By Mitchell Colbert
Name: Arjan Roskam
Location: The Netherlands
Seedbank: Green House Seeds
Awards: 40 Cannabis Cups, 17 Highlife Awards, and dozens of others.
Strain hunting is the practice of going around the world, searching far and wide, to locate the rarest landrace strains in the world. This is what allowed the first seed banks in the world to be started and what allowed breeders to start making hybrids and stabilizing genetics over multiple generations. It is thanks to the strain hunting that took place in the 1970's and 1980's that cannabis users now have the thousands of options available to them. Before then, your options were pretty much whatever your local dealer had available and maybe they knew where it came from (such as Acapulco Gold, or Thai Sticks).
Often called the “King of Cannabis,” Arjan Roskam is a world-renowned strain-hunter and the founder of Green House Seeds and Green House Coffeeshops in Amsterdam. While he currently resides in the Netherlands, Arjan originally is from South Africa. With over twenty years of breeding experience, Arjan is the only breeder in the world to be credited with winning 40 cannabis cups, on top of all his other accolades. While you may not know his name, you most likely have heard of his strains, such as White Widow and Super Silver Haze. These potent hybrids have not only won awards but also established themselves as household names in the cannabis world and are commonly found across the globe.
Arjan is not the first King of Cannabis, that crown was originally held by Nevil Schoenmakers (also commonly spelled Neville) back in the 1980's. Nevil was the first great strain hunter to bring amazing landrace strains to the masses and allow for a whole new generation of hybrids to be birthed from his efforts founding The Seed Bank of Holland, the world's first cannabis seed bank. Nevil has since retired from strain hunting and his crown has passed on to Arjan (check out Oldschool BA's next strain hunter profile to learn more about Nevil). While Nevil faced many legal obstacles in running his seed bank, many of those are no longer problems for Arjan and Green House Seeds; this shows a great evolution in the laws and how the global sale of cannabis seeds is viewed by prohibitionist governments, like the United States of America.
Arjan has appeared in National Geographic specials on cannabis and even started his own documentary series, called Strain Hunters, which profiles his pursuits of rare and exotic landrace strains, such as Malawi and Himalaya gold (some of which are now available to the public). This project helps preserve rare landrace strains from extinction and allows for new hybrids to be bred form previously unknown strains, strengthening the cannabis gene-pool and giving all cannabis users more options to grow and use. Arjan's strain hunting has attracted so much attention that the VICE media group picked it up and made a show called the Kings of Cannabis, profiling his efforts around the world (check out the Colombia episode, or the Jamaica episode).