I wanted to call attention to a recent visit to San Francisco, California to speak at the Cannabis Drinks Expo. I knew that before the event I would have the chance to do a bit of shopping for some of the cannabis that I couldn’t get at home. How it would eventually get there is another story for another time, but without delaying the reason that I went in the first place, it was for enlightenment.
I was called upon to speak about why cannabis drinks are generally too sweet. I come from the school of thought of ‘less sweet is better,’ especially drinks that are aimed at adults. If the beverage is too sweet, there are certain health implications. All that sugar isn’t good for you!
Waking up with sweet, mid-morning, sweeter aromatics, cookies, pop, sweet tea….. lunch, sweet beverages, and in the afternoon a pick-me-up with sweetener in that iced tea, Dinner calls for coffee and more sugar, isn’t it enough?
My drinks are not sweet. Why should yours be? They shouldn’t be. Savory? Absolutely. Piquant? Of course! But sweet? Absolutely not. So, I spoke about the sweetness factor and discovered that most Americans have a sweet tooth, but not me. I like things slightly bitter. Like life itself, that balance of bitter to sweet. Strange to some, but deeply sophisticated to others. As you grow up, I would hope that my drinks (not sweet ones) would have deep memories attached to them…..
I think of sweet drinks as passing fads. Most cannabis drinks are no more than seltzer with flavorings added. You cannot even smell the flowers that are on the label. The THC is tucked in there, it says so on the label of course. This is a cannabis beverage. But none of them taste like the plant. There are no terpenes, no cannabis flavors. Boring.
The next complaint that I had in California is not really a complaint, it is only an observation. It’s clear to me that this observation is not only apparent in California, but anywhere cannabis is marketed by well-meaning budtenders. What does that mean?
It’s the concept of chasing THC to sell more expensive cannabis to unknowing consumers. This is deeply flawed science. Of course, my opinion on this is solely my own belief, that outright marketing mumbo-jumbo in cannabis means nothing at all, but it drives sales.
May I please call attention for a moment to some man-made marketing in liquor from my illustrious past as a brand ambassador. Well-intending marketeers convinced an unqualified generation of new mezcal drinkers that you should chew this little worm and swallow it, after you drink an entire bottle of their less that high quality mezcal. It really has no value in Mexico or any other place to eat that worm. Couldn’t hurt to eat this thing, but there is definitely no cultural value behind eating a worm after doing a shot of less than fine quality fire-water. It’s purely an invention of a marketing company on Madison Avenue.
Now, please let’s step back for a minute and take the perception of a fine wine store.
Your wine salesperson, like your cheese-monger, knows what kind of foods that you like to eat to go along with the wine/cheeses. You’ve opened up to your love of fine wine, how it compliments your dinners, lunches and even brunch. Why should cannabis be any different?
Well, according to budtenders, food or even time of day plays very little role in the sales technique. What does then? The first thing is price, how much do you want to spend. I find this abstract sales technique flawed because price is not always a good measure of quality. Next the budtender fails at creating truth in advertising. Each dispensary stressed THC strength in no uncertain terms. If the THC level wasn’t at least thirty percent, the strain wasn’t even mentioned. That is flawed science in my opinion. The same kind of marketing that defines cheap mezcal with a worm in it is driving the sales techniques that drive an entire industry.
That more THC is a good thing. In my opinion, high levels of THC have their place in the day, but certainly not first thing in the morning. I need to ease into a state of ennui, it takes time. Just like the thought of waking up with a dab or a bong hit (something I would never do), the idea of buying high THC cannabis is the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Cannabis must be respected for the reasons that I’m building upon. I believe it is as pertinent as a culinary ingredient. Like wine or beer for instance. Each has their place in the culinary arts. And at the table in multiple incarnations. But flawed is the science that chases THC for overall effect. I believe that there is more to the culinary applications by utilizing infusions and molecular technology to achieve near perfection in the flavor balance and quality of the ingredients. The advanced nature of cannabis itself makes for an experience that is superlative and therefore correct.
Lower THC cannabis is no less potent than the high THC versions. In fact, I get more of the “high” feeling from twelve percent THC cannabis over thirty percent THC versions. The higher THC gives me a headache, whereas the lower THC cannabis is smooth and relaxing in all incarnations, from sativa to indica and even to hybrid strains.
I use cannabis for medicinal purposes as well as recreational ones. I must say that I learned about the balance of CBD to THC by being a part of the NJMMP program and it taught me deep lessons on the difference between medical and recreational products.
I cannot say that there is fault in the methods used by the budtenders, just that driving sales by THC strength is not a good determinate on the overall quality of the flowers. There are places that I’ve visited in the country that grow really incredible outdoor grown flower that doesn’t test much higher than fifteen percent or so. That is what I want to smoke.
Another thought is that we do a reset with THC. Low is good. High is good. In between is good.
Cannabis Cocktails are GREAT! And you can make them with low THC cannabis if you want.
Warren Bobrow is the CEO of Klaus Apothicaire, a 6x Author, Chef, Barman, Cannabis Alchemist, Master Mixologist. Some of his cannabis awards include: SXSW Cannabis Disruptor 2018, Berlin Bar Convent-Cannabis, and Moscow Bar Show-Master Class-Rum. He is the author of Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, Available in Indie Bookstores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indigo Books. See his cannabis creations on instagram.