Quality can be a subjective word – one person’s trash is another person’s treasure – but when it comes to cannabis there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to determine whether the product you are considering buying is legitimately a quality product.
How was it Grown?
This is the question with the clearest answer as different methods of cultivation all have a direct effect on the overall quality of the final product. How it's grown (indoor, outdoor, or in a greenhouse) will influence the quality of light, air, and nutrients the plant receives. And growing methods vary between Licensed Producers (LPs) – growing indoors enables producers to control the temperature, light cycles, humidity, and CO2 production, but this level of control comes at a cost. Indoor cultivation is energy-intensive, and since it’s not yet possible to replicate natural full-spectrum sunlight indoors the plants often lack the inputs they need to grow to their fullest potential.
Outdoor growing has many more variables, it’s generally a more challenging practice if the goal is consistency. Producers who grow outdoors are at the mercy of the microclimate of their region. This can be a bad thing since weather is unpredictable over the course of an entire grow cycle, on the positive side this also means that each unique ecosystem supports itself with the help of natural pesticides, rainfall, and sunlight providing a very low environmental impact.
Greenhouse growing is a hybrid of indoor and outdoor growing – it allows us to produce clean, Sungrown BC cannabis that uses all natural inputs like full spectrum sunlight, constant airflow, and captured rainwater. Mimicking the natural environment, but adding a level of control to ensure consistently high quality. SunLab¹, our state-of-the-art greenhouse, was purpose-built for Sungrown cannabis, whereas some greenhouses have been converted from other agricultural uses. Greenhouse growing is the best of both indoor and outdoor, if done right it can yield a consistently quality flower grown sustainably.
Is it Clean?
As is the case with food farming, cannabis growing methods can include the use of pesticides to protect the plant from harm. Health Canada legally allows 22 different pesticides for use with cannabis, which means they have been deemed safe in specified amounts. Health Canada will recall any products that contain unauthorized pesticides or high levels of authorized ones. But to most cannabis consumers, any use of pesticides is unacceptable – it’s not like you can wash your bud before grinding it up, the way you might with carrots or cucumbers. Any LP can tell you which pesticides they are using, but often lower quality growing conditions can result in the need to use more pesticides. This is an excellent time to let you know that at SunLab¹, we do not use pesticides at any stage of the growing process. None. 0/22.
What Does Your Nose Think?
We’ve previously talked about ways to tell if your cannabis is high-quality but here’s a quick recap of ways you can spot a quality product. Look at your cannabis -- the buds should have a thick coating of cannabinoid-rich trichomes that are full of cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Even though the cannabis will be cured, it should still be “springy” (or “nerfy”) and bounce back when gently squeezed, this fluffiness indicates a desirable moisture content. Take a deep breath and give the cannabis a good sniff… Does it smell good to you? A strong scent is a good sign of quality; follow your nose and pick the products with the terpenes that most appeal to you.
Does it Align With Your Values?
Sometimes a feel for the quality of a product is not as tangible as knowing a list of growing methods or seeing the trichome production. Post-legalization, some LPs are multinational publicly traded and others are smaller private companies that may have different outlooks on what matters most – each with different approaches to cultivating cannabis. Look at each LP’s story to see if these companies care about the same things you do.
With that, next time you’re considering buying cannabis, remember, that flower had a long journey before arriving at your door or in your store. Ask the right questions about the LP’s growing methods and the company’s approach to business and take a good look at the flower itself to determine if it's genuinely high-quality. Because in our brave new world of legal cannabis, you have choice.
The New Green Economy: Approaching a Thriving Legal Cannabis Industry in British Columbia
Tantalus Labs has invested in a fulsome economic analysis from a third party policy group Hanway and Associates. This work, written by Charlotte Bowyer, will help articulate the future opportunities in British Columbian cannabis.