Cannabeginners: Celebrating Two Decades of Blue Dream

Ubiquitous yet still a mystery twenty years later.
Blue Dream
Shutterstock

Haze. Skunk. OG. Cookies. There are some cultivars that take the cannabis market by storm and quickly come to define an era, and for Blue Dream, that era began around 2003 and lasted until around 2011 before market tastes changed and a new cultivar came to dominate. Yet, for a cultivar celebrating its twentieth anniversary and considered by some to have been at one time the “most popular strain on the planet,” surprisingly little is known for sure. 

What are the Genetics of Blue Dream?

Despite no one knowing who the original breeder of Blue Dream is, there is wide consensus around what its genetics probably are, though no one can know for sure until the breeder is identified and can confirm the lineage. Legendary cannabis breeder Ed Rosenthal confirmed to Ellen Holland, High Times Editor in Chief, for her seminal piece on the history of Blue Dream, that it is a cross of “Haze and DJ Short’s Blueberry,” and many sources online support this. There is, however, some debate over if it actually was DJ Short’s Blueberry or another Blueberry cannabis cultivar, and if it was the original Haze Brother’s Santa Cruz Haze or Super Silver Haze. 

“What blueberry it was, what haze it was, I don’t know, but I know people who grew it in Santa Cruz for years,” said Jason Matthys, the founder and owner of Equilibrium Genetics, a formerly-Corralitos based nursery. “I know some old timers who back in the 70s drove down to Santa Cruz to get blueberry, not DJ Short’s Blueberry but something like it,” Matthys told High Times. “Haze is also known to be from Corralitos (near Watsonville),” said Matthys, “it was grown by the Haze Brothers who passed their seeds on to people like Sam the Skunk Man.” Holland also followed this lead in her article, adding further support to the idea that Blue Dream was bred using a Santa Cruz Haze, not a Super Silver Haze. 

Rumors of a “Two” Dream

Multiple sources for this article mentioned a rumor of not just one Blue Dream cut, but two. “I’ve heard someone from Mendocino say once that there are two cuts of Blue Dream, a slightly more sativa one and a slightly more indica one,” said Matthys. Eva Erikson is a Corralitos-based cannabis cultivator and a co-founder of Haze Valley Nursery along with her partner, Sjoerd Broeks, and they were able to elaborate slightly on the rumor. What they have heard is that “The imposter Blue Dream was likely a hybrid or some offshoot of the original Blue Dream,” which was bred using a DJ Short’s Blueberry and a Santa Cruz Haze. So perhaps some Blue Dream out there could have been bred using Super Silver Haze rather than the original Haze Brother’s Haze. It also could be possible that what is being observed is a phenotypic difference based on the environment or other factors, rather than a genetic difference. 

Handfuls of fresh Blue Dream flower. / Shutterstock

Who Created it?

Now that we know what Blue Dream most likely is, who created this incredibly popular cultivar that has dominated much of the market for the past twenty years? Like Holland, I chased down several different leads but was not able to locate the original breeder. Erikson told High Times that they got their cut through someone that Bodhi Seeds put them in touch with, and that “I asked Bodhi about it and he didn’t know who first grew it.” Craig Johnson, who runs Alpenglow Farms with his wife Melanie, said “This could just be legend, but I know the hills above Bonny Doon as a place where Blue Dream may have been developed and originally grown.” Johnson added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it came out of that patient group WAMM.” Attempts were made to contact Valerie Corral, a co-founder of WAMM, but were not successful.

Flavor and Terpene Profile

Descriptions of Blue Dream’s flavor focus heavily on its parentage, more on the Blueberry side than the Haze. Some sources describe it as just a blueberry flavor, others get more elaborate saying it has a blueberry muffin flavor, and some do note the Haze traits saying there is a sandalwood or musk flavor. If you look at the certificates of analysis on Blue Dream, the most common terpenes usually are beta myrcene (found in overripe mangoes and spices, with a sweet, spicy, pungent scent), alpha pinene (what makes pine trees smell like they do), and beta caryophyllene (found in black pepper and many spices/herbs with warm, woody, spicy smell). Interestingly, the predominant terpenes in blueberries are cineole and linalool

“A really high quality Blue Dream would have a translucent bluish tint to the buds, the really good indoor would look otherworldly, like it would glow under blacklight,” said Matthys, “It had a super fruity blueberry aroma to it and excellent effects.”

Blue Dream CoA. / Courtesy Haze Valley Nursery

Green Rushing the Market to Low Quality Blue Dream

According to an analysis put together by Leafbuyer and the Trichome Institute, Blue Dream is the “Most counterfeit strain in Colorado.” While this was not necessarily a scientific analysis, it highlights an important issue that continues in the cannabis industry to this day, that is, there is no regulation requiring, or method readily available, to guarantee that a cultivar being sold actually is what it is claims to be. Or, could there be another reason that, for a number of years, much of the Blue Dream on the market was very low quality?

The cultivators and industry experts that High Times spoke to were unanimous that, while it could be possible some people were passing off other cultivars as Blue Dream, the main issues that caused Blue Dream’s downfall were also the cause of its success.

“During the Green Rush a lot of people started to grow Blue Dream,” said Barron Lutz, CEO of Nasha Hash, “It was the combination of being easy to grow, with high THC content, and a great nose appeal.” Lutz noted that compared to OG, the other dominant cultivar at the time, “Blue Dream was much easier to grow” which resulted in overproduction. Thankfully, as a result of market changes since the Green Rush days, Lutz said “Blue Dream is making a comeback this year,” adding that their hash is so popular they needed to add “an additional grower to grow Blue Dream.”

Craig and Melanie Johnson are the additional growers Lutz mentioned, and Johnson largely agreed with Lutz. “In the Green Rush, so much Blue Dream was grown in bagged potting soil with salts, it didn’t have that taste of terroir like we have at Alpenglow,” said Johnson. Those low quality inputs lead to a low quality output, mediocre Blue Dream flooded the market, instead of the glowing blueberry nugs people were used to seeing. “A lot of those Green Rushers didn’t know how to grow it well and it didn’t do the plant any justice,” said Johnson, noting that Blue Dream “didn’t come into her full potential until later in the season” and many novice growers rushed it to harvest early, leading to poor flavor and low potency. 

Matthys says that back in the early 2010s, Blue Dream was “the most popular strain on the planet.” At the time, he worked at Harborside Oakland and they would have “twelve people bring in Blue Dream a day and they would only buy the best of it,” maybe from 2 to five of them. That was a sign of both the overproduction that Lutz mentioned and the abundance of low quality Blue Dream that Johnson discussed. Matthys added another reason why Blue Dream was popular with customers, “It was a quality buy that was more economical,” cheaper than the OGs but still very good for the money. 

In the end, what really challenged Blue Dream’s dominance in the market may not have been low quality imitations, either outright counterfeits or low quality bud, but could have been the breeding of a new cultivar — Cookies. Like Blue Dream, Cookies also was a pretty easy-to-grow cultivar, with a great nose appeal, and high yields, and it hit the market around the same time Blue Dream’s popularity was waning. Johnson has another theory, rather than it being the Cookies, it could have been a resurgence in the popularity of OG. “Everyone I knew was putting out some of the most gorgeous OG,” said Johnson, “Southern Humboldt had the cut that was absolute fire. It was an amazing time in OG Kush history.” 

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