Cannabis History

11 March 2019

The history of Haze

A Very Hazy History - what’s the real origin of the famed Haze strain?

By Sylvester

Some strains sing out above the huge chorus of cannabis varieties on the market today, promising they are indeed the original and the best. Smokers, tokers and budtenders around the world will tell you that one of these has to be Haze. We have masses of Haze varieties available to us nowadays, but where, oh where, did they all come from?

Original Haze

Santa Cruz, California, the hazy summer days of the early 70’s, it’s a setting worthy of a movie. That’s the place that the origin story of the now renowned sativa hybrid, Haze, begins. As is the way with the history of cannabis strains, there is a lot of mystery around who first bred and disseminated this now prized variety, as total prohibition meant early strain hunters had to operate very much in the shadows. The one thing pretty much everyone seems to agree on with Haze though, is that Santa Cruz was its birthplace.

At the end of the 60’s into the early 70’s, the now (in)famous Sam the Skunkman (aka David Watson or Sam Selezny) was operating out of the Santa Cruz area. And he had some very interesting neighbours… the Haze brothers. J. Haze and R. Haze, as Sam later referred to them, were experimenting with crossing and breeding imported sativas, and the trio frequently swapped seeds.

The only tangible evidence that the Haze Bros. where big in the grower's scene.

Sativas, as opposed to indicas were, and still are, widely appreciated for their amazingly uplifting, energetic and cerebral high; as well as their sweetness and fantastic aromas, full of citrus and earth. Often high (or very high!) in THC, sativas are definitely where cannabis gets her uppers as oppose to the body-stoned quality that comes with more indica heavy varieties. As a form of medical cannabis, high THC strains are thought to be great for relieving stress and as pain relief, the caveat being they are sometimes responsible for paranoia and anxiety among novices.

Originating from equatorial zones, sativas grow tall and do best in very warm, sunny climates. So the brothers’ outdoor grows in California were ideal. One summer they crossed a Mexican landrace sativa with a Colombian landrace sativa, aiming to create the most potent sativa around.

Though there is some conjecture remaining about what the exact genetic makeup of Original Haze was (some reports include Punto Rojo, Acapulco or Columbian Gold) the now widely accepted story seems to be that the brothers later mixed in more pure Sativa genetics, and hit upon the perfect four way Sativa landrace hybrid: South American  x Thai x Mexican x South Indian.

Haze phenotypes by Sam the Skunkman

The 100% Sativa hybrid wasn’t very stable at first, but by the time Sam moved to The Netherlands in 1985 he was able to take Original Haze seeds with him and sell them under his label Cultivator’s Choice.

Wait a minute, I heard Haze was…

Of course, word of mouth historical accounts are often unreliable, even the most trustworthy sources are prone to lapses of memory. It’s often reported that this is the Sam the Skunkman version of events, but sometimes you encounter another version of his ‘verbatim’ account that skips the Haze brothers all together, wherein he essentially did all the breeding and finessing himself.

Whichever way you take it, his reported accounts seem to be consistent on one thing: it was he (possibly with the brothers, possibly without) who gave us Haze and most determinedly not – Nevil Schoenmakers.

Nevil Who de Makers?

Nevil Schoenmakers also lays claim to being a legendary cannabis breeder. Half Dutch, half Australian, he moved to The Netherlands and set up the first mail order seed bank, The Seed Bank, in the early 80’s. His breeding and distribution work throughout the 80’s and 90’s, including the refinement and introduction of now great strains such as Northern Lights, G13 and Neville’s Haze, have formed the basis for much of today’s European breeding and led to him garnering the nickname ‘The King of Cannabis’.

Nevil Schoenmakers

Nevil’s account says he received the Original Haze seeds from the Haze Brothers himself, and includes the claim that his seeds came from the first batch (around 1969). Sam says this is nonsense and sometimes is reported as saying he gave Nevil a dodgy seed sample later (because he seemed untrustworthy) and sometimes that Nevil never even saw a Haze plant before ‘83 or ‘84. Occasionally, even Mr. Nice plays a role in Original Haze’s journey across the pond. For better or worse, we can probably attribute all these claims on authorship of the strain to early cannabis branding.

A Haze by any other name would smell as sweet?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter of course. Both Sam and Nevil are now revered throughout both cannabis culture and industry. The Original Haze, once in Holland, past through the hands of breeders and distributors to become the backbone parent of pretty much all of today’s modern Haze varieties; of which there are hundreds.

Her popularity continues thanks to that broad terpene base and potent, pungent and delicious high. Sam claimed the main phenotypes of Original Haze came out with one tasting a little like Root Beer, another with a Deep Purple hue (of Jimi Hendrix fame), a third magenta colored beauty and a last light green variety. Flavors could vary to include chocolatey notes (perhaps from the Thai in the mix?) and even a sweet and sour quality.

Many Hazes have become multiple Cannabis Cup winners over the years and several are up in the High Times’ 25 Greatest Strains of all Time, including: Amnesia Haze, Neville’s Haze and Super Lemon Haze, as well as Ghost Train Haze being featured as one of the strongest strains on the planet ever (25.49% THC).

So, if you are a Sativa loving cannabis enthusiast and want to search out some of that original Californian sunshine in today’s Hazes, check out the varieties we have available in the shop. From the Dutch masterpiece, Jack Herer, to Amnesia Haze, Haze 1, Blue Amnesia, G13, Golden Haze, Silver Haze, Cannalope Haze… thanks to Sam, Nevil and the now mythical Haze Brothers, the list is endless.

Post author
Sylvester
Sylvester likes writing about culture, history and tech, digs cosmology, futurism and ukulele - and prefers to accompany all of these with a good bowl of Chocolope Kush
See more from Sylvester

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