Tracking down truly exceptional quality medical marijuana in California is easier said than done. There was a time when finding quality wasn’t so hard, but those days are in the past. Due to new growing techniques and new attitudes based more on greed and quantity over quality, this search has become increasingly difficult. I only really know of maybe five crews in California that produce flowers that fit the highest criteria. My latest find, and the one I call on the most, is a legend in SoCal who is known as the O.G. Kush Man, owner of The Source Genetics. His strains are reminiscent of ones from when I first arrived in California. The THC levels of his flowers are incredible and their flavors are equally impressive.

This week I sat down with him to discuss how he got involved in the business and how he has managed to maintain quality in a place where so many others have failed to do so.

Where are you from?
The Inland Empire, near Riverside.

When did you start smoking marijuana?
I started smoking when I was ten years old.

How did you start?
I was hanging out with my friends and one of my friend’s older brother was this gangster dude. He just passed us a joint one night. (My parents were old school hippies, so I was exposed to smoke at a very young age; they also grew it so I never saw it as a bad thing.) We just started smoking. For the first year, it was a Friday night thing. By the time I was 11, it started to be a thing we did daily at the bus stop before school, and then it went to be the thing we did once we got out of school, too.

What were you smoking back then?
Mostly either Mexican import—which was actually very good by standards of back then. Not compressed brick. I also would steal some from my parents.

How did you start growing?
I probably grew my first outdoor plant when I was 13 years old. I had been around my parents growing forever so there was always marijuana growing in my backyard. If I saw them dry, I would throw some water on them, and I just naturally became a grower. When I was fifteen, I got like ten trays of clones from a woman I had been selling to. I rooted them all and planted them all, about 100 clones in my parents garage under three 1000-watt lights I had saved up and bought.

Do you have any idea what strain they were?
Yes, they consisted of an old school afghani and blueberry

DJ Short’s Blueberry?
Probably, since he was the only one making it back then. This was 1994.

Were you really good from the beginning or did it take time to develop your skills?
All bullshit aside and not ego stroking, my first indoor crop was totally smokable, really nice. I paid attention to detail like I always did and still do. I was smoking chronic at that time, so I knew what good weed should look and smell like. I did a little research, read about what I needed to do, and how to do it. It was kind of natural to me after watching my parents and experimenting outdoors first.

When did you start messing around with genetics?
It was probably about when I was 17 or 18 when I made my first cross.

What was it?
A Skunk Number One crossed with a Super Skunk, we called it the Backyard Boogie. It was really rank, really sticky.

When did OG start getting on your radar?
Any really good weed that has crossed my path that stood the test of time, I found in the drum & bass scene in Southern California. That’s not to say this is the only place it could be found, but this is where I found the OG Kush. It started showing up in small amounts. This was also the time Bubba Kush, and a strain called the Kevorkian, appeared. The Kevorkian was really big here in the SoCal area, it was one of the first strains we saw that was getting the $400 an ounce, $60 an eighth price points. This was ’97 to ’98. A year later, we started to see these strains appear in larger amounts. It was at this time that I got my hands on the seed for the Poison OG, which is one of my babies. It’s important to note my first connect for the OG was from my brother Sloth from KOG, his partner Peter, and my buddy, Tall.

Was the Poison the first OG you grew?
It was, because they didn’t want to give up the cut back then. It wasn’t an accessible thing for me, even with me being the crew I was in.

What strains are you or your crew responsible for?
I came across the Poison seed, which I put into circulation. I passed seeds from the original Face Off cut, which is kind of a mythical cut—it was just caked with crystal and shinier than almost anything else at the time. There are many stories about that cut, it was very popular in the hip-hop community. I passed the seed from that to the Docta from Archive Seed Bank, he popped it and uses that as his OG. I also have a Thai cut from my brother before he passed away—it’s a phenomenal pure Thai strain, a pure sativa.

How do you prefer growing, soil or hydro?
You know my motto, “Water for the bread, soil for the head.” I do both. My crew produces flowers for patients, so sometimes hydro is more effective to get a little more out of it, but I think it kind of mutes the flavor as opposed to soil.

Do you do indoor and outdoor?
Yes.

Can outdoor compete with the indoor?
I would have to say no. That being said though, there are certain strains that I prefer outdoors because it lets their terpene profiles shine through and that’s where they are from, so it just works out better in certain cases. Especially in more landrace sativas.

One of my favorites these days, as you know, is the Gorilla Glue. How did that come about?
The Gorilla Glue was an accident from this guy Josie Wales. One of his Sour Doubles hermed on another cross he was working on and that’s where that whole thing came from. He popped a bunch of seeds from it and the Number Four Phono is the one we smoke and the one that won a cup.

I also love the Cookie Monster. What are its origins?
It’s a funny story. Of all things, it came from Harborside Health Center in Oakland. It is one of the only cuts I purchased and it was a diamond in the rough—one in a million that I was fortunate to find. I am very blessed to have that in my stable.

How about your uncirculated OG, how long has that been in your crew?
It’s been with us for over 12 years.

What makes it so special?
Its not hybridized. It hasn’t been messed with or it isn’t a seed representation that’s passed off as a cut. And the fact it’s been in my crew for so long is why we refer to it as uncirculated.

Why are there so little really, really high-end flowers now?
People don’t want to take the time, people forget why they are growing. There used to be a lot more because there were a few people that loved what they did. They did it to smoke and whatever was left, they would share it. Now we have the whole green rush going and people grow solely for money and for greed and they don’t know what they are doing. They just want to hammer shit out. That love is lost and it shows.

What’s your favorite strain, personally?
That’s a hard question. I love my Poison OG and my Thai. I love the Cookie Monster. I love my Albert Walker, which I was turned on to in Seattle—it is an unknown old skunk, I then received it again from The Docta at Archive Seed Bank.

What’s the future for you?
Trying to push out super high end marijuana and to further the existence of my seed company. The Source Genetics.

Brian Kaiser is Philly, born and raised. After attending Temple University, he moved to California, where he works and consults in the burgeoning marijuana industry. Kaiser currently pushes for cannabis legalization on both a state and national level, a process that begins by just sharing information.