Cannabis is ancient. For most of its history, the powerful and versatile plant has been embraced by civilizations all over the world. The perception of marijuana as a dangerous drug to be prohibited is a modern construction founded in very little fact and despite an array of evidence indicating cannabis’ utility as a medicine and as a low risk recreational substance.
Records show that the plant has been cultivated for 12,000 years, making it one of the oldest crops utilized by human beings. Historical records tell us that cannabis was used medicinally as far back as 4000 B.C. in China. Mummified psychoactive marijuana has been located in the burial sites of powerful people who lived between 3000 and 2500 B.C. in China and Siberia.
The herb traveled from China to Korea and from there to India, where it became entrenched in the Hindu religion and Indian culture. Cannabis arrived in the Middle East probably between 2000 and 1400 B.C. and was likely used by the Scythians who brought the plant to Russia and Ukraine. From there, cannabis traveled to Germany and Britain, then to Africa and South America, and finally, to North America.
Today, new strains of cannabis are uncovered all of the time
This is exciting for cannabis cultivators and consumers alike, but it does make one wonder which strains are the real retro weed, more formally referred to as landraces.
A landrace is a naturally occurring (as in not systematically bred by humans) strain. Growers and consumers have become increasingly interested in locating and preserving landraces because of the way that they have adapted over the years to their specific environments, and because they are becoming more and more rare as hybridization practices dominate growing methods.
In the endeavor to uncover these landraces, the most ancient of the cannabis strains, the three species of the cannabis plant are a good place to start. Those are cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis.
Retro Weed Strains: Sativa
Cannabis Sativa, the most retro of the three species, thrives in places near the equator such as Southeast Asia and Mexico. Sativas grow to be quite tall, often over five feet in height. Sativa strains are known for the energizing highs they cause. They are ideal for socializing, productivity, and sharpening focus. The following are some of the landraces within the species cannabis sativa. Follow the links to see more information gathered by Wikileaf on each strain’s history, THC content, common usage, effects, and reviews.
Panama Red—Originating in Panama, this strain is known for its cerebral, energizing high. It has a low THC content relative to many strains on the market, but is easy to grow both indoor and outside.
Acapulco Gold—this outdoor grown sativa comes from Acapulco, Mexico. It is known for elevating the mood without causing euphoria. It is commonly used to alleviate anxiety.
Kilimanjaro—The sativa version of this strain hails from the eastern side of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya and is known for its potent high. It is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Durban Poison—This potent landrace comes from South Africa and is known for magnifying the users’ senses in a way that may be disorienting at first, but ultimately energizing and productive. It is commonly used to alleviate depression.
Thai—Native to Thailand, this landrace is known for its pungent scent and intense, cerebral high.
Its energizing, caffeine-like experience affects users quickly and tends to last longer than expected
Chocolate Thai—This landrace is also native to Thailand. Its name comes from the deep brown of its flowers. While the strain was popular from the 1960’s to the 80’s, some claim it no longer exists due to a sharp decline in popularity because of its low THC content and difficulty to grow.
Retro Weed Strains: Indica
Cannabis indica, the second oldest of the cannabis species, comes from regions with more temperate climates. They are native to countries in the Middle East, India, and North Africa. Indicas are much shorter than sativas, often growing to a maximum height of three or four feet. Indicas offer users a more relaxing, sedating high than the high of a sativa and so are often used to alleviate insomnia, chronic pain, or stress and anxiety. The following landraces hail from the species cannabis indica. Follow the links to see more information gathered by Wikileaf on each strain’s history, THC content, common usage, effects, and reviews.
Afghan Kush—This landrace comes from the Hindu Kush mountains. It is known for its sedating body high as well as its euphoric effect. This strain is commonly used to manage pain.
Hindu Kush—A potent indica, this strain also has its origins in the Hindu Kush mountain range forming the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hindu Kush produces a body high that evolves into a mental fogginess, making it a common medicine for insomnia.
Northern Lights—This strain is extremely popular for recreational and medical users alike. Northern Lights is known for producing a powerful body high and a sense of well-being. It is commonly used to treat insomnia.
Blueberry Kush—This strain is known for creating a long lasting, sedating, euphoric high. Because of its powerful body high, Blueberry Kush is often used to treat insomnia, but it can also alleviate anorexia, nausea, and possibly anxiety.
Retro Weed: Ruderalis
Cannabis ruderalis, the least potent and most overlooked of the three cannabis species, is Russian in origin. Ruderalis has largely been overshadowed by indicas and sativas because of its low THC content; it isn’t used recreationally, but it does have some medicinal value since it contains CBD.
Despite it’s seemingly minimal utility, ruderalis is actually quite important to growers
It is mixed into hybrid strains to control growth and potency and to create auto-flowering seeds. Because ruderalis is so small-it often doesn’t top 2 feet—it can help growers make typically large cannabis strains smaller and a bit more manageable. Ruderalis also flowers based on timing, not on light exposure as the other cannabis species do. Ruderalis’ utility makes it an important landrace for growers looking to control the height, potency, and flowering cycle in their cannabis strains.