skunk strain of weed. This isn’t merely an insignificant achievement for one strain of weed. No, in fact, this particular strain of weed not only remains popular today but has also proven to be a great basis for further genetic modification and has spurred numerous cross strains. Thanks in large part to its optimal grow time, large crop yield, and the fact that it is an indoor friendly breed, Skunk has provided breeders with an excellent framework to grow different strains of weed.

Disclaimer: Keep out of reach of children. For use only by adults 21 years of age and older.

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