Cannabis History: The Origins Of Skunk

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Cannabis History: The Origins Of Skunk

Skunk weed is famous the World over. The reputation of this amazing strain precedes it. We journey back in time to explore how the world's first commercial cannabis strain was developed.

The arrival of Skunk was the dawn of the cultivation revolution; we delve through the myths, legends, and disinformation to bring you the true origins of Skunk.

Cannabis prior to the 1970’s was always seeded, in fact, it was totally seeded. Weed was grown almost exclusively from seed outdoors, and virtually nobody knew a reliable method for taking cuttings during vegetative growth.


During the 1970’s in the US virtually all the weed was imported, with the vast majority coming from south of the border, Acapulco Gold from Mexico and Colombian Gold from Colombia.

The occasional Thai stick was a treat, and Turkish hash smuggled in hand luggage made the ideal holiday souvenir until the release of “Midnight Express”.

Since all the weed was seeded the first experiments in US domestic cultivation came from what we call today “bag seed”. Everything was an experiment, and by the mid 1970’s these pioneer cultivators were learning that growing exclusively female plants to maturity would greatly improve the quality and quantity of the weed.

They discovered “Sinsemilla” or seedless weed. In 1976 “Sinsemilla Marijuana Flowers” by Jim Richardson & Arik Woods, a coffee table book was a hit with stoners and served as an early guide book for US growers.


Bag of cannabis Seeds

“The times were a changin'” as the Bob Dylan song goes. Persistent experimentation and controlled breeding incorporating Indica genetics from crosses with pollen from Afghani strains was reducing flowering times, allowing for cultivation in Northern states like Washington and even into southern Canada.

Moreover, the cannabis connoisseurs of the late 1970’s only smoked Sinsemilla; this came from the West Coast, a fact that did not go unnoticed by US law enforcement.

“The Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program began funding eradication programs in Hawaii and California in 1979. The program rapidly expanded to include 25 States in 1982” -


In 1983 Sam The Skunkman arrived in Amsterdam with thousands of seeds, some say hundreds of thousands.

Consisting of the legendary cerebral Sativa’s and experimental hybrids including prototype Skunk #1 (Colombian Gold x Afghani #1) x Acapulco Gold, essentially fleeing the US with the crown jewels of the Sacred Seeds collective in the wake of a DEA crackdown or so the story goes.



Collaborations with now legendary Dutch breeders resulted in the Skunk #1 as we know it. To propose that Sam arrived with 100% perfected strains is disingenuous and difficult to believe, not to mention it utterly undermines the contributions of Dutch masters.

Dutch cultivators were experimenting with Indica strains during the same period as the US sativa growers. The fusion of these genetics and most importantly adaptation for indoor cultivation all happened in the Netherlands, not in California.

By the late 1980’s HID lighting was bringing cultivation indoors and Skunk #1 became the World’s first commercial strain. Winning the first Cannabis Cup in 1988 made the strain a legend and it has only grown ever since.

The 75% sativa to 25% indica hybrid blend was to become the benchmark of quality. Growers fell in love with the fast flowering productive plant with the uniquely pungent odour. Easy to grow even for novices and potent in experienced hands.


Entire seed banks were built from Skunk #1, notable examples of the earlier collaborators with Sam the Skunkman are of course Sensi Seeds still stocking their particular version of Skunk #1 and countless hybrids, Mr. Nice Seeds' catalogue is packed with crosses and The Flying Dutchmen have their version called “The Pure” as well as many crosses like the other two seed banks.

Skunk became an instant hit with UK cultivators, and it is from a pack of Sensi Seeds Skunk #1 that the “Cheese” was derived in the early 1990’s. Selective breeding for the extra stinky smell of the Cheese made it a legend in its own right.

These days all high-grade cannabis is referred to as “Skunk” in the UK so synonymous with quality has the strain become. Skunk is to weed what Sellotape is to sticky tape in the UK.


Skunk 1 Sensi


Across the mainstream media in Europe Skunk regularly receives much undeserved bad press. This shabby reporting is not just limited to British tabloids.

Even in Ireland where the strain has been a favourite with growers and smokers since the late 1990’s, broadsheets such as the Irish Independent are filled with 21st Century Reefer Madness.

A recent article by Alan O’Keefe grossly misrepresented the strain “Benzos are mostly used to help addicts to come back down from intense highs which they get after taking drugs such as Skunk - a powerful cannabis drug”- Irish Independent 14/9/16


Cannabis seed banks the World over are loathe to exclude Skunk from the strain catalogue. Usually, they stock at least one Skunk-based hybrid at a minimum. Original Skunk is still massively popular; however, the vast array of Skunk crosses is a testament to the pedigree of the original. There’s a Skunk for every palate, plus the yields are even higher due to enhanced Afghani influence from backcrossing.


Lemon Skunk


Perhaps you prefer a more citrus taste with some Lemon Skunk, a delightful cross of zesty phenos. If you prefer oranges, then you’ll love Orange Skunk, a delightful cross with the California Orange.

Not getting high enough yields from Blueberry? Try some Blueberry Skunk or Blue Cheese out in the garden. Or maybe you’re an old school hippie sativa connoisseur and love to get skyhigh, try some Skunk Haze or even Jack Herer, that’s right nothing but legends in the family.

The list of Skunk’s is endless and will probably only continue to grow and diversify. One thing is for absolute certain: Skunk is here to stay.

Debates surrounding Skunks origins, the key participants and their precise contributions will probably also go on forever despite our efforts to set the record straight.

Regardless of who gets the credit, the legend continues.


  Top-Shelf Grower  

Written by: Top-Shelf Grower
Veteran cannabis cultivator originally from Dublin, Ireland and currently on the loose in southern Spain. 100% committed to Top-Shelf reporting until captured or killed.

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