THC is the intoxicating compound that made cannabis a rock star. It is still the sole consideration for some shoppers when picking a product in a retail store. Could it be that the use of poison by the federal government several decades ago is still helping shape this myopic shopping phenomenon?
In the late 1970s, the United States and Mexico tried to eradicate marijuana in the DEA’s war on drugs by using a deadly herbicide, paraquat. The chemical, known to cause damage to the esophagus, liver and kidneys and to be fatal if swallowed, was sprayed by helicopters and low flying airplanes onto suspected crops. The idea was to defoliate the fields the same way the toxic chemical had been used to defoliate jungles in Vietnam. It was a practice that was particularly dangerous in states like California where a significant amount of marijuana was being grown for medicinal use.
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As a result, cannabis growing took up residence inside. There, safe from the government choppers and their poison, a quiet revolution took place. The more limited footprint of inside growing encouraged ingenuity and discovery. Growers, who now had feet instead of acres to work with, had to make the most of their harvest. Many began to breed for high THC content. This had the intention of providing more bang for the buck to consumers. Afterall, no one was working with lab tested product. A bag of weed was judged for its look, smell and especially how high it got you. That’s what kept people coming back for more.
That was decades ago. No one, except a few select researchers, were speaking about CBD or any of the other over 100 cannabinoids found in the plant. There was an explosion of hybrid strains as boutique growers experimented combining genetics. Hydroponics would also be employed like never before because of the yields it could produce if well maintained.
Evaluating cannabis based on THC may have once seemed necessary. The same cannot be said now. Today, enlightened consumers pay attention to other cannabinoids present like CBD, CBN, CBG and others. Cannabis users in the know also pay attention to the ratio of THC:CBD. Doing so can help them discover other strains with a similar profile and effect.
A quick look at the label will also tell a savvy shopper about terpenoid content. Terpenes are the aromatic molecules that give all plants, their fruits and flowers a distinctive smell. Terpenoids, as they are referred to in cured cannabis, are also valued for their own therapeutic value and ability to contribute to an overall entourage effect, or synergistic relationship.
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Shopping for cannabis based solely on the fact that it is high THC is a rookie move. There is so much more to know. More importantly, there is a much wider variety of experience from which to choose. Demand helps shape a marketplace, and knowledge shapes values.
When customers begin to ask detailed questions about the cannabis producers, chemicals used in the process as well as sustainable growing and waste management techniques, the market is strengthened. Producers reevaluate their processes and retailers provide different products. Regulators are not the only ones helping shape this market. A high cannabis consumer IQ has an effect on the market, a good one.