The current legal cannabis industry is full of copycats and neutral branding. There are only three or four containers that are common, all wrapped in similar boxes, all with tiny logos. It makes telling brands apart difficult at best.
There are also a bunch of shared cultivars, with retailers and provincial warehouses bursting at the seams with below average Sensi Star.
All of this combined seems to give me a certain buyers’ malaise when purchasing and consuming legal products.
I do think the branding and marketing rules are asinine, but one of the most frustrating elements of it all is the bizarre brand game that the larger producers play.
Don’t get me wrong, I get the value of branding and differentiating product for the consumer, I just don’t understand why one facility needs a dozen brands, each of whom have ten more brands.
I remember watching then-licensed CannTrust roll out a suite of brands that included Syner.g, Xscape, and Liiv, and laughing my ass off. Not only are those not fucking words, but they actually make people hesitate and mispronounce the real words that they should be.
Who the fuck came up with that, and how much did they get paid? Why not just use, oh, I don’t know, something like CannTrust?
Ok, that one answers itself these days, I guess.
Getting the weed
This one came to me in a somewhat round-about fashion.
Chet Woodside, our product director here at Inside the Jar came over to Vancouver Island from the mainland for a visit. We had some work to do, and got in some good brainstorming time.
After lunch, I had a call I had to take, so Chet decided to stroll down the block to the local weed shop and check it out.
When he came back, he was packing an eighth of legal weed, sealed safely behind an excise sticker. And a box. And a plastic container that could fit five times the product.
It was the same box as last time. And the same plastic container.
Chet had grabbed a middle-range eighth from a brand called Grail. It came in at $39.99, which is actually reasonable in the legal space, and was recommended because of freshness.
I didn’t bother immediately trying to figure out who actually owns the brand, let alone grew the weed. I figured we should smoke a joint first. A couple of hours later I looked up Grail cannabis, and wow.
Firstly, they have a hideous website. That weird slow movement makes my head hurt. Of course, it is hidden behind a useless age gate that now thinks I turned 100 this past January.
When I made it to the bottom, I found that it is a High Park Company brand. When I looked up High Park, who’s website is much less pain-inducing, it shows that they are owned by Tilray, but also own ten brands of their own.
Ten fucking brands in a subsidiary of what is the most corporate weed grower on Vancouver Island, who in turn is owned by Privateer Holdings. Privateer is an American corp that also owns Leafly.
This brand shit is ridiculous. Fuck it, let’s get to the smoking.
Everything but smoke
The first smell I got was weird broccoli. I like broccoli, but it is not all that great in this context. It smells as if I threw some broccoli in some boiling water and forgot about it, then went back an hour later just for a sniff.
Luckily, the smell isn’t all that strong, and the broccoli faded after a few minutes, becoming a very mild fruity coconut kind of thing. I am not sure why the initial smell dissipated like it did, it seems like there may have been some kind of off-gassing going on in the container. I am glad it went away.
As I break it up it starts to smell a bit like a pina colada. It is an improvement again, but I am not all that excited. It looks mediocre, without much trichome coverage, and for a cultivar called ‘Purps’ it is very un-purple.
Moisture isn’t too bad, but it is on the dry side. It crumbles with a squeeze, but not to dust, so it rolls up fine.
This is ok, I guess. It is not good, but it is smokeable. It is basically the definition of mediocre. There is a very slight sweet kushy flavour, and it burns well. The challenge here is to find something more to say about it than just ‘mids’.
There is a spot in the market for this kind of product. Not everyone geeks out about weed, and not everyone wants crazy potent product.
It is a good thing for Grail, as this is also not very strong. I got a bit heavy lidded, and felt a slight lethargy, but not much otherwise. I can see this fitting into the Budweiser or Naked Grape product category, though not likely at this price point.
In the old illicit market this product would sell for $1000 to $1200 per pound wholesale, and would be one of those cheap $5 to $6 grams meant for cost-conscious shoppers.
GRAIL CANNABIS (TILRAY)
Meh. This is boring and mediocre weed. Nothing offensive, aside from a weird dissipating smell when I opened it. Not very potent. Nothing stands out.
Executive Director, Inside the Jar
Gardener. Gambler. Skeptic. Talker. Toker.
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Seed. Stem. Stash. Smoke.
Despite the perception of Canada as a cold and snowy landscape, cannabis has been grown outdoors here for generations, long before prohibition was lifted in 2018. In Rock Creek, a small town in British Columbia’s Okanagan region, an area adored for its long, dry summers and endless rows of wineries and fruit orchards, a portion of a sprawling 2,200-acre ranch once dedicated to ginseng and cherries is now filled with rows upon rows of cannabis and hemp.
“My partner and I set a goal to make the best cannabis-infused cookie we could. What we learned very quickly was that our cookie recipe was great, but the process of infusing our butter was damaging its integrity. So we set out to find a way to infuse butter—not for maximum potency—but for the best possible flavour, and to preserve what makes butter magic.”
“Weed infused in various candies, brownies, or cookies generally takes much longer to kick in and there’s inevitably a few moments half-an-hour post-consumption in which I say, out loud: “I’m not sure this thing is working.” Then, like one of Mike Tyson’s fists to the face, the full might of a deceptively delicious baked confection takes hold, and for the next few hours—I’m high. High high. And sometimes, too high.”