Jamaican Cannabis Landraces: History and Importance


Amanda Feilding and the
Bongoman, St Mary’s, Jamaica

The movement to recover and investigate endemic cannabis strains started in the 1960s. Expeditions were embarked upon along the “Hippie Trail”, and enthusiasts collected seeds to grow in their gardens around the world. The strains like Acapulco Gold, Pure Afghan and Chocolate Thai gained huge popularity at the time, but have subsequently faded away, and have been eclipsed by the modern cross-bred varieties.

Now there is a second wave of interest in these indigenous strains of cannabis. Strain hunters, as they call themselves, travel around the world visiting countries with rich cannabis cultures such as Jamaica, India, Thailand, Malawi, Morocco and others to collect seeds and investigate the cannabis landraces – ancient cultivated varieties of the plant, endemic to a particular region.

Cannabis origins and brief history

Humanity’s history with cannabis reaches back to the dawn of civilization. Cannabis has long been valued for its long-lasting and strong fibre, it’s nutritious and oil-rich seeds, as well as its psychoactive and medicinal properties. Over the last 4000 years, the plant’s valuable, and often unique contribution to the religious, cultural, medical, agricultural, commercial and industrial sectors of human societies ensured that cannabis has been widely cultivated and spread from central Asia to Europe, Africa and the Americas.

The first medical applications, for appetite stimulation, anti-senility effects, and over 100 other ailments, are attributed to the legendary Chinese Emperor Shen Nung who lived around 2700 BC. These therapeutic uses were written down hundreds of years later in Shen Nung Pen-ts’ao Ching, a second century Chinese book of herbal remedies. The earliest archaeological evidence of hemp use for textiles and fishing nets, and dried cannabis flowers for ceremonial smoke, was found in Margiana, a proto-Zoroastrial site, dating back to 2000 BC.

The ancient —> Read More