Hello, class! Today I thought we’d forego the usual review for an in-depth discussion of marijuana strain names. Where do they come from? What, if anything, do they tell us about the plant? Should you consider them when making your purchasing decisions? Do they matter, like, at all? Let’s get into it! Since I’m teaching, you can call me Mr. Gentleman today. El Toker Supremo is also acceptable. Now, I better take roll. Anita? Anita Mantakis? Ok absent. What about Mike? No one’s seen Mike Rotch? Hmm. Seymour Butts? Now I know you’re having a go at me! These names are all fake! Where’s the real- oh. I’m sorry, Seymour, I didn’t see your hand up. Alright, we’ll get started.
OG Kush, Sour Diesel, Grandaddy Purp…these are just a few of the hundreds of cannabis strains being sold on dispensary shelves these days. Where do they come from?
The people that make the seeds, breeders, are the ones that name the plants. Sounds fair. The seeds are then sold to seedbanks for distribution. Breeding is an intensive exercise for expert growers. Essentially you’re pheno-hunting– growing a lot of plants and monitoring the results to find the best one for growing or to serve as your “mother” clone- but on a massive scale. Plus you have to control the actual breeding part. Cannabis is one of several plants, like hops or willow, that grow as either male or female. You make the sexy times happen by grafting the pollen from the male plant on to the female plant which grows the buds we enjoy so very much.
The lack of industry standards means our talented breeder friend has carte blanche to name the new ganja baby. You’ll see a lot of common suffixes or prefixes to names. Kush, Sour, Haze, Diesel…these get thrown around more than luchadores and any common effect is likely a coincidence. OG meant Ocean Grown once, regarding the specific terroir on the Cali coast, but it’s been bastardized beyond any usefulness.
HOWEVER! Breeders will often incorporate the names of the parent plants into their new creation. Grandpa’s Breath includes Mendo Breath in its parentage. Blue Rhino is a cross of White Rhino and Blueberry. Or it’s a creative mash-up! Space Queen, for example, is a cross of Cinderella 99 (Disney princess) and Romulan (alien race in Star Trek). So you can learn about a plant’s heritage from the name sometimes, but that’s not really useful for determining whether you’re gonna enjoy its’ effects.
Those seeds (or clone plants) then make their way to your state’s cultivators via channels that are, uh, not totally legit, because there’s no legal way to transport still-federally-illegal marijuana over state lines. Sometimes it’s an outright change for marketing reasons in the cultivator/dispensary chain. For examples, see my reviews of Temescal’s “Wristband” or Abatin’s Pincher’s Creek, renamed because “Green Crack” has terrible optics for an industry seeking legitimacy. Mistakes can happen, too. Seeds don’t look all that different from one another, nor do young clones, nor do most flowers, when you get right down to it. Your favorite brand gets a pack that says Mendo Breath, it grows well, they decide to use it, but it might not be Mendo Breath at all. Who would know?
Nobody would, not even the breeder, and here’s why: cannabis is a living organism, at least until it’s been butchered so you can smoke it, you heartless brute, and it is very, very much affected by its environment. What I am saying is that when Happy Time Cannabis Brand in Nevada gets a clone- that is, an exact genetic duplicate, which seeds are not- of Cinnamon Butter Kush and so does Gold Star Ganja in Oregon, it is extremely unlikely they’re going to grow perfectly matching plants. Unless they are each growing with the exact same set-up- lights, water, nutrients, and so on- they’re going to get slightly different results. Heck, there are some schools of thought that the color of the trichomes matter when you harvest- clear will produce a more sativa high, cloudy amber a more indica couchlock. Think of that! The strain might not even matter that much to the effect. It’s all about the growing, friends. All about the growing. That’s why I repeated myself, which you know I hate to do.
It doesn’t even matter if it’s the same brand operating in multiple states! Happy Time Nevada is probably running a different set-up than Happy Time Washington, for some reason, maybe even a good one. Like, because of different laws between states or limitations of the operating space. My reviews from Liberty Maryland vs Liberty DC and Bakked Vegas vs Bakked Denver all indicate a clear discrepancy between quality standards within the same company operating in different locales.
What this means to you is that Cinnamon Butter Kush that you got from Happy Time Nevada might not be the same as the CBK you got anywhere else. Heck, I just went to the dispensary yesterday and the budtender warned me I was getting an “indica” Headband, a strain fairly well known for its’ sativa effects. BUT! If you go to the local medical dispensary and ask for, say, Abatin’s Sour Grapes, you can expect that these Sour Grapes are gonna be identical, or nearly so, to the Abatin Sour Grapes you bought months ago and loved. It’s always possible an issue with the grow room affected the current crop, but on the whole, you can expect consistency, and that’s a huge check in the PRO column for shopping at dispensaries if you’re using cannabis for medicinal purposes or you’re, just, super-picky. I can dig that, baby!
Summary! Cannabis strain names don’t really matter looking at the macro, because the Bubba Kush you got here won’t be the same as the Bubba Kush you got there. Might not even be Bubba! But if you like it, who cares what it’s called? Here at GTHQ, we strive to bring you pics of the best buds available and use the strain names provided without question as a means of guiding you to the featured item. And we have Legendary Albino Bull Gators to hunt, so if you’ll excuse us, the Trapper has a sweet-ass jacket with our name on it. I still laugh every time that dude talks about people bringing him dead cats and squirrels full of buckshot to work with. Snort! Squirrels full of buckshot??? Oh man. Class dismissed.