What Is ‘Craft Cannabis’ And How Is It Different Than Other Marijuana?


I started consuming cannabis in 1993. Things have changed so much since then. My parents and my grandparents consumed cannabis too, which is not an uncommon thing in Oregon. When I first started consuming cannabis, it was not easy to acquire. Oregon was much better than other states, but we still had our ups and downs. At times it seemed like the top shelf cannabis was everywhere, and other times I couldn’t find anything like something out of the film Up in Smoke (I’m searching!).

Even in the early 2000’s obtaining cannabis was not always easy in Oregon. When it was close to Croptober things were always flooded, but otherwise you usually had to rely on a local grower’s crop to be done. And when it was gone, it was gone. Other than that we had to rely on cannabis coming through the area from afar, with no idea how it was grown or what strain it was for that matter. Even the local cannabis was a crap shoot, as there was no testing and it could have been grown using who knows what inputs and/or sprayed with all types of nasty stuff.

The entire purchasing process back in the day involved a lot of hoop jumping, waiting, and hoping. Consistency was the exception, not the rule, and you basically ‘got what you got.’ Some areas are still that way, but a growing number of states are moving to a regulated system which has allowed growers to come out of the shadows and step up their cultivation skills to epic levels. The rise of the cannabis industry has been paralleled by the use of the term ‘craft cannabis.’ That term is used all of the time now in the media and especially in marketing materials put out by licensed cannabis producers. What is craft cannabis?

Technically, craft cannabis is nothing new, just the use of the term is a relatively new thing. This is due in large part to the rise of ‘craft beer.’ Like a craft beer, craft cannabis does not have an exact definition. It’s a largely subjective thing. What may be considered craft cannabis to one person may not be craft cannabis to another person. A quick Google search pops up a definition for craft beer as “a beer made in a traditional or non-mechanized way by a small brewery.” That’s likely an over simplification, but I think it provides a good basis for a definition for craft cannabis.

I would say that craft cannabis is cannabis grown on a smaller level, with the ultimate amount of love poured into every leaf of every plant. Craft cannabis is grown using organic methods and soil inputs, and the finished product is the finest cannabis on the planet. Craft cannabis is not mass produced using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that may be fine for other agricultural crops. Craft cannabis is not corporate cannabis, at least not in my opinion.

A lot of cannabis out there that is billed as ‘craft cannabis’ is actually just mass produced cannabis. The quality of it is just good enough to pass the eye test, but when you consume it you are left wondering if it was really as good as you originally thought. We call that ‘pretendica’ where I’m from. There’s tons of pretendica out there these days at dispensaries. What is happening is you have people with these massive spaces that grow a phenomenal amount of cannabis caring more about quantity that quality. Outside of looking visually appealing, this type of cannabis does not have the terpene profile and/or provide the desired effects that consumers really want. It’s not something that can be tested for – either the cannabis has ‘it’ or it doesn’t.

When every plant gets the attention it needs, it shows in the end product. When cannabis is grown using organic methods and inputs, you can taste and smell the difference compared to when cannabis is grown using heavy metal fertilizers in a grow room that has plants packed into a space in an attempt to make as much profit as possible. Don’t get me wrong, just as there are many people out there that are fine with purchasing cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon there will always be people that want to get lesser quality cannabis if the price is right. But many other people want the best of the best, I’d argue a higher percentage than in the alcohol industry. I guess only time will tell.

One thing that I love about a regulated cannabis market is that it’s so much easier to learn about where your cannabis comes from. The producer is right on the label, and most cannabis companies have a website and/or social media channels in which they provide information about their cannabis. This is vital when you are trying to determine if a cannabis producer is truly producing ‘craft cannabis’ or if they are just some people that were growing cannabis in a basement and just recently moved to a massive corporate model and are about to experience some serious growing pains (no pun intended) or a massive corporate grow that is just using the term ‘craft cannabis’ to help them push their mass produced corporate pretendica.

Look for companies that are very specific about their cultivation methods. If they just say ‘it is organic’ that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Look for companies that are into living soils and compost teas and possess way too much knowledge about bacteria. Growing craft cannabis is not easy, and it involves a knowledge base and skill set that not that many growers possess.  You will know it when you see it. When people keep it high level, beware. Perhaps they are just being secretive, but it’s been my experience that they are usually just hiding methods that involve using newly Monsanto-owned nutrient lines.

What do readers think? Do you think that craft cannabis is deserving of its newly found admiration? Do you think that craft cannabis is overrated? Do you think that there is a specific definition for craft cannabis? Do you think that there are just certain elements that when combined equate to craft cannabis, and if so, what are those elements?

image via Reddit

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