Despite the best efforts of politicians to vilify cannabis throughout the 80s, the decade proved to be a seminal time for pot and saw several events that would lay the groundwork for today’s thriving scene. In amongst the mullets and spandex of the era, the world’s first seed banks sprouted in the Netherlands, giving people access to a greater range of high-quality cultivars than ever before.
The decade also saw the emergence of some of the most significant strains ever created, introducing the genetic lineages that have given rise to many of today’s most popular cultivars.
Cannabis Strains of the 80s
The world’s first commercially available hybrid strain, Skunk #1, is legendary for its potency and smell. Derived from the first Skunk varieties created by Sacred Seeds in California, Skunk #1 made a massive impact on the cannabis world in the 80s and has influenced weed globally more than any other cultivar.
Bred using Afghan Indica, Mexican Sativa and Colombian Gold Sativa genetics, the strain rose to prominence after its creator David Watson – better known as Sam the Skunkman – decided to relocate to Amsterdam in the mid-80s. Before long, the seeds he brought with him had flooded the Dutch market, and Skunk soon replaced Moroccan hash as the country’s favourite gear.
At the same time, Northern Lights started to appear on the Dutch market, beginning its reign as the world’s most popular Indica cultivar. Initially created by breeding Afghan and Thai landraces, the strain is believed to have started life in Seattle before making its way to Holland. Here, Neville Schoenmaker got hold of the genetics and used them to breed some of the biggest hitting cannabis cultivars of the 80s.
Described as the “king of cannabis” by High Times magazine, Schoenmaker was renowned for his breeding and business skills, becoming the first to export cannabis seeds globally in the mid-80s. Widely celebrated for his hybrid creations, he relied heavily on Northern Lights genetics to breed a variety of superb cultivars. The prized Neville’s Haze is created by crossing Haze with Northern Lights. Though Haze strains are strongly associated with the 1960s, their reach was expanded by Schoenmaker’s innovation and distribution prowess, transforming the cannabis scene in the 80s and beyond.
Cannabis Seed Banks in the 80s
Aside from the cultivars he created, Schoenmaker is also noted for founding the world’s first cannabis seed bank in the mid-80s. Known simply as The Seed Bank, the organisation went on to win multiple awards for its various top-quality cultivars, which is shipped to cannabis lovers all over the world.
The Cannabis Cup Begins
Now seen as the absolute gold standard for weed, the Cannabis Cup was founded in the late 80s by High Times editor Steven Hager. Held in Amsterdam every Thanksgiving, the prestigious prize has had some illustrious winners in the past and is now hosted in the US and Holland.
The first edition of the Cannabis Cup was held in 1988 and won by Skunk #1 from Cultivator’s Choice – a seed bank founded by Sam the Skunkman himself. Since then, Northern Lights has won the award on numerous occasions, with Schoenmaker’s Seed Bank taking the prize in 1989 and 1990.
Next week we’ll analyse cannabis in the 90s, where ganja and grunge combined!