Anyone visiting a dispensary for the first time could easily be overwhelmed by an initial glimpse at the menu. The unique and sometimes strange names attached to the various available marijuana strains can be a lot to digest, and to be honest, some don’t sound so appetizing. When the sales associate tells you Sour Diesel tastes delicious, for example, you can be forgiven for raising an eyebrow. Fortunately, the story of how we got here is an interesting one that illustrates the complex history and unique biology of the plant itself.
Thousands of years before the first dispensary opened its doors, cannabis grew freely in the mountains of Afghanistan. With the help of its first human enthusiasts, the plant spread gradually across the globe, evolving to meet the challenges of new climates. These adaptations would eventually exhibit the plant’s remarkable biodiversity and form the foundation from which skilled breeders would seek to derive specialized genetics.
As interest in cannabis expanded dramatically in the 20th century, growers seeking to meet consumer demand discovered distinctive varieties and began branding them accordingly. The first famous strains were frequently named for their geographic origins. Varieties such as Hindu Kush, Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Maui Wowie and Thai Stick became highly sought after and developed a lasting legacy in marijuana folklore.
Naming conventions expanded dramatically as subsequent generations of popular cannabis genetics emerged from Dutch seed banks and eventually American medical marijuana markets. Some strains were named for their unique aromas (Skunk, Lavender, Diesel), while others were named for icons of the cannabis community (Jack Herer, Willie Nelson). A vast array of fruit-inspired strains (Blueberry, Lemon OG, Strawberry Cough) reflects the fascinating variety of flavors skilled breeding can achieve.
In order to endure, however, a marijuana strain name must be attached to a genetic of some importance. Not every new hybrid created will be prized by patients, and hence not every name will become established in the ever-expanding lexicon of cannabis knowledge. Those that stick do so because they identify a specific strain with remarkable attributes; Sour Diesel, for example, exhibits a rich lemon-fuel flavor and aroma that explains its name to the consumer and creates a memorable experience. When coupled with its pleasurable effects, the Sour Diesel brand was able to transcend a spectrum of other similar strains to become one of the most sought after cannabis plants on the planet.
Just as an effective name can create interest in a strain, a badly-branded genetic can quickly drift into obscurity. Consider, for example, a little-known strain simply called Cush. Though exceptional in quality, Cush suffered from being identified only by a misspelling of the popular Kush term. Worse still, it was a fruity sativa that contained no Kush genetics. Kush fans who sampled it were likely to be disappointed, while sativa fans who might appreciate it aren’t typically attracted to Kush-dominant options. The strain remained virtually unknown until notorious cannabis connoisseur Snoop Dogg sampled it and was so energized that he nick-named it “Green Crack” and made it famous overnight. The new name stuck because it better described the strain’s uplifting effects and attracted patients who were more likely to find it helpful. Unfortunately, this name too was understandably found objectionable by many in the medical marijuana community. As a result, this otherwise excellent strain still struggles to find its true brand identity.
Today, the number of well-known strains far exceeds what any dispensary could carry. Many are closely related and quality is determined as much by the skill of the cultivation team as the individual strain selection. Still, there remain a select few elite genetics of particular importance to patients. Patriot Care works to curate a menu that includes both classic cannabis strains and emerging genetics together to ensure that we meet the needs of each patient we see.