Vice Report: Stardawg Is the Weed Dividing the UK’s Smokers

“When you open up that bag, you take a smell and it makes your eyes bulge out.”

England’s weed smokers don’t have a whole lot of choice. Unless you’ve got a Bitcoin wallet and a dark web market link, chances are you’ll end up buying Stardawg at some point.

The strain is one of the country’s most common, alongside Cheese and Amnesia, but it’s only Stardawg that aggressively splits opinions. There are those who’d pick it over any other bag, and those who’d dump their dealer over it. On the r/uktrees subreddit, some argue that it “got a nation through a pandemic”, while others complain it’s “wet and chemically”, or “the only strain” that makes them paranoid.

According to its creator, JJ from Top Dawg seeds in the US, the strain was never supposed to become this inescapable. “When I created it, I really wasn’t looking to create something to the extent of what it is today,” he says over Zoom.

Over the past few years, JJ has watched his strain grow in popularity in the UK. “I get a lot of messages from people from the UK asking for seeds,” he says. “It’s an honour. If people think that Stardawg is highly regarded, or that it’s a symbol for quality, then I’ve got to be happy about it.”

“The genetics were good enough that people took notice,” says JJ. Named after “Stardog Champion” by the American band Mother Love Bone – “I had to come up with some kind of ‘dawg’ name, so it just clicked for me” – Stardawg seeds worked their way into the hands of staff at High Times, the cannabis magazine. Soon enough, people in California took notice and started growing the strain too.

As for how it came to the UK? “I’m not sure of the story,” says JJ. “There’s this famous Manny Stardawg that I always hear about.”

“There’s several rumours, but it seems that someone in Manchester got ahead of the game,” says Simpa, a drug reform advocate. “What became known as the Manny cut was probably on the scene a couple of years before anybody else had commercial access to it.”