Part 2: The Interpener, a Cannabis Sommelier

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Landrace and Heirloom

When the concept of a landrace was originally introduced, it applied to cultivars that had evolved without conscious or intentional human selection. However, over the last century, the concept of landrace has evolved much like those involving cannabis, as humans have played a major role in the evolution of plants for millennia. A common misconception in the cannabis industry is that a landrace strain is one that is wild and has never been modified by human interaction, which is why it’s important to understand the true meaning of this evolving term.

Proposed Landrace Definition:

Cultivated varieties that have evolved and may continue evolving, using conventional or modern breeding techniques, in traditional or new agricultural environments within a defined ecogeographical area, and under the influence of the local human culture. This includes adaptation of landraces to the management systems and the unconscious or conscious selection made by farmers or breeders with available technology. This coevolution has been modeling landraces as a result of several factors: the initial genetic variation, the generation of new variation through mutation, migration, recombination, and crossing with other populations; soil, climate, and other ecological conditions of the region of cultivation; and the influence of humans, which includes cultivation techniques and preferences. This definition emphasizes the role of humans in the evolution of landraces because human intervention has been a key factor.

Many cannabis cultivators refer to their cannabis plants as heirlooms. Heirloom denotes a traditional variety of plant or breed of animal that is not associated with large-scale commercial agriculture, the keyword in the definition being traditional. Considering the small-scale size of most cannabis farms, nearly all cannabis landraces can also be considered heirlooms.

The variety Coyote Blue from Alpenglow Farms is a perfect example of a landrace heirloom cannabis strain. Coyote Blue is a product of generations of evolution as the plant’s strong genetics adapted to the local environment and cultivation techniques. There is a level of consistency controlled by the grower, yet a level of constant minute evolution as this outdoor cultivar continuously morphs according to its ever-changing environment. Coyote Blue is a domesticated variety that is influenced by natural and artificial selection, yet is consistent from generation to generation, making it a true landrace heirloom.

When it comes from the original cultivator and is a true landrace, the use of a strain name like Coyote Blue, is acceptable, as it shows respect to OGs who have cultivated landrace strains. However, once that specific landrace strain leaves the environment and cultivation practices where it originated, the name essentially becomes null and void, as the plant is now forced to adapt to its new environment, which modifies its phytochemical profile. This is ultimately what creates the strain name dilemma and challenge in determining consistent psychotropic effects, which will be discussed in the next section.