As a cannabis cultivator and consumer who’s spent much of his weed career procuring and breeding strains devoid of cannabidiol and cannabinol (better known respectively as CBD and CBN) while increasing percentages of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), I’ve long resisted the growing hype surrounding CBD medical marijuana strains.
Until about seven years ago, when the medical benefits of CBD started to be advertised and editorialized, most cannabis growers and consumers looked at high CBD and CBN percentages as indicative of what was known as a hempy cannabis plant. CBD was seen as a chemical brake applied to the effects of THC — a brake that limits the high and the fun. CBN was rightfully seen as a byproduct of the degradation of THC, and an indication that the buds were deteriorating.
However, my feelings about CBD swung in a more positive direction when I saw neurosurgeon and medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s revelatory CNN TV special about CBD-rich cannabis helping the lives of children living with seizure disorders.
After Gupta educated me about the benefits of cannabidiol, my attitude about high-CBD cannabis pivoted. I realized that it can be useful for alleviating body pain, headaches, inflammation, seizures, spasms and the side effects of some diseases, yet these strains don’t get you high and have no recreational psychoactive value.
My belief was further validated when I tried all the major CBD strains people tout, such as Charlotte’s Web, Cannatonic and Harlequin. I wasn’t at all impressed with their effects, tastes or scents. To me they were bland and impotent. I assumed these strains help some people medically, and I have nothing whatsoever against those marijuana consumers, but I wasn’t interested in growing or using those particular high-CBD strains.
The only such strain that made me feel good was Pennywise from TGA Genetics, which is a cross between Harlequin and high-THC Jack the Ripper. It’s not a typical high-CBD strain, in that it tests out at 13 percent CBD and 11 percent THC, and it’s an equal ratio hybrid, with enough THC to make it recreational as well as medicinal. When I tried Pennywise, I noticed the high was more enjoyable than other high-CBD strains — but I decided that I’d rather grow the high THC Jack the Ripper itself than a CBD-enriched version of it.
But then trusted grower friends kept urging me to grow a TGA Subcool all-CBD strain called Deadlights. “This will change your mind about CBD strains,” they insisted. So, I grew the strain. And it did.
Deadlights: The Best-Bred CBD Cannabis Strain Ever
Other than the urgent recommendation of grower friends, the main reason I decided to grow Deadlights is because of the richness of its background genetics.
Most marijuana growers know that when TGA Subcool and its collaborators set out to create a new strain, they do it well.
To produce Deadlights, Subcool worked with NorStar Genetics, a California company known for breeding stellar cannabis strains.
I asked Subcool himself about the strain name, which I was under the impression was a reference to malfunctioning lights in a grow room.
He explained that Deadlights are magical yet deadly lights described by fantasy-horror writer Stephen King in his fictional books It and The Dark Tower. Of particular note is that the character Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It is comprised of the essence of the Deadlights and also uses their otherworldly power to woo his young victims to their grisly deaths.
Given that the Deadlights marijuana strain includes genetics from TGA’s Pennywise, I then understood the strain names and their Stephen King connections.
Background genetics for the strains that went into Deadlights include legendary landraces like Colombian Gold, exotic landraces from Nepal, the Congo and Thailand, and powerful modern hybrids like Space Queen and Jack the Ripper.
The genetic heritage of Deadlights is deep and superb, and TGA Subcool loosely describes it as a cross between Cannatonic (which is a phenotype of ACDC) and Pennywise. But when you delve further into Deadlights’ genetics, you discover a complex series of precursors involving Cannatonic, Harlequin, Jacks Cleaner and Space Queen.
Harlequin includes sativa genetics from the legendary Colombian Gold. It also includes Thai sativa landrace cannabis, Nepalese hempy landrace cannabis genetics, and a hempy landrace used in Switzerland to feed cattle. This unusual combination of genetics produced the Harlequin strain, which can test out to twice as much CBD as THC.
The Deadlights lineage includes Cannatonic, a strain with origins so obscure it’s impossible to know who created it and what genetics it contains. What is important for CBD fans to know is that a rare Cannatonic derivative — the famous high-CBD strain Charlotte’s Web — is the Cannatonic phenotype used in breeding Deadlights.
The aforementioned Pennywise, a cross between Harlequin and Jack the Ripper, is another rare strain inserted into Deadlight genetics. If you’ve ever grown and consumed Jack the Ripper, you know it’s a speedy strain with a distinctive lemon and piney taste, and a very stimulating high.
The influence of Harlequin’s hempy genetics is balanced by Jack the Ripper THC, creating a strain that has almost equal parts THC and CBD.
Growing Deadlights High-CBD Marijuana
It took NorStar a long time to perfect Deadlights. The strain it eventually released under the TGA Genetics umbrella is a 65–35 sativa-dominant strain that grows out into three phenotypes.
One phenotype is heavily sativa. It’s a taller plant with long, greenish buds and a lengthy bloom-phase duration. The other two are more indica leaning, and tend to be shorter in height, with bud hairs that turn orange, red or pink, and have a significantly sweet scent during bloom phase when I feed them with Nirvana, Bud Candy and Big Bud, and after proper drying and curing.
I grew three female Deadlights in my grow op — one sativa pheno and two very similar indica phenos. The indica phenos had the strongest and most pleasant scent of all the strains in the grow room, imparting the combination scent of sandalwood, apple and blackberry, with a hint of licorice.
I topped two of the Deadlights plants and they produced a lot more bud weight than the plant I didn’t top, so I recommend one or two toppings before bloom phase. The topped plants developed into round, short profiles with 6–12 main buds each. Their branches were so sturdy that I didn’t have to cage or otherwise support the plants, even though the buds were heavy and thick.
The Deadlights plants tolerated heavy feeding of pH Perfect hydroponics base nutrients and the accompanying bloom phase supplements. They also handled intense ultraviolet lighting, and were much more resilient than other strains I was cultivating in the same grow op using the same methods. Of course, you’d expect this, given that their semi-hempy genetics makes them stronger and tougher than high-THC cannabis strains.
The shorter, topped indica-leaning plants were ready for harvest at 59 days, while the more sativa-leaning pheno was ready at 66 days. Due to my lingering prejudice against CBD strains, I was surprised to see ample resin-gland development and to smell a strong, delightful scent on harvested Deadlights buds. Yield was on par with my other strains, averaging about three ounces per plant in my indoor grow room.
When I first started growing Deadlights, I still looked at CBD strains as little more than medical marijuana hemp plants, but as I grew the strain, I began to suspect it could surpass my expectations and deliver more than just pain relief and medical benefits.
Getting High With Deadlights CBD Cannabis
Subcool says Deadlights tests out at 25 percent CBD and 1 percent THC, which is an astoundingly lopsided ratio, indicative of a cultivar that totally flips the THC and CBD ratios of the most popular modern marijuana strains.
Because of the high CBD percentage and extremely low THC component, I wasn’t enthused about trying Deadlights when I harvested my grow op. As soon as all my strains were cured and dried, I excitedly started testing my high THC strains, and I was in no particular hurry to sample the Deadlights buds.
Then one day I had a headache that Aspirin just couldn’t dent, while performing backbreaking physical labor to help prep a friend’s outdoor guerrilla grow site. My head hurt and my body ached, and I hadn’t consumed any cannabis for two days. I figured this would be a perfect occasion to vape my first bowl of Deadlights. If CBD provides medical relief, I’d find out for sure.
I loaded about 1.5 grams worth of buds from the indica-leaning Deadlights plants into my vaporizer, not expecting any high at all — just pain relief and muscle relaxation to soothe aching joints and rid myself of this damned headache.
First of all, what I got instead was a very tasty and heavy vapor (my vaporizer was set at 425°F) that reminded me of berries and musk, and that didn’t smell like regular cannabis. I felt like I could use Deadlights and not worry about people detecting the odor, that’s how different it smelled from vaping my high-THC strains.
Immediately, within a few seconds of the first inhalation, the strain hit me faster than most others do. I wasn’t expecting such a penetrating head high, which reminded me of old-school Colombian Gold — a very uplifting, tingly, cheerful, clear-minded high, much different from what you get from today’s kush and indica hybrids.
My body felt lighter as the aches and pains receded, muscles relaxing and unwinding. The headache, on the other hand, wasn’t totally erased.
Performing physical-therapy exercises and stretches while high on Deadlights, I noticed intense psychoactive effects. These included a byzantine cognitive fugue in which my mind wandered obsessive labyrinths in an attempt to deal with the revelation that CBD in and of itself produces psychoactive effects. I’d always been told it didn’t, that high CBD strains were for people who didn’t want the euphoria and psychedelic stony high of THC-dominant cannabis. It came as a huge surprise to me that THC isn’t absolutely necessary if you want to get super high.
I reasoned it was possible my Deadlights plants had produced buds with a much higher THC percentage than the usual Deadlights all-CBD phenotype. But I know TGA Subcool strains are among the most reliable on the market, so it was likely my buds contained a high percentage of CBD and a very low percentage of THC, just like the TGA strain description promises.
In subsequent days, I tested buds from the three Deadlights plants and got a slightly different high from the sativa pheno. All plants proved consistently fun — not just a medical pain relief excursion, and much more recreational than any CBD strain I’d ever used up until that point.
One thing they all seemed to have in common is that the effects came on and went away relatively fast, after 60–90 minutes. My regular buds get me super stoned for about 2–4 hours. And contrary to my expectations that CBD would help me sleep, the buds didn’t knock me out. In fact, the stimulating high reminded me of when I grew and used the speedy TGA Subcool Jack the Ripper strain, which caused insomnia, until I started mixing it with Kush.
In regard to pain relief and soothing my aching muscles, I felt the strain help me to perform therapeutic exercises and make my muscles more flexible.
Another really cool thing? Deadlights improved my vision! I have a family history of glaucoma, and my eye doctor says if I wasn’t a heavy cannabis user, I’d be on chemical glaucoma meds.
Regular cannabis strains don’t acutely improve my vision, and some even harm it. But when I took off my prescription eyeglasses to wash my face about 30 minutes after inhaling Deadlights, I inadvertently glanced at the labeled items in my bathroom cabinet and was amused to realize I could actually read the tiny writing.
Usually, without my glasses on, I can’t read at any distance. I did vision tests using online charts, and was stoked that my vision was clear and sharp without glasses. Deadlights’ vision-enhancing effects lasted about two hours.
My experience with Deadlights has made me a CBD convert, but only as it relates to this one TGA Subcool strain. I’ll grow more Deadlights and breed it with high-THC strains as both a pollen donor and a pollen recipient to see if I can get closer to the Pennywise 50-50 THC and CBD ratios, and also to peel back the layers of the strain and find the Colombian Gold and Thai sativa hidden within.
I now know that when I use marijuana strains so high in THC that they almost disable me, I can put some Deadlights into the bowl to moderate the THC and its effects.
Before I grew and consumed Deadlights, I figured I’d end an article about the strain by writing that if you want the medical benefits of CBD, this strain is 25 percent CBD and almost zero THC, so go for it.
Now? I can honestly say that Deadlights gifts you with a fun, albeit short-lived high, the medical effects of CBD, and is higher yielding and more useful than other CBD strains. Deadlights is yet another winner from NorStar and TGA Subcool genetics.