Why is there so much bad weed in the legal cannabis market?

bad weed

To answer the question, “Why is there such a range of quality in the legal cannabis market?” requires us first to define what good weed is. Weed or cannabis begins with the flower, as all products stem from that. In that case, really good cannabis should be judged by smoke-ability and flavor. 

However most people find that looks and bud structure are important traits, hence the term bag appeal. But at the end of the day, unless you are planning on framing it, that bud will be ground up, rolled up, and then burnt.

Since this is the case the traits that best describe what good cannabis is should revolve around its taste or flavor and how the flower smokes. Unfortunately, this is very nuanced, and unlike wine, which has been legal for so long, the language and way that cannabis is described is still infantile. 

RELATED: When percentages fail: there’s more to flower than THC

The Canadian cannabis conundrum 

This notion is especially true in Canada, where the industry has largely been split along the divide of newbies and legacy participants. This divide though was the most apparent at the start of Canada’s legalization journey when most of the legacy operators stayed in the medical side of Canada’s legal industry, leaving the executives of the big Canadian licensed producers, led by the eponymous CEO “Chad,” to participate and grow an industry they knew nothing about. 

So in this case, how does an uninformed ignoramus sell something that they know nothing about? 

Well, in this case, they compare it to comparable products that are already being sold, such as agricultural products and intoxicants. This meant that to the accountants wearing suits, the only things that mattered were THC percentage and cultivation canopy size. 

As a result of the takeover by the dreaded Pirate Captain Chad, the ship of cannabis was redirected into growing massive amounts of flower, usually in some type of hybrid greenhouse, grown with the most cost-saving methodology and nutrients available. This, in turn, did what any cannabis freedom pioneer would have told you: it caused the industry to plummet as the market became flooded with awful, cheaply grown cannabis flower that, after one purchase, no consumer would ever want to smoke again. 

Why is this? Well, the key to the success of this industry has always been the cultivators’ love of the plants. This love would translate into meticulously grown flower that would be in high demand, pun intended. Unless legal cannabis executives were able to bring in one of these industry heroes to run their program, it was highly unlikely that they would ever succeed. Largely because the LP’s couldn’t grow good flower and the industry was set up to fail from the start, largely due to monopolization, price fixing, corruption and overtaxation. 

Sound familiar? Well most industries that have gone through Those issues have met with similar failures. 

RELATED: Is exotic weed really a thing?

One must look no further than the politics in Canada, and their corrupt nature to really understand the basis for these issues. In British Columbia, home of the famous BC weed, the state or provincial government decided that a monopoly-run distribution system owned by the crown (yes, Canada does have a king, and his name is Charles) would, in turn, be able to sell their products to the BC cannabis stores for 30% less than any other mainstream retailer could sell it for. 

So, in effect, the one monopoly would engage in price fixing, ensuring that any products delivered to the central distribution depot could be sold at their own stores with prices undercutting the privately run shops. In some countries, this would be illegal, but in Canada, it appears to be perfectly fine. 

Another example of the glorious ways in which the provinces are run in Canada is the system in place in Quebec. Producers can only sell to their government-controlled stores, and THC percentage cannot be higher than 30%. 

As a result of this misguided framework, the Canadian cannabis industry has faced one long uphill battle filled with mediocre “mids” to smoke. 

Thankfully, this is starting to change as certain provinces, one being BC, have allowed for a craft loophole to emerge. Under new guidelines, the federal government and some provinces have opened the door for micro-cultivators to start producing. This has encouraged many legacy growers to join the regulated market by letting them cultivate how they used to, using smaller rooms and legacy genetics. 

This new trend has seen better and better quality flower and ancillary products emerge on the legal marketplace, forcing the largest of the corporate cannabis companies to rethink their business model and, thankfully, via the craft legacy producers some quality cannabis products have finally returned to the market and the heady boys can exhale a sigh of flavorful ganja smoke once again. 

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content.


Harry Resin Harry Resin is a long-time cannabis cultivator, breeder, and writer who spent two decades in Amsterdam honing his craft. He has been featured in High Times, GQ, and several other publications.