I’ve just finished watching a very interesting documentary on a couple of Cannabis strain-hunters on a mission to discover a new Landrace Congo strain, and although these guys are well-respected in the Cannabis community and have made a lot of money with their seed business, I have to say that the documentary reveals an extraordinary level of naivete, even foolhardiness, and really just plain stupidity.
Almost from the beginning we can see signs of defective thinking. Who goes into the Congo in sneakers and a T-Shirt? Who doesn’t understand that knowing how to bargain is critical anywhere in Africa? Who is naïve enough to think that anybody in the Congo is going to show you the “good stuff” just because you show up with a few bucks? And who in their right mind talks about how much money they are going to make from the seeds they’re looking for without understanding that at least some of those silent, sweaty “natives” around them can understand what they are saying perfectly well, and are very practiced in not revealing to the White Man that they understand?
Didn’t these guys even once, even a little bit, feel like a rabbit staring into the mouth of a Leopard? Apparently not. Even though these intrepid strain hunters are Dutch, evidently they learned nothing from the hundreds of years that their ancestors spent exploiting indigenous people worldwide, and in many cases doing so with brutal effectiveness.
So, as you’ll see in the video, after many trials and travails the mighty strain hunters, who brag about how rich they’ve become in the Cannabis seed business and how the legendary Congo strain they’re after is going to make them even richer, finally arrive at a suspiciously well-tended field of so-so mature plants. And they are ecstatic, high-fiving themselves and explaining to the camera how they love their mission of getting people high and – oh yes – a bow to Cannabis as a medicine, with that wink and nod sort of “everyone gets the joke” expression on their faces. One of the really hilarious moments in the video is when one of the strain hunters asks the local chief how the people use Cannabis as a medicine and, after looking like he’s just found a turd in his soup, the Chief explains that they simply use it as a stimulant.
So, after gathering their seeds and getting ready to leave they are confronted by a large group of angry people who somehow seem to have figured out that these White guys didn’t come all this way to simply gather a few seeds – they were planning to get rich. I guess the Congolese people had seen white men come to the Congo to steal its resources before – ya think? Anyhow, the interviewer asks one of the strain hunters on camera if he has any plans to share any of his millions with the natives and, in his best Dutch “who gives a shit” accent he says no, that’s not how the business works.
Somehow, probably because God watches over fools and babies, the strain hunters make it out of the Congo with their seeds and nuts intact and we next see them six months later in a lab in Switzerland, where they have grown plants from their precious Congo seed. We follow them as they pick a few buds and take them to the lab, where we all anxiously await the result.
And here it comes. Wow! 8% THC. The strain hunters, trying hard to look credible, explain to the camera that 8% is really, really strong. And the, the thing they’ve really been looking for – the concentration of THC-V. 1%! Yikes – that is super, super high. One of them says that they’ve never seen THC-V that high in any Cannabis strain. And best of all, he said this with an absolutely straight, choirboy face. Really. Never seen anything this high. We have a super African strain here. (hint – ever checked out Durban Poison?)
Well, that’s about the end of the video, except that we see Mr. T-shirt back in the Congo riding along in a dugout, as he had evidently returned to continue the hunt, intent on ripping off even more seeds (and no doubt secretly hoping for something just a bit more potent) from the unsuspecting natives. But alas, we learn that he contracted Malaria and died in 2017.
He went to the Congo dressed for summertime in the Netherlands, T-Shirt and Hi-Tops, without dosing up on anti-malarials or quite likely not on anything else to counter the hundred or so killer diseases that anyone who is unprotected routinely contracts in the Congo. RIP. Natural selection wins again.
I know a little about preparing for Africa because I spent nearly two years in Africa very close to the Congo and I was lucky – I only got schistosomiasis. A few shots of antimony tartrate administered by a 10 inch needle through the tummy into the liver and I was right as rain again. But if I were even thinking of going into the Congo to search for a landrace strain of Cannabis I would watch this video again and do absolutely everything 180 degrees differently than these rather silly people. Especially bragging about how rich I was going to be. Because you see, one major mistake that nearly every stupid white man makes around “natives” is assuming that they can speak with other white guys in English and none of the stupid natives will understand. Makes me wonder how many conversations they had about how rich they were going to be with this Congo Landrace strain within earshot of the “natives” who I am very sure gave no clue they were listening and understanding every word.
I’m happy for the Dutch guys that they are successful and rich, even though one of them has just discovered that you can’t take it with you, and have provided the world with a lot of great Cannabis seeds. I did my own little share of strain hunting in the mid-60’s when I brought back seeds of Acapulco Gold and Oaxaca Purple and gave them out to grower friends in Northern California and Oregon.
I got my seeds by buying a kilo or so of Marijuana from growers straight out of the fields of Zihuantanejo and then Oaxaca. I first spent a couple of months living in each place, making friends with people, and getting to know who were the best growers, and I paid them top dollar for the top of the harvest. Then I spent a few days in my casita sorting out the mature seeds – this was before the days of Sinsemilla, so all Mexican marijuana came with plenty of seeds – and once I had my stash of nice fat little seeds I turned around and handed out free Marijuana to my Mexican friends around town and came back to the States without a single leaf or flower – just some seeds in a couple of small tins that didn’t attract any attention.
Then when I got to visiting with my grower friends in Northern Cali and Oregon I handed out my treasures, and I like to think that I had at last some small part in what became a thriving industry in those places that produced, among other memorable strains, Humboldt Purple – clearly at least partially a descendant of Oaxacan seed.
By giving away my seeds I guess I missed my chance to become rich and famous in the Cannabis seed biz – although I did take what I learned along the way and wrote “The Cultivators Handbook of Marijuana in 1968-69, and that little yellow book did pretty well, without my having to rip anyone off along the way. So, even though I haven’t become rich and famous and won all kind of Cannabis glory, I am 75 and still going strong, and proud that I played my part in bringing some of the original Landrace Cannabis strains back to growers in the US. Life is good. A hell of a lot better than dying of Malaria while trying to screw a bunch of poor people in the Congo out of their rightful heritage in the name of “business”.