Brand Names = Quality?

By: Gus Tovar

The medical marijuana industry just like any other consumer-driven market has a fantastic bunch of marketing professionals pushing the medicine towards the right people in the right ways. There are many brands of concentrates and edibles in the industry that have become a staple of Medical Dispensaries due to their consistency in quality. While these brands do, for the most part, deserve the recognition and praise they get, I am starting to feel that many of the big brand names are getting a bit too comfortable with their crowns. We are starting to see a plateau in innovation from the major labels, which is translating into new product standards for the medical community.

Don’t get me wrong, extract artists such as Moxie, Natures Lab, Guild Extracts, and many of the big guys. Are still getting their hands on the top genetics, and producing very pure and potent concentrate products. Same goes for the edible kings: Kushy Punch, Korova, and Kaneh Co. making consistently potent edibles batches (Sorry Cheeba Chews, time to get with the times.) But why is it that these brand names will cost you two to four times as much as the “house” products from your local dispensary? Let me explain.

When it comes to extracts, there are a few factors that come into play when we are rating their quality and desirability. Assuming that the concentrates have been purged of all solvents, or have been extracted in a solventless fashion; we first look at genetics, the rarer the genetics, the more expensive the concentrate will be. For example, a few years back when the Bay Area Cookies cuts started to pop up. Only a few growers had the genetics for the plants; this meant that only the top extract artists could get their hands on the source material. The top brands could then charge more for their extracts, not only because they did the best work, but also due to their special terpene profiles and selective medical effects, from the rare cuts.

It is very common to see “House OG wax” or “house Blue Dream wax” going for very discounted prices all over San Diego, we are talking prices in the $10-$20 range. This is not some sort of blowout sale; this is the consistent pricing that is expected. While a gram of West Coast Cure Hard Core OG Live Resin, can easily run you $100-$120. What could make for such a big price gap? Well as I have mentioned before, genetics is an extremely important part of the product. An extract will only be as good as its source material; if you have bad flowers, you will have a bad extract. Along with genetics we also look at how well the concentrate captures the true essence of the source materials.

Top extracts artists have truly mastered their methods of extractions to ensure the highest retention of natural terpenes, and medicinal properties of the plant. They have developed their own signature methods and extraction conditions to get the product exactly how they want it. These methods are very time-consuming and must be done with extreme care to get the most out of the source material. This means that these extracts are usually available only in small batches. A high-end concentrate will give potency in the 85%+ THC range, and offer a very true representation of the original terpene profile of the nugs. While the “house wax” varieties, are usually made in large batch, production methods are standard, and the mentality is to simply get the job done. Most house waxes are found to be a bit lower in potency 60-75% TCH, this is due to extraction methods, and source material quality. These “house” extracts are usually made with trim and a few small popcorn nugs if you are lucky. The top shelf extracts are made only with the best nugs from the harvest.

Now when it comes to edibles, it is clear that the companies who are now on top got there with consistent quality control. I personally am a daily edible eater and have seen the evolution of many company’s offerings through the years. A few years back, the only company that was really offering a consistent lab tested products was Venice Cookie Company and Cheeba Chews. Now the market is flooded with edibles in just about every variety. From Mexican Candy, to Frozen Pizza, to shatter infused gummies, the choices are endless.

Edibles have the sneaky benefit of being able to mask their source material with a wide variety of edible arrangements. What this means, is that many times the end consumer truly has no idea what the source material used for making the edible was. There are some very famous “xxx space cakes” that made the rounds a few years back and are still going around from time to time. You would usually see these brownies boasting to have 200mgs+ of THC yet sporting a price tag of no more than $8. I personally tried them many times over the years and they always proved to pack quite a punch. So how did they manage to sell such high potency edibles at such a low price? While I personally never saw their operation it was always evident that the source material was different from batch to batch. While some batches felt like a pure sativa, with a cerebral head rush, some other batches would lock you on the couch with a highly sedative indica stone.

While a product such as the aforementioned space cake, will always be there to get you where you need to be, you are constantly taking a gamble when ingesting such products. This leads to the lower price tags. However, we are now seeing a wide variety of premium edibles which allow the user to have full control over their medication. My personal favorite is Kushy Punch for offering a wide variety of medical effects. They allow you to choose between sativa, hybrid, indica, and CBD. Along with allowing you to choose your dosages with high precision. Very few brands out there can offer the patient, full knowledge of the strains in their edibles. However, with control also comes a higher price tag, you will find most 200mg Kushy Punch gummies going for around $25 in the medical dispensary market.

As you can see these brand name products truly do offer a different experience than that of the more “generic” products. Most new users might not notice the difference, or care enough to think about them. Connoisseurs and people looking for specific medical relief tend to seek out the specialty products that allow them to get the precise medical effects they desire. I do agree that there are certain extracts or edibles which are simply going out of their way to prove greed is highly present in the medical marijuana industry. Most companies are truly giving you a product that is on par with their market value. It comes down to what you want to get out of your medicine.