Two broad categories of CBD-rich cannabis strains have emerged since the serendipitous discovery of whole plant cannabidiol by Northern California growers seven years ago. There are a few ‘high CBD/low THC’ strains and there are also the more balanced strains with roughly equal—or significant—amounts of both CBD and THC.
Today many cannabis farmers are growing non-euphoric high CBD/low THC drug plants for CBD-rich medicinal oil extraction. The essential oil of this CBD-dominant phenotype has generated national media attention because of its potent healing properties and non-euphoric effects.
Receiving much less notice but no less worthy are the more balanced CBD-rich drug strains. Several of these original CBD-rich varietals -- with names like Harlequin, Blue Jay Way, OmRita Rx, and Sour Tsunami -- were identified initially by Steep Hill, Pure Analytics, and other fledgling analytical labs that had begun to service California’s medical marijuana industry around the time that Obama became president.
Some good news for admirers of these early CBD-rich cultivars: The breeder of the infamous Jamaican Lion strain is releasing a seed line called GanJahnetics. Now the offspring of CBD-rich Jamaican Lion, a gourmet varietal, will be available for those who want to grow their own.
A rare jewel among cannabis strains, Jamaican Lion, with a 3:2 CBD/THC ratio, confers a soft, subtle high that resonates well with stoners as well as cannabis neophytes. Sonoma Lab Works recently tested Jamaican Lion and the CBDA content measured at 9.7 percent by dry weight, while THCA checked in at 5.3 per cent. (CBDA and THCA are the raw, unheated “acid” forms of CBD and THC that exist in the plant.) The most prominent terpenes in Jamaican Lion are beta-Pinene, delta-Limonene, and Linalool, an energizing trio of perfumes.
Jamaican Lion’s cannabinoid content has remained consistent since Steep Hill first analyzed the strain in 2010 for Harborside Health Center in Oakland. It tested at 8.9 percent CBD at 5.5 percent THC -- roughly a 3:2 CBD/THC ratio. Back then only five CBD-rich strains had been discovered, so Jamaican Lion was a precious find.
Jamaican Lion is distinctly but mildly psychoactive despite the preponderance of CBD. “It brings out everything more vividly,” says breeder Shadrock. “It has the pain-killing effects of an opiate without the stupor. Even before it was found to be CBD-rich, I knew it was something special.”
Jamaican Lion’s family tree includes an eclectic mix of strains from varying locations in North America and the Caribbean. The story goes like this: Mountain Lion, the mother plant of Jamaican Lion, is a cross between Rock Bud and Lion Heart. Rock Bud is the 2003 High Times Cannabis Cup winner and Lion Heart hails from Almighty Seeds out of Quebec. The father plant is called Jamaican Yarders, also known as “Darkers” or “Chocolate” because of its color. Cultivated by generations of Rastas, Yarders is a prolific Jamaican “sativa” that grows 15 to 18 feet tall. Its offspring, Jamaican Lion, was brought to the U.S. in 2007. Three years later it was identified as CBD-rich and flowers subsequently became available at select locations in Northern California.
Shadrock is grateful for his strain and he uses it for healing -- and breeding -- purposes. The original Jamaican Lion strain, however, has no living male plant, so seed stock can’t be made from the real dad.
Shadrock took some pollen from his friend’s Omrita Rx strain (also one of the first California CBD-rich cultivars) and crossed it with Jamaican Lion to make Lion’s Omrita. Thus began the GanJahnetics seed line, which includes four new CBD-rich strains:
Lion’s Tabernacle-- Jamaican Lion crossed with Tabernacle -- is the 2012 High Times Cannabis Cup winner in Amsterdam. Tabernacle is the offspring of God Bud x Purple Kush.
Estrela is a F2 inbred backcross of Lion’s Omrita. The original mom and dad (both Lion Omritas) had a 1:1 CBD:THC ratio. Due to the nature of F2 mixes, the cannabinoid content of Estrella and other second-generation offspring can vary significantly from seed to seed. (A typical seed packet will include half with a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio like the parents; one quarter of the seeds will be CBD dominant/low THC; and the remaining 25 percent will be THC dominant/low CBD.)
Lion’s Qubit is a F2 cross of Lion’s Tabernacle (Lion’s Candy) mixed with Estrela. The mother seed plant has a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio, according to lab tests by Steep Hill.
Jamaican Lion³ is the offspring of Lion’s Omrita crossed again with Jamaican Lion to make another strain, Lion’s OM. Lion’s OM was crossed for 9 generations and the result is called Jamaican Lion³. It is the closest to the original Jamaican Lion strain and has the same 3:2 CBD/THC ratio as the mother plant.