With cannabis legalization taking hold across North America, as well as other parts of the world, some people are having issues discerning between different cannabis strains, and many think the wacky strain names are to blame.
While some people say Kosher Kush is the best, other’s swear by Gelato and Dancehall. No, we aren’t talking about ice cream or dance clubs; we’re talking about cannabis. Many people who visited Amsterdam over the past 30 years would have heard of such wacky names attached to various cannabis strains from different parts of the world.
It all started as a bit of a marketing ploy to give stains names that would be appealing to consumers. Fast forward a few decades and many old school cannabis names are still around. But now there are hundreds more. The wacky names might sound neat, but they’re causing a bunch of confusion among consumers and cultivators alike.
Let’s start with the fact that different types of cannabis shouldn’t be called strains at all. More accurately, various cannabis varieties, breeds, and types should technically be called “Cultivars,” according to Autumn Karcey, CEO of Cultivo, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in pharmaceutical grade agricultural products.
“In botanical nomenclature in the cannabis industry, the correct terminology is ‘cultivar,’ which more accurately describes a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by a selective breeding process,” she said, according to a Forbes report.
The issues occur when cultivators don’t really know what they’re growing, and consumers are more or less clueless about what they’re buying. David Hodes, managing editor of Cannabis Science and Technology, spoke about this very subject at the Cannabis Science Conference recently. He explained that cannabis culture in the U.S. evolved faster than science.
This means that cultivators over the decades have been left to their own devices when it comes to naming cannabis that they grow. Cultivators grow cannabis, and new strains are developed and tweaked. But the location of where the strain originated is not given in the name, as well as a bunch of other information that is of value to more advanced cannabis enthusiasts.
One example of the issues cannabis strain names can lead to is the situation with Durban Poison. This was originally a pure Sativa from South Africa, which was thought to have rare appetite suppressing qualities. As Reggie Gaudino, president, director of R&D, and director of Intellectual Property at Steep Hill Labs, Inc. explained according to the same report, “It (Durban Poison) was brought into the United States and bred with Super Silver Haze, but all the offspring were called Durban Poison, yet only a portion of the offspring actually produced THCVA,” he said.
“Today, it’s hard to find Durban Poison in the USA that actually makes THCVA. So, the issue is the lack of science behind the naming, not the science itself, which already has established some lineage and some ancestral relationship.”
What needs to happen now is for detailed genetic mapping to be carried out on all known cannabis strains around the world. That information then needs to be entered into a global database so that consumers know exactly what they’re getting when they purchase cannabis.
As Joshua Crossney, CEO of CSC Events explained, “Chemotyping, or accurately determining the identity of a cannabis strain using chemical fingerprinting rather than genomics, will be the next hot growth area,” he said. “I would be remiss if I did not add that the future may not be in ‘King Cultivars’ but in custom, full-spectrum cannabinoid and terpene blends created from many different cultivars.”
“This may ultimately be ‘what is west of Westeros.’”