Navigate to our accessibility widget

Friday April 1, 2022

By Erin Hiatt

Three light green cannabis nuggets, lying on a white wooden table, that are grouped together in the left hand corner with orange hairs popping out Education

There’s a scene in the 1978 Cheech and Chong stoner film Up In Smoke, where Tommy Chong lights up a joint the size of a paper towel roll. Cheech Marin takes the joint and tells Chong he’s smoked just about everything, “and Acapulco Gold, man.”

Judging by how hard it is to find the Acapulco Gold strain today, you’d never guess that it held such sway over the early stoner scene. Let’s get to know a landrace strain – North America’s very own Acapulco Gold.

Acapulco Gold Cultural References

That “You Wanna Get High” scene, from Cheech and Chong, is only one of the stoner culture’s nods to the landrace strain, Acapulco Gold. Especially in the 1960’s and 70’s, Acapulco Gold was talked about just about everywhere, including books like Acapulco Gold by Edwin Corley, The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño, Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Mission Earth novels, and others by Gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, and footnote aficionado David Foster Wallace.

Up close shot of a bowl of white popcorn with green pot leaves on top that have 5 each
One way to enjoy Acapulco Gold is by burning a joint while watching a movie it is being featured in. photo credit

The strain had a big headway in the cinematic world as well. There’s the 1976 film smuggling film, Acapulco Gold, as well as a mockumentary with the same name, a 1970 film called Performance where Mick Jagger’s character was an Acapulco Gold smoker, and of course, Up in Smoke.

The Roots of Acapulco Gold

So what is it about this pure sativa (aka Mexican sativa) that made it a favorite in books, films, and the celebrity go-to-strain like Jack Nicholson highly enjoyed? First making its appearance on the U.S. cannabis scene in 1964, as its name suggests, Acapulco Gold comes from the mountainous areas of Acapulco, Mexico.

It’s been said that the sativa turned gold in the strong southern sun and dried to perfection by the winds from the Pacific Ocean, and was much better and more potent than any weed being grown in the U.S. at the time. In more recent years, Acapulco Gold has been used to create strains like Skunk #1 and many of the Haze strains.

Acapulco Gold, the cannabis strain, is pictured with golden yellow, purple, and neon green leaves shot from above its main cola branch
Acapulco Gold leaves starts fading golden yellow when it's ready to harvest. photo credit

The strong high from Acapulco Gold, with THC averaging about 23 percent, is said to be clear-headed and energetic, while the flavor and aroma are rich and toffee-like. Cannabis consumers may find Acapulco Gold beneficial for conditions like fatigue, aches, and pains, depression, and anxiety. It may give a creative and buzzy boost to your day.

How the Classic Landrace Strain, Acapulco Gold, Stands Today

Why Acapulco Gold fell out of familiarity is unknown. As far back as 1975, New York magazine writer Albert Goldman, in his piece “What Will Happen When Middle-Class America Gets the Straight Dope,” opined that the Acapulco Gold strain was already losing its cachet and potency because it was being over planted in response to American consumer demand.

Others theorize that it’s been difficult for Acapulco Gold to grab a foothold in modern markets because its genetics are still a mystery and finding the true landrace is rare, trusting only the seed seller’s word.

Farmers that grow Acapulco Gold today do it both indoors and outdoors. With a flowering period of 60-70 days, it can grow taller than 3.6 feet and may yield up to 500 grams.

However, if you grow Acapulco Gold indoors or anywhere other than Acapulco, Mexico, by definition it is no longer a landrace — a pure strain adapted to its very specific environment — and may lose some of the characteristics that set the strain apart from other pure sativas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Acapulco Gold Still Available?

Acapulco Gold is considered a rarity, so it may be difficult to find, but some growers are still cultivating it.

Is Acapulco Gold Top Shelf?

High Times called Acapulco Gold one of the 25 Greatest Strains of All Time, and considering its impact on stoner culture and its contribution to other strains, calling it “top shelf” seems like a good fit.

Why Is It Called Acapulco Gold?

This sativa is called Acapulco Gold because it grows naturally in the mountainous areas of Acapulco and its buds take on a golden color.

How Does Acapulco Gold Make You Feel?

A pure Sativa, the high may make you feel energetic, creative, and buzzy.

Have you been lucky enough to smoke Acapulco Gold? Comment below and let us know how it was!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

More From This Author

Related Articles