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Origin Of A Name: Haze

By Colin Gordon and Ben Owens

One of the more common terms associated with cannabis, and one of the more common strains to show up in different names these days, is Haze. Some would say the name comes from the “haze” induced by consumption, others point to specific effects and characteristics of a plant that, to them, indicate Haze genetics. Unfortunately, the truest version of “Haze” is likely long lost, and the Haze’s that we know today are likely more the product of marketing prowess than genetic preservation. This is my anecdotal experience with Haze.

Old School Haze
Back in the 60s and 70s, there were some uniquely identifiable strains with dominant sativa genetics that came out of the West Coast, specifically California, that came to be known as Haze. While the popularity of this particular brand of cannabis has outlived its genetics, most of the people in the industry today, including yours truly, never had the chance to smoke this age old strain (You’d have to be of smoking age in the 60s, which means you’ve gotta be 70+ to ride that ride). But it was definitely a variety that was celebrated, even so much as ending up in a Hendrix song, which really put Haze on the map.

Hazy Telephone Games
You remember that game Telephone that we all used to play as kids? Where one person would pass a story or sentence or phrase along to another, and then that person would convey that message to the next person, and so on? Eventually, the message would get distorted, paraphrased, or altogether misinterpreted. And that’s the best example of the way “Haze” has been treated since its inception. The Dutch, who often used popular cannabis names of the time in their breeding and marketing, borrowed the term Haze in the same way “Skunk” and other varieties were borrowed.

Now, 30 people deep in the game of telephone, it’s hard to trace whether or not the Dutch Haze had West Coast Haze in it, or whether it was simply a stolen strain name, or whether the West Coast ended up with a variety of the Dutch plant before it really took off stateside. But I know this, I got Haze seeds and friends of mine got Haze seeds between 1992-1995 from Holland that were some of the most amazing to this day, producing flowers so unique, so extraordinary, flowers that I’ve yet to see again in my life. Since the late 90s, I have not seen any of these varieties from seed, likely a result of the Dutch raids in the Mid-Late 90s.

Back then, I had a friend that had Pure Haze. It was a true 90-day flowering plant, so much so that you quite literally had to throw it into flower right after your clone rooted, sometimes beforehand. You’d take your clone and immediately throw it under 12/12 lights, because if you let it stay in a vegetative state for a week, it would shoot through your roof, sometimes reaching upwards of nine feet tall. That plant would grow four feet in the first four weeks of flowers; it wouldn’t be flowering, it would just take that long to fully develop. And when it was ready for harvest, the flowers were translucent, covered with trichomes, like clouds, and the buds produced a destructive high.

Naming, Genetic Testing and Cannabis Lore
Unequivocally, if I were to have the chance to obtain any pack of seeds, from any time period, I would, without question choose the old 1993 NL#5 x Haze Cross, the 1994 Jack Herer, and subsequent crosses of that plant like Super Lemon Haze, Super Silver Haze, Pure Haze, Master Kush x Haze, Hindu Kush x Haze, or even the old school “Durban” Hazes. For a period of 4-5 years, everything that was being put out was amazing. Varieties that were as sativa as you’d ever see as far as indoor weed goes. And I’ve bought a lot of these varieties again over the last 15 years in a hunt for those old crosses. I’ve bought from a bunch of sources, in and out of Holland, and nothing comes close.

Whether it was a California strain or whether the Dutch made it, the more that I’ve learned about this industry is that, without genetic testing of these cuts, a name is just a name. We need genetic testing of cuts so that we can see what’s what. There are undoubtedly people in Holland (and around the world) that still have these cuts.

The Future Of “Strains”
For all of this effort, the closest that I’ve found in seed form (post-2000) to these old school, super sativa “hazes” is Jack Flash from Sensi Seed Bank. There’s a cut of pure haze that’s called Neville’s Haze that’s still around. Neville Shoemaker is synonymous with the cut, but I personally don’t know to what level he was involved in the creation or proliferation of it. I know that cut is being grown today in Holland but not commercially. It’s an old-school, 80-day flower, beautiful cut, but I don’t believe any of those genetics are in circulation.

Similarly, there are cuts and cultivars around the world that have “haze” characteristics, but none of us are truly sure of what the original Haze was or how its genetics have been preserved. Strains like Strawberry Cough are also notorious for a variety of origin stories, and both Strawberry Cough and Fort Collins Cough have haze within them, smelling like a spicy pine with a strawberry hint to it. The plants look extraordinary, and the buds are huge; they’re gorgeous plants, but are they “Haze” in the traditional sense?

I hope in the next couple of years, it will be nostalgic to get back into running some of these older cuts as they become verified and trackable, and eventually hope to even have the ideal situation of running multiple rooms, with each room being designated for specific projects like phenohunting Hazes, but we aren’t quite there yet.

Without actual genetic markers that can be traced and cross-referenced, a name is just that; you can’t trust it at face value without some inspection of the final product, its characteristics, and by identifying its expressions through growing it.

With that being said, if it isn’t shooting to the sky with rapid veg and flower growth, and isn’t a 10+ week flower, it’s likely not a true Haze.