1. Briefly tell us about yourself, growing in Italy, and how you became involved with Strain Hunters, strain hunting.
I grew up in Torino, a large industrial city in the North of Italy.
I started smoking cannabis recreationally at 15, but soon
I realized it had a medicinal effect on my hyperactivity, it
helped me sleep better and made me feel more in tune with
myself, my ideas and my studies. After finishing high school
I traveled a bit (Jamaica & Europe) then came back to Italy in
1995, where I joined the Army as a paratrooper.
After that I moved to the UK, and then to Holland, where
I am still based now. In Holland I studied (Master degree
in Hospitality Management), then joined the Green House
coffee shops in 1999. From 2001 to 2004, I worked at SIMM,
one of the licensed producers of medicinal cannabis for the
Dutch government (pharmacies and hospitals use cannabis
produced by government-licensed facilities in Holland, while
the coffee shops get their cannabis from illegal growers). In
2004 I joined the Green House Seed Company, where I still
Strain Hunters is a project that started in 2007; the idea
was to produce documentaries to show the world about our
mission to preserve endangered cannabis landraces. Strain
Hunting has been a constant activity for Arjan (the owner and
founder of the Green House Coffeeshops and Green House
Seed Company) for the past 25 years. I did it since the early
1990s as a hobby, then, slowly ,it became part of my work. 2. How is the cannabis in italy? are there growers there? if so, what are the strains like?
Italy is one of the countries in Europe with the largest
number of cannabis users. Cannabis is very diffused, and
easily available. Most of the cannabis consumed in Italy
is imported hashish from Morocco or Asia. The hashish is
imported large-scale by organized crime, and distributed in
Over the last 10 years weed has become more popular, and
nowadays there are plenty of growers. The climate is very
good to grow cannabis in most of the Italian peninsula, so a
lot of people grow outdoors. In the big cities there are people
growing indoors, mostly small operations for personal use.
In south Italy there is a very famous landrace of cannabis
called “Calabrese Rossa”, the only landrace in the country. 3. What was your first strain hunt?
I went to Jamaica in 1994 to look for special seeds, after hearing amazing stories from friends who had been there.It was great! 4.Describe a strain-hunting trek in all of its stages. How do you prepare? What do you bring?
Is it ever dangerous? Have
you ever become sick or injured during
one of your strain-hunts? How does it
feel when you find an unknown strain?
After selecting the destination (based on information,
contacts and local situation) we organize one or two
scouting trips, usually during the planting season. During
these trips we find the areas where the landraces grow, we
make contact with local growers, and we decide what are
the areas and the fields worth filming. We prepare the filming
trip in every detail.
Then we go back with the film-crew after a few months,
when the plants are close to the harvest, and we shoot
the documentary. At the same time we collect the genetics
we find, in seed form. It is an amazing feeling, to know we
are preserving unique inbred landraces. These plants help
create new strains of cannabis, and may help, one day, to
create new medicines.
The equipment we use depends very much on the type of
terrain and the local climate, it is never the same. Strain
hunting is not danger-free. But it is very rewarding. 5. Have you ever done any strain-hunting in the United States?
No, not yet. First we want to locate landraces in remote
areas, in areas where there has been no breeding, no
intervention from other strains for a long time. In the USA
there are thousands of strains, but no landrace…
6. What are some of the best strains you have found?
The Malawi Gold is my favorite, for sure. It was very special
to find it! 7. Is there anything strain hunters is doing in the future that you would like to share with our readers?
The second documentary (India Expedition) is about to be
released online and on DVD.
We are busy filming the third documentary of the series,
it will be ready at the end of 2010. But the location is still
secret, of course….