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The Genesis of Jean Guy, the great French Canadian strain

With a proud Québecois name revealing its French Canadian lineage, Jean Guy (pronounced jhawn-ghee) is a consistent top-seller known for its energizing yet heavy-hitting effects.

“Alert but steady head high. Great for listening to music. It seems like nothing really hits me anymore but this one sure did.”

—MariahMango, Leafly reviewer

Categorized as a hybrid, Jean Guy is often described as sativa-dominant with an easygoing texture and a great cerebral high. But it’s the frosty green buds, strong citrus smell and lingering lemon-pine aftertaste that fans of Jean Guy often rave about:

“Smells and tastes exactly like those yellow sour lemon jawbreakers that everyone got in their Halloween bags back in the 2000s. The smell of it gave me a huge hit of nostalgia.”

—TiredAf67, Leafly reviewer

Born and raised in Montreal

The story of Jean Guy begins in 2005, when, like a basket of babies brought to a church doorstep, a tray of seedlings was carefully transported across Montreal to a medical cannabis dispensary.

“These clones were given to us by one of our members. He had to get rid of them,” recalls Marc-Boris St-Maurice, director of the Montreal Compassion Center. “He used to grow them outdoors and told us they were a White Widow.”

St-Maurice took in the seedlings and carefully grew the now-notoriously fickle plants to maturity. After cloning a few more he was so impressed by the mysterious strain he decided to sell the fragrant buds to members—but there was already a White Widow on the menu. “And I remember saying, ‘Well, what do we call it?’

The most Québecois name you can imagine

Almost as a joke, St-Maurice tossed out Jean Guy as the most Québecois name he could think of in the moment. But everyone in the room liked it, and the name stuck. Onto the menu went “Jean Guy,” and from there an iconic strain was born.

Because it flew off the shelves at the Montreal Compassion Center, they also began selling clones to eager consumers sometime in the late-aughts.

It wasn’t long before St-Maurice was introduced to some Jean Guy hailing from small-town Quebec, plus his friend and former associate, Adam Greenblatt, had shipped clones out to Canada’s weed headquarters: British Columbia. “And the name just followed because it’s associated with a great strain and it’s a very unique name,” he says.

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Jean Guy goes big

Ryan Proctor, associate brand manager for Good Supply, says Jean Guy is now one of the most recognizable cultivars on the market. “The fact that it continued on from the legacy market into the legal market is evidence of its popularity.”

In the years leading up to legalization in Canada, Jean Guy won a number of awards (1st place at the 2017 Nimbin Cannabis Cup Australia; 1st place at the 2016 Bio Cup Canada) which may have upped its profile. Before that, St-Maurice recalls a 2014 print advertisement in the New York Times mentioning Jean Guy. “When I saw that I was like, ‘Oh my god! OK. Jean Guy has gone international!’” (Full disclosure: it was a Leafly ad.)

Je t’aime, Jean Guy

According to Proctor, Jean Guy is a high-THC strain, up to 25%, with a very low CBD profile of approximately 1%—“popular among the THC hunters out there,” he quips. In Good Supply’s product, their sour-spicy-citrus punch comes from these top-three terpenes: caryophyllene (pepper), guaiol (a more rare pine terpene) and limonene (citrus-lemon). This profile lines up with St-Maurice’s view that a proper Jean Guy has a strong lemon-pine taste and aroma. (Good Supply’s next terpenes in order of strength are humulene, mycerne, terpiolene and alpha-bisabolol.)

Although a hybrid, Proctor confirms Jean Guy is an energizing, sativa-dominant strain that is more suited to daytime use: “It’s ideal for creativity and inspiration, and it gets you off the couch.”

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A clear, cerebral high

For St-Maurice, the experience is a clear, cerebral high that keeps you moving. But for him, the taste and smell also make up a big part of Jean Guy’s charm. “There’s something about the terpenes that really strike a chord with people,” he says. “I find it reminds me of the smell of my school after they had cleaned the hardwood floors.”

Having cultivated, sold and enjoyed the strain over the last 16 years, St-Maurice says Jean Guy shows no signs of slowing down, and still accounts for 20 to 25% of sales at the Montreal Compassion Center. But with the growing cannabis market, he warns consumers against imitation Jean Guy. When asked how to tell a true Jean Guy from an imitation, he says the lemon-pine scent remains very, very distinctive regardless of how it’s grown. And how else does he know a true clone from an imposter? “I just know,” he says, with the conviction of a proud parent.

Colleen Fisher Tully's Bio Image
Colleen Fisher Tully

Colleen Fisher Tully is a freelance writer and editor with recent work in Clean Eating, Today's Parent, The Walrus and Local Love. She posts random thoughts on Twitter @colleenftully

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