The Mysterious ‘Mullumbimby Madness’

6th May, 2019: This article was edited to correct a few inaccuracies. The original growers and their photographs have been properly credited in this version.

Kangativa’s Mullumbimby grow in the 1980’s. Photos sourced from username Bushweed on the ICmag forums.

Mullumbimby Madness was like a myth when we were kids. Everyone knew someone who knew someone that had smoked it or had the strain, but you could never really get your hands on it.

For years, Aussie stoners have typically taken the legendary strain to be nothing more than a product of folklore. Many have claimed that the genetics live on in their own local operations. So, Mullumbimby Madness – is it still being cultivated somewhere out there? Was it ever really a thing?

Madness in the North

Some vintage MM photography. This is Kangativa’s original grow in the 1980’s, from username ‘Kangativa’ – posted on the icmag forum.

It wasn’t long ago that Australia was experiencing a cannabis renaissance. A number of extremely potent strains had been cultivated by the new arrivals of the sixties and seventies. A cultural upheaval brought these alternative types away from the metropolis, with many choosing to settle deep in the lush forests and idyllic countryside of Northern NSW. This movement reached its peak during the 1973 Nimbin Aquarius Festival, where thousands of hippies made the region their home.

These hippies were basically the pioneers of the North Coast cannabis culture. With their tender love and care, Mullumbimby Madness (otherwise known as mull, madness or M.M.) entered the world. The strain was supposedly unparalleled — a particularly strong sativa that delivered a clean, long-lasting high.

Early on, the specimens associated with ‘Mullumbimby Madness’ were generally of a very high quality. The bud was everywhere, and quickly became known as the best outdoor sativa smoke that Australia had to offer. The strain’s notoriety lives on in etymologically in the word ‘mull’, which is Australian slang for cannabis.

More photos of the grows whose genetics are used today to cultivate what they call Mullum Madness.

Down by Main Arm

What most folks consider ‘true’ Mullumbimby Madness initially arrived in Northern NSW during 1971/72, only to blow unassuming hippie heads off. It was a strain from around the border of Laos and the Isan region of Thailand, grown in Main Arm, just outside of Mullumbimby. MM was a bush weighing in at about 20 or 30 pounds, growing up to 25 feet in height and generally yielding about 10 pounds of bud.

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The plant would spread out dramatically and quickly grow into a wildly untamed tree. The weed’s headiness was incomparable at the time. Its potency and distinct dark bluish-greenish-purple colour quickly transformed the strain into a regional legend.

Sativas in the sun. Photo sourced from username Kangativa.

Without adequate genetic management in the 1970’s, MM’s cultivation amounted to a flash in the pan. After only a few years, the plant’s genetics began to destabilise. By the end of its short run of mass popularity, the majority of bud being sold off as ‘Mullumbimby Madness’ had deteriorated considerably in quality.

The Colchicine Treatment

It is rumoured that a few of these hippie breeders played around with Colchicine: a toxic plant extract commonly used to treat Gout symptoms. When applied to seeds, colchicine produces polyploidy, which increases the size of the cell walls, along with subtly promoting THC levels.

Funnily enough, ‘Mullumbimby Madness’ may have just been a product of cooked stoners doing some early genetic modification experiments on their grows. The only catch? These experiments required a substance five times deadlier than cyanide to work effectively.

This colchicine treatment may have left the plants infertile for breeding. Many of the MM seeds would simply not germinate; the ones that did would turn out to be horrific mutants. Reproducing the genetics proved to be difficult under these conditions, with efforts to ‘stabilise’ the strain ultimately ending in failure.

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Authenticity

These days, the regions surrounding Mullumbimby are once again going mad. There are Mullum locals out there who claim to cultivate weed with the mythological strain’s genetics; however, from the outside, it’s hard to know what to believe. If you’re looking to get your hands on some, best to be careful; some of the claims out there are dubious at best.

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Mad as hell. Image by username Kangativa.

Growers such as ‘Yantra‘ have been known to use other breeders’ photos to make a buck. Another Main Arm grower known as ‘Shantibaba‘ claims to possess MM genetics. He brought a series of his own strains, which many believed were the predecessors of Mullum Madness, from Australia to Amsterdam in the 1980’s. These were known as the ‘La Niña‘ hybrids. However, evidence indicates that the La Niña plants were of an altogether different strain. Shantibaba’s growing operation emerged over a decade after Mullum Madness first hit the scene. Therefore, it’s likely that his ‘Mullum Madness’ genetics are really from an old polyhybrid strain, given to him by another grower named ‘Mullum Madman‘.

Shantibaba’s supposed MM strain.

The most purported breeders according to the information available online are Kangativa and Bushweed. Both can be found on the International Cannagraphic forum. They have contributed immensely to online threads concerning MM, which were used to write most of this article. In open pollinating it every year and using seeds from the best females, they have managed to keep the strain tidy. The link between their strain (which they also sell as ‘Super Laos’) and the original MM is perhaps the least tenuous.

Kangativa also put his 30-year-old strain up against the world’s best. The late Nevil Schoenmakers (a legend in the Australian cannabis breeding community) tried this strain, claiming it was the closest in quality to his beloved ‘Nevil’s Haze’. Schoenmakers then bred MM, selling patents of the hybrids to medicinal cannabis corporations for over $1 million USD per strain.

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Finally, some claim that the equally mythical ‘Old Mother Sativa’ is a predecessor to Mullum Madness. However, it’s likely that what people have called ‘Old Mother Sativa’ is just another mishmash of inbred Thai genetics, cultivated around the Kyogle area. It generally doesn’t have the kick of the real deal.

Legacy

Regardless of who *really* grows the stuff, ‘Mullumbimby Madness’ is a strain that primarily lives on in myth. In the 70’s and 80’s, its properties were talked about all across the nation. Every pretender in Queensland and Northern New South Wales claimed they had access to the plant. As the years rolled on, however, the term ended up as more of a marketing ploy. ‘Mullumbimby Madness’ was not a term restricted to the genetics of the 70’s MM, but for any sizeable outdoor bushy sativa with a purple colouring and origins in South East Asia. This is largely because such cannabis continued to grow in abundance throughout the region as the authentic Mullum Madness became evermore obscure. What is passed off as Mullum Madness today is often of a noticeably variable quality and genetic composition.

If you want to hunt down some *real* Mullum Madness these days, you may find it a tad difficult. Your best bet would be to reach out to Bushweed and/or Kangativa on the ICmag forums.

With that said, the large bushy plants that grow in the fertile land of the Northern Rivers often stand up to the best dope in the world. The sativas still growing in this region are often three times taller than your average human being!

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Best of luck, and happy searching!

Mitch
Mitch Keys is a young writer from Brisbane, Australia unfolding in a dynamic process of becoming (like everyone else, so don’t go thinking he’s special or anything). He likes being alive.

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Mysterykent
Mysterykent
2 years ago

This post is someones opinion who obviously needs to get off the internet, out of brissy and go talk to some of the local growers down there. ? stay safe peeps

marijuana monday
marijuana monday
2 years ago

remo smokes mullumbimby madness x haze
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFdB1CxNL6c

Joe LaGrasso
Joe LaGrasso
2 years ago

Love it! Thanks for the video!

AZzaT
AZzaT
1 year ago

No word of a lie I know someone who received 1seed of M.M. from an 85 year old mate, it’s 24 years old and it sprouted,currently a small seedling, plans are if it is female to Pollinate a cola with another male, currently have northern lights and a few others to consider .. thoughts ?

Joe LaGrasso
Joe LaGrasso
1 year ago
Reply to  AZzaT

Hope it’s the real deal! Get some clones out of it! Or pollenate it with the NL you have! Call it Northern Madness haha

Deadly
Deadly
1 year ago

I see you’ve used all of Kangativa and Bushweed’s photos, without crediting them, then instead of documenting the old strain that they have, you plug Yantra’s dubious version. That guy that runs Yantra was also using their photos to make a buck. What a con artist he is. Shantibaba also bullshitted about possessing MM. He said he didn’t have it at Cannabis World, then was given Mullum Madman’s old polyhybrid. Then CW folds, and years later at Mr Nice, Shanti suddenly reckons he had it all along and made La Nina from it. Fishy story. Old Mother Sativa is another… Read more »

Ian Munn
Ian Munn
1 year ago
Reply to  Mitch

Hi Mitch, I am Kangativa. The Photo’s you have put up are a collection of my photo’s taken in the early 80’s when I worked with seeds given to me by a old Mullum farmer, he told me that they were from the original MM strain.
The top photo with the ones in the greenhouse are crosses with the MM and Skunk, Oaxacan and Haze which I got while living in Norcal and travelling to Southern Mexico over a 4yr period.
i hope this clears up a few things for you,
Peace,
Kanga

The truth
The truth
10 months ago
Reply to  Deadly

Bushweed has nothing to do with keeping the madness going that credit only goes to the madman…kanga…any photos bushweed puts up are kangas…and the super laos is just that a loas x haze cross an nothing to do with the madness haze !!!

the ol' hippy grower
the ol' hippy grower
5 months ago

This is all just bullshit. The MM was just a southern Chinese landrace sativa. Nothing more. The same seeds made there way to South Africa where they called it Durban Poison. Fyi, landrace genetics don’t “destabilize” it is the poly-hybrid crosses that are inbred that destabilize. This is the reason most of today’s weed sucks. It’s pure luck finding a good phenotype since it is all just a mush-mash of indica-ruderalis-sativa now. Clone the plant and it comes up different. Breed the plant same thing, back to square one. Unless you have landrace or stable single landrace crosses, every plant… Read more »

Axe
Axe
5 months ago

Most of this story is rubbish! Bushweed shouldn’t even be mentioned. Giant Sativa’s in the 70,s were referred to as Madness weed, it was a generic term. The Old Mother Sativa was the original Madness weed, and was a pure line. Unfortunately, a you have stated most growers back then didn’t understand Cannabis breeding, and most growers just produced seed crops by letting a patch self pollinate, no selection, and used these seeds for the next years crop. This is what led to the decline of the OMS line. Shantibabas story is also rubbish…he reckons he worked on the original… Read more »

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