By Todd Mccormick
We have all heard of the legends, clone-only cultivars that were from bag seed and cannot be reproduced because the parent plants were unknown or destroyed. Back in the 90’s, plants such as NYC Sour Diesel and Chem Dawg were literally legendary, you would see the cannabis being smoked on the lot at a Dead show, but to actually get the plant was next to impossible. You had to know somebody who knew somebody, who would actually sell or gift the cutting in the first place, which was all next to impossible when you added in the paranoia of prohibition.
I did not see things change until after 1996, when proposition 215 was passed by California voters and overnight changed the way we viewed our rights as cannabis users and growers. While 215 fell short and did not actually legalize anything, the perceived change was enough to cause growers to start to trust one another and start to share their genetics in a more open market, and it was after that when we started to see cuttings of some truly legendary cultivars being sold at cannabis dispensaries across the state. When this happened, it gave new breeders a chance to work with old classics, and unique plants that are clone-only, such as OG Kush, started to be used by breeders and became the parents of some fantastic new hybrids.
For cannabis cultivators, the change was a breath of fresh air, as being able to start with cuttings that were tried and true put new farmers at an advantage unlike never before. Gone were the days of having to source and start your own seeds, and then select your own female plants; by using a known clone, someone else had done all of that work for you, as each and every plant represents a long journey by whoever initially sourced, cultivated and bred together those genetics.
This open market of nurseries has existed in California for over ten years now and I think it’s fantastic. I think that the people who are sharing genetics are heroes to the culture, as these cultivars represent the fabrics of our cannabis culture in many respects. As somebody that has been repeatedly raided, and who has lost genetics over and over again, I can attest that if it were not for my friends who were caretakers of shared genetics, I would’ve lost more plants than I did over the course of dealing with prohibition.
So now that we are closer to full legalization than we have ever been, I am suggesting that conscious cultivators should form a type of Cannabis Preservation Society, with the goal of preserving and sharing these modern classics that are irreplaceable.
Each plant represents a different symphony of cannabinoids and terpenes that interact with our endocannabinoid system and, in turn, everything from our moods to medical conditions differently. Flavors of certain flowers invoke memories of long ago that I could romance on about as if writing a novel, and I think it would benefit us all if we had them around to enjoy.
Which brings me to the inevitable effect of legalization which is the corporate control of cannabis, and their desire to have patented products that do not fall into the hands of their competitors, you know – other growers, people like you and me.
While I have no problem with people breeding together plants and putting out unique cultivars that they have full control over, I do see a lot of disingenuous companies taking credit for the work of others and putting into production cuttings that they got themselves from some friend or a cannabis club and calling it some new name, with no intention of ever sharing it again.
People laying claim to cultivars that I know they had nothing to do with saddens me, but I see it happen all the time. If many of these “new” cultivars were songs, they would clearly just be much like rap music, sampling Skunk #1 and calling it Zkittles, and that is cool and all, but wouldn’t it be nice if future breeders could play with the same original genetics and make their own mixes?
I have been on my own mission to collect the primary colors of cannabis for quite some time, and unique hybrids as well. Every day my vision is expanding to include more distant relatives of all aspects of the cannabis family because I see them all as useful. What was just hemp 15 years ago is now a great source of CBD, and we have not even started to investigate the many cultivars and their seeds essential fatty acid levels.
So I would like to start a conversation with like-minded cultivators who are interested in creating an informal and then formal, network of concerned citizens who want to see heirloom genetics preserved and shared. Now that states have legalized cannabis, the federal government has to rethink its position due to the 10th amendment and Section 903 of the Controlled Substances Act, we are bound to see change happen everywhere. We should start the conversation of collecting and protecting the genetics before corporations step in and separate us from known cultivars.
We should also be willing to share what we know works with other people so that they can benefit from our breeding and research. For me, nothing feels better than giving a plant to somebody who can use it to better their health and better their life. A cannabis plant is the ultimate gift and I have felt like conduit of nature’s healing energy through cannabis, by sharing my genetics since I started growing.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, a lot of the cultivators that I have met care about one another, the earth, and the greater good of what they’re doing. While cultivating cannabis can be profitable, the profits pale in comparison to the feeling of actually helping someone overcome a difficult medical condition or treatment. Different plants treat different conditions and recognizing that is a great start to building a collection, because more than just data, what we need is the ability to access the plants that work for us. We all deserve the ability to at least try to sort through what is already available in order to find a medicine that’s right for our particular condition.
Currently, I have over 100 varieties in my collection and I’m willing to share them with others, I would like to come up with some type of genetic bank where we could all share the caretaking of various varieties and make them available to one another at a reasonable compensation. Authenticated genetics shared by a group of conscious cultivators looking to give the monopolizing corporations some complications by sharing the love.
Anybody who is interested in continuing this discussion with me can communicate with me by joining my online community at: TalkingCANNABIS.live or follow my Instagram @growmedicine
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