Swerve from Cali Connection Talks Growing Cannabis

Swerve is a bit of a legend amongst cannabis breeders and growers. He is responsible for creating dispensary favourites like Tahoe OG, as well as bringing to the American public seeds that were bred on US soil, rather than having to risk buying seeds from overseas.

How and why did you start growing?

I started growing because it was really expensive to continue smoking out here. In L.A., the prices back in the late 90s were skyrocketing. I have always had eye issues, so I started to realize that medical marijuana was legal in California, and I had ailments that fit the criteria for the medical marijuana script. I then started to pursue it so I could legally do it. This was in 2002. I started Cali Connection in 2008.

Is there any advice you’d give to first-time growers?

“Don’t get discouraged.” You’re going to fail before you’re going to achieve. That’s my main advice.

Do you have any particular favorite strains for growing and using?

My favorite strain … I’m a huge fan of my own Tahoe OG Kush. I would say our Deadhead OG as well. Those are my two favorite ones. They’re really strong, and they help me with my multiple sclerosis (MS).

Anything about their particular cannabinoid profile you find useful?

They’re both high in THC. The Deadhead does have a phenotype in it where you can get a high amount of CBD in it, so it will actually do a 6% CBD to about 18-19% THC ratio. As far as terpenes go, you’re looking at a lot of the limonene flavor. You’ll get a lot of pinene in there as well.

Any other favorite strains from other breeders?

DJ Short’s Blueberry is a classic. Sam the Skunkman’s Red Skunk, which was one of the first strains I went “woah!” Serious Seeds are great, and I like their AK-47.

How well does cannabis work for your MS?

Very well. There’s times – and this is why I like the strength of Tahoe – when I get tremors through my legs, I smoke and ingest Tahoe to relieve the tremors. It’s like an earthquake inside your body. Nothing else is shaking, except the inside, which is shaking violently. The high THC works well for that.

Have you done much research into specific strains for specific conditions?

Yeah, we’ve done all kinds of research. It just kind of depends on what you’re looking for. In terms of what genetics we’ve found that alleviate certain kinds of ailments, we’ve noticed that a lot of the heavier indicas have a tendency to do well for people who have cancer and are going through chemotherapy.

On the euphoria side of things, we’ve found sativas  – including the “racy”, landrace sativas – are very good for those going through pre- or postoperative stress. It helps alleviate the “downfall” of whatever medication they’ve received. Like myself – the medication doctors put me on weren’t even for MS. They were actually for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. So hardcore cancer, and I don’t have cancer.

So the medication they prescribed you wasn’t even specific to what you were trying to treat?

No, it’s nothing to even do with my condition! It has to do more with the “zone” they were trying to treat, which would allow my spinal cord to alleviate the “bouncing off” of signals from my spine, because of the reduction of the myelin sheath MS causes. They basically tried to destroy my immune system, and then rebuild it!

That surely must have had lots of unintended side-effects?

Yeah … I mean, one of the most noticeable side-effects the medications had were on my memory. I had lost substantial amounts of my memory. My cognitive memory, my short-term memory, all vanishing … It’s kind of scary, and maybe I might end up with pre-dementia or Alzheimer’s. Friends I’ve known for years, and I’m forgetting names when I see them. It’s a very disconcerting thing. The medication alleviates a lot of the symptoms, but the side-effects to the person and their identity is noticeable.

Have you been using CBD-rich products to help for your memory?

Yeah, I use Prana capsules. They have ratios, so you can combine it to have THC to CBD ratios of 1:1, 0:5 and so on. I have been utilizing that, but surprisingly what I’ve noticed that what really helps with my ailments are the 1:1 ratios. Those do really well for me, and for most people with similar ailments, the 1:1 ratio seems to be the category that’s most well-received by the body. The 1:1 ratio seems to allow the receptors to open and allows the cannabinoids to do what they do.

What makes the cannabis plant so special, botanically speaking?

The useability. Cannabis is so adaptable, and can grow in any environment, anywhere. Cannabis can adapt to any type of water. Any kind of soil. It’s also a “creative” plant, which is a weird thing to say, but it makes sense in terms of how cannabis likes to create new life. It’s amazing how well it can pollinate itself to create its own progeny, to guarantee the species or subspecies will carry on.

There’s not many plants on this planet that have the ability for both sexual reproduction between a male and a female plant, as well as asexual reproduction, where the female plant can force itself to self-pollinate in the absence of a male and create its own offspring. It’s pretty impressive how diverse the cannabis cultivar is.

We know, we know … This isn’t enough, and needless to say, we chatted on for ages about the future of cannabis, big businesses’ attempts to get into the cannabis market and whether indoor or outdoor grows are better (hint: Swerve likes greenhouses best). Swerve is clearly a very knowledgeable man when it comes to cannabis, and you’ll probably see him on these pages again in future, so keep your eyes peeled!

Written by
Dipak Hemraj
Dipak Hemraj

Dipak Hemraj is a published author, grower, product maker, and Leafwell’s resident cannabis expert. From botany & horticulture to culture & economics, he wishes to help educate the public on why cannabis is medicine (or a “pharmacy in a plant”) and how it can be used to treat a plethora of health problems. Dipak wants to unlock the power of the plant, and see if there are specific cannabinoid-terpene-flavonoid profiles suitable for different conditions.

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