Some of us on the Growing Marijuana Perfectly team are ancient relics who have been growing and consuming cannabis since the 1960s!
Back then, most marijuana consumed in North America was imported. There were only a handful of name-brand strains: Colombian Gold, Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Jamaican Lambsbread, Oaxacan, Afghani/Skunk, Maui Wowie, Thai Stick.
These strains usually entered mainland North America as buds and leaves compressed into bricks and bales, loaded with seeds and stems. Unscrupulous growers and smugglers coated plant material with Coca-Cola or sugar water to increase weight, add “stickiness,” and alter scent.
These strains tested at 3-10% THC, with most in the 3-7% range. The psychoactive effects of these strains, and their cannabinoid-terpenoid profiles and percentages, were radically different from today’s hybrid marijuana strains.
The most popular of these was Santa Marta Colombian Gold. This pure Sativa gave you a soaring, psychedelic high, no burn-out, with a taste of candy, honeysuckle, and pepper.
Premium Colombian Gold buds were golden, long, tight and thin, usually full of tiny dark-brown, zebra-striped seeds hidden by bracts encrusted with resin glands.
There were also Colombian Red and Colombian Brown landrace strains with tawny, auburn, or mahogany buds, skunkier smells, and heavier highs.
Sometimes, bales marked “Colombian Gold” had Brown and Red mixed with the Gold, and you’d get fat, large marijuana seeds and tiny seeds in the same batch.
Red or Brown Colombian seeds produced shorter plants with fatter buds that produced more body high and a dreamy head high—some say these strains are part of the precursor genetics that led to true Haze cannabis.
Back in those good old days, ounces only cost $10-20, but after you removed stems and seeds, you were lucky to have even half an ounce of buds and leaves. This was before the time sinsemilla techniques were widely known.
The harsh compression and wrapping process to prep Colombian Gold for smuggling often rendered the product dry and brittle. Resin glands were sparse if not totally absent.
Yet somehow these abused buds produced a sparkling high that had immediate effects but was also creeper. It had no ceiling, nor did it immobilize you so all you could do is sit eating sweets on the couch. Instead, it was a vivacious social high, perfect for parties, dancing, athletics, concerts, conversation, laughing, creativity.
You could smoke an ounce of Colombian Gold at one sitting and get higher and higher with each toke.
Original landrace Colombian Gold was mostly grown on Colombia’s Guajira Peninsula and nearby highland mountains. The name “Santa Marta” Gold is misleading—Santa Marta isn’t where this strain was grown, it was just the closest, most popular port town used by the strain’s smugglers.
Growers of course germinated “bag seeds” from smuggled weed—this is how we got many of the foundational marijuana strains. Haze, for example, is said to come from a California grower’s experiments combining elite Colombian Gold and Mexican Sativa genetics with landrace Southeast Asian seeds brought home by American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War.
By the end of the 1970s, domestic North American growers had perfected the sinsemilla (seedless female flower) technique and crossed landrace legendary strains to create dozens and later hundreds of new marijuana strains.
By 2010, you couldn’t get authentic Colombian Gold seeds from a commercial cannabis seeds retailer. All you could find were pathetic hybrids:(
Our team grew all so-called Colombian Gold strains sold in the commercial cannabis seeds marketplace. None were anything close to original Colombian Gold. The buds were fatter, flowering time far less, bud color wasn’t gold, high wasn’t stimulating, compared to authentic Colombian Gold.
That’s why I’d mostly given up on Colombian Gold until a 77-year-old grower friend learned he had a terminal disease, and decided to break out his secret stash.
I was stoked when he retrieved a vacuum-sealed, freeze-dried brick of 1975-era imported Colombian Gold from his deep freezer. He’d been saving it all these years, but with the Grim Reaper rapidly approaching, he decided to sample his priceless stash before he was six feet under.
The buds indeed smelled like honeysuckle and pepper, and were a beautiful golden color, as you see in the photo for this article.
Although I usually avoid combustion, my friend prefers smoking joints. After removing seeds and stems, he rolled a fat joint. What did I expect from buds nearly 50 years old? Nothing much, other than some coughing.
But after a few tasty hits that made my mouth feel drier than a desert, I experienced that classic old-school high. It immediately immersed me in memories of a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon concert in 1972–bong hitting two ounces of Colombian Gold between seven people during a mind-warping evening with Roger Waters, David Gilmore and the rest of the original Floyd.
How different this freeze-dried bud high was compared to today’s marijuana strains. At first I felt nothing and figured all potency was gone after 50 years in a freezer. Then creeper effects came on.
Pretty soon me and my buddy were yakking like motormouths on speed, laughing at stupid jokes, laughing harder and harder…because our laughter sounds echoed like we were on shrooms.
We went out to play Frisbee and for an old guy with a terminal disease, my buddy was rockin’ the throws and catches.
He kept rolling joint after joint as the high got better and better. Colombian Gold lacked the body heaviness, mental confusion, nervousness, proto-paranoia of many of today’s strains. It even improved my vision and hearing!
I begged him for some buds. He gave me a very few, but kindly gave me a bag of old-school marijuana seeds derived from imported weed a half century ago. Some were the tiniest marijuana seeds I’ve seen in decades.
So far, despite using all the best tricks for germinating old seeds, I haven’t gotten any sprouts, but I’m working on it.
Hungry for that refreshing old-time high, me and the magazine team started searching for viable Colombian Gold seeds in the commercial and connoisseur marijuana seeds marketplace.
Sadly, none of the seeds available at the time were true Colombian Gold or worth growing. The buds weren’t gold, flowering times were too short, phenotypes were obviously hybrids, smell and taste were off, some were hermie, some never ripened no matter how long you let bloom phase go on.
Last year, we heard that a reliable version of Colombian Gold is available from New420Guy Seeds. This version shows characteristics of the original legendary strain. For example, it takes 10-14 weeks in bloom phase. Give this strain only 11-11.5 hours of light per day in bloom…or you might never see the buds fully develop and finish.
This version has the viney stretchiness of authentic Colombian Gold, so start bloom phase when the plants are 2-3 weeks old or have hit 12 inches high.
Colombian Gold plants can easily quadruple the height they have at start of bloom phase. You might end up having to bend, tie and train branches to keep the strain from growing into your grow lights. This isn’t such a bad thing, as tied horizontal branches send up a lot of vertical buds, increasing yield.
As with most Sativas, Colombian Gold grown indoors has a hard time handling root zone problems including overfeeding, overwatering, lack of aeration. Use coco, soilless mix, or some other high-aeration root zone, and reduce nutrients feeding below manufacturer’s recommended dose.
Use natural supplements like humic acid and beneficial microbe root boosters to assist the root zone and roots, and avoid overdosing phosphorus and potassium during bloom phase.
Starting at onset of bloom phase, do a pure reverse osmosis water flush every three weeks for one watering cycle to prevent nutrients salts from building up to toxic levels.
The strain can handle high PPFD grow light intensity, but not high temperatures combined with low humidity, and it’s naturally resistant to gray mold, mostly because the buds are too thin to gather enough moisture to make mold feel wecome.
Foliar spraying with silicon and cal-mag (although not mixed together in the same spray) is useful from start of bloom phase until buds are thick enough to hold droplets of water. As always with foliar feeding, be careful not to drown buds creating conditions favorable to gray mold.
Don’t spray so close to harvest time that you’ll be inhaling spray remnants (I stop all foliar spraying when I am 3-4 weeks from harvest).
For further enhancement, treat Colombian Gold bloom phase plants with ultraviolet light for a few minutes before lights off each day starting 30 days into bloom phase and continuing until harvest day. Ultraviolet light stimulates resin development, and deters molds and powdery mildew.
It takes a long time for pre-flowering and early flowering to start, but by bloom phase day 37 you should be seeing early peak bloom floral clusters.
By days 55-60 there should be long clusters of thin Sativa buds gradually thickening to double in diameter by harvest time. In many cases, staking, trellising, or other branch supports are needed as bud weight increases.
Resin glands tend to stay crystal-clear all the way through bloom phase, turning amber or cloudy only when buds are fully ripened, overripe or when plants are stressed. Resin gland density is much less than on today’s hybrids. This strain’s buds are nothing like Gorilla Glue or White Widow.
The best way to determine harvest timing is to start sampling buds via incremental harvest at 10-11 weeks into bloom phase. Pay careful attention to the onset time, potency, head rush, and length of the high for each set of buds you cut, dry and sample.
Eventually, you will recognize at which harvest date the buds were most to your liking, and thus have arrived at an ideal bloom phase duration for your needs.
Colombian Gold isn’t a strain you grow for heavy harvests, but if you train and tie properly, you will get several ounces of golden honeysuckle buds per indoor plant.
This Colombian Gold does very well outdoors in rich, well-aerated soil–but only if you grow it when outdoor light cycles during bloom phase have 12 hours of light per day or less, with no darkness interrupters (such as street lights, security lights) to interfere with dark cycle.
The strain does relatively well in humid climates but doesn’t like excessive heat or extremely dry air. It does well at sea level in grow rooms. Outdoors, it likes higher altitudes similar to its original landrace location in the Colombian highlands between 1400-2500 feet elevation.
In any outdoor locale, Colombian Gold needs intense direct sunlight for at least seven hours per day, regular but not torrential rain, warm temperatures all season long, and can reach heights near 17 feet under perfect conditions, with plants yielding at least a pound dry weight pure Gold per plant.
The Colombian Gold high takes getting used to, especially if you’re accustomed to the thudding one-hit power of high-THC buds or cannabis concentrates.
Hell no, it’s not a “nighttime strain” or one to use if all you want is to knock yourself out. Instead, it’s a social euphoriant, anti-depressant, and energy-booster. Your mind is clearer and more alert, almost like you’ve ingested caffeine.
I recommend getting these New420Guy Colombian Gold seeds as soon as you can. New420Guy is a connoisseur seed bank and their most popular rare and landrace strains are produced in limited edition breeding sessions. Their Colombian Gold comes only in non-feminized photoperiod seeds you can use to inbreed and backcross, and cross with other strains.
Now you have the opportunity to go back in time and experience the joys of earlier cannabis eras. When you grow and use stimulating, tasty, authentic Colombian Gold, you see why people seemed so happy and excited smoking weed in the 1970s!