MzJill Genetics is one of the most celebrated ultra-premium seed companies, across the world. It is eponymously named after its founder, MzJill, who High Times dubbed “a superstar breeder and tireless cannabis advocate.” She boasts over 20 years of experience sourcing, curating, and cultivating the finest quality, small batch, medicinal cannabis seeds.
Everything MzJill Genetics’ does is centered on breeding distinctive, innovative, and boundary-pushing medicine. It prides itself on seeds that offer a consistently seamless, successful, and superior growing experience. From the instant you germinate one of its seeds, add them to your seed vault, or both, MzJill Genetics views you as a living extension of its tangible legacy and family. As family, its doors are always open for advice, information, or even just to say hi!
Also, beyond enriching cannabis’ biodiversity by cultivating best-in-class seeds, MzJill Genetics is committed to making a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable populations. The seed company supports numerous causes and donates proceeds of sales to, among other initiatives, veterans’ healthcare, charities focused on empowering women, and its holiday drives.
Rooted in you,
I. Green Roots.
The music was perfect every day. As long blades of grass and crops swayed and brushed against each other, they’d shush all of the noise in the background and bring me a deep calm. As a child, I remember spending hours listening to and looking at the movement of grassy waves as far as the eyes could see. For me, being raised on a small farm shaped my identity, spirit, and always reminded me that even the simplest things can bring about the most profound pleasure.
My journey cultivating cannabis began with a love for growing all things, and a father who shared his fascination with science and horticulture with me. He always said I was born with a green thumb, but looking back, it was his positive reinforcement that gave me one. Regardless of the crop, we loved the magic of germinating a seed, nurturing a delicate sprout, enjoying a beautiful flower and fruit, and harvest. If you’ve never grown a plant, I encourage you to buy a pack of seeds asap—your choice—place a few in a sheet of moistened paper towel, and bring them to life! As cannabis lovers, I promise your enjoyment will only deepen. There are certain sounds, smells, places, things, that evoke feelings for all of us, even long after we’ve separated from them. This will feel familiar, even though you have never done it. It’s hard to explain. Like déjà vu. Except not. I digress.
II. She had my Back & Forbidden Fruit.
Before TGA Genetics, Jilly Bean, the High Times articles, and critical acclaim, I was highly motivated to find a solution. I’ve been afflicted by scoliosis my entire life, and, while my ailment doesn’t require a spinal fusion operation, the pain can be unbearable. I tried virtually every stretch, back brace, and homeopathic remedy imaginable. I was hesitant to take pain medications, given the side effects and potential for addiction.
Looking back this was the beginning, but it felt like the end. Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ll never forget the first day I tried cannabis. I finally found true pain relief. It was a revelation. On top of reducing my scoliosis symptoms, I was instantly reminded of the calm I had on the farm. It felt familiar, even though I had never consumed it. Like déjà vu. Except not. I felt the peaceful calmness of my youth, which was so hard to find, especially as a single mother of three young daughters. And, in 1997, my love affair with cannabis began.
I leveraged my horticultural training and newly found passion, and jolted into growing medicine for myself. I wanted to offset the cost of the only medication I found that worked, and, in the process, create the best quality antidote.
III. The Dark Ages & the Cost of Cannabis.
During the dark ages of prohibition, cultivating cannabis was a reclusive life. Mainstream public perception, the risk of home invasion, and punitive legislative frameworks, made growing my cure, into a highly secretive, anxious, and paranoia-provoking endeavor. I never experienced such conflict. Most of my “friends” disappeared, and my best friend grew closer. And, despite medical marijuana being legal, state family law put mothers at risk of losing custodial rights to their children because using was deemed not to be in the best interest of their children. The toughest part of this journey were my children. I didn’t want them to feel ashamed, but had to explain that people may judge us. So, it was important to keep it private. But, I kept their heads high by showing them that their mom was helping change the world. While homeschooling them, I was able to impart the same horticultural knowledge my father offered me, and even taught them the genetic breakdown of every plant we grew.
Being a single mother of three beautiful daughters and working as a teaching assistant in Oregon’s Salem-Keizer School District, I didn’t have much extra cash. On top of that, quality medicine was often scarce. So, producing my own medicine quickly became more practical than purchasing it. But, I needed to protect my kids, which meant painstaking planning and creative methods. Harkening back to secret annexes and bookcase passageways I saw in cartoons growing up, I set up a discreetly camouflaged, free-standing, room, in my garage. I used hydroponic methods because I didn’t want to dispose of conspicuous bags of soil. And, given increased DEA surveillance, I was advised to avoid local hydroponic stores. So, I crafted my own bubbler-bucket system with items I collected from local plumbing and hardware stores. I made my own net pots with a drill, purchased an aquarium air pump, and used aquatic plant food. Despite the initial stress associated with cannabis cultivation, I instantaneously rediscovered how therapeutic tending my garden was.
IV. Budding Business & MzJill Genetics.
After juggling teaching, homeschooling my girls, and growing, I began cultivating full-time and co-founded TGA Genetics in 2001. The seed company soon became the first well-known, aboveground cannabis-genetics source native to the United States.
Today, as the Owner and Head Breeder of MzJill Genetics, I continue to take the same gentle approach to cultivating strains, as I did with my own medicine. And, my commitment to creating medication for those individuals and causes I care about the most has led to the creation of some of the most popular strains across the globe. Of the >40 strains I’ve had the pleasure of conceiving, some of my favorites are:
Jilly Bean. This is my first and arguably most popular creation. High Times Top Ten (2007), High Times Best Sativa (2014), The Adam Dunn Show Invitational (ADSI) 1st Place (2018). As its name suggests, Jilly Bean tastes just like jelly beans! Her terpene profile is a wonderful blend of candy and citrus, with just enough tart to be mouthwatering. Its iconic flavor makes it a staple in numerous cannabis confections. Jilly Bean’s fragrant nose is a pulpy citrus blend of mango, orange, and pineapple. The 60/40 sativa-dominant strain has been highly effective in the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, depression, and migraines.
Agent Orange. I created it in honor of my dad. He was part of the United States Army Special Forces (5th Special Forces), a Green Beret, in Vietnam. Like numerous veterans in Vietnam, he was exposed to the herbicidal weapon Agent Orange, and, as a result, passed away from cancer. We donate proceeds of Agent Orange to suffering war veterans. Agent Orange is a beautifully balanced and uplifting fusion of Jack the Ripper’s sour, bright, freshly squeezed lemon notes, and Orange Velvet’s Dreamsicle smooth finish.
Brian Berry Cough. Brian Berry is a tribute to a fallen friend, Brian Damewood, who lost his struggle with ALS. He was able to smoke the first harvest from the plant two days before he passed, which was an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. I’ll never forget his smiley, bright, and chattery approval. Brian Berry was created to help bring awareness to ALS and keep Brian’s name alive. A highly potent 50/50 hybrid of Kyle Kushman’s Strawberry Cough crossed with a Cherry Space Queen male, Brian Berry tastes like Jolly Rancher’s strawberry and cherry, with traces of grapes and lemons in certain phenotypes.
V. Trial by Fire & Rising from the Ashes.
Just when everything seemed stable, my children blossomed into wonderful adults and my cannabis business was flourishing, I’ll never forget October 08, 2017.
I walked outside to do a final check of my home before bed. I gazed down at my in-ground outdoor garden, I looked up and saw the flames. The gale force winds, plumes of smoke, indelible smell of burnt wood, brush, and lawns, it felt apocalyptic. Within 45 minutes of evacuating, the California wildfires took everything in my home, except for my cat and the clothes on my back. I am still trying to rebuild everything, but it made me realize that more important than our material possessions are family and the legacy we leave behind.
Part of my tangible legacy is my charity, People Helping People. My work includes organizing holiday food, clothing, and toy drives (across Oregon and Northern California); fundraising for the less fortunate, veterans, and children with disabilities; and empowering women, especially in the cannabis ecosystem. From chemo patients and autistic children, to homeless Oregonians, in serving you, you’ve inspired me more than you’ll ever know!
I hope to continue being an unyielding advocate for one of the noblest crops, setting an example for women to blossom in the cannabis industry and beyond, and inspiring people to help as many in need as they are able.