Skunk is a generic term that refers to a range of high potency, herbal forms of cannabis mainly grown under lights. However, Skunk No 1 is a particular strain of herbal cannabis that, along with Haze, predates artificial lights and indoor growing conditions. Skunk was bred in Santa Cruz, California in the 1970s. During this period people returning from the hippie trail came back to America with a variety of seeds from far-flung places. Through cross breeding the most famous hybrid to have evolved was ‘skunk’.
California is the real breeding ground for a lot of these new strains of herbal cannabis and not Amsterdam where most of the money is being made. The story goes, and there are a few, Sam ‘Skunkman’ or “Skunk Sam’ (I’m not making this up) introduced the seeds to the Dutch in the early 1980′s. Skunk and Haze were considered good strains of cannabis because you could transport the seeds thousands of miles and replant them and they would still produce a good crop. They will come pretty true from seed.
Again, it is alleged, that everybody involved with this early trade became multi-millionaires as Amsterdam was flooded with skunk and other similar strains. Skunk was homegrown and stronger than the imported stuff. The only competitor produced ‘in house’ at the time was leafy, light-green homegrown with low THC levels described locally as ‘spinach’. Within the course of a few years all the coffee shops started producing the ‘skunk’ variety. Sam Skunkman had honed his skills on the strains that became the basic building blocks of almost all Dutch seeds. Back in those days strains like Skunk and Haze dominated.
But not anymore.
There are so many strains out there, some have required legendary status such a Super Skunk, White Widow and Cheese (Cheese being a mutation of the famous Skunk No 1 and initially grown by members of Exodus, a sound system that grew out of south Luton estates). Very rarely does the original Skunk No 1 show up. This can be demonstrated through police seizures or a cursory glance over the latest seeds from the seed banks.
So over the years how strong have these strains become? Official and unofficial sources from both pro and anti cannabis groups seem to get this fact wrong. There have been claims – and these are the more reasonable figures and not the arbitrary figures that people were just spouting from the top of their heads – that the stronger strains of herbal cannabis come in at 30-35% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis).
So from a scientific point of view is this a correct percentage? First of all, where is the best place to get the real facts? Surely from the botanists themselves? Those that have studied the plant for 30 years or so and work for pharmaceutical companies producing cannabis as medicine. Yes, but also checking the strengths at the online, above ground, international cannabis seed markets. The strongest strains here will be predicted to reach 20-25% THC, which is strong. For those who have done their research herbal cannabis cannot exceed 25% THC and I presume the vendors have done their research. Why? Because it is a biological impossibility. If levels go higher than 25% THC it will poison the plant and kill it. Also the heating conditions to increase the THC levels in the plant would incur greater heating costs and make it unworkable for ‘garderners’, though this doesn’t stop some growers.
It has been reported that commercial hashish is often no more potent than high quality seedless herbal cannabis. However, carefully produced and screened hashish is up to three times as potent as the highest quality herbal varieties. Skunk is not king. The range of potencies (measured as THC content by dry weight) found in seized hashish has varied from 3% to 8%. Most commonly available ‘commercial’ cannabis contains 3-6% THC. Selective breeding and modern cultivation techniques like hydroponics have produced varieties between 15 and 24% THC (2007). However, carefully produced resin using the ice method can produce resin that is up to 67% THC. Read more…