The industrialization of cannabis birthed many new features such as delivery services, lab tested products, and high-end retail experiences, but it has also been the death to a couple of major aspects that the industry has long grown accustomed to. Strains are one of the many innocent casualties to the recent industrialization of cannabis. In the next 10 years I believe strains will fall by the wayside while trademarked product and brand names take over. Let’s start by taking a look at strain evolution in cannabis.
Cannabis evolved just like any other living organism on earth. Over time plants are encouraged to develop specific attributes depending on their environment. Different regions of the world developed landrace strains that were genetically modified by their environment over millions of years. Once humans got involved we started mixing strains to excel in different environments and increase the yield and potency of each plant. We have seen this happen with any mass produced agricultural crop including corn, wheat, sugar cane, and apples.
There is one reason ridiculous strain names began: Marketing. The truth is that while strains are obviously different and flourish in different environments with different attributes, they’re not that different. The only difference between the final products is their cannabinoid ratios and their terpene profile. These differences alone are responsible for the different effects. While cannabinoid ratios are inherently different by strain, most plants fall into much broader categories and the name doesn’t change anything.
Strain names originated as a code name for cannabis due to the illegal status of pot, and the code names quickly morphed into marketing tools. Growers or dealers would name a strain something like Panama Red or Old Toby, this unique name was memorable and invoked a sense of brand loyalty from the customers. If the customer really liked the product, then they would go back to the same guy and ask for the same thing. Think about it. Coca-Cola will pay millions of dollars for a commercial that associates their brand with a positive experience in a memorable way. GoDaddy did well due to their funny name and creative marketing. Growers and Dealers have been doing the same thing since the beginning.
While growers need strong names for their products, their reputation as a producer of high quality products is more important. Take a look at the alcohol industry as an example. Jack Daniels named their product after a person that was known for producing high quality whiskey. Using the Alcohol Industry as a case study, we see major changes on the horizon for the Cannabis Industry. Brands will rise such as Willies Reserve and they will replace strains names with unique product names. Products will have unique names but fall into a number of Categories and Sub-Categories:
Flowers will be categorized into High THC, Mid-Grade THC, and High CBD products and continue to use the three common varieties of cannabis, Indica, Sativa, and Hybird. The differentiation of varieties will be made using their terpene profiles. Flowers with energetic terpenes such as limonene, the same terpene found in citrus fruits, will be noted as Sativa. Flowers with calming terpenes such as linalool, the same terpene found in Lavender, will be noted as Indica. Finally, flowers with a mix of calming and energetic terpenes will be noted as hybrids.
Do you think cannabis strain names are losing their luster? Use #strainnames on Facebook and Twitter and let us know what you think. Make sure to do your research and visit one of the fine retail cannabis establishments here in Washington!