Cannabis goes by many terms, and while ‘skunk weed’ may bring up some negative connotations, having it described this way is not necessarily a bad thing.
In terms of its other names, first, of course, there are the usual culprits, marijuana, pot, and weed, but there are also more colloquial slang terms, like Mary Jane, reefer, ganja, bud, trees, chronic, and kush. Then, there’s ‘skunk.’
Depending on who you ask, ‘skunk’ can mean various things to various people. It may even have a different depiction depending on where you are in the world. For instance, in the UK, ‘skunk’ refers to all strains that have a potent smell. However, it is also sometimes used negatively. For example, when speaking to side effects of weed, often sensationalized for attention-seeking purposes.
In other contexts, ‘skunk’ can refer to a specific phenotype of cannabis while also being used in a more general sense by the greater cannabis community to refer to the strong smell of weed.
In recent years, ‘skunk’ has also been used in a derogatory sense to describe all illicit, street marijuana. In reality, the history of skunk borders on iconic, and its origins lie in one of the most popular strain varieties of cannabis in the world today.
With this in mind, today, we’re exploring the true meaning of skunk weed and how you can spot it.
A Brief History of Skunk Weed
It all started back in the progressive, counterculture era of the 1970s when breeders were actively indulging in newly found access to global cannabis cultivars and crossbreeding various weed strains.
The original Skunk strain was the product of crossbreeding attempts to blend the short, mountain hashish strains of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the tall, sativa strains from Central and South America, and the tropical stains from Asia.
Finally, a breeder named David Watson (who later received the apt title of ‘Sam the Skunkman’) was able to find the right mix of sativa Acapulco Gold, another sativa, Columbian Gold, and indica Afghani strains. Thus, Skunk #1 was born, receiving its unique moniker due to its particularly pungent aroma, similar to a skunk.
The strain really gained traction in popularity following Watson’s visit to Amsterdam’s first coffee shop, Mellow Yellow, in the 1980s. Following that initial exposure, Skunk #1 contributed to creating several different phenotypes, including some of the dankest cannabis strains currently available on the market today.
It proceeded to take home 1st place at the inaugural High Times Cannabis Cup in 1988. Following this widespread recognition, it was sold to seed banks across Holland, becoming the first commercial hybrid cannabis strain globally.
Examples of Skunk Strains
As we highlighted above, Skunk #1 served as a global trendsetter and the first hybrid strain to be sold commercially at an international level. As such, its genetics helped pave the way for several skunk variations, including:
First and foremost, we must pay homage to the OG Skunk #1. This skunk weed strain is an indica-dominant hybrid containing 65% indica and 35% sativa. It has a pungent, almost overwhelming aroma with hints of earthiness and a sour, earthy taste.
When consumed, Skunk #1 has a relaxing body effect due to its high indica content. However, it’s not too overwhelming as the sativa gives the brain a subtle jolt, improving the mood and making users feel motivated.
Skunk #1 has also been used to create other hybrids, such as:
Lemon Skunk is an award-winning sativa-dominant hybrid. Users love it for its distinct lemon flavour, as its name would suggest, and its high THC concentration as high as 23%. Its aroma has that signature skunky scent accompanied by a hint of sweetness to cut its edge.
The Lemon Skunk high is heady, making users feel upbeat and euphoric while also producing a boost of energy and creativity.
Island Sweet Skunk
Island Sweet Skunk is a well-known cannabis cultivar yielded on the scenic Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. This strain is so popular, in fact, that growers Nirvana’s version made the High Times “Top 10 Canadian Strains of All Time” list in 2013!
Its Skunk #1 parent heavily influences Island Sweet Skunk. Its flavours include sweet citrus and, of course, a bit of skunk. Its effects consist of a perky, upbeat high quickly followed by a soft and subtle yet totally relaxing body buzz.
Shiva Skunk is a blend of Northern Lights #5 with Skunk #1, making it a hard-hitting indica. It is one of the most potent strains in the skunk family and is perfect for a weekend of relaxation and unwinding.
This skunk weed strain is commonly viewed as the perfect indica for beginners because, while its effects are potent, they’re not too much for novice tokers to handle.
Shiva Skunk supplies a sedative couchlock indicative of its 100% indica genetics. This strain yields its name from the Hindu god Shiva, who is believed to be a lover of cannabis.
Does Good Weed Typically Smell Stronger?
It depends on what “good” means to you. For some people, good weed is high in THC and produces powerful psychoactive effects. For others, it’s all in the smell and therapeutic properties of the weed itself.
While we cannot detect the amount of THC or even CBD in weed by smelling it, we can tell when a strain is rich in terpenes. Terpenes are the essential oils that comprise the aromatic compounds present in plants.
The cannabis plant, specifically, has over 200 terpenes, some of which may have fruity odours, such as myrcene or limonene. In contrast, others are more pungent and intense and may only appeal to acquired tastes – literally and figuratively.
On top of providing a unique aromatic profile, the role of terpenes is also to attract or repel animals and insects.
Research also indicates that the terpenes found in cannabis may host a wide range of benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, anticancer, and analgesic properties.
That said, you can’t write off cannabis that is not in-your-face pungent as being necessarily weaker. When fresh, cannabis has a strong, dank weed aroma. However, it will lose its terpenes when not stored correctly due to degradation and evaporation over time.
Curious how to prolong the shelf life of your weed? Check out our guide of 5 easy tips on storing your weed properly and keeping it fresh and potent.
How to Spot Skunky Cannabis
Many strains of cannabis today have the word ‘skunk’ in them, but the truth is, some are only distantly related to the original Skunk #1 produced over half a century ago. Today, it is more of a blanket term, and some strains may even be a hybrid of one of its descendants rather than the OG itself.
It’s important to note that many older tokers claim that the Skunk #1 we have today seems ‘different’ from the original, and they might potentially be right. The strain has undergone several evolutions and alterations and has several variants on the market today.
In this sense, the only way to guarantee you get Skunk #1 is through a trusted dispensary.
Spotting skunky weed is all in the smell. Skunk weed has an odour reminiscent of musk and earthy aromas due to its myrcene content. It also has faint floral and fruity notes that are released when the skunk weed is smoked.
The taste of these strain variations is typically woody, sweet and fruity.
All weed can smell the same for first-timers, so it may be challenging to distinguish aromas and flavours when using cannabis.
That said, if you’re a beginner, fret not. The more you use it, the more you’ll learn and be able to identify the various elements of your weed.
Final Thoughts on Skunk Weed
The term ‘skunk weed’ will vary in meaning depending on geographical location and the specific context.
For example, skunk weed refers to cannabis with a particularly powerful smell across the pond in the UK. On the other hand, in the US, the term refers to a legendary strain of marijuana introduced through crossbreeding various landrace strains, Skunk #1.
Skunk #1 remains well sought after by cannabis growers and users alike and has since evolved into several other strain variations and hybrids.
From OG Skunk #1 to all the other strains it’s parented over the years, the distinct genetics of skunk weed strains have become fast favourites across the world.
Of course, we all have the dedicated efforts of cannabis revolutionaries such as David Watson to thank for such advancements in breeding and product variety. The experimentation of Watson and others like him represent a crucial moment in cannabis culture and history through creating the first commercial hybrid strain and exposing landrace genetics to a broader global audience.
So, the next time you’re sparking up some Lemon Skunk or Island Sweet Skunk BC Bud, take a moment to appreciate all the effort that went into creating them.