You’ve probably heard the phrase “craft cannabis” being thrown around in the cannabis community lately. That’s because a demand for superior quality bud is finding its way into the market. Cultivators who haven’t had a chance to show off their growing skills are slowly rising to the occasion and are producing some fire batches.
Anyone who grows under the craft designation needs to show the consumer that the flower was grown with mindfulness and adoration for the process.
Rather than boasting about their facility’s capacity size, smaller cannabis cultivators are using highly effective and environmentally-optimized techniques to market unique bud. With this precision, consumers can expect exceedingly superior quality cannabis.
Benefits of craft cannabis
The notion that small growers offer higher-quality cannabis isn't just a matter of perception. While large multinationals focus on maximizing yields by creating vast grow spaces for the production of cannabis on an incredible scale, craft producers tend to focus on quality, growing in small areas where they can thoroughly control all the parameters that influence plant growth, thus ensuring consistent top quality.
Trimming the buds by hand, rather than using automated machinery, helps preserve the trichomes, but this method isn't practical for large facilities. In addition, large-scale farming poses a greater risk of insects and other pests, which makes this kind of growing technique overly dependant on chemical pesticides. Small producers can take more active measures, such as the use of organic pesticides or beneficial insects, which are effective but require much more effort.
In addition, many commercial crops need huge amounts of electricity, as well as large volumes of water in areas where this is scarce. Ultimately, craft producers can use the size of their farms to their advantage for the production of buds with better bag appeal, flavour and aroma; and at the same time doing so in a more sustainable way, which will be more attractive to consumers willing to pay more per gram to achieve a high-end experience.
1. SMALL BATCH
If you’ve heard that the stash you just grabbed comes from a small batch, you’re almost always guaranteed to believe that the product will be considered craft cannabis. To be a designated craft cannabis licensed producer, the flower must be grown in a facility that produces less than 10,000 kg of dried cannabis (or equivalent) a year. This limitation certainly highlights that artisanal cannabis really does value quality over quantity. Every single plant is carefully tended to and because of this, quality is the largest differentiating factor between craft and commercial cannabis.
2. HIGH TERPENE %
What’s all the fuss about terpenes anyway? Quick lesson: terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic compounds found in plants. The word is often associated with cannabis due to the significantly high concentration of terpenes found in the plant. The trichomes (aka crystals) on the buds produce terpenes. Because of this, a high quality batch of weed would have trichomes that are intact after the harvest.
Craft cannabis really hones in on the experience of a great smoke and what better way to do so than with a focus on terpene rich cannabis. Through decades of cultivation traditions, techniques and breeding, cannabis enthusiasts and growers have been pumping out exclusive drops of cultivars they have been working hard on for years. Much of what you see on the craft market is cannabis with high terpene percentages (between 2-5%) that look and smell really great. This is definitely a trend we can get on board with.
There are 3 main aspects that determine hand-crafted cannabis: hang dried, hand trimmed and hand packed.
After harvest, the method in which the grower dries the flower plays a major role in determining the quality of bud. By drying the flower by its own branches upside-down, the aroma and flavor of the cannabis is preserved. This process allows the flower to dry naturally which then permits the batch to be more potent when smoked, last longer on shelves and be smoother upon inhalation.
By trimming buds by hand, you guarantee you’re getting a clean bud without all the excess sugar leaves. Since every bud is uniquely shaped, a machine trimmer is not as effective. Unlike automated machinery, hand trimming preserves the trichome density of the flower. This, in turn, preserves the terpenes. Because hand trimming is not ideal for large facilities, the big producers often have a greater risk of pests and other growing concerns through mass production.
Packaging by hand ensures product integrity. Instead of crushing large buds into small jars or having a machine pack extremely mediocre pre-rolls that are bound to canoe, doing these things by hand really makes all the difference.
The experience, from unboxing to smoking is very much so at the forefront of the craft connoisseur’s mind.
Another pro to buying craft:
The cannabis prohibition lasted decades, and many in the craft cannabis community were charged with criminal offences for a now-legal drug. People with these backgrounds could have had a difficult time obtaining security clearances to work in the legal market. In 1.0, all the big cannabis companies were pumping out mediocre weed, but the small businesses of cannabis growers were left behind. With craft cannabis as a new designation in Canada, we have the chance to support smaller, more passionate businesses that deliver premium cannabis. Those who have historically been involved in the legacy market and are otherwise law abiding citizens now have equal opportunity.
All in all, craft cannabis is making waves in Canada for a reason - people are tired of the extremely dry, popcorn-like buds that hardly smell like anything. There is increasing consumer demand for better weed, and as a consumer, you deserve to be able to access amazing marijuana products everywhere. As with getting a cup of joe from a neighbourhood cafe made with slow-roasted beans, versus getting a burnt cup of coffee from Tim Hortons (no offence), the quality is all in the product.