Landrace Cannabis: The REAL OG Kush

Written by Kathryn Weiss March 6, 2019
The History

In addition to straight flower, there are cannabis balms, lotions, concentrates, chocolate bars, fizzy drinks, and more. Each of the strains in these product tends to come with some funky name that almost doesn’t sound real and, sometimes, not even appealing at all (Sour Diesel? Really?). We often overlook where our cannabis comes from, where it was grown, and where it was processed. But what if we looked even deeper into the origins of your cannabis? Let’s hop on that Magic School Bus back in time to explore the O.G. strains of cannabis, something commonly referred to as “landrace” strains.

Back to the Basics

In relation to cannabis, the term “landrace” essentially refers to the strains of cannabis that have survived in their habitats of origin. In case you didn’t already know, most strains of cannabis that you consume today are hybrids that are either sativa- or indica-dominant, not just simply one or the other. However, landrace varieties are the original sativa or indica strains. They are the ancestors of all of the strains that we enjoy to this day, and finding pure strains is a pretty difficult task. So how do we find these original strains? Where do they come from? Where do they go? (Just kidding...we all just need a good Cottoneye Joe reference every now and then.) Well, to answer these questions, you must go back to their origin.

The beginning of landrace strains of cannabis can be traced all the way back to, well, the beginning. Cannabis is believed to have originated from central Asia in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border in the Hindu Kush region (Sound familiar, anybody?).

Far & Wide

The plant took no time to spread quickly across continents due to its wide variety of uses: medicine, food, building material, and so much more. Once agricultural practices started expanding and maturing, landrace strains were cross-bred in order to create a plant that had the best of both strains.

In the 1960s, cannabis cultivation started to really take off in the United States and other regions around the world, and cross-breeding took off with it. While strains have definitely been tailored to give certain experiences and help with specific ailments, almost all of your most commonly used products are hybrids, even those with popular names commonly found in dispensaries hundreds of miles apart.

Landrace strains, however, have become increasingly hard to come by. Due to their rarity, many cannabis enthusiasts have taken the journey across the world to the “Hippie Trail” that runs between Europe and South Asia to gather seeds from these pure cannabis strains and bring them back for cultivation. If that’s not a commitment to the craft, then what is?

These cannabis strains can be found in plenty of places around the world, typically those close to the equator and at a generally high elevation, like Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and southeast Asia. However, some can be also be found in parts of Hawaii and central Asia, as well. Some of the more popular landrace strains you’ve probably heard of and maybe even have dreamed of trying yourself include Colombian Gold, Panama Red, Afghan Kush, and Malawi Gold (landrace strains tend to be named after their respective region if you couldn’t tell).

Why Do We Care?

In general, the cannabis plant has over 400 different components that make it so potent and useful. While many of those components have yet to be deeply studied, landrace strains tend to have the more variety when compared to different hybrid strains that have selectively chosen characteristics.

However, with all of the fantastic product we have to choose from now, why should we choose to care about landrace strains? Well, my friends, it all has to do with cutting it down to the basics. Having a better idea about the O.G. cannabis strains opens doors for a myriad of options within the industry. Not only will it make it easier for scientific studies to understand its true effects on the human body and the world around us, but it will also clear the way for future cannabis products to come to the surface, whether they are derived straight from a landrace strain or something close to it. Properties from the “Holy Grail” of pure cannabis can open so many doors to better understand all that the plant can do now and where we can take it from here.

While these strains of cannabis are pretty tough to come by, they’re a vital piece of the ever-growing cannabis industry that we know today. Maybe you’ve been inspired to jump on the next plane to find that true Kush on the Hippie Trail, or maybe you’re pretty darn happy sitting at home with the latest and greatest hybrid on the market. Either way, now you know the journey your weed went on to become what it is today, and maybe it’ll spark a little inspiration in you on your next visit to pick up your next strain.

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

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