Kush, Haze, Skunk – oh my. Smokers have likely heard these names thrown around before. However, few of them actually know what makes a Haze a Haze. Even fewer know the history behind this legendary strain. Hazes have dominated the Sativa scene for more than 50 years, and they’re still going strong today.
- Sativa-like effects: cranial, energizing, stimulating
- Unique flavour profile combining sweet, spicy, citrus, earth, and wood
- Long-running cannabis subtype originating in the 1970s
- Possible therapeutic benefits
Hazes – The Background
Hazes are a subtype of Sativa-dominant hybrids and pure Sativas. This subtype includes several popular strains like Amnesia Haze and Purple Haze. They’re an extremely potent family of plants that provides a long-lasting, stimulating high. Smokers report that it may enhance creativity, induce euphoria, and increase sociability. In addition, some sources believe that Sativas may have some possible health benefits. These may include:
- Reducing depression
- Combating stress and anxiety
- Reducing swelling
Haze strains are the descendants of landraces native to Columbia, Mexico and southern Asia. Since these areas have such hot, humid equatorial climates with long growing seasons, Haze plants can take a while to grow. Some Haze strains can require 18 weeks before they’re fully mature and ready to harvest.
The origins of the strain are fairly mysterious. Even once the story develops, there are multiple sources that sometimes contradict each other. Below, we’ll outline the complicated history of Hazes as succinctly as possible.
The origins of Hazes are a bit murky. They’re believed to have originated in the Santa Cruz area of central California. The strain emerged sometime during the 1970s, developed by two brothers known only as “R. Haze” and “J. Haze.” Collectively, they were called the “Haze Bros,” and lent their moniker to the strains they developed.
It took three years for Haze Bros to develop the first Haze strain. They chose their genetics carefully, only selecting strains that grew at the same latitude as Santa Cruz. These intrepid growers initially crossed Columbian and Mexican landraces to form their genetic base. The next year, they pollinated this cross with a South Indian male plant. A year later, they again pollinated their hybrid, this time with a Thai male plant.
Finally, their work was done and they were left with the very first Haze plant: the aptly-named Original Haze. Original Haze could reportedly vary widely in taste and appearance, with some phenotypes taking on certain aspects of their Thai, Columbian, Mexican, or Indian parents. For example, some Original Haze takes a citrus-y flavour from its Thai lineage, while other varieties offer a spicier taste.
Original Haze was an instant hit. Some sources reported that an ounce of Original Haze buds cost $200 in 1970 – more than $1000 today. The Haze Bros didn’t rest on their laurels, though. Instead, they continued to cultivate newer Haze strains like the legendary Purple Haze.
Enter the Skunkman
However, the Haze Bros could only take their operation so far. They weren’t geneticists – just cannabis growers. As a result, the future of Hazes fell into the hands of one of the Haze Bros’ associates. Known by his pseudonym Sam the Skunkman, a Santa Cruz Breeder propelled Haze plants into the 80s.
While Hazes were taking California by storm, they hadn’t yet risen to prominence on the world stage. That happened when Sam the Skunkman moved to Holland in 1984. After arriving in the Netherlands, Sam the Skunkman introduced Haze seeds to the Dutch legal cannabis market.
The Dutch Haze Harbinger and Hybrid Hazes
While Sam the Skunkman had brought Hazes to the worldwide stage, he only sold Original Haze phenotypes and variants. However, that was about to change. Dutch/Australian cannabis entrepreneur Neville Shoenmakers was the one to make that happen. Shoenmakers had already built up a seed distribution network throughout the 1980s. He owned the Seed Bank, a Dutch cannabis seed company that he claims sold seeds to more than 15,000 Americans in a single year.
Shoenmakers lived in an old Victorian mansion near the Dutch-German border. He called the estate the “Cannabis Castle,” and outfitted it with state-of-the art growing equipment like greenhouses and hydroponic systems.
He purchased three Haze seeds from Sam the Skunkman, promising that he would only use them for crossbreeding and he’d never grow his own hazes. At the Cannabis Castle, Shoenmakers grew three Original Haze seeds that he called A, B, and C. Out of all three seeds, only B germinated a female plant.
At this point, the story gets a little hazy. In a 2008 interview, Sam the Skunkman alleged that Shoenmakers broke his word and began selling Original Haze seeds himself. Shoenmakers shot back that these were seeds he’d procured from a different source, so he never technically broke his promise to Sam the Skunkman. Things ended poorly for Shoenmaker in 1990, when Australian police arrested him and extradited him to the US to face drug charges.
Regardless of how things really happened, this was the beginning of a massive explosion of Haze hybrids. Shoenmakers began to cross his Haze plants with other strains, eventually resulting in the plethora of Hazes we have today.
While it’s difficult to find the Haze Bros’ Original Haze these days, the strain still lives on a half-century later. It’s spawned countless new hybrids that have been delighting smokers for decades.
Ghost Train Haze
Developed by breeders Rare Dankness, this strain is a cross between Ghost OG and Neville’s Wreck, a strain that Shoenmakers bred himself. It features the trademark scent that all Hazes provide, along with a pleasant, uplifting Sativa high.
Purple Haze is believed to be a descendant of one of the phenotypes of the Haze Bros’ Original Haze. Immortalized by Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 classic, this strain is known for providing a moderate Sativa high along with chilled-out vibes.
Named in honour of Shoenmaker, Neville’s Haze is one of the strains he directly bred. As a hybrid, its mixed genetics provides a powerful Sativa high with the mellow mood of indicas. Neville’s Indica won the High Times Cannabis Cup in 1998, solidifying its legacy. Today, countless strains are descended from this potent pot.