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Naomi Hamb Talks Alaskan Cannabis

"I have never met a plant that could not be cultivated indoors with the right amount of love and attention."

A Humboldt County native, Naomi Hamb developed her love of Cannabis at a young age. By the time she was 18 years old, California was pioneering the medicinal Cannabis movement via the passage of Prop 215 – making it easy for Hamb to find employment in the industry trimming. She began supplementing her resume with work from both small-scale indoor grows and large outdoor gardens. Eventually, working in the California sun with organic materials stole her heart and influenced the growing style that she uses today as Top Hat Cannabis’ Lead Cultivator. 

We understand you have a few nicknames?
My business card says Head Cultivator, but within the facility, I have many names – Dirt Witch and Empress of Dank being a couple of them.

Better trademark those ASAP!

California is world-renowned for its growing environment. What made you leave paradise for indoor growing in Alaska?
I moved up to Juneau shortly after Alaska voted to legalize recreational Cannabis in 2017. Although I didn’t come here to become involved in the Alaskan industry … I had lived in the interior of Alaska for a few years before moving to Juneau and knew I wanted to spend more time in the state. At the time, I wanted a change of pace and a bit of a break from outdoor cultivation projects. But my heart will always be in sungrown organic Cannabis, which is one of the many reasons I feel privileged to head the grow at Top Hat. They fully support me growing Cannabis in a way that aligns with my ethics. 

Demand has a significant influence on what’s being grown. Have you noticed that Alaskan cultivators tend to gravitate to certain strains?
From what I see, there is a huge diversity in what is being produced in the state. 

Does Alaska’s inability to grow outdoors limit the success of certain strains?
Not at all. Although some strains do express themselves in a way that is more conducive to the large amount of space being outdoors affords you, I have never met a plant that could not be cultivated indoors with the right amount of love and attention. I believe there are some successful outdoor, greenhouse and light deprivation grows in Alaska. It is definitely not feasible for us in the Southeast, but it is possible in other regions, and folks are out there doing a stellar job of it.

Are there any strains you’d love to see on the Alaskan market?
Honestly, I am just excited to see what Alaskan breeders do. There is so much energy, passion and joy in what folks are producing up here, and those feelings are contagious. 

Some people are number chasers and always looking for the highest THC percentage. What are those consumers missing out on?
I feel like growers have been preaching this since I started the industry, although we have a different language for it now: Entourage Effect. There are many compounds within the Cannabis plant aside from THC. How those compounds act synergistically affects your overall experience or high. Most everyone is familiar with THC and CBD, but there are hundreds of botanical compounds that show up in different quantities from strain to strain. And honestly, in different phenotypes of the same strain. We have barely scratched the surface of understanding how these cannabinoids and terpenes affect both the psychoactive and medical sides of the plant. I would tell consumers to give a lower THC strain a chance – you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it!

What top three strains would make your hotlist and why?
I have a huge bias in answering this question because I gravitate towards what we produce in our facility. My top three at the moment are Sweet Zombie, which is a low THC strain but has an absolutely superb high – it puts me in a great mood and smells like a fresh fruit smoothie. Sugar Candy is a nice balanced hybrid that always gives me a case of the giggles. And Black D.O.G. is a staple for our company because it is a hard-hitting indica, and who doesn’t want better sleep?

Photos by @ShipeShots

This article was originally published in the March 2022 issue of Alaska Leaf.

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