Editor’s note: Los Angeles writer Mark Haskell Smith’s new book Heart of Dankness sprang from his news coverage of the Cannabis Cup for the L.A. Times. Novelist Smith sampled varieties of marijuana that were unlike anything he’d experienced before, unlike any typical stoner weed. In fact, it didn’t get you “stoned,” as such. This cannabis possessed an ephemeral quality known as “dankness.”
Haskell began a journey into the international underground where super-high-grade marijuana is developed. He tracked down the ragtag community of underground botanists, outlaw farmers, and renegade strain hunters who pursue excellence and genetic diversity in cannabis. The dank journey climaxes at Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup, which Mark portrays as the Super Bowl/Mardi Gras of the world’s largest cash crop.
Cannabis writer and connoisseur Caitlin Podiak got a chance to chat with Haskell Smith about the book, about good cannabis, and about what, exactly, constitutes a state of dankness. Enjoy!
By Caitlin Podiak
Special to Toke of the Town
Caitlin Podiak: Your quest for the “heart of dankness” centers on the annual High Times Cannabis Cup event in Amsterdam. But how relevant do you think those awards are to cannabis users in California? I know many of the strains we have here come from Dutch seeds, but beyond that, I wonder how much the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup results should matter to us in the United States.
Mark Haskell Smith: Oh, I think they’re very relevant to what goes on in California. The strains that win the Cannabis Cup ultimately become the popular strains you find in medical dispensaries or being sold by dealers. AK-47, Super Silver Haze, Willie Nelson, Lavender, LA Confidential… these are all fairly common strains nowadays, but they were first introduced at the Cannabis Cup. I imagine Kosher Kush, which is originally a SoCal strain, will become huge in the next year or two because it just won the Indica Cup in Amsterdam. It’s sort of like Coachella for cannabis. It’s where the unknowns get their shot at the big time. And that resonates in California. We want those seeds.