by Kathy Rasmussens
The Strain Hunters Documentary Series
- Strain Hunters India Expedition
- Strain Hunters Morocco Expedition
- Strain Hunters Swaziland Expedition
- Strain Hunters Africa Expedition (5 parts)
The Strain Hunters
The Strain Hunters are a group of cannabis researchers led, in part by Arjan Roskam of Green House Coffeehouse & Seed Company in Amsterdam and Franco Loja. This group went to extraordinary lengths to locate and procure rare and original landrace cannabis strains in order to keep them alive. The group has gone on dangerous expeditions across the globe; through the Taliban in Afghanistan to the FARC in Colombia, as well as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.
How It Started
In 1982 Arjan Roskam was hiking through the mountains in Thailand and found an old village where a man was treating people addicted to opiates. Instead of traditional medicine, the man was using marijuana. Arjan stayed a week and learned much about cannabis and its medicinal benefits. Upon leaving, he was given a handful of cannabis seeds.
Arjan’s mission was to grow the best cannabis possible. He was given more seeds from friends, then eventually he started going on precarious adventures in search of landstrains.
One of the original Strain Hunters, Franco Loja dedicated his life’s work to Cannabis research. In 2017, while researching the benefits of CBD for patients with malaria in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he contracted the disease himself, and died at the age of 42.
From their adventures came a documentary series “Strain Hunters”, aimed at informing the public about the quest for the preservation of the cannabis plant in the form of particularly vulnerable landraces originating in the poorest areas of the planet.
What are Strain Hunters?
Strain Hunters identify, locate and retrieve cannabis landraces that have not yet been studied, in order to give scientists and doctors the possibility to further enhance knowledge of the cannabis plant in the medicinal field. Many previously unknown cannabinoid profiles are contained in cannabis landraces originating from areas where there is no possibility of scientific research.
What is a cannabis landrace strain?
Cannabis from the 60’s and 70’s was quite different than what you can get now. “Pot” as it was known then, was often referred to as “sativa” and originated around India. Sativa is characterized by tall height, narrow leaves, and produced wispy flowers. Over time this strain was found along the eastern coast of Africa and eventually to America.
A landrace cannabis strain is one of those original strains, and they regularly carry the name of the place they were developed: Acapulco Gold, Thai, etc.
Over the generations, the growing practices and environments in those locations passed on unique characteristics to each strain’s appearance and chemistry. Termed “terroir” – where the plant was grown, who grew it, how and when it was grown, and even to a certain extent why.
Sativa landrace strains moved across the globe while Indica landraces were isolated in dry mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Indica cannabis is characterized by its broad leaves, short height, dense flowers, and the hash that is created from its flowers. These strains also carry the names of places they were developed: Afghani, Hindu Kush, etc.
In the late ‘70s people started to breed Indica and Sativa together to produce offspring that consistently carried the desired characteristics from each type, and avoid unwanted characteristics that could weaken the plant’s health and production.
These Hybrids have now taken over the cannabis market and today, you are smoking a hybrid of cannabis as opposed to a pure landrace strain. A true landrace strain will likely be less potent than a strain you find today, as they are typically bred for higher potency.
The original landrace strains are now commonly referred to as “heirloom” strains, and they are produced in small batches and carry genetics of the landrace, but lack the original terroir.
Franco’s Lemon Cheese Pre-roll by 48North
This strain pays tribute to the late Franco Loja, the celebrated Strain Hunter who travelled far and wide in search of rare landrace strains. A Greenhouse Seeds tribute to Franco Loja, one of the Seed Hunters who passed away in 2017 after a trip to the Congo in search of obscure cultivars. Sativa dominant, with surprising notes of cheddar and lemon, this snowy green bud celebrates a beautiful legacy
THC 15.0 – 18.0% | CBD 1.0%
Terpenes – Caryophyllene, Humulene, Myrcene
Flavours – Cheese, Citrus