What Are Landrace Strains?
And how do these ancestors differ from modern weed?
Companies tend to proudly mention that their offering is a landrace strain, or that they used a landrace strain to breed the strain they’re selling. The word “landrace” doesn’t really mean anything to the casual consumer. It’s usually there to tip-off cannabis historians and aficionados who would have a profound appreciation for that landrace strain. You can easily get in on this.
We know where we’re at in the current cannabis story. Landrace strains are where we started. Before we know it, we will have a thousand different strains of pot. At first, we had a little over a dozen. New strains didn’t pop up. They all come from the cannabinoid Pangea of landrace strains. Without landrace strains, we’d all be sober.
Landrace strains are ancestors
Cannabis is native to Asia and the Middle East, South America, Central America, and in one instance, Jamaica. Landrace strains are the strains that were found out in the wild before anyone was ever cross-breeding cannabis or examining its genetics. This is cannabis people foraged for because it popped up all over the place.
You might have noticed that some strains are named after a place. That usually means they’re a landrace strain and they’re named for where we found them. Durban Poison is from Durban, South Africa. Acapulco Gold is from Mexico. Afghani is from Afghanistan, Thai is from Thailand, Panama Red is from Panama, Columbian Gold is from Columbia, and Lamb’s Bread is from Jamaica. (Did that last one throw you for a second?)
Landrace strains are the purest of all cannabis. They are the original indica and sativa plants that started the entire journey. They’re weed that has been largely untouched by human influence and left to exist in the form that nature created them.
How are landrace strains different from modern weed?
As travel between countries became easier, people got curious. They wanted to know what would happen if they were to breed one cannabis plant with another cannabis plant. This process continued and is still continuing.
People loved weed. They kept breeding it and breeding it to enhance its traits and make it stronger. This went on until the landrace strains were completely lost in the noise and barely recognizable. Landrace strains naturally had very low THC in most instances. Now, you can go to the dispensary and pick up a jar of 30% THC flower.
When people say that weed is different now from the way it used to be, they’re absolutely right. It’s ten times more potent in some cases and has very little in common with the original cannabis plants used to create it.
In fact, they’re the only pure indica and sativas in the entire world. Everything else has been adulterated in some way. There are still true indicas and sativas, which refers to strains that never had another variety introduced to their genetics, but they’re still substantially different from the landrace strains.
Some strains, like Northern Lights, are just a combination of two landrace strains. Northern Lights’ parents are Aghani and Thai. It’s a simple combination that represents the best of both landrace strains. That simple pairing remains wildly popular to this day, especially among people who experience chronic pain and have trouble sleeping.
Are landrace strains better?
The idea that landrace strains are important for the genetics of cannabis should always warrant your attention. If you have an opportunity to try a landrace strain, you shouldn’t pass that up. It’s an important lesson in your cannabis education, and it will give you a better perspective as to how weed has evolved throughout the years.
You shouldn’t go into that experience with the idea that landrace strains are somehow better than other strains of cannabis. This simply isn’t the case. While many people love and use landrace strains, they’re not usually the most beneficial of cannabis plants.
Plants have been bred and cultivated to produce certain effects throughout time. The landrace strain is one raw ingredient that is combined with many other ingredients to finish a recipe.
The easiest way to envision the progression is to use a food analogy. Thai is a tomato. Without it, we wouldn’t have so many things we love to eat. Then they took Thai and used it to make Northern Lights, which is like tomato sauce. And then Northern Lights went on to parent Super Silver Haze, which is pizza.
Yes, there’s a time and place for tomatoes. There’s a time and place for tomato sauce. But you probably want the pizza more than you want raw tomatoes. The pizza is going to satisfy a whole bunch of cravings and needs, where a raw tomato will only solve a few.
Can you still find landrace strains?
Landrace strains are very hard to find in the United States. The biggest exception to this rule is Durban Poison, which has been cultivated to improve THC percentages without contaminating the lineage with other genetics. Durban Poison is one of the most popular sativas in the world, and it’s the only landrace strain with an international cult following.
Thai landrace strains remain popular in Thailand due to cultural tradition and ease of access. Thai sticks are important to cannabis culture in Asia, and they’re one of the most hardcore ways to smoke weed. Forget everything you know about the traditional American blunt.
The flowers are harvested from the Thai landrace cannabis plant and impaled onto sticks, compacted into something roughly the size and shape of the average hot dog. The cannabis is dried and then wrapped in the leaves of the plant, which are allowed to dry around them.
When you slide the stick out, you’re left with a 100% cannabis blunt made of whole buds. Thai people smoke this monstrosity of a blunt in a country where you can be executed for drugs. They go hard in Thailand.
All drugs, including cannabis, are not even remotely societally acceptable in the Middle East, but that doesn’t stop people from trekking up to the tops of mountains to harvest Afghani landrace strains.
People in Jamaica still love and use Lamb’s Bread, but it’s a far smaller risk for them. Cannabis is decriminalized in Jamaica. If you’re caught with more than two ounces, you pay a fine without the consequence of a criminal record. You can also grow up to five plants for personal use. The only thing the law forbids is using cannabis in public. If you’re smoking at home or at a licensed dispensary, there are no worries.
The moral of the story: Landrace strains are still popular among people who live in the proximity of where they occur in the wild. It just so happens that many of these regions of the world have some of the strictest drug laws. People who continue to use cannabis despite these laws are still using the easily accessible landrace strains here, especially because it would mean risking life and limb to find anything else.
Trying landrace strains
If you want to try a landrace strain, you’ll most likely find that it’s a DIY project. Traveling to a different country where you could be imprisoned or executed for smoking the plant that grows all over the ground isn’t the relaxing time you’re expecting it to be.
If you take a cruise with a stop in Jamaica, you might encounter some Lamb’s Bread there. Since cannabis is decriminalized, there’s minimal risk in sampling it from the source.
You can buy seeds for landrace strains, particularly those native to the Middle East. Strains like Afghani are extremely hardy. They’re used to growing in desert conditions where the air is thin and rain is scarce. Afghani is kind of hard to mess up, making it great for newer growers to toy around with.
Landrace strains are the founding fathers of weed. They set the stage for everything, and every grower that worked with landrace strains fundamentally changed the cannabis landscape forever. This is a process that will go on for infinity as research continues to unveil new discoveries relating to the potential benefits of specific cannabinoids and terpenes.
Emjay has a broad selection of all the best strains growers have custom-tailored to inspire a wide variety of effects. We carry every form of cannabis, including edibles and topicals. You’re only half an hour away from the delivery of thousands of years of botanical science. That’s our fancy way of saying we’re ready to bring you your weed in about 30 minutes.