THC potency – the higher, the better – is still the most important factor to consumers shopping for marijuana products, cannabis operators say, but secondary factors also are driving genetics trends at cultivation facilities across the United States.
In addition to high-THC, high-yield cultivars, experts in the cannabis industry say consumers are becoming increasingly interested in:
- The terpene profiles of cannabis products.
- Legacy strains bred with high-THC marijuana cultivars.
- Minor cannabinoids such as THCV and CBN.
Trends aside, THC potency is still the most important factor to consumers.
“We’re getting feedback from some of the dispensaries saying that if it’s lower than 25%, they don’t want it or they want it for a lower price,” Reggie Harris, co-founder and CEO of Missouri-based genetics company House of Kush, told MJBizDaily.
Classic strains crossed with high-THC cultivars
House of Kush is focused on producing legacy genetics – or cultivars with names that are recognizable to prohibition-era consumers, such as Bubba Kush and OG Kush.
“Even though people love the legacy names and they love buying legacy strains, high THC is the rule of the day,” Harris said.
“We have started to breed using some of those legacy strains to cross with other genetics that are going to test higher (in potency).”
Legacy strains are recognizable to consumers, but breeding them with higher THC strains increases potency and adds a novelty factor for consumers.
Nathaniel “Nutta” Vereen, co-founder at Tical Official, a New York-based cannabis brand available in 11 states, said he’s noticed the same trend.
“Legacy strains have been a big topic of discussion,” Vereen said.
“Blue Dream became popular for a hot minute. Now it seems people are working on crossing classic strains with new cultivars.”
Consumers still want to see cannabis products marketed under indica, sativa and hybrid categories, despite some skepticism that the labels connote meaningful information about the effects the products will have, according to Shai Ramsahai, the president of Barcelona, Spain-based Royal Queen Seeds.
“After that, high THC is at the top of the list of important strain characteristics,” Ramsahai wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.
“We also found that U.S. consumers consider terpenes, and limonene and myrcene were the top two they were looking for.”
Baltimore-based Curio Wellness, which cultivates its cannabis strains from tissue culture, also ensures it’s offering consumers a variety of cultivars at different price points that fall into the indica, hybrid and sativa categories.
“We always want to have something that’s high in myrcene for the indica customers, something that has a more balanced bouquet of terpenes that are hybrid, and then limonene, pinene or terpinolene for the sativa strains,” said Rebecca Raphael, Curio’s chief revenue officer.
Hawaii-headquartered Big Island Grown, a vertically integrated cannabis operator, also focuses on terpene diversity and cannabinoids in its nursery.
“We love tropical fruit terpenes at Big Island Grown,” co-founder and CEO Jaclyn Moore told MJBizDaily via email.
This year, the company will launch strains with names such as Sunkissed, Papaya and Guava Jelly, which aligns Big Island Grown’s brand identity and also contains fruity terpene profiles.
In the future, the company hopes consumers will embrace so-called “cheesy” strains, or cultivars containing terpinolene, ocimene and myrcene, which Moore said are “grossly underrated” terpenes.
“A lot of people can’t face the funk,” Moore added.
Minor cannabinoids show promise
As research continues to demonstrate new applications of cannabinoids, consumers are increasingly interested in minor cannabinoids – or cannabinoids that aren’t strictly THC or CBD, such as CBN and THCV.
Curio Wellness gleaned from patient trials that THCV is particularly helpful for consumers who want to feel focused and energized.
Curio already sells ingestible THCV tablets, but this year the company plans to connect flower consumers with a proprietary genetic by Phylos BioScience that contains about 18% THC and 14%-16% THCV.
“You don’t really get this big head high,” Raphael said.
“It’s a much more balanced feeling. The psychoactivity is strong, but you get energy and focus. And that’s strictly from that THCV.”
CBN also is growing in popularity, said Jason Vedadi, founder and CEO of Arizona-based Story Cannabis Co.
“The one that seems to resonate the most, where you’re seeing the category grow, is CBN,” Vedadi said.
Research is still in the early stages, but Vedadi said that CBN’s sleep-aid properties are particularly alluring to consumers.
He said he’s eager to see what kinds of insights researchers are able to glean about minor cannabinoids moving forward and how they can be used alone or in tandem with other cannabinoids to produce customized effects.
“I think we’re at the cusp of that,” Vedadi said.
Kate Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.