Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say. After a house robbery in the Bay Area in June of 2010 left Shadrock, a well traveled ganja grower, low on funds, he brought in some processed flowers to Harborside Health Center in Oakland. Harborside had Shadrock’s flowers tested through SteepHill Lab. Jamaican Lion was found to have a concentration of 8.91% CBD and 5.54% THC.
At first, Shadrock didn’t think it was good news, he assumed Harborside wouldn’t want Cannabis with such low THC content. On the contrary, Harborside buyer Rachael Szymajda told him that Jamaican Lion was the sixth CBD-rich strain they had identified and they wanted to make it available to patients. Rachael directed Shadrock to Project CBD to help publicize and promote his unusual strain. When Harborside was featured in a segment on ABC news July 29, 2010 ”the Lion” got favorable product placement.
Jamaican Lion’s family tree is an eclectic mix of strains from varying locations in North America and the Caribbean. The mother plant, Mountain Lion, is a cross between Rock Bud and Lion Heart. Rock Bud is the Cannabis Cup winner of 2003 and Lion Heart comes from Almighty seeds out of Quebec, Canada. The father plant is called Jamaican Yarders, also known as “darkers” or “chocolate” in New York, because of its color. The Yarders is a Jamaican sativa that grows to be 15 to 18 feet tall and is an excellent yielder.
Shadrock had been growing the mother, Mountain Lion, for 5 years on the east coast. He liked the effects, taste and look of the strain, but it wasn’t a large producer. He decided to cross it with the Yarders to try and increase the yield. According to Shadrock, Yarders was “cultivated by and for generations of rastas” and hails directly from Jamaica. He crossed Mountain Lion and Jamaican Yarders and Jamaican Lion was born. He brought the only mother of this strain to California when he moved here in 2007.
Shadrock loves Jamaican Lion himself and uses it almost exclusively. “I smoke more JL than anyone” he stated. “I smoke it all day long. I would love to grow it all the time.” Shadrock describes Jamaican Lion as “a strong sativa” that has psychoactive effect despite the preponderence of CBD. He says that the strain “brings out everything more vividly. It has the pain killing effects of an opiate without the stupor. Even before it was found to be high in CBD, I knew it was something special.”
Unsolicited plug: Jamaican Lion is my (Sarah Russo’s) preferred medication for anxiety. The first time I tried was in the morning. After a couple of puffs from the Volcano, I felt completely carefree and wanted to dance around my room and be active. The effects lasted for many hours. It was uplifting but calming, and actually improved my ability to function. JL continues to spark my creativity. The balance of THC and CBD seems perfect for me.
“It was the strain that always did the best for what I needed,” says Shadrock, who has herniated disks in his back. “I use it the most because the anti-inflammatory and pain killing effects remove the need for harsh drugs… I have done Tai Chi and [Jamaican Lion] helps with spatial reasoning and learning.” He has given it to other patients who are avid athletes. “People like the clarity. The endorphin effect is there and physical elation is enhanced.” A multiple sclerosis patient tried Jamaican Lion and reported anti-spasm effect.. College kids who Shadrock knows use the strain and say it doesn’t impair their ability to study or get work done.
But as is always the case with Cannabis, different people report different effects. A friend of mine tried Jamaican Lion and said that it made her anxiety worse. “I thought this CBD stuff was non-psychoactive” she stated. “It made me really, really high.” The friend, who is not a frequent Cannabis user, calmed down a bit after a few hours. Based on this scant anecdotal evidence, I would recommend JL to the seasoned Cannabis user, not the novice.
Shadrock reports that Jamaican Lion “a very prolific grower and not at all finicky. [It is] the highest yielding of the Jamaican plants.” Shadrock has tried various methods to grow JL. “I have grown them in soil, rock wool, and coco. I have tried ebb and flow, top watering and drip irrigation methods. I have seen no differences in yields or quality,” he reports.
Shadrock prefers to cultivate Jamaican Lion with organic fertilizer. “[With organics] you get a slight color difference, the gold comes out, and the organics keeps them a lot greener,” he says. Its Jamaican parents and grandparents are mainly grown with goat fertilizer.
Jamaican Lion’s test results fluctuate based on when Shadrock harvests the plant within the 10- day flowering window. It has been tested six times to date. Jamaican Lion has tested at 9.7% CBD, 5.8% THC to 8.7% CBD, 6.8% THC, depending on when it harvested. He reports that the highest CBD content is found during week 8 of the plant’s growth cycle. By week 9, the CBD/THC ratio is closer to 1:1.
Shadrock had been growing Jamaican Lion and providing it to patients in California for three years without knowing it was high in CBD. He is the sole proprietor of this strain. He plans to produce enough to meet demand.
Shardock is interested in working with dispensaries that are knowledgeable about the benefits of CBD. “I am trying to work with people who are intent on providing a safe haven for the herb, not a profiteering haven. My herb is rasta herb. We don’t look at it is trying to trip. We use it as a healing plant for meditation. We look at this plant as the healing of the nation, and we breed our ganja for this purpose.”
Shadrock is working on creating his own seed company. He expects it to be up and running within the next six months.
According to the grower who developed it, “Jamaican Lion comes from Rock Bud, which won the Cannabis Cup in 2003, crossed with Lion Heart, which comes from Almighty seeds out of Quebec. It produced Mountain Lion, the mother of this plant. The Jamaican Yarders were brought straight from Jamaica. It’s a Sativa that grows about 15 to 18 feet tall. They also call them ‘darkers,’ because it gets a really dark color to it. I took the fastest flowering, most vigorous male, crossed it with my best female and had one mother left when I moved here from the East Coast three years ago.” At present he is “working on producing seed stock for the upcoming season.”
Jamaican Lion has been tested several times by several labs and is consistently found to contain approximately 8-9 percent CBD and 5.5-6.5 percent THC. (article last updated March 2011).
*Disclaimer: Quantitative analysis techniques such as gas chromatography reveal the amount of the various cannabinoids on the plant and simply provides patients with a way to separate one variety from the next. This analysis does not provide the value of genotyping (plant genomic analysis). Genotyping is essential for proper strain identification; quantitative techniques, such as gas chromatography are not. (For example, genotyping can tell you if “Silver Haze” is the same as the other “Silver Haze”). Genotyping removes the guess work in strain identification and is essential for discriminating between different types of Cannabis.