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Why Landrace Cannabis Strains Are So Rare

Nearly every plant species in the world has its landrace varieties. Many animal species do as well. If you are guessing that cannabis has its own landrace strains, you're right on the ball. Unfortunately, such strains are rare. They are exceedingly difficult to find these days, which is why they are so expensive.

The landrace principal is based on the concept of adaptation. No matter where you go in the world, local flora and fauna adapt to the natural environment. It is why you find different varieties of pine trees in upstate New York as opposed to central Florida. Cannabis is no exception to the adaptation rule. Different strains have grown in different parts of the world for millennia.

Unique Environmental Properties

What you will find with landrace varieties is that they possess unique environmental properties. We cannot speak specifically to cannabis because true landrace strains are so hard to find. But a good comparison would be coffee. Here are some common types of coffee with properties specific to the regions in which they are grown:

  • Kona – Genuine Kona coffee is grown in Hawaii. The rich, volcanic soil of the region allows for a medium bodied coffee with a balanced flavor.
  • Jamaican Blue Mountain – This strain of coffee offers a taste that experts say is unlike any other strain in the world.
  • Ethiopian Harrar – Ethiopian Harrar is one of the most desirable landrace strains in the coffee world. It is bold, acidic, and robust.

This post is not about coffee, so we will leave the examples here. The point is that coffee takes on unique characteristics based on where it is produced. The same holds true for landrace cannabis. The big difference between the two is availability. Landrace coffees are widely available; landrace cannabis strains are not.

Widespread Cannabis Hybridization

So why are landrace strains so difficult to find? According to The Cannigma, the main culprit is hybridization. Back in the 1960s and 70s, cannabis was a lot more local than it is today. Somewhere during that time, growers began searching for new and exciting strains they could bring back to the U.S. to crossbreed. They went far and wide looking for strains that offered exactly the right mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Years of crossbreeding taught them how to produce plants with the most desirable properties. They learned how to increase THC levels and manipulate growth cycles. They learned how to create more robust plants capable of surviving harsh weather conditions.

Because hybridization now dominates cannabis production around the world, it is getting harder and harder to find genuine landrace strains unless you are willing to go out and hunt the wilderness. Most of what is produced today is the result of hybridization and cloning.

Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

Older cannabis users may long for the 'good old days' before hybridization, but the truth is that hybridization is not necessarily a bad thing. Over the years we have learned a lot about cannabinoids and terpenes. We are just beginning to understand how isolating and combining specific cannabinoids with select terpenes can lead to better medicines.

Even now, skilled processors here in Utah are investigating hybridization techniques that could lead to better products. Imagine a day when medical cannabis products are as specific as other prescription drugs. That day is coming, thanks to research and hybridization.

Meanwhile, consider yourself lucky if you ever manage to find a landrace strain. Such strains are hard to come by. They are as unique as the environments in which they are grown, just like landrace varieties of any other plant or animal species.

By UtahMarijuana.org
Published January 18, 2022
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