Do you know who Arjan Roskam is?
Arjan Roskam, who defines himself as the King of Cannabis, owns Greenhouse Seeds and has managed to build an empire.
Back in the 1980s, Amsterdam's cannabis scene was revolutionizing. A North American had arrived in the city, a certain Neville Schoenmakers, with seeds of the new continent, and had gradually added to his collection others of different features and latitudes. With this material he founded the Super Sativa Club, the first bank of marijuana seeds.
Over the years, Neville was recognized as the King of Cannabis and his undisputed reign lasted nearly a decade. However, there came a time when he decided to sell everything and retire. From the void left, others decided to take his place and started a series of associations and fights among several of today occupy prominent places in the cannabis industry.
From commoner to king
In the midst of Amsterdam's marijuana boom, Arjan Roskan was a 20-year-old boy who had been on adventures in Thailand. There he had met a mysterious old man who said that thanks to marijuana he could heal heroin addicts. Despite his initial disbelief, Arjan stayed with the little man for a while and learned all he could about Cannabis. As he said goodbye, the old man gave him a handful of marijuana seeds, which he now interprets as his own magic beans.
At that time, Dutch marijuana growers were not interested in the breadth of strains. On the contrary, they only focused on short-flowering and high-yielding marijuana, which allowed them to sell a cheap product. Arjan also decided to cultivate, but it was against the current: he was dedicated to the growth of exotic strains, first from seeds that his friends gave him, and especially for trying the sativa and mythical Haze. His goal was to achieve the best cannabis quality possible. Then, over time, he was incorporating others he got on his trips to Thailand, Nepal or Southeast Asia, always with the same goal.
Arjan Roskam began using Green House's name for its strains and tried to supply one of Amsterdam's coffee shops. However, his sativas were not welcome so he decided to open his own first coffee shop on Tolstraat Street in '92. It was called The Green House.
Only a year later he had already won his first awards in the 6th edition at the High Times Cannabis Cup. A year later he won more awards and in 1995 the magazine High Times chose him for one of his covers. The growth of his company was exponential and quickly jumped to fame. Since then he has won 32 High Times cups and 17 Highlife cups among other awards. Some of its most acclaimed strains are Super Silver Haze, Hawaiian Snow, Arjan's Ultra Haze, Super Lemon Haze and the most recent Flowerbomb Kush.
On the crest of the wave
The Green House coffee shop was already so famous that celebrities from different parts of the world went by to taste a joint of the Arjan crop. Roskam took advantage of these contacts to spread its main goal: normalize marijuana use and, at the same time, promote (self) crops. He asked several of them, like Woody Harrelson, to speak in their respective countries against the criminalization of marijuana. Arjan himself also became the spokesman for this normalization by representing the union of coffee shops in Amsterdam on several occasions.
The Green House empire was getting bigger and today he owns at least 4 coffee shops, the prestigious seed bank, its line of nutrients and crop products, a documentary producer that he shot in Malawi, Morocco or India, and an educational channel on Youtube, where he participates, along with his unconditional friend Franco Loja in cannabis adventures in exotic countries. These documentaries became his series Strain Hunters. Franco, an Italian who belonged to the parachute division of the Italian army is currently responsible for the crops of Green House Seeds.
Both spend much of their time traveling through remote places to discover new native strains. In their laboratories they plant new seeds, and after several generations and selections, they manage to stabilize a strain in certain key aspects such as the flowering period, the amount of resin or resistance to mold and fungi. They do not necessarily market them, but assure that they keep mothers of each strains and analyze them continuously. Maybe the day will come when a laboratory needs that specific strain.
Without any doubts, Arjan Roskan is an entrepreneur and a visionary. He has seen every opportunity and has taken advantage of it. Regardless of how he falls personally, he has managed to sell an excellent image of its brand internationally.
Continually Green House makes important investments on research and development to be more flexible and adapt to both the ever changing legal framework of Cannabis and the tastes and needs of the market. Besides that, they can always be one step ahead to take advantage of the business opportunities that are opening up within the legality, such as legislative changes in some US states or Uruguay.
The King in the center of the controversy
Arjan Roskam has allies, but also a few detractors. Many accuse him of being a charlatan and liar.
Possibly the main shock that has had has been with Shatibaba, who worked with Roskam in the early days of Green House. Their society did not last long: just after two years of rampaging at the High Times Cannabis Cup thanks to Super Silver Haze they presented together in '98 and '99, the egos collided and separated. From there Shantibaba founded Mr. Nice Seeds and were never reconciled. The focal point of the discussion focuses on White Widow, this strain recognized by the white layer of trichomes that cover it.
According to Arjam Roskam, thi strain arose thanks to the work of Ingemar, a former Green House worker. But according to Shantibaba, this variety was fruit of his work and personal effort, and when he left Greehouse he took with him the mother plants of the first stable generation he got. To this day he continues to claim that Arjan deserves no recognition in the creation of White Widow.
There was also another major incident in '95 at the High Times Cannabis Cup. Although Arjan had won the first prize in the Hash category, it was discovered that there had been a vote rigging and they ended up withdrawing the prize.
FInally, many claim that his Strain Hunters series was intended, at least in theory, to discover indigenous marijuana strains and exotic plants. Apparently he has achieved several ones he was looking for, but curiously he has never released any to the market.
The self-proclaimed Cannabis King, Arjan Roskam, does not escape controversy, he likes to be the center of attention. For every controversy, online orders multiply. But in addition, with its revolution in the market of feminized seeds he has managed to make Greenhouse Seeds the world's best selling seed bank. He's got his empire.
Image taken from Vice.