“Our potencies here are off the scale,” confirms longtime grower Todd Ellison, co-founder of Colorado Marijuana Marketing, a one-stop shop for weed-related entrepreneurs in search of marketing help. “I have a guy who taught me to grow, who has been growing since the ’60s. And this stuff blows him away.” And Ellison agrees. “I am almost 40. I’ve got three kids. You don’t want something that is going to lay you out and make you stupid all day.”
When my brother, Andrew Marris, got into the weed-analysis business, he expected that growers would be poring over readouts detailing the concentrations of the various psychoactive components, trying to create perfect, complex masterpieces. Instead, though, he found that many of his customers were obsessively focused on just one statistic: the percentage of THC.
This THC obsession has created a bimodal weed supply. There’s the carefully bred marijuana, with excellent flavor and aroma and pleasing suite of effects—which are ridiculously, hallucinatory, time-stutteringly strong for a casual user. Then there’s ditch weed or Mexican brick weed. Sure, you can smoke it around the campfire until the stars go out, but it smells bad and tastes bad, and nobody is going to bother testing it or perfecting it. What’s missing is lower-potency, high-quality dope.
Part of the issue is that, with the illegality of marijuana, procuring it has (until very recently in a very few places) been a criminal act that people don't like going through with any regularity. High-potency pot means that users can smoke less of it, less often, thus reducing the frequency of return visits. For sellers in places where the criminal aspect is about to disappear, steps that lead to more return visits will be welcome. Weaker strains that users can smoke more of will provide a big boost in that regard.
Today's less potent stuff looks worse, tastes worse and feels worse than the high-octane stuff, but the high-octane stuff is just too strong. Figuring out how to bridge that gap will be the key to a viable long-term market structure.