06.16.2016
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The Best Weed Strains You've Never Tried Are Headed for Extinction

Smoke reviews from the Endangered Strains List of heirloom herb.

Some of marijuana's most fabled strains are in danger. Irresponsible growers, greed-driven trends, and the impending threat of big business are wiping out varieties ranging from the landrace strains your Dad tripped on in the '70s to hazy high-school favorites. To be sure, as some strains vanish, more appear. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on who's creating the new breeds.

For this installment of the KINDLAND Confidential, I sat down with Pete Pietrangeli, owner of Melrose Avenue dispensary LA Confidential, and Aaron of seed company DNA Genetics to talk about what factors effect the strains we smoke. DNA Genetics has won the High Times "Top 10 Strain of the Year" award more than five times.

"Pete's dispensary is named after one of the varieties we created about 12 years ago called LA Confidential," Aaron says.

Aaron and Pete believe that a focus on quantity over quality has defined trends in recent years. This can be detrimental to the environment and, more immediately, the consumer. Aaron explains: "If it's medicine, it should be treated like medicine. Some growers use plant growth regulators, basically a hormone for the plant that stops the plant from growing to produce a heavier bud. It's full of chemicals known to cause cancer, meant for ornamental flowers, never cannabis growers."

The problem with some investors new to the marijuana industry is they either fail to grasp its complexity or cloud the moral code. 

Pete adds, "Another big thing is not flushing the pesticides toward the end of the cycle. I read this article in the Denver Post where they found 50 times the normal amount of residual pesticides in edibles at some Colorado dispensaries. Probably the most irresponsible thing is not understanding the science behind the products they use when they're growing."

High-yield strains such as Blue Dream, a short-lived affair with Green Crack, Girl Scout Cookies, and Gorilla Glue, have flooded the market in waves over the past ten years.

"These are all good strains," acknowledges Pete, "but they kind of took over what a lot of people were growing. Some strains I'm really sad I don't see anymore are the original hazes like Neville's Haze, a lot of the Kush."

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Landrace strains, the original marijuana strains grown for hundreds of years from different regions around the world, are the most at risk. "Landrace varieties are like trees indigenous to different regions of the world," says Aaron. "In the past 30 years, different varieties made by seed companies have found their way to different regions of the world. When they're introduced to a region, they breed with the landrace varieties, creating a hybrid that is completely different. At this point, the chances of these landrace strains being pure are very, very unlikely."

The Colonel Forbins offers the best high I've had in years. Suddenly I was 14 again, floating around, actually happy. 

The problem with some investors new to the marijuana industry is they either fail to grasp its complexity or cloud the moral code. As big business moves in with GMO stains, expect to see a more homogenized, if not poisonous, landscape emerge. "Like any industry, there must be capital. In this industry, we're not huge capital people. We haven't made billions from a dot com," says Aaron. "The industry is growing way fast, and big business, all different rich people, are coming into this industry. They're going to get in here one way or another. They're probably going to learn the hard way. A lot of times they just throw money out and expect it to work."

I pull out my G-Pen Elite to compare a few strains at LA Confidential that embody the dichotomy we're exploring: Candyland and Strawberry Bubblegum, which are two new varieties from SoCal wunderkind grower Wonderbrett, and Colonel Forbins OG Kush, a mythic, older strain.

Wonderbrett's Candyland, a cross between Grand Daddy Purple and Girl Scout Cookies, is a dense, crunchy, sparkling bud. Very cerebral.

Wonderbrett's Strawberry Bubblegum was the stand out. It tasted exactly like strawberries and bubblegum. EXACTLY. In the find of the century, Brett, owner of Wonderbrett, plucked the seed by chance from a mystery bag four years ago.

"So it just ended up tasting and smelling exactly like strawberries and bubblegum so you named it that?" I asked via text.

"Essentially," he answered. "I didn't know what I found till about two years ago when I popped the seeds."

The Colonel Forbins offers the best high I've had in years. Suddenly I was 14 again, floating around, actually happy. Pete explained why: "The Colonel Forbins is an older strain, something we've kept within close circles, changing the name around. It's essentially a really, really good OG Kush. Colonel Forbins is a Phish reference, as the grower is a big Phish head. We have called it Forbes OG in the past, or the No Stress OG. It's mostly a euphoric feeling combined with a body high."

While the flavor is a nice pine-y OG, the feeling surpasses anything I've experienced. Euphoric to the point of energizing, with an overwhelming sense of contentment. Let's keep this one alive.

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