Leafly honors the 50th anniversary of “4:20” (aka “420” or 4/20) this April with a celebration of legendary strain families. First up: famous Hazes!
Cannabis is a unique plant ally, one that humanity carried across oceans to other continents to spread its seed. And no cultivar represents the global blending, the combined electric energy of the fusion of places, the stretch of tall thin branches in those last moments before full flowering late in the harvest season, better than Haze.
This legendary, second-generation strain represents the best of Holland and California, the two initial powerhouses responsible for creating new types of cannabis. Its hybrid progeny remains some of the most popular types of marijuana to this day. (Think Blue Dream or Super Lemon Haze.) Haze formed a fundamental building block of modern-day marijuana, and those who have smoked it say the energy provided by those early Hazes offered no ceiling to the high.
“The more you smoked, the higher you got. It never capped out,” cannabis breeder Harry Resin says. “There were some nights where we had a session and we probably went through like 50, 60 grams of smoking, it was a bunch of Hazes that had come out of the archive of the Dampkring Coffeeshop and literally we just kept getting higher and higher. One that cut through the other would then cut through the other. It was a remarkable feeling to see a cannabis strain that had no ceiling, or no cap.”
Sourced by ’60s stoned surfers
Haze’s origin story reads like a Brothers Grimm fairytale. It’s compiled from oral cannabis folk legend and includes characters such as the “Haze Brothers” and Sam the Skunkman.
Think reverb-heavy guitars, played at a fast tempo to evoke the sounds of crashing waves—this tale begins in coastal California in the 1960s. Some say it starts with a psychedelic surf gang of LSD-selling rebels to whom cannabis folklore attributes the beginnings of American cannabis breeding. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love is better known for spreading the acid called Orange Sunshine, but these guys also packed hollowed-out surfboards with hashish and cannabis as surfing took them across the world in a quest for an endless summer.
Grown by ’70s Santa Cruz, CA ‘Haze Brothers’
The seeds for what became the Haze may have ended up in California due to this “hippie mafia.” Either way, when Haze seeds got to two “brothers” in the climate of Santa Cruz—where the sunny weather allows for the outdoor growing season to go late—the long-flowering sativa genetics of the Haze found their ancestral home.
Cultivation expert Dan Vinkovetsky (formerly Danny Danko of High Times and current editor of Leaf Magazines and Grow Bud Yourself! podcast host) said rumor had it Original Haze consists of landrace cultivars from Thailand, Mexico, and Colombia. When the Haze Brothers in Santa Cruz got a hold of it in the early 1970s, different offspring emerged. As legend foretells, these Haze Brothers selections got into the hands of two fabled breeders, Dave Watson (better known as Sam the Skunkman) and Nevil Schoenmakers, who established Holland’s The Seed Bank thanks to a loophole in Dutch drug law.
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Bred for power in ’80s Amsterdam
As one story goes, Skunkman brought cultivars like Skunk #1, California Orange, and Original Haze from California to the Netherlands in the 1980s and sold the seeds to Schoenmakers.
In another account relayed in Ed Rosenthal’s The Big Book of Buds Volume 1, the Haze Brothers visited the Netherlands themselves and got the Haze to Schoenmakers directly. Schoenmakers went on to speed up the plant’s finishing time by crossing them with indica Afghani genetics. He created Vinkovetsky’s favorite expression of Haze, which became the benchmark Neville’s Haze, a cross of pure Haze with a Northern Lights #5 x Haze plant.
Even though California launched Haze into the spotlight, Dutch breeders cemented its mythic status by creating new versions of it. Schoenmakers developed classic Haze cultivars like Silver Haze and Northern Lights #5 x Haze and eventually sold his seed bank to Ben Dronkers, the founder of Sensi Seeds. Schoenmaker’s creations also made their way to a company he co-founded that is known for its Hazes, Green House Seed Company, which blessed the world with cultivars like Super Silver Haze, Super Lemon Haze, Arjan’s Haze (which came out in three versions), and Arjan’s Ultra Haze.
Arjan Roskam, co-founder of Green House Coffeeshop and Green House Seed Company, shows a lot of pride in Green House’s legendary sativas, which have made the Netherlands-based company one of the most awarded and recognized seed banks on the planet.
“It was my dream to make them and still, I make a lot of them,” he tells Leafly. “There’s a lot of new ones coming, but my most favorite one is the Hawaiian Snow and then, of course, the Ultra Haze #1 and #2 are amazing. We have a whole history of them.”
A ’90s Cannabis Cup dynasty begins
The Super Silver Haze went for a three-peat at the High Times Cannabis Cup in 1997, 1998, and 1999, and the Super Lemon Haze took home the title in 2007 and 2008.
“What can I say? It’s really nice when you win a Cup and when people really start loving your stuff,” Roskam says. “I used to be a chef and I really like good food, so making nice plants, it’s really nice when people say, ‘Yeah, this is good stuff that I’ve never smoked before.’ You create new life, which is really exciting, and then on top of that, you get a Cup. But it’s more about the people who tell you it’s really good; like a really nice restaurant where it’s always your favorite thing nobody else can make.”
Super Lemon, a cross of Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze, is likely the most well-known of Green House’s sativa hybrids.
“It’s been part of a lot of breeding programs from the sativa line; like from American breeders, they always use my lemon plant,” Roskam says. “That is by far, I think, the most superior sativa on the planet… It’s a phenotype of Super Silver Haze, so it was out of I don’t know how many thousands we selected at one point.”
Through the late ‘90s, Hazes dominated Amsterdam, according to Harry Resin, who earned his cannabis chops growing with Soma’s Sacred Seeds, the breeder that made Amnesia Haze famous.
“In Amsterdam, it was all about the cure,” he says. “The Hazes would cure unbelievably. You would get these plants that were 12 months, 18 months, you know, properly cured, and it was fire the likes of which we’ve never had here in America because everyone is about the now, the immediate.”
Lovin’ and hatin’ Haze today
Vinkovetsky explains that the staying power of the Haze rests on the same grounds that cause some growers to dislike cultivating this type of cannabis.
“The reason people love Hazes is the same reason many growers hate them: their sativa-dominant characteristics of an electric, long-lasting uplifting buzz also means it takes longer to grow and is a more finicky plant, as far as overfeeding and environmental conditions,” he says.
Roskam confirms that the Hazes are a little bit more challenging to grow.
“That’s why you don’t see it. Also, in the commercial situation in America, all the investors want the crops to turn over every eight weeks so you have five to six crops per year,” he says. “These plants grow 10, 11, 12 weeks, and they also grow tall so you need at least five to six feet to make a really nice plant. So that’s the disadvantages, but then again, you get much more money. I think, as a connoisseur and as somebody who is in love with terpenes, I think the terpenes on sativas are far superior over the indica. Where the indica is a couch-lock plant where you get really stoned, these plants make you much more high and more creative, which I prefer personally.”
“There is about as much variety in Haze lore as there is in the Haze lines themselves.”Shango Los, podcaster, Shaping Fire
Resin magically procured his own cut of genuine Super Silver Haze in California and agrees that while Hazes can challenge gardeners, they have a strong genetic lineage that carries over and maintains its flavor profile. This helps to explain just how they have managed to stick around so long.
That is not to say that there is only one Haze taste. A few flavors branch out from those original Haze Brothers phenotypes, including one that expresses more sharp fruity skunky flavors (Amnesia Haze, Jack Herer), and one with an astringent chemical taste of “cat piss” (Super Lemon Haze, Super Silver Haze). Vinkovetsky’s research showed four original phenotypes; nicknamed Gold, Silver, Blue, and yes, Purple.
“There is about as much variety in Haze lore as there is in the Haze lines themselves,” Shango Los of the podcast Shaping Fire says. “People often talk like there is one Haze. The Haze Brothers were adding to the Haze lines, essentially remixing them, and putting different stuff out every year for a while.
It all had that ‘electric high’ that so many cannabis enthusiasts yearn for, but also wicked-long bloom cycles. One was even called New Year’s Haze because it took to the new year to finish outdoors.”
Today cannabis cultivators like Todd McCormick keep the original expressions of Haze alive. McCormick’s company, Authentic Genetics, aims to preserve “the primary colors of cannabis,” and offers a unique library of classic cultivars including plenty with Haze lineage sourced from the genetic collections of the original cannabis breeders.
A timeline of Haze cannabis strains
- 1960s: “Hippie mafia” group The Brotherhood of Eternal Love thought to circulate pre-Haze genetics combined from the world’s tropical sativas.
- Early 1970s: Haze Brothers of Santa Cruz, CA grow multiple types of Haze
- Late 1970s/early 1980s: Haze Bros and/or Sam the Skunkman take Haze to the Netherlands, a cannabis breeding hotbed; Neville’s Haze (NL#5 X Haze) created
- 1980s: Haze crosses refined in Amsterdam under cover of Dutch law
- 1984: Nevil reportedly starts The Seed Bank with a High Times ad
- 1985: Sensi Seeds started in Netherland by Ben Dronkers
- 1988: The Seed Bank catalog lists a Haze hybrid
- 1989: A Haze cross wins the second-ever High Times Cannabis Cup
- 1990s: Haze crosses from Amsterdam build in global popularity. Haze crosses place in early High Times Cannabis Cups
- 1994: Jack Herer (a Haze cross) wins High Times Cannabis Cup
- 1996: Medical cannabis legalized in California, kicking off the modern cannabis era in the US
- 1997: Super Silver Haze wins High Times Cannabis Cup, also in ‘98 and ‘99
- ~2003: Reported breeding and introduction of Blue Dream in Santa Cruz, CA
- 2007: Super Lemon Haze wins HT Cannabis Cup