The Return of Panama Red: Legendary Marijuana Strain Is Back


All Photos: No Longer Sad

​Whenever aging stoners gather around a burning bush and discuss the legendary strains of yore, it’s a sure bet that the mighty Panama Red will be mentioned. Along with Acapulco Gold, Panama Red was one of the first cannabis “brand names” that caught the imagination of the American public, becoming a, well, “hit” nationwide.

While hippies in the late 1960s thought that Panama Red was so strong because of the rain-forest climate in which it was grown, we know today that its legendary potency was due to genetics — and thank Jah, those genetics have been preserved for modern smokers to enjoy, despite the fact that the culture of cannabis in Panama was mostly blown away during the cocaine-fueled 1980s.

Panama Red, commonly produced in the sparsely populated Pearl Islands just off the Panamanian coast, is known for producing a strong, speedy, intense psychedelic high — in other words, it’s a prototypical sativa strain.

​We last checked in with western Washington grower No Longer Sad back in May, when she had a beautiful crop of Jillybean. Now, N.L.S. is just finishing up a superlative crop of Panama Red, from a clone she found at the Green Door in downtown Seattle.
No Longer Sad’s accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider the fact that she never uses chemical fertilizers — it’s all organic nutrients in her greenhouse, baby.
Considering that lots of those huge chemically grown buds you see on dispensary shelves and in the High Times centerfold are the botanical equivalent of a steroid geek — and have about as much to do with “healthy” — it doesn’t take long to realize that maybe it’s not a great idea to ingest chemically grown weed on a regular basis.
“Not everything good comes in big packages,” No Longer Sad said with a chuckle.
The grower swears by the nutrients of the Roots Organics line. “Roots Organics has just come out with a whole new ‘biosynthetic’ line to make the chemical growers happy, while still catering to the organic lovers,” she said. “It can be used in soil, soilless, and hydro grows.”

​”I grew up on a farm, which included several acres in gardens,” No Longer Sad told Toke of the Town Thursday afternoon. “I learned the importance of growing in properly prepared soil to include amendments for nurturing healthy plants. All the things we used to put in the soil are now in these product lines, but from way better sources than we could ever get. Basically, it’s full of bat shit, kelp and molasses!”
Most leading cannabis breeders use organic nutrients, and only organics, during the growth and development of their strains, according to No Longer Sad. “They do this to bring out the natural flavors — flavinoids and terpenes,” she told us. “To use anything less than what these strains were originally developed with, takes away from the characteristics.
“Seriously ill people and those undergoing medical treatment causing debilitation often have major intolerance of chemicals and can react violently, despite the plants having been ‘flushed,’ ” No Longer Sad told Toke of the Town. “We need healthy alternatives, not the biggest buds. And we need truly medicinal strains.
“Most of all, we need the freedom to further research the endocannabinoid system, phytocannabinoids, and how they interact in the human body,” No Longer Sad told us. “Once that’s complete, we’ll be able to selectively breed those desirable traits into the perfect plant for each of us.”
“I have just learned that two, not one, of my original, dearly beloved fellow Panama Red worshippers, both Vietnam vets in-country during the Tet Offensive, have both died of lung cancer due to Agent Orange,” No Longer Sad told us.
She wishes to dedicate her Panama Red plant, and this article, to the memory of her good friends Timothy Baldwin and Rex Bruns.
“They were best friends, medics during Nam, highly decorated, and both respiratory therapists when they got out in 1981,” No Longer Sad told us. “They taught me everything I know that’s useful.”