Breeding the Culture: Shantibaba

Breeding-the-Culture-Sungrownmidz-Beard-Bros-Pharms-ShantibabaShantibaba (Scott Blakey) is an Australian cannabis breeder. Shanti has traveled around the world collecting landrace genetics. In the 1990s Shantibaba became a renowned cannabis breeder who has helped to shape cannabis breeding and genetics in profound ways. 

Shantibaba first tried cannabis as a young teenager while growing up in Australia.  He began experimenting with growing his own cannabis in the 1970s. 

By the early 1980s, Shantibaba had begun growing and breeding with the legendary Australian variety ‘Mullum Madness’ (said to be an import of Thai/Cambodian origin).  

Shantibaba graduated from University with a double major in the fields of biology and sports psychology. As a University student as well as after graduation Shantibaba traveled around the world. During his travels, Shanti collected local landrace varieties. 

Shantibaba & Greenhouse Seeds

Shantibaba Co-founded Greenhouse Seed Co. with Arjan*.  Many of Greenhouse Seeds’ award-winning varieties including ‘White Widow’, ‘Great White Shark’, ‘White Rhino’, ‘El Niño’, ‘Himalayan Gold’ came from Shanti’s collection of genetics and his breeding.

One of the greenhouses operated by Shantibaba

It was during this time that Shanti and Nevil began to work together on breeding projects. One such collaborative breeding project resulted in the creation of ‘Nevil’s Haze’ and his ‘Super Silver Haze’ as well as Shantibaba’s ‘Mango Haze’ (released under Mr. Nice Seeds). 

Between 1994-1998 Shanti and Nevil helped establish the reputation of Greenhouse Seed Co as one of the best seed companies in the world at the time. 

In 1998 Shantibaba sold his ownership stake in Greenhouse Seed Co.  After leaving Greenhouse Seed Co. Shanti and Nevil along with Howard Marks went on to form Mr Nice Seeds

Shantibaba Goes to Switzerland 

At the same time as Shantibaba left Greenhouse Seed Co. to co-found Mr. Nice Seeds, he was approached with the opportunity to work in Switzerland. 

By 1997, the laws in Holland began to change, limiting seed production. The European seed industry that had been based largely in Holland in the 1980s and early to mid-1990s quickly shifted to Switzerland in the late 1990s. Shantibaba was at the forefront of this transition to Switzerland.

For a short period between 1999 to 2003 cannabis cultivation in Switzerland occurred at a commercial scale unrivaled anywhere in the world. 

In 2003 Swiss prosecutors, based out of Ticino,  launched ‘Operation Indoor’ cracking down on the emerging cannabis industry. Shantibaba was caught up in the crackdown and ended up spending nearly two years in a Swiss jail. 

Shantibaba, Mr. Nice Seedbank, and Research 

Mr. Nice Seedbank was founded on Shantibaba and Nevil’s extensive library of proven breeding stock. As Shantibaba noted in an article at the time the company initially set out to create the 12 “‘Best of the Best’ cannabis strains of all time.”

Mr. Nice Seeds continued to produce the lines he originally bred and commercialized during the Greenhouse Seed Co. – albeit under different names. ‘White Widow’ was renamed ‘Black Widow’, ‘White Rhino’ became ‘Medicine Man’, ‘Great White Shark’ became ‘Shark Shock’, ‘El Niño’ became ‘La Niña’, etc. 

In addition to continuing production of Shantibaba’s previous lines under Mr. Nice, Shanti and Nevil also continued producing the ‘Super Silver Haze’ and the ‘Nevil’s Haze’ as well as developing additional hybrids from Nevil’s old stock. 

For example, Shantibaba developed the ‘Mango Haze’ from the same ‘Nl5xHaze’ seed stock that Nevil used to select the ‘Super Silver Haze’ mother.

Mr. Nice also released a number of ‘Skunk’ ‘Afghan’ hybrids from Nevil’s old stock such as the ‘Critical Mass’ (Afghan x Skunk), the ‘Devil’ (Afghan x Afghan x Skunk), and the ‘Shit’ (Skunk x Afghan). 

In 2007, Shanti and Mr. Nice Seeds created their own online forum. Nevil was active on the forum for a short time along with Shanti who has always remained active on the site. The forum is still online and serves as a valuable archive of cannabis history. 

Sadly on April 10, 2016, Howard Marks, the legendary smuggler, co-founder, and namesake of Mr. Nice Seeds passed away.  On March 30, 2019, Nevil passed. 

Mr. Nice Seeds continues to operate under Shantibaba’s leadership to this day as a truly international seed company. 

The CBD Crew  

After nearly two decades of breeding high-THC drug cannabis varieties for the international seed market, Shantibaba was approached by Jamie of Resin Seeds to co-found the CBD Crew

As part of the CBD Crew, Shanti, in collaboration with Jaime, produced breeding stock and released some of the first stabilized CBD hybrids on the market. 

The ‘Z Series’ was a product of this collaborative breeding work combining Resin Seeds’ ‘Cannatonic’ female and Mr. Nice’s ‘Afghan x Skunk’ male. The resulting hybrid offspring produced two stand-out phenotypes – the ‘Z6’ and the ‘Z7’. 

Nomdefume (Coop on the Mr. Nice forum) created Cherry S1 ([Cannatonic/AfghanSkunk] x AfghanSkunk) using a Z6 cut that he received from Sensi_Scientist. This was one of the first varieties of drug cannabis to legitimately qualify as hemp. These genetics have changed hemp agronomy and made it possible for hemp farmers to grow acres of compliant hemp for concentrate and smokable flower markets. 

The CBD Crew has developed feminized and regular seed lines that produce uniform and predictable chemotypes in the offspring. 

Shantibaba and the CBD Crew

These genetics have helped drive the medical marijuana movement around the globe as well as to found the modern American hemp industry that emerged using high-CBD drug cultivars that qualify as hemp. 

For nearly 30 years now Shantibaba has been at the forefront of the international cannabis scene. He has traveled the world collecting genetics. He has grown, selected, bred, and maintained some of the best cannabis varieties in the world. His collaborations with Nevil (Seed Bank) and Jamie (Resin Seeds) have lasting impacts on the availability of exceptional cannabis genetics. Ever since he helped to initiate the Second Wave of cannabis breeders and seed companies in Holland, Shantibaba has been at the forefront of the international cannabis industry.


* Arjan disputes that Shantibaba was a co-founder of Greenhouse Seed Co. In 2011 Arjan wrote a lengthy polemic directed at Shantibaba it can be found here, Shantibaba’s reply can be found here.

** Arjan has also disputed the claim that Shantibaba bred the ‘White Widow’ claiming instead that it was bred by Igmar.


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