Does the cannabis brand in your local dispensary understand you or what you want from your cannabis? Probably not. It’s not just limited to cannabis either. Most brands truly don’t understand their customers. Whether it’s spaghetti sauce or cars, the brands you may love truly don’t understand you. Why? There’s plenty of market research around and market research companies out there that will help companies understand their customers. But most companies just muddle along selling their products. There are many companies who just muddle along with their brands and never really look at their audience. That’s changing.
COVID-19 has changed much of the dynamics of brands. Since COVID pushed a lot of sales online, brands have had to sit up and take notice because consumers can be very choosy about what they buy. There’s not a lot of shelves lined up with products in a grocery although we’re all still going grocery shopping. But a lot of products are missing from the shelves.
Cannabis is changing everything. One thing that the past election showed us was that cannabis crosses all political boundaries. Cannabis is no longer just a ‘hippie’ product and most of the national brands realize this.
From Green Market Report, this story tells how a huge multi million dollar research project about cannabis consumers is sought after by the biggest corporations in the U.S. As they should be. Cannabis consumers are the largest growth sector in today’s marketplace.
Drinking isn’t the best thing for you. Drinking has more bad effects on your body than cannabis. Now that it’s the holiday season and we’re having dinners; socially distant dinners, taking a spreader chance dinners, bubble dinners, solo dinners…whatever. Instead of drinking as much as you can, substitute cannabis.
Here’s an article from Benzinga that pairs cannabis with the different courses you may have during your holiday meals. They’re a lot like wine and food pairings…which I still adore…but different.
Alcohol consumption is up during the pandemic. You can read stories about it all over the media. And no wonder. This is a truly difficult time for many of us and alcohol is an outlet. So is cannabis. So enjoy your holiday dinners and get-togethers, even if virtual over Zoom and substitute some of that alcohol for cannabis. You won’t regret it!
Ladies and Gentlemen!!! In this corner, a plant that’s been reviled for the last 100 years, but still the heavyweight champeen of the world; CANNNABISSSSSSSSSS INDICA!!! And in the other corner, the other plant that’s been reviled for the last hundred years, lighter, but more agile; CANNNABISSSSSSSSSSSSS SATIVA!!!!! It’s Indica vs. Sativa! In today’s match Sativa will go head-to-head with it’s heavyweight brother, Indica!!!
These days, the whole Indica vs. Sativa feels like a wrestling match. All strains listed at our favorite dispensary as either Sativa, Indica or ‘hybrid’. What do these terms mean? Has cannabis become a victim of over breeding? Sativa or Indica are both meaningless terms. They refer to the same plant. Yes, there are visual and subtle genetic differences between the two species, but they don’t mean a lot other than the way they make you feel. Cannabis cultivators and breeders have been changing the genetics of cannabis for so long that the basis for separating indica vs. sativa have very little meaning.
What Are Strains Really?
There was a time that cannabis wasn’t divided between Indica and Sativa (or ruderalis for that matter). They were considered varieties of the same plant. Are they different plants? Since sativa or indica plants can be cross-bred, they are part of the same species, so even though they have different characteristics, both plants are from the species — officially: Cannabis Sativa.
Confused yet? Just wait! In the 1960s and 1970s, came the beginning of differentiation for breeding between Indica and Sativa.
The bricks of weed we used to get came from Mexico and then Columbia and Panama were, to the best of our knowledge, Sativa. Up in the Hindu Kush, in northern India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bhutan were Indica. In North America, our first exposure to Indica was usually through Nepalese hash types. Sometimes it came in long, dark brown ropes and was called Nepalese Finger Hash. I’m clueless as to what it really was. Nepal seemed way too far to bother bringing in a supply of hash, but apparently it wasn’t. The black market imported real hashish from Nepal or Lebanon or Morocco.
What’s Happened over the years?
Beginning in 1970s and really picking up steam in the 1980s, cannabis breeders began crossing different landrace plants. Landrace strains (the term applies for any plant or animal) are original regional strains that have been informally bred to be superior to other strains in the area. A farmer who was just taking seed from his plants for the next crop was just farming.
What have the breeders done?
Interestingly, cannabis breeding isn’t very old. Although cannabis farmers have been taking seeds from the best part of their crop and trying to make their crops better for centuries, but this isn’t cannabis breeding the way we see it now. The new wave of cannabis breeders probably started in the 1980s with roots back in the 1960s or 70s. Breeders started out with intellectual curiosity, as in; “What would happen if I crossed this plant with that plant?” It grew from there. The real question now is: What have these breeders done to the plant? What’s happened to landrace strains, the original strains of cannabis without a lot of outside genetic manipulation? Are they still truly landrace? Do they still exist in today’s commercial cannabis market?
Do we even need landrace strains? I’d say yes, unequivocally we need to keep historic landrace strains. Other crops have seedbanks to preserve their genetic heritage, but not cannabis. Given the reproductive vigor of cannabis, can we keep some of the original strains pure or as ‘pure’ as they ever were? One of the reasons that hybrid strains have been developed in the first place is that, even during the darkest days of cannabis prohibition, seeds are easy to transport around the world.
Botanical Differences – Genus and Species
The genetic composition of Indica vs. Sativa are 99.9% the same. They are essentially the same plant with subtle genetic differences that, for our purposes, make all the difference in the world. Just like apples (and we’re comparing apples to apples here;-) Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp apples are the same are the same genus and species, but taste completely different. Here’s a better definition than I can write as the whole genus and species thing can take you down a rabbit hole. But if you’re interested… In the world of wine, there are hybrid grapes that are crosses between vitus vinifera and vitus labrusca (think Welch’s grape juice). They might make palatable wines,
The bottom line for genus and species is that when everything else is the same, then species doesn’t matter. Other than if you crossed that Honeycrisp with the Golden Delicious, you’d come up with a different apple. How does that apply to our favorite plant? Well, these ‘hybrids’ that are all over the place are simply a cross between two species. They’re not really ‘hybrid’ per se, but they’re a completely new species. Here’s the Wikipedia article on Honeycrisp if you really want to know.
Other than species, there’s really no difference between Indica and Sativa. So what’s the big deal? The differences are subtle. Sativa is considered to have a better mental high, meaning it energizes you and gives you lots of nice thoughts (euphoria) and gives you both the mental and physical energy to get things done. Indica might give you some euphoria, but generally it just made your body feel relaxed. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those descriptions, breeders have tried to combine them. That’s why there are so many hybrids currently in the marketplace.
This is wrong, at least in part. Breeders should be focusing on either enhancing sativa or indica, rather than trying to come up with a mule…which is a cross between a horse and a donkey. Specifically a female horse and a male mule. In the wine world, hybrids abound. They’re a cross between vitus vinifra (wine grapes) and vitus labrusca (think Welch’s Grape Juice). The wines they make mostly suck. Hybrids, like seyval blanc can make decent tasting wine, but never great wine. They are neither nor; As in neither wine grapes, nor grapes that are appropriate for grape juice or grape jelly.
Why do cannabis breeders continue to do this? Mostly, I believe, it’s because they can. Their intellectual curiosity has overcome what’s right for the cannabis plant and it’s genome. What’s happened over the last few decades is dispensaries have become hawkers of cannabis. By and large, dispensaries really don’t care what the buds are in their jars. They care about what sells. I can’t blame them because they’re retailers. The ‘hybrids’ which can be good on their own, still miss the mark on varietal purity. Is this important? Probably not in the long run, but we should take stock of what we’re actually purchasing.
Part 2: Indica vs. Sativa in Today’s Marketplace
Part 2 of the ongoing saga of Indica vs. Sativa will take stock of what the stocks around the country contain. Are they claiming indica? Or Sativa? Or “hybrid”? What’s actually being sold in the legal marketplace? That’s a question which we’d all like to know answers. Next week, we’ll look at some answers along with some revelations of cannabis vs. sativa and what it all means to us.
Beyond Buds, Next Generation: Marijuana Concentrates and Cannabis Infusions by Ed Rosenthal and Greg Zeman
Every once in a while a book comes along that makes me want to try concentrates. I’m still not sure about infusions though. But I am sure that given the new-found legality of cannabis in many states, there will be people who experiment with our favorite plant in ways that have not been thought of before now. For whatever reason, the cannabis plant can be morphed into new substances that can take us down the road to high.
Both authors are well known and respected in the cannabis industry and both Mr. Rosenthal and Mr Zeman have written several books before about the same thing. They have also written books about cultivation and other cannabis topics of interest. This could be called a reboot of the last version of this book, which was published in 2015. 2015 was a different era for legal cannabis and extracts, so you could think of this as a new edition…or just a new book. In the wine world, Hugh Johnson’s (and now Jancis Robinson too!) has been published since the 1971, so you can’t fault the authors for the continued publication of this book.
This book got me chomping at the bit to try some of the concentrates that are described in it. I’m not ready to dab, mostly because it’s just too complex to operate. I’m generally not a concentrate guy. Extracts and concentrates can be very confusing. They certainly are for me. The best parts of cannabis flower can be explained and understood easily. But when it comes to concentrates and extracts, there’s a bit of the mad chemist in them. If it’s an extract, how were the THC and other good parts of the plant (think terpenes, and lots of other elements besides THC) extracted? Alcohol? Butane? CO2? Water? Ice water? This book will explain it all to you in a way that you can understand. There is a ton of information in this book.
Which is the Best?
I’m generally not a concentrate person. I usually don’t really know where they’re from and how they were made. I like flower and its components. Flower is something tangible. I know where it came from. I can see it. I can see how’s it’s trimmed and I can see what it looks like. Not so for concentrates. I’m depending on the label and Flower is something I can smell and hold in my hand and understand. When I see a concentrate, I always wonder what it is. I don’t smoke vape pens because I don’t know where the oil came from. Was it cut with something that I don’t know?
Last year there was the big vape scandal. Never mind that it was mostly product from black market producers, it was scary and several states had dispensaries pull their vape products off their shelves. Not a good scene.
There is one concentrate company that I know and I know where the product comes from and how it was made. Water seems to bee the best way to extract the ‘good stuff’ from flower. It’s difficult to do, but the results can be outstanding.
Conclusion & Caveat
There is one disconcerting issue in this book. There seem to be many advertisements for products. I’ll leave it at that, but somehow there shouldn’t be advertising or the appearance of advertising. We live in a different world now with these kinds of emoluments, but shouldn’t there be a way to tell there are ads?
Overall, this book is a great addition to any cannabis library and to anyone who wants to know and understand concentrates and how they’re made and all the different varieties of concentrated cannabis.
The U.S. House of Representatives just (on December 4th) passed legislation to decriminalize cannabis. Yes. They. Did.
However, and this is a big HOWEVER, the Senate is highly unlikely to pass the same legislation. Republican representatives and senators from many states are still against removing cannabis from Schedule 1 and it’s now just plain resistance and not based on what their voters want.
In the house voted mostly, but not entirely, along party lines. The bill, called The MORE act, passed with a vote of 228-164. This balance probably approximately represents the balance of what people in the U.S. favor right now.
It Shouldn’t be a Democrat vs. Republican Thing
Many republicans have continued gaslighting cannabis. This needs to end. In our opinion, it shouldn’t end with the election of democrats, but rather the election of people who will represent all Americans. It’s become clearly obvious that a majority of Americans have finally seen through all the lies the government has been feeding all of us for the last 85 or so years.
We we already know the Senate won’t pass (the Senate probably won’t even bring it to the floor for a vote), maybe they’ll surprise us. The Senate is showing it’s lack of interest in the people of the United States, which begs the question; Why is cannabis so politicized? One answer may be in the desire of Mitch McConnell to assert his and the Senate’s power. This is not a rational move, given that a large majority of the American population believes that cannabis should be decriminalized. Another, and more sinister answer, may be in the desire of the republican party to rule as a minority party. This flies directly in the face of the Founding Fathers desire to create a majority rule democracy.
At the least, this is a start on a path to finally decriminalize and finally begin de-stigmatize cannabis. Here are some of the first headlines: