“Light Speed, blazin Chronic through the galaxy, Hydro, doja, chocolate Thai weed…” (Dr. Dre, Light Speed)
“High speeds, and Thai weed on the freeway…” (2Pac, Outlaw)
“Pass me the Thai I get high on the mic…” (Vanilla Ice, The Weed Song)
If you’ve ever rapped along with your favorite artists you’ve probably sung about Thai weed, even if you weren’t quite sure what this legendary cannabis is all about.
That’s not surprising, because “Thai weed” has taken on several different meanings over the years.
The term may be used to refer to a specific strain. It can also be used to describe a type of weed whose ancestry can be traced to Thailand.
And to some OG stoners, Thai weed describes the product they used decades ago to get really, really wasted.
Here’s what you need to know to understand all of those rap lyrics about Thai weed.
Thai Weed in the 20th Century
Your parents (or grandparents) may have had first-hand knowledge of Thai weed, in the form of the Thai stick that was a very big deal during the 1970s. Thai stick was a potent (and very expensive) cannabis “cigar” imported from Thailand, famous for its quality and potency as well as its scarcity in America.
New versions of Thai sticks are back on the market, but they’re not necessarily made with Thai weed. The selling point is their size and the fact that Thai stick is often so potent because its layers of flower are coated with hash oil and cured for a long time.
Meanwhile, connoisseurs who were fortunate enough to travel to Southeast or South Asia during their “hippie days” may have had the opportunity to sample the powerhouse cannabis strains that are native to countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, and Afghanistan.
(The strains still exist today, but travel to Asia with the goal of sampling weed isn’t as exotic as it was back then.)
Many of those strains are revered for their potency and bountiful resin production — both of which can be attributed to the fact that Thai weed and other famous strains from the region are all “landrace” strains.
What Is a Landrace Strain?
In simple terms, landrace strains are hardy cannabis varieties that are native to a specific region and have grown in the wild for thousands of years without cultivation. That allows the strain to evolve naturally, becoming stronger so it can withstand environmental challenges and continue to produce its crop.
It also means that — unlike the hybrid strains so prevalent today — landrace strains are genetically pure. They’re highly sought-after by cultivators who want to cross them with other strains, but many original landrace strains are prized even more. A good example is Durban Poison, which is a landrace from South Africa.
It’s typical to see a popular strain like Sour Diesel described as “sativa,” or one like Granddaddy Purple described as “indica.” In reality, they’re hybrid strains that are simply sativa- or indica- dominant. Landraces, by contrast, are purebred sativa or indica strains; not many of them are harvested and sold in the 21st century.
Thai landrace strains are genetically-pure sativas. They grow tall and strong with high yields, vigorous trichome production, THC levels that naturally reach 14-24%, low levels of CBD, and pungent aromas. Thai landraces are known for producing energetic, euphoric, and creative head highs, and for their effectiveness in treating headaches and depression.
Are those strains what people are referring to when they talk about Thai weed? Usually, yes. Just as “Starbucks” has become somewhat of a synonym for “high-quality coffee shop,” “Thai weed” is commonly used to refer to top-shelf sativa sourced from that region.
However, people who use the term may think they’re talking about a specific strain.
Is “Thai Weed” a Strain?
Some resource sites like Wikileaf imply that it is, listing it as a strain in their directory and saying “this strain has a famous pungency and an intense cerebral high.”
However, they also specify that “Thai is a pure sativa landrace native to the tropical jungles of Thailand” and that “it’s said to have been brought to the U.S. from Southeast Asia following the Vietnam War.” If you’ve been reading along with us, you know that they’re really describing a category of strains, Thai landraces, rather than a specific one.
Weedmaps, by contrast, is more exact in their description: “Thai is a name given to most landrace strains that are derived from an unspecified region in Thailand.” That’s a better way of looking at “Thai weed.”
That doesn’t mean there aren’t strains that trace their origins to Thai landrace marijuana.
Thai Weed Strains
Several well-known phenotypes and hybrid strains proudly carry the name of their famous parent.
- Chocolate Thai: We had to start with this phenotype (a natural mutation of an original strain) because of the Dr. Dre lyrics we’ve mentioned. It’s a Thai landrace and 100% sativa; the name comes from the hints of coffee and chocolate in its flavor.
- Wild Thai (sometimes called Wild Thailand): Another pure sativa that grows wild in the Ko Chang area of Thailand, commercially available and extremely potent Wild Thai has been cultivated by the international seed bank World of Seeds and is now sold to growers as seeds.
- Thai Skunk: If you guessed that this strain is a cross between a Thai landrace and the famous Skunk strain, you were right. It leans slightly indica and its high is characterized by a relaxing, happy buzz.
- Blue Thai: A hybrid that comes to us from the Netherlands, this cross of Thai Skunk and Blueberry only lean slightly sativa. It provides a relaxing experience that starts energetic but fades into a tranquil and enjoyable high.
Many other strains you may be familiar with also can claim Thai landraces as an important part of their heritage. Just a few:
- Haze: The genetics of this well-known strain aren’t clear, but it’s believed that they include Thai landrace as well as sativas from Mexico, India, and South America.
- Voodoo: This pure sativa is a phenotype of Thai landrace cannabis.
- Juicy Fruit: If you cross Thai landrace sativa with Afghani landrace indica, you wind up with this classic 55/45 hybrid that lives up to both its name and heritage: it’s fruity and delightful — and it can knock you flat on your ass.
Thai Weed: FAQ
Q: How easy is it to find Thai landrace strains? Do dealers or dispensaries have them?
A: You’re probably not going to find a dealer with access to pure Thai weed unless you work with a really upscale one who takes custom orders. And if you find a dispensary that carries Thai weed, consider yourself very fortunate. You’re better off looking for one of the phenotypes like Voodoo that we’ve mentioned or growing your own from seed. The seeds are available online, although they require very specific growing conditions that simulate their home climate.
Q: You said that Thai Stick is now available in America. Does it give you the same experience as to smoking Thai weed?
A: Not exactly. There are companies that sell Thai Stick, but they generally make it with whatever strain they feel like using. That means the type of high may be quite different than the euphoric and creative experience associated with pure sativa Thai landrace strains. What’s more similar to the 1970s experience is the potency of the weed, since the layers of flower in the cigar are soaked in hash oil.
McPartland, J. M., & Small, E. (2020). A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys, 144, 81 .