The global spread of cannabis
There’s nothing new about that crushed green leafy substance that’s been gaining a lot of traction lately. As current events seem to spring cannabis news as a frequent topic, the recent popularity of the drug sometimes portray an image of something new.
The fact, though, is that cannabis has been around for centuries. Not only has it been around for so long, but its uses have always been the same -- medicinal or recreational. Its first known reference dates back to 2737 B.C. (Before Christ), where it was cited by Chinese Emperor, Shen-Nung, as primarily a medicinal substance used to treat several ailments, but its euphoric effects were also mentioned.
With time, the plant spread across nations, with each new adopter planting the crop on new soil -- resulting in new weed strains -- and embracing the plant for different reasons. In India, for example, cannabis was a recreational substance and its medicinal uses were not much of a priority. The Muslims did the same -- considering the Koran’s ban on alcohol, cannabis was a great substitute for them.
The West saw the plant a little later -- in the 1500s. However, it wasn’t until the the 20th century that weed’s popularity really ballooned, thanks to the prohibition era. Banning the drug only resulted in rebellious attitudes, as it became mostly accessible to entertainers and the like. In the United States, for example, an emergence of an actual music genre called “Refer Songs” in the 1930s was the youths’ response to the prohibition movement. It was a jazz-era invention, countering prohibitive propaganda that were promoted in movies like 1936’s Refer Madness, and it certainly served to increase the popularity of cannabis use.
Considering the era discussed, realize the irony in the fact that those who oppose cannabis legalization the most today -- older adults -- grew up in the era that popularized drug use. Their experiments laid the foundation for today’s experiments, which have taken it several steps further with the creation of several new weed strains.
In fact, the future may take it even further as legalisation is becoming a welcomed reality. This may result in businesses using strategies that are focused on those new weed strains, turning them into registered brand names and patenting their creative processes.
But first, let's start with a quick look at weed strains, then explore some possible business implications.
What is a strain of weed?
As history saw the worldwide adoption of cannabis, its transfer from China to other nations around the world caused the crop to evolve in form and potency based on the region and soil it was planted in. This meant different versions of the same crop, known as weed strains, being smoked to produce different levels of highs.
Simply put, the strain of weed refers to the variety of the crop. This is particularly important today, given the wide variety of cannabis available in the market, and especially so given the increasing legislative actions taken to eliminate prohibition. As legal cannabis becomes a more accepted phenomenon, manufacturers and users will become even more free to explore the plant’s potential, leading to even more strains being created.
Today’s weed strains are mostly created in greenhouses and labs, where environmental conditions can be controlled. With cross-pollination and other agricultural and scientific advances, weed just keeps changing, and users welcome the change. In the cannabis industry, weed strains can also be referred to as cultivar, selection, and variety.
Difference between weed strains and brand names
Where a brand name refers to a name that can be owned by a company or other establishment, weed strains refer to agricultural terms describing a variety of the plant. In that sense, such a name can’t necessarily be branded or trademarked.
Although different manufacturer’s and retailers get creative with the names of strains, as of yet, if it is referred to as a strain and not branded, then it has no enforceable rights as an exclusive representation of a brand, company, or other entity. With the current trend of cannabis legalisation, it will be interesting to see how governments and courts handle disputes over weed strain names being masqueraded as brand names, as such a debate is sure to emerge sooner or later.
In the meantime, though, cannabis really only has two groups of strains -- the rest are really just sub-varieties with clever names.
What are the main types of strains?
There are three basic weed groups:
- Sativa: Characterized by its tall and thin leaves. Sativa is supposed to give a more hyper, euphoric feeling or “high”.
- Indica: Characterized by its short and fat leaves. Indica is supposed to geve a more relaxed, chill feeling or “high”.
- Ruderalis: Hardly ever talked about, given its lack of potency and significant benefits.
Sativa vs Indica
Weed strains are usually a either sativa or indica, or a combination of both groups. Today’s most popular weed strains depend on who you ask and what part of the world you’re located. However, some strains known worldwide include:
- Blue Dream: A combination of sativa and indica, producing a non-sedating euphoric high.
- OG Kush: A relaxer and stress reliever with several “kush” offspring known globally.
- Blueberry: An indica-heavy hitter that’s been around since the 1970s.
Other strains include, Pineapple Express, Chemdawg, Jack Herrer, and thousands more. Their similarities are in their groups -- sativa, indica, or a combination of both (hybrid) -- and their effects. Their differences lie in the same characteristics, along with their potency and smells. They also come in different colors, textures, and shapes.
Choice of weed strain depends on the user -- it’s all about what you want or are looking for. Several considerations should go into the decision. What is your tolerance level? What smells do you like? What’s available? These questions should help guide your shopping experience and should determine what weed strain you choose over another.
Sativa strains mostly provide an upper high, while Indica strains provide more relaxed highs. The hybrids -- combination of both -- have varying effects. Approaching a budtender can easily narrow your choices.
What do different strains of weed cost?
Cannabis prices vary depending on the strain, the quality, the location, and perhaps also the dealer. A typical price per gram should range between $8 and $14, while higher quality strains cost up to $20 or more. Given the fact that there are over 10,000 cannabis strains in existence, you can imagine the varying prices.
Final words -- How will companies rebrand cannabis?
The current trend of cannabis legalisation will result in an entirely new international market. The plant’s history dates back to ancient China, where its medicinal purposes were mostly cited as its reason for use. However, adoption by other nations exploited its euphoric effects for recreational purpose, and saw the plant evolve with each new region’s soil producing new weed strains.
Prohibition created a new popularity for cannabis. Now, that prohibition seems to be coming to an end as attitudes toward the plant continue to change globally. The increasing support has resulted in movements for legal cannabis use, not just for medical reasons, but for recreational purposes. Canada and several states in the United States have answered the call, legalising the drug. New Zealand may soon follow with its proposed 2020 referendum. Recent developments on the cannabis front over the past two years shows Austrailia may not be far behind.
These legalisation trends will give way to a new era of business, focused on cannabis manufacturing, retailing, export and import. With such a wide array of sectors within a once-illegal industry, companies will no doubt engage in battles to secure their brand. This includes attempts to trademark and copyright weed strains, turning them into brand names. Also expect to see the cross-pollination processes behind certain strains patented to protect intellectual property. We are only in the beginning of the cannabis business environment. As major corporations become involved, be prepared to see the battle for dominance and monopolies change the way weed strains are labeled.