Article by Devon Scoble, Lift
For decades, Canadian cannabis enthusiasts living outside the verdant grow zones of British Columbia coveted one product above all else: BC bud, dealer shorthand for “the good stuff.” What kind of good stuff? Maybe an energizing sativa, maybe a knock-you-on-the-couch-indica or maybe something in between, but you’d have to smoke it first to find out. Even if it did lift you out of the stratosphere the way you’d expect a product from Canada’s premier production zone to do, it just as likely came from a basement grow-op in Oshawa.
But as cannabis prohibitions ease across North America, and Canadians prepare for full-scale legalization, ‘BC bud’ is already an anachronism. Walk into a dispensary today, and the choices are clear – and often clearly labelled. If proponents of cannabis appellations have their way, the distinctions will only become more sophisticated, and unlike today’s dispensary products, they will be overseen by a governing body to protect product quality and label integrity.
Just like the rules that govern premium spirits and cheeses, dictating that only sparkling wine from Champagne be called champagne, and only blue ewe’s milk cheese from the Midi-Pyrenees be called Roquefort, cannabis appellations would help consumers differentiate premium flower from run-of-the-grinder product, and demarcate grow regions, distinguishing Kootenay kush from Vancouver Island skunk. But determining exactly how an appellation system would work is tricky, owing both to cannabis’ inherent genetic complexity, and its varied methods of production.
Reid Parr is an industry consultant with the Cannabis Trade Alliance of Canada(CTAC), and he notes that cannabis appellations would need to consider a plant’s inherent characteristics — its genotype and phenotype, cannabinoid balance and terpene profile – alongside conditions of growth, including methods of production and regional cultures of production.
“You can buy seeds online from many different places in the world, so there’s a lot of mixing of genetics from different regions,” he says. “What has happened over the decades is that a lot of cannabis producers in the northern hemisphere have been buying landrace strains — naturally occurring plants from the world’s original grow regions — and continuously breeding them together. As with other types of agriculture, they are bred specifically for certain characteristics, so different regions in the northern hemisphere have become synonymous with certain characteristics that people are looking for, for instance really high THC or certain other cannabinoid profiles like CBD, CBG and THCV.”