You can have a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation facility, but if you don’t have the quality strains people demand, you won’t generate as much money as you could. That is, if you care about making money. Don’t believe me? Try to grow out and sell some strains like AK-47, White Widow, Early Pearl, Great White Shark, Skunk, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, or any of the classic strains that are currently not in demand. As a commercial cultivator and/or dispensary owner, it isn’t about what you like, it’s what’s in demand, and currently driving sales. There are very few classics that still stand the test of time like all the “Chemdog”, “Sour Diesel”, and “OG Kush” variants. The “Gas” Family as I like to call it. No one is lining up, or camping out to get some “old” genetics, flower, or concentrates unfortunately. If you want to sell those strains, your target demographic market is going to be in the 40 and up age range.
If cannabis genetics wasn’t such a major force in driving sales, dispensaries/cultivators wouldn’t be linking up to do licensing deals with these seed companies and brands, specifically for the genetics they possess under their brand. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this tactic, if the cultivators acquiring the licensing deal actually grew good weed. Currently, most of the big cultivators who grow all these “Dessert-Themed” strains don’t grow good enough weed to justify the prices they are getting. You can only take people for a fool once, MAYBE twice, but the people falling for the hype are getting taken for a fool, and they are paying top dollar to look like a fool. How can you justify paying about $80 for 3.5g of weed that isn’t good? But some will overlook it because the mylar is flashy, and the strain name is trendy, but grown horribly. And you want to flex with that on social media when other people that know good quality know you are promoting garbage? You are making yourselves look like fools. The sales are mainly based off major advertising power that pushes these new strains. If you strip the marketing, branding, and strain from these licensed strains, 99% of them wouldn’t be able to stand on their own merits. It would probably collect dust on a shelf.
Years before recreational cannabis legalization, elite cannabis genetics were hard to acquire. Now, it’s available to the highest bidder. Currently, there’s an incredible amount of “Seed Banks” or “Clone Nurseries” that will send you just about every clone out there if you look hard enough. But everything will be irrelevant in a few months. It’s almost like fashion, or anything else trendy. Very few strains have the staying power to last in today’s quickly-evolving market. Due to that, we have almost every dispensary around the country wanting to grow the same genetics, based off of hype demand, and/or yield. If there was no hype, and demand for those genetics; they wouldn’t cultivate them. Just about all that hype, branding, and demand stems from the black market. Let’s be real for a minute. You really think dispensaries or RECREATIONAL cultivation facilities that are vertically integrated, that specialize in commercial flower production, are the ones making the next new strain to blow up? Ninety nine percent of them can barely grow good weed, and are usually last to grow the trendy strains because they don’t want to pay top dollar to source the genetics upon release, so you expect me to think they are putting in all that work that goes into breeding, hunting, and selecting strains properly? Let alone make anything anyone wants? Usually if I hear of a dispensary/licensed cultivation facility making seeds, it’s almost never intentional. I’d like to help be apart of that change. The end-user is the one who is driving demand, so it is up to the cultivators, budtenders, or someone on your team to know what’s currently popular, in-demand, coming up, and all that. It pays to have someone on your team whose got their ear to the streets. That is an important position to hold for the company. It always pays to be two steps ahead of your competition. That is partially what I have been doing with Dark Horse Genetics for the past five years.
Unfortunately, the end-user’s interest and demand has been changing faster than ever, due to social media always hyping up a new strain or brand. We’ve reached a point in time where smell, taste, burn, and efficacy are secondary, while visual appeal is driving sales. The flashier the mylar, and the darker the weed, the easier it is to make the sale it seems. Nowadays, something can LOOK flawless, but smell, taste, burn, and hit like garbage, and it will still sell. Add a flashy, die-cut mylar, slap a dessert name on it, market and brand it properly, and BAM! You are selling mids for a higher price point that you would have in unbranded bulk pounds. This tactic can only get you so far, and will only last for so long. If you want to future-proof yourself, here are a few recommendations I have for you to start your own wave, that is if you’d like to take my advice:
GROW FROM SEED!
Have an area where you can “pheno hunt” a good variety of several strains. Try and avoid growing all the same or similar type of genetics. Do you really need 12 different kinds of Gelatos, or RuntZ that all look, smell, and taste similar, with different dessert names? What makes you stand out above all the rest is having a good variety of something everyone wants, but no one can access unless it’s through you. If you grew out some seeds, and potentially found the next game-changer, like the next RuntZ, Gelato, ZkittleZ, something like that, there is A LOT of money to be made if you can market it properly and get it to the right hands.
Document and record the entire life cycle for the public to access.
It seems to me since I have started making my own seeds under the brand #NYCeeds, documenting the entire growing cycle from start to finish will put you far ahead of your competition when it comes to data collected. I have slowly been building buzz on my new strains that I am planning on releasing in December. If there was no documentation, there would be no buzz, and nothing to build hype and demand. No one would know what I am doing, and what I plan on releasing if I don’t document the growth, and have some kind of social media presence. For me, it has been difficult to get off the ground since February 2022, but once everything started going, the momentum doesn’t look like it going to slow down. I have only been building more and more interest and demand since I started earlier this year. As of recent, I reversed SpritZer, and made several feminized crosses. All are currently being tested and documented on multiple platforms with a select few testers and will not release until testing is completed. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit, and ESPECIALLY Discord are all vital tools you should be using to build a community of followers, and supporters. I can not stress this enough. USE DISCORD. It might take some time to learn, but this is one of the best platforms for cannabis documentation. These other platforms do not have draconian censorship rules in place like Instagram now does.
Public phenotype hunting
I noticed specific brands who grow from seed, getting the public involved in their pheno hunts. This is a great idea. The public is making you $, so why not get them involved in the process, and get lots of feedback to see which phenotype suits your customer-base best. The last thing you want to be is out of touch when it comes to knowing what sells, what is in demand, and what next strain wave is coming. If you want to be in the loop with all of that, you need to keep an ear to the streets. Find out what each customer likes if possible. Grow those strains, or something with that strain in it. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions. BE AFRAID to lose money, and be out of the loop. Include them in helping you narrow down your keeper(s). It isn’t always about yields, but some corporate entity reading this will probably laugh at that statement. Certain strains can yield high and test high in THC, but smell and taste like nothing. Those aren’t enjoyable. The strains with the most flavor usually don’t test high in THC. Look at ZkittleZ. Sour Diesel. Tangie. They don’t test high in THC, but their terpene content is out of this world. Aroma drives more sales than you might think. If something smells so good that I can taste it, I probably would want to spend my money on that. No strain has won more cannabis awards than ZkittleZ has in one year. It has nothing to do with yields, because it yields low. Not for it’s THC percentage, because it tests around 17%-19% THC. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE TERPS. You can keep your 40% THC. Show me the flower with 6-7% Terps! Custies and uneducated consumers buy weed based off the percentage. If you drink, do you go into a liquor store asking for their strongest? It’s usually Everclear, or do you get the lower percentage stuff which is more enjoyable? The lower percentage stuff usually is cheaper, but definitely more enjoyable.
Social media presence
I can not stress this enough. Without utilizing these tools at your disposal, you will not be able to reach as many potential customers as you could. Stop it with the old mentality, and learn something new for once. Especially if it’s beneficial. Just about every successful cannabis strain, breeder, or brand is out there is using social media. Not only do you have to use it, you have to keep it constantly updated with fresh content, or you will become irrelevant faster than you think. Utilizing these various tools to maximize outreach to create a larger audience with eyes on your product, brand, strain, etc. You better put that strain in front of everyone’s face as much as you can, as often as you can to get them interested. Get other big social media accounts to talk about your product. Cross-promoting is HUGE. If you can get people from not knowing about you, into wanting to try your product, you are doing something right. Just about all social media is free. Utilize it. You might need to pay someone monthly to operate your social media, but if they know how to build that audience, and get that reach, they are worth what they are asking. Content creation is making more and more money as we go deeper and deeper into this digitized world.
Release your keeper clone as your upcoming project(s) is/are about to drop to maximize hype and demand.
It usually takes up to 2 years for a specific clone to gain popularity once it has been released. If the public sees it as good, you will see it being passed around, sold, bred with, and if it’s really good or popular, you will see everyone else but you make S1’s of your strain and sell it before you. If you want to avoid that, do all that work yourself before you release your genetics to the world. Be ahead of what others will try to do once you make your release. Look at M.A.C. from Capulator. The hype and demand was there once the seeds were available because he built that up with him releasing the M.A.C #1 Clone, only to those who deserved it. By the time the seeds were available to the public to access, Cap already made crosses with M.A.C, knowing everyone else would want to cash in on the hype. Once he released those seeds, several seed companies bred with the MAC, but Capulator was already ahead of everyone else by then. Look what happened with Purple Punch, Gorilla Glue #4, RuntZ, Gelato, OreoZ, Bruce Banner #3, ZkittleZ, etc. As soon as your genetics are accessible to the public, you’ll start seeing other people make a name off your work. This isn’t something you ask for to happen, it just happens if the genetics are worth it to the public eye, nose, and lungs. No one wants to breed with genetics that are bad, so everyone is always after the quality genetics or the hype genetics. You can be humbled if your work is being copied, or you can just future-proof yourself. Like Cap and other breeders/seed companies do, because they know what is to come once your Intellectual Property (your strains) are out there. Try staying ahead of the game if possible so you don’t get people capitalizing on your own wave. Most people get mad when they see their genetics get released through someone else other than the person who made or found that specific strain. If you made a strain that is in such high demand that people are wanting to take credit for it, you can always make another strain that people will want. If they know it came from you or you made it, you have a customer for life.
Be open to collaborating with other brands for maximum exposure/reach.
It really helps with exposure, and getting to other customers you normally wouldn’t have reached. If you can find a brand that is bigger than you to collaborate with you, this is what you would ultimately want, but feel free to uplift the smaller companies trying to make a name as well. One hand washes the other. It can be an ancillary brand as well. Non-cannabis-related brands can be just as successful as the cannabis brands, and vice-versa. It’s all about coming together with great ideas that both markets can appreciate and enjoy. These analogies might be a little out there, but look at Kanye West + Adidas, Travis Scott + McDonald’s, Fortnite + EVERYONE, Supreme + EVERYTHING; collaborations are a great way to generate alternate avenues of revenue and build a new following/customer base with the company you are collaborating with. Open yourself up to wanting to work with other cannabis, and non-cannabis brands. Cannabis breeders and seed companies collaborate all the time to make new strains, plus they help cross-promote each other. If you are a licensed cultivation facility, look for a good breeder/seed company with good references, and good public feedback from within the cannabis community. Think about signing a licensing deal with that specific breeder/seed company that actually has great genetics and great weed. Good person, good genetics, good strains, good ethics, and good public perception. Those are the people you want to align yourself with. You’d be surprised at the amount of seed companies that have okay genetics bred and ran by a sketchy, shady person that people in the cannabis community would never respect or support.
Honesty is key. Don’t rename strains—be transparent.
No one who knows about good weed cares about celebrity-branded cannabis products. Most of the deals are complete garbage, and it seems people with the most money to spend on marketing tend to use this marketing tactic with celebrities to push their mediocre brands and product. Just about every cannabis brand backed by some celebrity is complete garbage. It is one of the worst bait-and-switches you could think of. You would think if a celebrity is going to be putting their name on a cannabis brand, that this would be their seal of approval. It’s completely false and unethical. It’s simply a cash grab.
Also, don’t rename the breeder’s strain name. It is one of the worst ethics violations in cannabis. If you don’t like the name, don’t grow it. Simple as that. Pheno hunt something else and put in the same work that others have done., vs. just buy a good clone and rename it and take the credit like you did something special. Breeders put hard work into branding strains and thinking of names only for you to just act like you can do whatever you want with the name is not okay. Call your specific phenotype whatever you want, but if someone asks what the cross is, do not lie about it. Some people don’t know the newer strain names, but will make their decision on the lineage. No one is out here renaming “vodka” to “tequila,” so how do you stand to benefit from withholding information, or switching stuff around, and calling things “indica” when you know that they are “sativa” and vice versa? It’s like erasing my name on my homework, and you submit it with your name on it.
I can call out too many dispensaries putting strains on their sativa shelf, when the genetics clearly state it isn’t a sativa. If an indica takes 8-9 weeks to flower, and a sativa takes 12-14 weeks to flower, why would I sell you something that took me longer, and cost more to produce for the same price as the stuff that took less time, effort, energy, work, and resources? This is a major reason why real sativa strains aren’t on dispensary shelves. Greedy cultivators want more harvest in a year of the fastest flowering strain, but won’t grow the longer stuff to satisfy the sativa market, but will instead recategorize indicas and sell them as sativa when they know it is not. That can do some form of harm to someone who isn’t used to the opposite of what they are asking for, and it is not okay.
ESPECIALLY DO NOT rename someone else’s strain “Calm,” “Joy,” “Bliss,” or anything stupid like that. I don’t buy drinks called “Quench,” “Drink,” “Parched,” or food called “Hunger,” “Food,” or “Meal,” so why would I purchase my weed labeled in a similar fashion? No one buys weed like that, and no one should; if they do, it’s because of their lack of education. Teach them the effects and terpene profiles of different “indica” and “sativa” strains. How about trying to teach them correct information vs. perpetuating a lie? People should be making their decisions based on the strain lineage, terpene profiles, test results, and such. People loved being lied to, but no one wants to be lied to. I am incredibly blunt. I love telling the truth, because people hate to hear it. I do get a lot of hate for my blunt attitude, but it all comes from confidence, ethics, and passion which all stems from personal experience. I hate to see anyone get taken advantage of—especially in cannabis—so I highly suggest taking the time to learn more, or educate others with proper sources.
Please, if anyone needs help with specific cannabis genetics-related questions, I might be able to forward you to someone who can help if I can not. Please feel free to contact via email or my several social media links, or contact info down below.