In English, ‘skunk’ has become slang for any potent, high-THC strain of cannabis. The media often uses ‘skunk’ to define ‘street weed’, usually in a derogatory fashion. In fact, Skunk #1 is the official name of one of the oldest and most popular strains of cannabis, and there is a ‘Skunk family’ of its descendants.
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the term ‘skunk’. Many cannabis connoisseurs know Skunk #1 as a legendary strain that’s been used to breed countless modern varieties. However, most mainstream media use ‘skunk’ to mean powerful ‘street weed’ (and ‘street weed’ to mean illegal cannabis).
Some media organisations (mostly the tabloid ones who are more interested in clickbait than fact) have even gone so far as to categorize ‘Skunk’ as a particularly dangerous new type of cannabis that’s somehow completely different from both hash, and the ‘street weed’ of the 1960s to 1980s. It’s no wonder that there is confusion around the question ‘What is skunk?’, and trepidation among people who are misled by this type of irresponsible reporting. This beginner’s guide to skunk aims to shed some light on the situation.
What sort of cannabis is skunk?
All members of the skunk family are descended from Skunk #1. This heritage strain is a hybrid of Acapulco Gold, Colombian Gold, and Afghan. Acapulco Gold and Colombian Gold are both sativa landrace varieties hailing from the region around Acapulco in Mexico, and the Santa Marta mountains of Colombia respectively. Afghanistan produces potent, sturdy indica landraces.
Combining these genetics resulted in a new strain that features the uplifting high and citrus flavours of its sativa side, together with the short flowering time, feeling of relaxation and heavy yields that are characteristic of indicas. Sensi Seeds Skunk #1 is easy to grow and recommended for first-time gardeners; it’s also very affordable.
Where did skunk come from?
Far from being a new type of cannabis that has only emerged in the last few years (as is frequently misreported) Skunk #1 was originally bred in the 1970s. Some reports date the original crossing as far back as 1969, in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California. Seeds of Skunk #1 were on sale in the US by 1980.
Although it is possible that some examples made the journey to Europe in the late 1970s, the first confirmed arrival of Skunk #1 in the Netherlands in seed form was in 1982. These genetics have been preserved up to the present day. Skunk #1 is still one of the most reliable and consistent cannabis strains available. It has probably parented more cannabis varieties than any other hybrid.
Why is the word ‘skunk’ used for cannabis?
‘Skunk’ is obviously the name of a North American mammal, and this is inextricably linked to the cannabis slang meaning of the word. One of the defining characteristics of its potent namesake strain is a scent reminiscent of the smelly spray of the skunk. This pungency is more developed in some of the hybrids created from the original, for example Shiva Skunk; many others (such as Sensi Skunk) lean towards the sharp sweet citrus side.
Skunk #1 was so revolutionary for cannabis growers (especially in colder climates) that it’s no surprise that the name ‘skunk’ has become synonymous with strong, seedless, high quality cannabis; think Coca-Cola being launched in 1886, leading to ‘cola’ being a generic term today.
The two ways to interpret ‘skunk’ cannabis
The main confusion surrounding the term comes from the fact that it means two things: it is the name of a famous strain of cannabis, and it is an informal term for strong ‘street weed’.
However, that doesn’t mean that mix-ups don’t happen. When a person uses the word ‘skunk’, they may be talking about the strain of cannabis, a member of the Skunk cannabis family (a Skunk #1 descendant), or any variety of cannabis that is strongly aromatic and potent.
Is skunk more dangerous than cannabis?
This question is frequently debated in popular media, despite it being the equivalent of asking ‘Is red wine more dangerous than alcohol?’ or ‘Are trousers more dangerous than clothes?’. The original source material for these claims was published in 2009 by the British Journal of Psychiatry, and the text clearly associates ‘skunk’ with ‘sinsemilla’ (seedless) cannabis (“78% of the cases group used high-potency cannabis (sinsemilla, ‘skunk’)”).
This confusion of true skunk strains with any seedless, and therefore potent, cannabis continues over a decade after the original mistake. There is a link between cannabis use and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia; people with family histories of, or predisposition to, mental illness should seek medical advice before even considering cannabis use.
Unfortunately this correlation has been reported as causation so often that it is accepted as fact by many people, despite the need for further studies and even some evidence that cannabinoids – in particular, CBD – can actually help people with a range of mental issues such as anxiety and PTSD.
Leaving aside the issue of predisposition for a moment, a more pertinent question is ‘Is strong cannabis more dangerous than weak cannabis?’. This could be compared to asking ‘Is whisky more dangerous than beer?’; if you consume it in the same way, and you don’t enjoy being highly intoxicated, then yes. The comparison obviously falls down on the point that it’s physically impossible to ingest enough cannabis to die from it, whereas alcohol-specific deaths in the UK in 2017 totalled 7,697 people.
Has cannabis really got stronger?
Having established that Skunk #1 is a cannabis strain with a whole family of related strains, let’s look at the strength and cannabinoid composition of ‘street weed’, as these are the factors that most influence the effects.
It’s important to remember that in the Western world during the 1970s, cannabis breeding was well underway on a commercial scale for the first time. Since then, THC levels in cannabis samples have steadily continued to rise as breeders and cultivators have developed hybrids to increase them.
For many years it was not known that CBD moderates the undesirable effects of THC such as memory loss, paranoia and anxiety (NB: even this study refers to ‘skunk’, although there is no indication that the cannabis in question is actually a skunk strain). Therefore some breeders continually pushed for higher and higher THC to CBD ratios, unaware that they were creating strains that were more likely to be problematic for some users.
Running alongside the development of higher THC cannabis strains came the improvement of indoor grow systems. Better lights, sophisticated fertilizers designed specifically for cannabis, and the sudden accessibility of previously hard-to-find gardening information on the internet, have all contributed to the increasing strength of ‘street weed’ over the last two decades.
As cannabis continued to get stronger, so did the overall subjective experience for cannabis users. Cannabis was a huge target for the media as the War on Drugs continued, and ‘skunk’ became a media term for strong cannabis that caused severe intoxication. Ironically, it’s far more likely that the cannabis in question was not the comparatively mild Skunk #1, but newer strains with a far less evenly balanced THC to CBD ratio.
Sensi Seeds Skunk strains
As mentioned, Skunk #1 was chosen to parent many other skunk strains thanks to its characteristic strength and potency. As one of only a handful of breeders who received the original Skunk #1 genetics that were brought over from the US in 1982, Sensi Seeds has developed many interesting skunk hybrids.
The original Skunk strain is Skunk #1. It has been one of the biggest influences on cannabis genetics since the 1970s. It has the characteristic sweet skunky smell and is well-known for its euphoric, yet relaxed high. It’s a typical hybrid strain, bringing about all the best sides of both indica and sativa.
Super Skunk was bred using Skunk #1 and a potent Afghani hash strain. Super Skunk was awarded a Cannabis Cup award shortly after its release in the 1990s. This strain is extremely pungent, and has thick, dense, resinous buds. Its taste is sweet and its effects are typically physical and relaxing.
Early Skunk is an outdoor strain bred by Sensi Seeds. It’s another proud winner of the Cannabis Cup. Bred from Skunk #1 and Early Pearl, this strain is an easy-to-grow indica-dominant hybrid. It’s favoured for its short flowering period and its enormous harvests. For users, it offers a euphoric, relaxed, and happy high with tendencies towards creativity and focused attention.
Skunk Kush is also a strain bred using Skunk #1 and a heavy, Afghan strain. The Afghan strain in question is Hindu Kush, thus giving the strain its name, Skunk Kush. The sativa/indica hybrid gives a strong body-stone enlivened by dreamy, red-eyed giggles.
White Skunk is from White Label Seed Company, a sister company of Sensi Seeds, and was bred using Skunk and sativa genetics. It has the same classic smell as its Skunk parent, but the big, open buds show its sativa genetics. It has a bitter orange scent, and typically makes users feel euphoric, relaxed and focused.
Sensi Skunk is a special variety of Skunk in that it has a citrus flavour rather than the typical pungent, earthy aroma. It’s heavily indica-dominant, producing the kind of relaxed, calming effect that comes with many indica varieties. Its soporific effects are reported by users to be good for stress relief, sleep, and muscle relaxation.
Shiva Skunk is the strongest skunk variety that Sensi Seeds created so far. It was bred using Sensi Seeds’ famous Northern Lights #5 with Skunk #1. From its skunk parent, Shiva Skunk gets the typical skunk aroma, while the heavy yields come from its Northern Lights parent. Its effects lean more towards Northern Lights, a potent stone. Shiva Skunk is a favourite of many people for consuming in evening.
Given how many strains Skunk #1 has parented, it can safely be assumed that skunk genetics will go on to play a big role in strains of the future. It is one of the most stable strains available, with genetics that have influenced countless cannabis varieties of the present day.
The confusion surrounding the word ‘skunk’ is simply semantic, and could be cleared up with more commonly-known information about the breeding history of the Skunk #1 strain, and less use as a general nickname for any potent, seedless cannabis.
- Disclaimer:Laws and regulations regarding cannabis use differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
13 thoughts on “Skunk Weed: What Is ‘Skunk Weed’? A Beginner’s Guide to Skunk”
In the late 80s, early 90s we looked forward to October, the month that we knew the Ozark skunkweed would be harvested, dried, and cured. We bought up all we could afford, stretching it out as long as possible. With most varieties we saw here the rest of the year, a quarter ounce might last me a week. With Ozark skunk, 2-3 weeks and a much nicer high.
As soon as I legally can, that will be the first kind I grow. And it will compose a big part of any I choose to breed.
Hello. A little bit of context, I come from New Zealand, and growing up teens and twenties in the 80’s, skunk was a term regularly used here for dense, potent buds, with an-almost hashish high. I have no idea of the history of the available strains of cannabis that were here at that time, rumours were Mexico and South-east Asia. Australia was a no, at least public knowledge-wise.. Cannabis crops were soil-grown in remote forest areas, illegally. If the strains here were indeed ‘skunk’, then we were privileged to have some benevolent ‘traveler’ drop some seeds off here in Kiwiland! If not true skunk, then whatever it was we smoking back then, it was knocking our socks off every time..! Could’ve been naivete, youth, but whatever it was it was a helluva lotta fun. And of course, as you mention, with improved technology nowadays and broader knowledge of the plant itself, potency levels have been increased through hybridising – which is all good, a miracle to be able to pull off successfully despite cannabis plant survivability likelihood. However, again, at what cost? Decreased THC regulation isn’t really a road us mellow-heads would prefer travelling in the bigger scheme of things, I would think, but if that’s where it eventually goes then all I can is ‘thanks for the heads-up. Honestly. I’m growing for the first time, indoors in soil, but this is something I will be paying very close attention to going forward.
I thoroughly enjoyed the article, took me back a few years… top times… Thank you for the sharing this information – on skunk and THC/CBD. Cheers.
Good afternoon Mat,
Thanks for the comment, and support from New Zealand.
Sounds like you had definitely had some fun in your youth!
The origins of our Skunk # 1 originate from crossing Acapulco Gold and Colombian Gold with a short, fast-flowering, and resilient Afghani landrace. However, it is very possible that traveller bought some seeds over to New Zealand!
When I was living in the Bay of Plenty, in North Island a few years back, I had the opportunity to try some Te Puke Thunder, and I can say that it knocked my socks off!
Please check out the following articles on our blog which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
The life cycle of cannabis: From seed to harvest
When can seedlings be put under lights or in the sun
Have a great day!
WOW, I live in Rotorua! BROTHER!!! Ha ha!! Your article was tops. Kia ora!
Last but not least 🙂
Given your legal warning abovr to users of this blog – the current situation in NZ, regarding decriminalising or legalising cannabis growth and use – is it is still illegal. A nationwide referendum co-inciding with our National Election in 2020, saw the NZ public divided at 48.5% FOR and 51.5% AGAINST cannabis legalisation. These results have curiously slipped past most major media outlets here, print, radio, online. However, PM Jacinda Arden has made it public she voted ‘Yes’ for LEGALISATION in last year’s count. She is Labour so not much to figure there.
Note, that under the Wikipedia section titled ‘Cannabis laws’, an almost throwaway line is tacked on the end. It says:
The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2019 became law on 13 August 2019 and affirmed existing Police discretion of whether prosecution or a health approach is preferable for personal drug possession and use.
The NZ Police have definitively begun moving toward referring first time offendees to drug counselers, or health mentors, both for mental and physical help etc [these are a free health services – no cost], as opposed to immediate conviction, court appearances, public conviction notices, essentially disproportionate punishment – or viewes another way, ineffective remedial strategy. There is also a collective national maturing as cannabis crops are heavily grown in certain areas here for medical purposes and also the burgeoning problem we have here with methamphetamine, means NZ Police resources are accordingly being re-directed towards THIS plague as is public disquiet on an increasing basis. However when it comes to cannabis, NZ doesn’t need to legalise this plant given the quantities growing here… it needs to legalise THC potency… and CBD regulation of THC is likely to prefigure greatly into that equation. I know various members of the NZ Police personally and their thoughts are that change is not far away, helicopter forest surveillance which was an annual thing nationwide – chopped earlier this year – yes.. it took that long! 2021! Tight Govt.finances, means tight Govt. dept belts. So, for the time being, we’re still living in that adventurous past where dodging the cops was fun and somewhat fulfilling!!!… well for me… it still is!!!! No just kidding, I really do have a real job! HaHah! So there it is. I could probably be arrested for posting to this blog… but for me, and the justice administration overseeing the case if that indeed happened, would further illustrate the ludicrous nature of an outmoded remedial [justice] process. This is something the NZ Police and Criminal Justice System are keen to avoid right now. Have a happy and wonderful day everyone!!!
Apologies Mark, last one bit regarding this topic – [cut any of this at will all good]
Newshub NZ 30 October 2020
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has finally revealed her stance on recreational cannabis, confirming she voted in favour of legalisation, but the majority of New Zealand has voted ‘no’.
So yeah… the’ table’s’ split publicly.
We’re in a wait-n-see holding pattern on cannabis legalisation.
There’s always ‘fors’ and ‘against’ with anything, especially cannabis with regard to children.
Educating children maturely, without prejudice, as to what various plants like tobacco, sugar cane, peanut, ivy, bamboo, cannabis, garlic, aloe, cranberry just for starters.. can potentially do to you do to or for you, case by case, benefit or maybe safety-wise, more articulatelt rhan we’re already getting. Hiding things from young ones seems to envoke an immature curiosity response from them, whereas a more ‘adult’ respectful, straight-forward approach towards youngsters by providing them with an unprejudiced guidance seems to work better. As risky as this sounds. You as a grown-up are still top dog though. Be kind 🙂 Sometimes you have to let them see the stormclouds for them to choose blue sky. Tread with utmost caution. I will be.
Thanks for the great information , and support from Rotorua!
I have visited Te Puia, and spent some time walking in the Whakarewarewa forest, such a beautiful part of the north island!
It’s great to see there is growing support for legalisation with 48.5% in favour and Jacinda Arden opening supporting the cause, that’s definitely something!
I’m definitely aware of NORML based in Auckland as they have been leading the charge for quite a few years now, and It’s great to see more Cannabis Collectives are emerging.
You make a great point. If there were more educational programmes available, there is a great possibility that cannabis would be more openly accepted in society like in North America.
Thanks again for all the information and links.
I hope you continue to enjoy the blog, and best of luck with legalisation!
Thank you my friend, KIA ORA! Live long and prosper!
I was in the Bay Area in 1969 and did smoke some amazing “homegrown” which I was told came from a commune that was breeding new strains. In the 1980’s, I received many different seeds from older friends who traveled from the Middle East to the Far East. They were amazing plants that grew from those seeds, many were dark purple, nearly black when harvested in early October in New York State. Several of them smelled strongly of skunk. It was a major concern on mornings when the dew and a breeze would enable the strong smell to travel. Some of my guerrilla grow sites were just off of popular trails. I had allowed those seeds to reproduce which gave me hundreds of amazing hybrids with astounding vigor. I wasn’t wise enough then to produce any more seed crops.I just kept planting those seeds until they were gone? Eventually, my entire grow, including several different sites, were ripped off. By then my seeds were gone. Thankfully, Sensi Seeds came into being to preserve many of the land race strains from around the world. The thing that amazed me the most was the psychoactive effects of some of the indica varieties. The Afghani weed was riveting but usually put me to sleep within the hour. Some of the others from India, Nepal, etc. were psychedelic and long lasting. They would keep you “awake” and in the moment. Thanks for your informative website. I’m looking forward to my first legal grow sometime soon in New York State.
Good afternoon Rick,
Thank you so much your kind words, and for sharing your experiences with collecting seeds from all over the world.
I’m very sorry about the eventual outcome of your guerilla grows!
Here at Sensi Seeds we are committed to preserving the genetic diversity and accessibility of the cannabis, and today, the company is the world’s largest cannabis seedbank with over 500 varieties.
Thanks again for your comment, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.
With best wishes,
where to get skunk weed or seeds
Good morning David,
Thank you for your comment. If you are looking for Skunk seeds, please go to our homepage and search for Skunk using the search bar.
With best wishes,
Possibly some of the most disgusting misuse of the term comes from Professor Sir Robin Murray who holds himself out as a leading scientist on the subject but in fact is a misleader, propagandist and dissembler. Look at this disgraceful quote from The Independent last November which the PCC refused to deem ‘inaccurate misleading or distorted.’
“Sir Robin Murray, Professor of psychiatric research at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, says that studies show that “if the risk of schizophrenia for the general population is about one per cent, the evidence is that, if you take ordinary cannabis, it is two per cent; if you smoke regularly you might push it up to four per cent; and if you smoke ‘skunk’ every day you push it up to eight per cent”.