Thai Cannabis Landrace Strains: Origins of Pure Sativa Genetics

thai sticks

Thai cannabis landrace strains are prized because they are 100% pure sativa. These landrace strains evolved in naturally hot and humid environments in the southern latitudes of Asia. During the Vietnam War, US Troops discovered the local “Thai Stick” variety of marijuana and brought it back to the US. Thai landrace cannabis is known for having a high that is energizing and clear-headed with flavors of earth, chocolate, diesel, citrus, and wood.

Cannabis Usage in Thailand

Hemp has a long history of use in Thailand as a fiber for clothing and as a food ingredient [1]. Traditional Thai medicine utilized cannabis as an analgesic and sedative for conditions like pain, stress, fatigue, and depression. Marijuana did not become a widely used recreational drug until it was popularized by US troops stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War. At this time it also became more popular among young Thai people looking to relax and have some fun. However, marijuana was criminalized by the League of Nations International Opium Convention of 1912, followed by the Narcotics Act B.E. 2465 in 1922, the Marijuana Act B.E. 2477 in 1937, and Thailand’s Narcotics Act in 1979. While it was socially acceptable, marijuana remained illegal in Thailand until 2018 when the government legalized medical marijuana. In 2022, Thailand decriminalized marijuana and now it is common to find dispensaries that sell cannabis products with no prescription needed.

How a Landrace Cannabis Strain Evolves

A landrace cannabis strain develops as a result of a “genetic bottleneck [2].” This occurs when humans bring cannabis to a new location where feral populations don’t exist. The limited genetic variability in this first batch of seed is isolated and naturally adapts to the new environment (founder effect). Humans replant seeds from the plants they like best. In time, traits stabilize into a localized landrace variety of cannabis. Feral plants can escape cultivation and establish a separate landrace with slightly different traits. Finally, wind pollination can create hybrids between feral and domesticated crops. These hybrids have “hybrid vigor” and can out-compete the genetics of the original feral and domesticated landraces.

Drug-Type Cannabis Landraces

There are two categories of drug-type cannabis landraces [2]. The broad-leaf drug type (BLD or BDL) originates from Afghanistan and the narrow-leaf drug type (NLD or NDL) originates in Southeast Asia. BDL landraces are shorter plants with wide leaves and flowers that mature early, they have potent psychoactivity (high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)), and lack fungal resistance. NDL landraces are tall plants with thinner leaves that take a long time to mature. Their psychoactivity can vary in potency because cannabidiol (CBD) is usually present in higher amounts along with THC. BDL/NDL hybrids became popular because NDL plants have fungal resistance. When crossed together, the result is a desirable plant that resists fungal infection, matures early, and has strong psychoactivity.

What are Thai Cannabis Landraces?

What we commonly call “indica” is scientifically known as Cannabis sativa subspecies indica variety afghanica [2,3]. This is the BDL landrace variety from Afghanistan. What we commonly call “sativa” is scientifically known as Cannabis sativa subspecies indica variety indica. This is the NDL landrace variety From Southeast Asia. C. sativa ssp indica var indica has been scientifically described to aid in conservation efforts [3]:

Cannabis sativa subspecies indica variety indica (Domesticated)

  • THC:CBD ratio ≥7 (“sativa”), THC% ≥0.3%,THCV is commonly present
  • Lacks sesquiterpene alcohols, fresh aroma often pleasant
  • Plants ≥ 2 m tall with flexible branches diverging from shoot near a 45° angle
  • Green leaves with fine to coarse serrations at margins (may be biserrate)
  • Leaf palmately compound, narrow central leaflets
  • Somewhat compact flowers with few noticeable sugar leaves, late maturing
  • Small to medium-sized buds, flowers elongated and somewhat diffuse
  • Terpene profile often “herbal” or “sweet” aroma, with terpinolene, beta-caryophyllene, trans-beta-farnesene, and a-guaiene content significantly higher than Central Asian plants

Hybrid cannabis has a competitive advantage over landraces [2, 3]. The criminalization of marijuana brought a demand for illicit production to Thailand, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. This demand encouraged the production of hybrids which inevitably escaped domestic cultivation and created unintentional wild hybrids. These wild hybrids have endangered native cannabis landrace strains. Presently, scientists and cannabis breeders are both working to preserve native cannabis landraces because their unique traits have a recognized value in the modern legal cannabis market and in science.

Thai Landrace Cannabis Strains

Landrace strains from Thailand are now available in US cannabis dispensaries. Commercially available Thai landrace strains are not typically “pure.” These strains are hard to grow, require a tropical climate, and have a long flowering time, so breeders often stabilize their traits and make them easier to grow by secretly crossing in other genetics. While the result is not the original, it is a strain that can be cultivated more practically and offers consumers a more enjoyable product.

Along with the three landrace Thai strains, there are also a number of hybrids. These energetic strains historically have moderate THC potency from 9% to 15% but modern breeders often achieve much stronger potency of 20% or more. Thai cannabis strains can be intensely stimulating and may lead to paranoia, so they are not ideal for novice-cannabis users. However, experienced sativa-lovers will find these Thai cannabis strains to be a rare treat.

Thai Stick

The landrace cannabis strain “Thai Stick” is also known as “Thai” and “Thailand.” This pure sativa strain was brought to the US in the 70s and 80s and got its name because the buds were traditionally tied to log sticks of bamboo for drying. Thai Stick is very difficult to grow outside of tropical climates, and it has a very long cultivation time, but growers on the West Coast have had some success. Thai Stick is typically high in THC, ranging from 20% to 24% in potency. It has powerful but comfortable effects, offering a high that is stimulating but clear-headed. Thai Stick offers citrus and fruit aromas with flavors of tobacco, wood, and earth. Its dominant terpenes are caryophyllene, myrcene, and limonene.

Chocolate Thai

Chocolate Thai is a pure sativa Thai landrace strain that has long been confused with Thai Stick. This cannabis variety was introduced to the US in the 60s, and like Thai Stick, is difficult to grow because of its long flowering time, low yield, and need for a tropical environment. The Chocolate Thai strain has traces of other non-landrace cannabis genetics that have been used to stabilize its traits and make it easier to cultivate commercially. However, it is the closest US cannabis connoisseurs will come to the original landrace. Chocolate Thai has unique aromas and flavors of coffee and chocolate with notes of spice and nuts. Its dominant terpenes are myrcene, caryophyllene, and pinene. The average THC potency of the Chocolate Thai strain ranges from 12% to 16% with a high that is energizing and focused.

Wild Thai

The landrace cannabis strain Wild Thai (aka Wild Thailand) is a pure sativa with a potency range of 9% to 27% depending on the grower. This strain likely has multiple phenotypes and genetic contamination to the original landrace variety which is why traits like THC potency can vary widely. The Wild Thai strain was bred in Thailand’s Ko Chang archipelago and offers a very stimulating, energizing, and euphoric high that may be very intense for some users. The Wild Thai strain has flavors of citrus, spice, berries, and earth and is rich in the terpenes myrcene, ocimene, and pinene.

Purple Thai

Purple Thai (aka Oregon Purple Thai and OPT) is an energetic sativa bred from Highland Oaxacan Gold and Chocolate Thai. Purple Thai’s colorful buds provide users with an uplifting cerebral high that is usually too psychedelic for novice cannabis users. This strain’s dominant terpenes are myrcene, caryophyllene, and humulene. Purple Thai has a nutty and chocolate aroma which gives way to lovely floral flavors with a hint of citrus and coffee. If you are looking for a day-weed that provides a unique experience, Purple Thai is a great option.

Lemon Thai

The cannabis strain Lemon Thai bursts with flavors of lemon, lime, citrus, earth, and mint. This sativa strain is a cross of a Thai landrace and a Hawaiian landrace that boasts THC potency of 20% or greater. Lemon Thai is rich in the terpenes terpinolene, myrcene, and pinene which contribute to its citrus flavors and energizing effects. Users of Lemon Thai describe its high as extremely cerebral and focused with an uplifting energy that improves mood.

Pineapple Thai

Pineapple Thai is an energizing sativa with unknown Thai genetics. This Thai cannabis strain can range in THC potency from 17% to over 20% but is tempered by a CBD content of around 5%. The Pineapple Thai strain offers users a long-lasting high that is energizing, motivational, and uplifting. It is also prized among medical cannabis users for non-sedative pain relief. As you would expect, Pineapple Thai has pleasant flavors of tropical fruit with hints of nuts and spice. Its dominant terpenes are myrcene, caryophyllene, and ocimene.

Final Thoughts on Thai Landrace Strains

Thai cannabis landrace strains have been spread far and wide to give rise to many highly acclaimed cannabis strains. These original sativas have a long history of traditional use but their lineage has been threatened by non-native cannabis genetics. While the legalization of cannabis in Thailand has restored respect to Thai landrace strains, it also brings the threat of further endangerment to native landraces as modern genetics escape domestic cultivation.


  1. Aroonsrimorakot, S., Laiphrakpam, M., & Metadilogkul, O. (2019). Social, religious, recreational and medicinal usage of cannabis in India and Thailand. Interdisciplinary research review, 14(4), 43-50.

  1. Clarke, R. C., & Merlin, M. D. (2016). Cannabis domestication, breeding history, present-day genetic diversity, and future prospects. Critical reviews in plant sciences, 35(5-6), 293-327.

  1. McPartland, J. M., & Small, E. (2020). A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives. PhytoKeys, 144, 81.