Chemdog: “To be able to do this and get it to the people, it’s awesome because it is a true medicinal strain. You can smoke the stuff and you’ll just go off and clean your house.”
If you knew Greg “Chemdog” Krzanowski in the late-1980s and ’90s, or even if you knew people who knew people acquainted with his closest legendary clandestine-era cultivator cronies, then you were puffing herb back then that was every last trichome as kind as the finest weed available in craft recreational shops today.
And if you were hanging out in New York City or in any big metropolis along the I-95 Waffle House weed route at that time, you may have been lucky enough to puff some NYC Haze. Perhaps best known as the Piff, or simply Piff, it’s been slung tied to monikers such as Black Haze, Frankie, Church, and Cuban Black Haze over the decades.
A pure landrace strain in that it hasn’t been crisscrossed with every last new trendy tweak under the sun since showing up on the scene roughly 40 years ago, the Piff is full of surprises like unique small freaky buds that look like alien toes and takes a challenging 11-plus weeks to finish. All things considered, and since the throwback cut is rarely seen, the task of bringing a fresh batch of Washington Square Park’s finest circa 1990 into the world today is best left to pros—or, in the case of Chemdog, the professor of professors, and the Bay State’s own legacy czar of true cultivars.
With Krzanowski (GK) about to drop the first batch of Piff in the Mass adult-use market through his Smash Hits brand and Canna Provisions dispensaries, we asked the legend about this extremely niche endeavor. Canna Provisions Co-Founder and COO Erik Williams (EW) also joined to revel in the many quirks of NYC Haze that make this esoteric outing worth the effort. Our interview is edited for clarity and parsed below.
The past …
GK: It was coined as numerous things … and they’re pretty much all from the same stock. I believe it all comes from [Nevil Schoenmakers]. Nevil just worked with that line for a while and it became a veritable staple strain in New York City. From what I found out, back in the day, a lot of it was being trucked up from Miami. The Cubans down in Miami were actually trucking it up in 18-wheelers up to New York City back in the late ’80s. I knew one of the people who was doing it and who is now in prison. It’s a pretty big thing down there, so it was pretty much New York City and Miami that were very well aware of New York City Haze aka the Piff.
Haze-y memories …
EW: The bottom line is that we rarely see landrace strains and particularly landrace sativas. This doesn’t look like any other weed on the market. It’s long and wispy and almost looks like wheat in some ways. I look back to 12 years ago, when we were growing weed in Colorado, we were growing sativas, a bunch of landrace sativas and we basically had to stop because you start getting into tight little nugs and a lot of the customers—especially new customers—didn’t understand that’s how a landrace strain is supposed to look. It just doesn’t have the bag appeal that a lot of other strains have right now and it’s probably because not a lot of people are growing true landrace strains.
The present …
GK: I acquired something from JJ NYC at Top Dawg Seeds. He’s worked that line a lot. There are a few different versions out there. We actually chose a very, very 99.9% sativa. … Right now people love the Piff. People go to these events and they just run to this guy’s booth to buy the Piff. … I just wanted to do it, Erik said, Let’s do it, and we found a way to make it work.
There are two totally different NYC Hazes out there. A lot of the New York City Haze people are growing is this super silver lemony silver haze smell. This is completely different, a total sativa landrace. It smells like frankincense. It’s a totally different smell. This has always been one of my favorite strains. I never thought I’d be able to do it in the legal market because of the situation. You’re on a schedule, and it’s like 1.25 turns.
Honestly, to be able to do this and get it to the people, it’s awesome because it is a true medicinal strain. You can smoke the stuff and you’ll just go off and clean your house. It’s crazy. Some people will tell you that they get a little panicky from it, it’s like that. It’s a very nice, very good strain that’s been one of my favorite strains from back in the day.
On the unique structure …
GK: The pheno I got, the buds are bigger on the bottom. It’s weird, they’re thicker, they grow from the bottom up, and they finish from the bottom up. It’s a strange strain. That’s one thing that’s different. Besides that, the food is the same, the lights are the same, everything’s pretty much the same except the timing of the plant. And we have to trellis higher.
EW: Like a lot of sativas, it stretches tall for a while and freaks us out but then it pops out on the sides and it finishes from the bottom. It’s one of those things when you walk into the grow you’re like, Oh shit, how long does this have? Around week 10 I was a little bit panicky, but the plants finish when Chem says they’re finished.
On the challenge of growing NYC Haze …
EW: From a business standpoint it was 11 and a half weeks in flower. That’s a long time and it’s a big commitment to do it. I’m so fucking proud that we have a company that we stand behind stuff like this. I also know that I’ve had people try to sell me New York City Haze so many times but I’m like, This is not it. It’s clearly, obviously not it. The yield is just as strong as any other plant that we have growing right now. But again, from a business standpoint, if it’s at 11 and a half weeks, I need an almost 1.25 yield for it to be breaking even because it’s not just yield it’s yield times time.
On the payoff …
EW: We’re going to see how it goes. … We’re a little bit nervous about how many people understand the significance of this, so we’re going to drop about 300 eighths for a first batch. All but about 50 are going to be in our [Canna Provisions] stores. We’re also going to be dropping about 5,500 prerolls for our first run and again our pre-rolls are not shake. They’re bud and sugar leaf so they are going to be absolute fire.
GK: Someone just did [Piff] in New York, but we are going to be the first people in Massachusetts to bring this to market. I didn’t even know people were doing this in the New York legal market—I was already planning it here. I just found out that they were doing it a month ago. But to be able to provide this to the people is a huge thing, especially for me … is amazing … I think the East Coast has some of the best bud in the world.