Does The Medical Cannabis Market Provide Higher Quality?

Philip Ghezelbash September 23, 2019 0 comments

Prohibition meant low quality products and potential problems for medical cannabis patients. It’s all dank buds now.

Cannabis is quickly gaining popularity in the U.S., with more and more states legalizing both medicinal and recreational cannabis use. As the legal cannabis market grows, so does the number of cannabis consumers. Today’s legal cannabis consumer is also a far cry from the stereotypical stoner of old. The difference being today’s cannabis consumer is guaranteed dank (potent, sticky and pungent) buds as well as those designed for medical purposes. This means high-CBD strains, high-terpene strains and moderate hybrids.

cannabis growing under grow lights

Legalization Means Better Cannabis Options 

With a booming industry and growing market share, cannabis products are only gaining in quality. becoming more refined and ever more specific.

Legalization means cannabis consumers can emerge from the shadows and be discerning in the cannabis products they purchase. Gone are the days when an illegal dealer was the only place to purchase from. Dispensaries and online stores now offer a veritable smorgasbord of options to suit all tastes.

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Legalization has also done a lot to improve the understanding and quality of cannabis products. Black-market breeding over decades resulted in speculative claims as to the properties of individual cannabis strains and a lack of quality control. One study even showed that a supposed Indica-derived cannabis strain from Pakistan was actually genetically closer to hemp than it was to cannabis.

The Problem With Prohibition And Quality 

Colloquial descriptors — such as using the word strain instead of cultivar — further hamper accurate descriptors of cannabis qualities. An April 2019 review in Cannabis Science and Technology concludes that cannabis industry has been constrained due to scientific structure and classification being held back by law.

This kind of hit and miss process under which prohibition operated had real-world effects. Like a host of serious missed opportunities for patients seeking cannabis for its therapeutic properties. Patients seeking a cannabis cultivar for, say, its high CBD levels, could not be guaranteed an illegal plant product high in CBD.

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Same Dank Buds — Different Regulation Process

With the legalization of cannabis in many states and the increase in scientific research into its therapeutic properties, there are now sound scientific techniques to ensure your cannabis is the plant you want it to be.

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The verification of cannabis content occurs in a variety of ways. With genetic research on cannabis cultivars currently underway at U.S. and Canadian cannabis testing labs like Steep Hill and Medical Genomics.

The following data analytic tools are also useful in establishing and analyzing the chemical profile of cannabis plants.

  • High-resolution mass spectrometry. This establishes a chemical profile by measuring the mass to charge ratio of ions in the cannabis sample. These ratios then tell us what is contained in a sample.
  • Principal Component Analysis (PCA): analyzes data using statistical procedures and is useful in exploring new data and making predictive models.
  • Genotyping identifies a species or cultivar by identifying unique singular nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and their differences between cannabis plants.

Premium Cannabis is More Common

So now that we know how to determine if the qualities we want from cannabis are present in a specific plant, what exactly are those qualities? What makes premium cannabis premium?

The kind of experience one wants from cannabis differs from person to person. Some might be after a THC-induced intoxicating effect while others might want pain-relief or a therapeutic treatment. Some universal demands from consumers, however, are products that are safe, easy to use, discreet, and come with detailed and accurate dosing recommendations.

dank buds of cannabis

Much like consumers consider growing conditions of food in their estimation of quality, the same consideration is starting to be given to cannabis products. Many consumers consider controlled and carefully maintained indoor growing practices to be crucial to creating premium quality plants. Standardized practices and hygienic environments are key to creating reliable and safe cannabis products.

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Ethics Usually Equals Excellent Dank Buds

But the growing conditions are not the only factors that are important to consumers. The ethical values of the companies producing cannabis can also determine the success of a product. Turning a standard purchase into an ethical one that some consumers will pay top dollar for.

Companies like Eaze for example, are working to create high ethical standards for their employees, customers, and others. There’s been much criticism of the legal cannabis industry lately. This is due to the fact that some are making money and growing cannabis businesses while others are still in prison for cannabis possession crimes. Eaze has a social impact director and provides clinics to help individuals file to clear previous cannabis convictions that hold many back from working in and out of the cannabis industry.

Lowell Herb Co. is a cannabis company taking a similar path, working to provide jobs at their company for individuals with non-violent cannabis convictions. They even had a highly public marketing billboard campaign advertising that fact.

jar of dank buds

Real Quality Means Higher Prices 

But does high-quality cannabis result in higher prices? It really all comes down to what you consider quality.

Indoor grown and climate-controlled cannabis products, for example, are likely to cost more due to their increased running costs. Consumers feel the weight of the increased costs of organic certifications and other cultivation decisions.

Although, for those looking to experiment with cannabis medicine, this is a good time. Plants with higher THC levels tend to sell for higher prices. This is bad news for THC lovers but good news for those exploring CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpene profiles.

Ethical business practices can also pass costs onto consumers. Paying staff fair wages and benefits, and contributing to social justice reform all involve spending by the company.

Overall, it all depends on what you consider quality to be, and whether you’re willing to fork out a larger chunk of change for your cannabis.

Author avatar

Philip Ghezelbash
Philip Ghezelbash is an ex-personal trainer with a science background who currently operates New Zealand's only health specialized writing studio. He is passionate about presenting complex science in an easy to digest manner and is a firm believer that cannabis has substantial potential to be used as a medicine for degenerative disease.