Scott Blakey aka Shantibaba spends most of his time travelling the world searching for buried treasure. Far from diamonds and other soulless bullion, Scott’s treasures are the seeds of a plant who’s purpose is not just to transform CO2 into Oxygen... Scott has been selecting and studying these grains for more than 30 years, he conditions them and ensures their good health in what he calls his «Specialized Marijuana Nursery», what we can essentially qualify as an artificial paradise. He set up his first business «Greenhouse Seed Co» in 1992 in Amsterdam, before meeting his future associate, the legendary international dealer Howard Marks, whose exploits you can admire in «Mr. Nice», a film made about him. Together they would found the world’s largest seed bank, Mr. Nice Seed Company, whose principal sector of activity involves crossing and creating the varieties that they distribute to good weed lovers all across the world. Let us cultivate our garden, Shantibaba has accorded us some of his precious knowledge.
J / Hey Scott, explain to us your first puff puff pass and what you initially did before interesting yourself into marijuana ?
S / Life before Cannabis is difficult to remember as most of my conscious life has been partnered with Cannabis. However the first time I recall getting stoned was with a friend in Melbourne and we both saw an imaginary white line painted on this grassy walking strip and both of us got on our knees and crawled along this imaginary line together ! We went back the next day and both of us could not see any traces of a white painted line on the grass...from that moment on i was hooked on what this plant could do to me. I expect the plant chose me and taught me to become a grower so i could be around it !
J / What was your first goal collecting the best seeds ?
S / The main goal when I travel is to sample things and review seeds to find interesting aspects of a plant, mainly in flavour and effects. So selection begins with flavours and effect, then come yields and all the other traits follow.
J / How did your first marijuana nursery come together ? And then the seedbank ?
S / My background is landscape gardening and I studied biology as a student...so for me I always thought of plants in my head. Collecting plants through selection of large numbers of seeds, cuttings and sharing with friends was normal in Australia. I saw this was something that made me motivated to get up in the morning. When I began to make it my work and earninng a living in Holland from what I would have done for free, it felt like I was home ! The first commercial seed company I set up was Greenhouse Seed Co. and when I left Holland for something more medically orientated in Switzerland , I set up Mr Nice and now CBD –crew ( with Jaime from Resin Seeds) in Spain.
J / What did you do during your time in India ? And what have you learned there ?
S / My travels in the sub continent of India have been numerous since 1982. I feel free and real in this country with a lot of non verbal understanding...kind of like my work with plants. The basic philosophy of my journeys seems to be that « no road is the wrong road ». I have a few motorbikes and an old 350 cc Royal Enfield that I do my travelling on, and I am never in a hurry...I worked and lived in Jaipur cutting gemstones from rough stones, and doing a lot of small Desert adventures. But in general India has been a great teacher to me for inner motivation and understanding of life principles, as well as some of the best Charas (hand rubbed hash resin derived from living Cannabis plants) rubbing days of wild Cannabis plants of my life. The people, the food, the ways of thinking are different to normal commercial thinking and have influenced all aspects of my life and made me a better person.
J / What was the opportunity involving you in Amsterdam in 1992 into the Greenhouse foundation ?
S / In the early 90s my then girlfriend was involved in setting up the first GH coffee shop in the Tolstraat, slowly we got together as a good group and helped with setting up subsequent shops and leading to co founding the GH Seed co in 1994. These were the great times of Amsterdam as market leaders in the world of Cannabis, since then Spain and USA have taken the lead and in my opinion and will far surpass what Holland did in the last 25yrs within a few years.
J / How did you met Howard Marks ? And how did you get involved on the same business ?
S / Howard approached me in a HTCC event in 1996 when we were dominating Cannabis strains and new breeds as the GHSco, and we hit it off immediately ! It was obvious to me that with Howard and Nevil joining forces to set up the Mr Nice Seedbank and moving to Switzerland we would have a great future and the potential to go into the medical market which was always my goal in Cannabis. Since then Howard has become part of my family and we now have created the CBD-crew seed company for medical grade seed with Resin Seeds as our partner...and our future is very Green. Howard is the greatest ambassador for Cannabis that I have ever met...and is the most popular person to this day for information and activism in the pro Cannabis world.
J / What’s your favorite sort of marijuana and why ?
S / Having a favourite is not really true for me as it really varies according to how my mood is and how I feel physically and what I going to do after...so it is difficult to answer. I find that if I have say Mango Haze, Super Silver Haze, Nev Haze, Master Kush Skunk, Early Queen and several new haze hybrids I call the rock n roll series, I will tend to go for Mango Haze for flavour, and Nev Haze/ MKSkunk for effect and then mix and blend.I feel after so many years experience with strains of Cannabis that I know so well, I understand dosages specific for me...and this is the most difficult element in suggesting strains or medical cannabis for other users. So I would say flavour and effect play the most important roles in breeding for me nowadays...
J / Can you explain the process of creating a new variety ?
S / Basically you begin with two different pure strains or land races called parent plants. To have reached purity and trait selection you would have needed to collect these from an original area and flowered out quite large amounts to find something you were happy with, and by inbreeding a land race one can reduce down the genetics and traits to be within a certain range. Then when you have reached the desired effect of a mother plant and it breeds true with a selected male from the same genetics to have 70% similar traits in the S1 seed, you can consider this side ready to work with. You will need to do this also with a father side of the Cannabis plant. Considering many people do not find selecting a male easy or they simply do not know what to select, they tend to go for the use of chemicals to spray on a selected female to make feminized seeds...and not have to deal or keep alive male plants. Of course species can degrade or revert to intesexing (hermaphrodism) and no one can guarantee it will not. So creating a new strain is at least 2 years in work, while making female seed from a selected female clone takes 2 months !
J / Can you explain us more about CBD ?
S / CBD is one of the main Cannabinoids present in naturally occurring populations and industrially cultivated varieties of Cannabis. CBD is non psychoactive but has several pharmacological properties. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and a strong antioxidant. The reduced psychoactivity of CBD rich cannabis appeals as a treatment option for patients seeking relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, and spasmodic effects without side effects or lethargy. The amount of uses are only coming to light at present since it is relatively new with research and human studies. But I see CBD enriched strains of Cannabis being the future for medical grade strains.
J / Any big projects to come ?
S / Big projects are flying at me from many countries at present. Washington State seems like very big potential for the close future as well as, Uruguay, Spain and USA (various other states). Considering we have been the first joint venture (Resin Seeds and Mr Nice Seedbank) to breed CBD enriched seeds in the world under the CBD-crew Seed Bank project, we have our work cut out for the near future bringing different ratio CBD to THC strains for medical growers. The CBD-crew project is shaping up to be the biggest seed venture I have been involved in since we are now enriching strains for most of the major Seed companies like Dutch Passion, Barneys Farm, Roor Seeds, Dinafem, Medical Seeds, Eva Seeds, Paradise Seeds...and more as our facilities can cope with the breeding work. So I feel very positive for 2014, and medical grade seed for the future.