According to cannabis legend, the G13 strain was a super-potent, genetically engineered Frankenstein’s (monster) strain that was smuggled out of a US government lab by a rebellious researcher. Many believe that its real name is “Government Indica Strain 1,” while others believe the “G” stands for Government, while the “13” is a reference to the 13th letter of the alphabet, “M” for marijuana. It’s a pretty dope story, but is it just a story? The government does produce weed for research, and this famously popular strain had to come from somewhere. So what is the truth of G13? Was it a stolen cut of some superweed grown by government scientists sworn to secrecy? Or is it just a great strain with a backstory that’s more myth than marijuana? Let’s dig into this cannabis mystery.   *Cue X-Files Opening theme. 

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The Legend of G13

G13 is a potent, tasty strain beloved by medical and recreation users alike. It’s ranked #12 on High Times list of Greatest Strains of All Time, and rumors about its origins have existed for decades in cannabis culture and popular fiction. Government-grown super-weed was a plot point in movies like Half-Baked and Pineapple Express. G13 is even name-checked in the movie American Beauty, where the protagonist buys an eighth for $2,000 in a scene that makes you question if the director had ever bought weed before.  But besides a cool backstory, why is this strain so popular? What makes it so worthy of attention? 

G13 Genetics, Appearance, Taste, and Effects 

Befitting the legend, no one really knows what G13’s parentage is. However, its effects are very well known. At 24% THC, this pungent, medical-grade indica-dominant strain comes on hard and fast with a skunky, earthy sweet flavor and a soaring euphoria. The dial on your motivation will get turned up for a hot second, but don’t bother getting up. You’ll soon be sinking into whatever soft piece of furniture will have you as a gravity-rich body buzz lulls you into a happy, lazy, Sunday-afternoon kind of chill for hours on end. 

a woman relaxing on the couch smoking a bong G13 is a relaxing strain with heavy indica effects.
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This tingly, trance-like contentment lasts for hours, until you have no other option than to get some deep shut-eye. This is why G13 is a favorite of medical patients, especially those with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, or insomnia.  But where did G13 come from? Was it really stolen from a lab by a roguish researcher who didn’t play by the rules? 

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The University of Mississippi and G13 

Since 1968, the School of Pharmacy’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi has been growing and breeding cannabis for government approved research purposes. This includes testing the medical benefits of marijuana, and in the 1970’s providing medical marijuana to qualifying patients. Although this program was discontinued in 1992, some patients like Irvin Rosenfeld still receive up to 300 government provided joints every month. But did the government create G-13 in their UM lab? Did they combine some of the legendary landrace indicas from Central Asia such as Afghani, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Hindu Kush to create some type of Super Indica Voltron or Indica MegaZord? We can’t be sure. There’s no public records that a strain known as G-13 was ever grown at the University of Mississippi. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, or that the story stops there. 

G13 Breaks Out of The Facility 

According to the legend, some rebellious, free-thinking researcher decided that G-13 was simply too potent, too effective, and just too good to be trapped in a lab. The world needed to know. Some say that he smuggled out some G-13 seeds. 

young cannabis plants growing in small black containers The origin is a mystery — some say G13 was smuggled out as seeds, while some say it was a cutting.
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Others say it was just a cutting. Still others claim it was a handful of seeds of which G-13 was the stand-out. But some way, G13 broke out of government-controlled containment and found its way into the hands of cannabis legend Nevil Shoenmakers. 

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G-13 and the Seed Bank of Holland

Nevil Shoenmakers, an Australian of Dutch parentage, founded the Seed Bank of Holland back in the 1980s. It was the first seed bank to advertise in High Times magazine, and is credited with jump-starting the international seed trade.  In 1986, the Seed Bank of Holland had sold to 15,000 growers in the US alone. Nevil (of Nevil’s Wreck, Nevil’s Haze, and Nevil’s Skunk fame) traveled all over the world sourcing the best seeds and genetics from Afghanistan, Europe, and America. On the same 1983-1984 trip where he procured Northern Lights, California Orange, and Skunk #1, he somehow came into possession of G-13. Some say that he convinced the University of Mississippi researcher himself to give him the strain. Others claim Nevil got a cutting of G-13 from grower Sandy Weinstein, who may have known the heroic and stealthy researcher directly. Either way, the (possibly) government-grown G-13 strain soon joined the Seed Bank of Holland, where it would be cloned, crossed, and sent out to growers all over the world.  

The Legend of G13 Remains a Legend

So, could the government have produced a strain of truly ahead-of-its-time weed that broke out of containment and became part of cannabis legend? It’s plausible that the University of Mississippi could have combined Central Asian strains into an incredibly potent rock-star indica by accident. And one researcher might have decided that, for money or for love of the game, this monster strain was too beautiful to remain caged.  However, the 1970’s University of Mississippi cannabis program was run by Dr. Carleton Turner, who’d go on to become President Reagan’s drug czar and who held pretty anti-cannabis views. There’s also the matter that the cannabis provided by government-run facilities for research purposes just isn’t that potent, rarely getting above 10%. It’s hard to imagine Dr. Turner yelling for his researchers to push the THC in G13 to the max while wearing mad scientist goggles and cackling maniacally. G13 might have simply been the best of the batch, and gained its legendary status once in the hands of commercial growers who could bring G13 to its full potential. 

The Wrap Up

So, was G13 actually created by the US government in a lab? Most likely, yes. One can believe that the original seed or cutting of the G13 phenotype was smuggled out of a research lab. However, it took placing G13 into the hands of Nevil Shoenmakers, who then spread it around to other cannabis experts, to grow the seeds of greatness into a legendary plant. 

green thriving cannabis plant flowering with buds This potent strain still remains an urban legend.
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Ultimately, the specifics don’t matter. The origins of G13 will most likely forever remain shrouded in mystery, which is way better. Who doesn’t love a cool story shared around their smoke circle?  *Cue X-Files closing theme. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Strains Make G13?

No one really knows what G13’s parentage is, but it’s been famously cross bred into strains such as G13 Haze

Is G13 a Haze?

G13 on its own is an indica, but it's been crossbred into G13 Haze, which still has predominantly indica effects.  

Is G13 Haze Indica or Sativa?

G13 Haze is an indica-dominant strain 

What Does G13 Classified Mean?

G13 classified doesn’t mean anything. G14 classified also doesn’t mean anything, and was made up for a joke in the film Rush Hour