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  • Writer's pictureAngie Roullier

Landraces and a Legacy

Updated: Feb 20


A landrace strain is a pure cannabis plant that is exactly how and where God put it. This term is used to indicate the purity of its genetics, therefore meaning it has never been sliced, diced, or bastardized. “Sativa” landraces are originally from hot climates such as Africa, Jamaica, and South America. “Indica” landraces, on the other hand, are from cooler climates like the Afghan Mountains. A few famous landrace strains are Lambs Bread, Hindu Kush, Durban Poison and Panama Red.

We have heard many growers throw around the term “landrace” when marketing their offerings. But are there truly any real landrace strains left in this labradoodle world? Some say yes and some say no. Just about everything on the dispensary shelves is a hybrid of some sort. So, there are those that spend their days “hunting” the four corners of our planet for the genotypes and phenotypes of moons gone by to build cannabis genetic bases in hopes of creating a baseline.

Enter David Watson stage left…

In the world of marijuana maestros, the co-founder of Hortapharm, David Watson, is a deity among men. He has collected the world’s most extensive library of cannabis seeds known to man.[1] 

As someone who is a lifetime member of the Seed Savers Exchange in the United States, it’s safe to say that the guy really digs his seeds. And the potential for different medical applications, depending on the genetics, turned David’s attention towards collecting cannabis seeds. In his travels during this quest, he had noticed that the worldwide attempts to wipe this plant out were putting more than a dent into the upper crust of the plant’s genetic gene pool. So, with all possible speed Mr. Watson traveled to the far corners of the earth collecting what he could.

In 1994 he applied to the Dutch Ministry of Health for a license to grow cannabis, and in 1997 he and his business partner Robert Clarke became the first legal cannabis grow operation for pharmaceutical research.

When interviewed by Bill Breen in 2004, he was asked what exactly he was looking for in a cannabis plant. David had said, “I want varieties that have unusual characteristics in their growth or flowering period, or new and unusual sources of cannabinoids.” And when he was asked why, he replied in a true salt of the earth fashion with “We were really interested in bringing cannabis back into mainstream medicine.”[2] 

The partners began HortaPharm, and with a proprietary process they became the planet's first breeder to develop homozygote cannabis called “selfing.” This technique, in which both sets of chromosomes are identical, allows for the mass production of the cannabis plant with the same cannabinoid profile every time. This is huge! Because this is exactly what is needed if we are to turn botanicals into standard medications.

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