Over the years, Sensi Seeds has paid tribute to some of the most important, influential and well-loved characters in the world of cannabis and counterculture by naming a cannabis strain after them. Here we take a look at the Sensi Seeds ‘Celebrity Strains’.
Of all the Sensi Seeds Celebrity Strains, Shiva Shanti and Shiva Shanti II are the most enigmatic in terms of their namesakes. It’s one of those nuggets of information that separates the true Sensi aficionados from the more casual fans – who are Shiva and Shanti?
The answer is, of course, that they are the twin daughters of Ben Dronkers. In their late teens and early twenties, both women could sometimes be found helping out at the Sensi Seeds booth at HighLife and other early cannabis exhibitions and expos. Shiva especially has remained active with the company, organizing the Cannabis Culture Awards since 2009 and appearing regularly at different events on behalf of Sensi Seeds.
The cannabis seed varieties Shiva Shanti and Shiva Shanti II were released in the early 1990s, following the expansion of the Sensi Seeds genetic stock and the acquisition of several important breeding lines that have helped shape the world of cannabis as we know it today. Unsurprisingly, these highly affordable, simple to grow new seed strains rapidly gained in popularity. Both are what is known as “old school” cannabis, bred from a highly-prized Afghani strain known as Garlic Bud, and hailed as legacy strains. Loved for their pungent, dank flavor and aroma as well as how easy they are to cultivate, these two seed strains make great choices for novice gardeners. The indica elements dominate the growth pattern, granting cultivators a heavy harvest of solid buds whether grown indoors or outdoors, and demonstrating a vigorous resistance to mold and pests.
Bred with the intention of bringing the finest quality genetics within the reach and experience range of any and every grower, Shiva Shanti and Shiva Shanti II are both robust and delicious, but there are marked and purposeful differences between them. Shiva Shanti blends the aforementioned Garlic Bud with a very special heritage Kush strain preserved in the Sensi Seeds gene bank for high-end breeding projects such as this one. The result is an indica-dominant, heavy-yielding variety which produces a reliably homogenous crop, time after time. The effect is a very powerful, long-lasting stone that is excellent for dissolving stress and relaxing muscle tension.
To create Shiva Shanti II, this breeding line was combined with another Afghani variety to produce a smoother stone that is less powerful, and therefore more suitable for consumers who are seeking relaxation without being incapacitated. Naturally, the same traits of resilience, robustness and yield that make Shiva Shanti so popular have been retained. As one of our most affordable strains, Shiva Shanti II is the perfect choice for both complete novice growers who are wary of investing a large amount of money in a project that they may not succeed perfectly at, but also commercial producers on a budget who are looking for a big return. Not only that, it is equally at home indoors, in greenhouses, and even outdoors in everything but the very coldest and wettest of climates.
The name Howard Marks is by now synonymous with extraordinary cannabis adventures, and when it came to dedicating a strain to the man more commonly known as Mr Nice, it was only appropriate that a plant also renowned for its origin story was part of the breeding process.
G13 was allegedly part of a secret US government project to create strong indica strains, and a cutting of the best, from Growroom 13 – G13 – was stolen and smuggled out of the laboratory by an unnamed technician. For a long time it was only available as a clone. Ultimately, however, it made the journey to the Netherlands – since, for the finest cannabis genetics, all roads eventually lead to Amsterdam – and reached the hands of the Sensi Seeds breeders. Once it was combined with one of our finest cultivars, it became possible to create seeds. G13 was stabilized and crossed with the world-famous heavyweight stoner favorite Hash Plant to create an indica the likes of which had never before been seen.
Immediately loved by growers for its robustness, generous yields and fearsomely powerful stone, Mr Nice picked up a Cannabis Cup and a reputation for being the “ultimate indica” pretty much simultaneously. In addition to the powerful effect, Mr Nice has a very pleasant flavor, variously described as “earthy and slightly lemony” and “very intense, fruity, earthy, nutty” by fans in our strain review section. Inexperienced consumers should beware of overindulging in this award-winning beauty, or be prepared to cancel any plans they had made for after sampling it, as Mr Nice can induce couchlock like few other cannabis seed strains!
Howard Marks travelled Amsterdam to visit his old friend Ben Dronkers in 1999, kindly donating his old prison ID card to the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum where it joined the display showcasing Howard’s autobiography Mr Nice and various smuggling artifacts, where it can still be seen today. Ben then took him to the Cannabis Castle, where some of the earliest crops of G13 x Hash Plant were in glorious flower. To his delight, Ben told his old friend that this new strain would bear his name, in honor of Howard’s astonishing career as one of the world’s most inventive and prolific cannabis smugglers.
Since that stage of his career came to an end, Howard has written a best-selling autobiography, run for election in the UK Parliament, and toured extensively with his one-man show – a combination of lecture, reminiscence and stand-up comedy. He has appeared in various films both as himself and as fictional characters, most recently in the fairytale-and-weed inspired ‘AmStarDam’. Tragically, he was diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer in 2014; refusing to be cowed by his condition, he has written a further autobiographical book entitled ‘Mr Smiley – My Last Pill And Testament’ and collaborated on a new documentary about his life, ‘The Real Mr Nice’. Sensi Seeds will be forever proud to have contributed to his legacy with the cannabis variety that bears his name.
From the quest to refine G13 into a stable seed strain to the quest to combine strains from literally the world over – at Sensi Seeds, we thrive on variety. Ed Rosenthal, also an old friend of Ben’s and renowned throughout two continents for his cultivation expertise, set both his accumulated experience and genetics he had collected over many years to work on this unique cannabis variety.
Launched in 2006, Ed Rosenthal, the strain, was over a decade in the making, thanks in part to the tightening of restrictions in growing in the Netherlands, but mostly to the unprecedented amount of different genetics that were being combined to create a single, multifaceted strain. Drawing on the equatorial regions notorious for their powerful and aromatic sativas, Ed Rosenthal, the man, brought Ed Rosenthal the strain traits from Africa, South East Asia, Central America and the Caribbean. To balance their height and blooming period into a more reasonable range for the average grower, carefully chosen indicas from both sides of the mighty mountains of the Hindu Kush were blended in. These elements both shortened the flowering time and increased the yield, two factors that immediately made the Super Bud both more appealing and more commercially viable.
The result is “gourmet ganja with cash-cropping potential”. Although most of the crop will flower at the same speed and achieve the same height increase (around 150%), there is some variation be found. The complex layering of sativa and indica traits deliver two phenotypes, similar enough to be grown in the same (indoor) space but exhibiting either indica or sativa tendencies. Both are sure to delight the connoisseur. The indica expression produces massive, solid colas with a heavy frosting of crystalline trichomes; the sativa variant makes itself known with candelabra-esque, multi-branching plants bearing impressively large, long, spiraling flower clusters.
Ed Rosenthal, in addition to his many books and articles on cannabis gardening, is also famed as one of the original co-founders of the Hash Info Museum, which – after a brief closure by the Amsterdam police – reopened triumphantly as the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum. He wrote the long-running advice column ‘Ask Ed’ in High Times Magazine, and is the founder and owner of Quick Trading Company, a publishing firm which has so far brought out over thirty volumes on cannabis and cannabis culture, including his own titles. One of these, ‘The Grower’s Handbook’, is one of the official course books at Oaksterdam University and the Cannabis Training University.
In 2007 he received a Cannabis Culture Award for his contribution to the promotion and reclamation of cannabis and hemp as one of the world’s most valuable resources. Ben Dronkers presented the award to him personally, in a warm and intimate ceremony in the Cannabis College that was a joyous celebration of both their friendship and their commitment to their favorite plant.
If there is such a thing as a man (and a strain) needing almost no introduction in the world of cannabis, Jack Herer is that man (and that strain). A tireless and fervent campaigner for the liberation of cannabis and hemp around the globe, bestselling author, and compelling speaker, Jack was a frequent visitor to Amsterdam and a close friend of the Dronkers family. His book ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes’ was a revelation for many cannabis enthusiasts, including Eagle Bill, who prior to reading it had little idea of the cultural history of this most versatile plant.
Sensi Seeds bred the Jack Herer cannabis seed strain with the aim of creating a perfect balance of indica and sativa traits. The successful outcome of this project is testified to by the numerous prizes it has been given since being launched in 1994, and it remains the most awarded cannabis strain in the world. Not only this, but it is one of the few strains to be a prescribed medicinal grade strain in the Netherlands, available in pharmacies (as well as coffeeshops).
A three-way hybrid that produces four main phenotypes, Jack Herer is not recommended as a very first grow, especially if you lack any kind of gardening experience. Although you may be understandably impatient to sample what this champion of champions has to offer, it is well worth cutting your teeth on something more simple and affordable such as Shiva Shanti II or Sensi Skunk to gain some knowledge and skills before you take the plunge into all that Jack Herer has to offer. Once you have got to know the basics of plant management and care, however, Jack Herer is one of the most rewarding plants that you can cultivate.
Three of the phenotypes show clear and strongly defined sativa traits, one of which is quite rare. If you find yourself in possession of this citrusy, sour lemon and lime expression, you can expect a tall plant with sharply defined spiral calyxes that are not the largest that Jack Herer is capable of producing, but are some of the most potent. This particular variant can produce a massive cerebral headrush that comes close to being hallucinogenic. The uplifting, soaring high of all three sativa variations is not to be taken lightly; one of the special qualities of Jack is that no matter the phenotype, the blend of indica and sativa genetics is immensely powerful. The indica phenotype is, as you would expect, a shorter and bushier variant on this sublime theme with a more physically relaxing effect. Delivering one of the world’s finest body stone/head buzz combinations, Jack Herer must be experienced to be believed!
Sensi Seeds launched Marley’s Collie in 1997, together with Rita Marley, in honor of her much-loved husband Bob. For many years it has been one of our customers’ favorite strains for its old-school Jamaican genetics, soaring, laid-back high and succulent flavors. Unfortunately the recent flurry of cannabis and cannabis-related products which have emerged bearing the Marley name are somehow seen by their producers as being in competition with Sensi Seeds’ longstanding seed strain, and we have received notice that we can no longer use the name Marley on our seeds. It is with deep regret that we have therefore had to withdraw Marley’s Collie from our catalogue until further notice.
Time for a new legend….
So what does the future hold for this particular section of our seed selection, the celebrity strains? Well, the next famous name to be joining this illustrious list is that of cannabis pioneer and Father of Vapor, Eagle Bill Amato. Eagle Bill, the seed strain, is a sativa-dominant variety with a pungent, piney aroma and a satisfying yield. Its namesake was an old friend of Ben Dronkers’, and was a semi-permanent fixture in the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum where he demonstrated vaporizing for literally thousands of people up to 2005. Sensi Seeds is excited about this new addition, and we are sure our many fans and followers will be too!
Originally published in Weed World Magazine 122