by David Downs
In California's competitive marijuana growing industry, popular strains such as “OG Kush” and “Blue Dream” can generate big profits, and inventing a hit new strain is a lifetime goal. This week, Berkeley Patients Care Collective honors some more of Northern California's weed celebrities with the release of BPCC's medical cannabis collector cards “Series Two.”
Following the success of BPCC's first set of ten cards in 2010 , patients who buy a gram or more of the strain “MK Ultra” this week can get its collectors card while supplies last. Nine more cards will become available at a rate of one every other week, and eventually patients can purchase all ten for $10 at the collective on Telegraph Avenue. Pics after the jump:
Series Two features: MK Ultra, Purple Kush, Morning Star, Durban Poison, Peak 19, Ogre, Purple God, Sage & Sour, Blue Moonshine, and Blackberry Kush.
The card's front showcases a high-resolution photo of the strain's sticky bud, along with an inset photo of the microscopic trichomes on the plant. Bowers said all photos were taken at BPCC from what came in the door, representing some of the most popular, most available strains in the Bay.
On the back of the card, BPCC traces the strain's history, describes its effect, and the ailments it has been known to treat. For example, MK Ultra is “named after a covert CIA human research program begun in the 1950's, this strain is a cross between the infamous 'government grown' G-13 and OG Kush.”
“Flavor: A spicy and pungent lemon pepper up close, but smells like a skunk from far away. Very strong lung expansion.
“Effect: One of the strongest and heaviest varieties available. Starts out with a powerful euphoria followed by long lasting physical relief.
“Medicinal Recommendations: Chronic Pain, Insomnia, Muscle Spasms, Nausea, Appetite, MS, Anxiety, PTSD, Glaucoma, Migraines, Gastrointestinal Issues, AIDS, Cancer, Epilepsy, Alcoholism, Arthritis, Anorexia.”
Bowers said the first set of cards reaffirmed the impact of specific strains on different ailments. “It really made people understand and inspired to know more about strains that are good for them,” he said.
BPCC's experienced staff determines strain when growers come into the collective with a fresh crop. A good wholesale buyer can tell a strain from across the room, Bowers said, but bud morphology, smell, and texture also help confirm the strain. Buyers also use data from overseas seed banks like Green House in Amsterdam.
However, strains change over time and location, and growers constantly alter them to gain notoriety, leading to a new problem: the strain names themselves. The counter-culture roots of pot growing in California must now contend with the new mainstream legitimacy of the plant.
On Sunday, January 30, fellow Berkeley dispensary operator Debby Goldsberry of Berkeley Patients Group publicly called for a clean up medical pot's image by ending product names like “Cat Piss” and “Train Wreck.” When “God's Pussy” won the High Times San Francisco Medical Cannabis Cup last Fall, one prominent doctor suggested penalizing potentially award-winning strains for crass nomenclature.
“There are some really bad names out there,” Bowers said. “It comes from a culture where these guys just come up names off the top of their heads. Growers want to create a strain that people remember. Unfortunately, people can be really turned off to medication that could be really good for them. They say, 'Catpiss, I'd never buy that.' But it's one of the best sativas out there.”
Bowers said growers have tamed names over time, and he believes they'll settle down even further as time goes by. But others remain quasi-historic genetic landmarks.
For example, “Durban Poison” came from South Africa in the Seventies and has been an underground Bay Area staple ever since. “Its clear energetic focus doesn't have a big physical side effect, so it's incredibly popular with certain patients. It changes their life,” Bowers noted. “It's rare enough that the people that have it are kind of lucky to have it and hold onto it.”
Bowers said BPCC makes sure to highlight the educational aspects of its collectors cards, given their troubled history. Back in 1998, then-California Attorney General Dan Lungren ordered San Francisco company In Line Trading Cards to stop a “Classic Hemp” series of trading cards like “Acapulco Gold” that were on sale in convenience stores. In related news: Amsterdam officials recently released scratch and sniff cannabis cards as part of a law enforcement campaign.