20 years ago, it would have sounded like a great idea for a comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live. A group of stoners standing together critically appraising the pine undertones or the earthy aromas of different cannabis joints. It just goes to prove that truth is so often stranger than fiction. 2021 will be remembered for many things, but let it be noted that this was the year New York cannabis connoisseurs became a reality.
Legalization of weed for recreational use is a steamroller that was first set in motion almost a decade ago in Colorado and Washington. Since then, one state after another has followed suit, driven by a combination of shifts in public opinion and the potential injection of millions in tax revenue. But when recreational cannabis became legal in Manhattan, consumers did not want just any old weed.
More than just a color
Dispensary owner Wanda James was one of the first to set up shop in Colorado and says that back in the early days it was “green bud or brown bud.” Today, she stocks hundreds of strains with exotic-sounding names. She says the connoisseur market gets stronger every week – and dispensaries are only too eager to cater to their whims.
We’re all accustomed to the fanciful terms favored by wine buffs when they discuss the taste and aroma of their favorite Malbec or Chianti. Well, just wait till you meet a cannabis connoisseur. For example, take a look at the description of Bubba Kush, one of America’s most enduring and popular strains https://www.cannaconnection.com/strains/bubba-kush. Earthy, spicy, diesel, coffee and citrus make up quite a combination – but even this is relatively mundane compared to some strains appearing on the market.
An evolving industry
As the seemingly unending tide of legalization continues to wash more cannabis markets ashore, so more products have appeared on the scene. Yes, bags of weed for smoking and seeds for home growers to cultivate their own crops are good sellers. But they have been joined by a variety of cannabis edibles and drinks. These are more appealing to health-conscious post-tobacco era New Yorkers, who are less than enthusiastic about the idea of taking up smoking in their 20s, 30s or beyond but still want in on the green revolution.
Then there are the concentrates. Typically supplied for use in a vape pen, these are, as the name implies, stronger than regular weed. Ideal for medical users, they have also found favor with cannabis connoisseurs who enjoy a purer and more intense flavor, as well as side stepping the other health risks associated with smoking. Using a vape is also easier and more discreet than rolling a traditional joint.
Indeed, in markets like Colorado that have had a chance to mature, concentrates make up almost 50 percent of sales at cannabis dispensaries. It’s a pattern that we can expect to see repeated in New York as soon as meaningful sales data for the first year becomes available.