As cannabis consumers become more educated, there is an increased awareness around the flavour profiles of strains and how those profiles translate into felt effects. Many connoisseur-focused brands are moving away from other traditional ways of selling cannabis (potency, Sativa/indica) in favour of emphasizing the aromatic compounds (terpenes) of the plant.
One independent cannabis retailer based in British Columbia has been known for “setting the standard since day one”. THC Canada, located on Main Street in South Vancouver, has once again set a new trend for the industry. THC Canada is the first legal Canadian cannabis retailer to explicitly categorize cannabis strains by flavour to better educate consumers.
Setting the Standard in Cannabis Retail
The sleek, marble-topped modern store has a unique look but was originally set up in a traditional matter – separating cannabis strains by Sativa, Hybrid, Indica and CBD-dominant. However, when the shop was forced to temporarily close down during inventory shortages amid the BCGEU strike, the team at THC Canada made some big changes to the menu and store design.
”We noticed that the industry is evolving and heading in a different direction. We feel that separating and selling strains by Sativa, Hybrid and Indica is outdated. A lot of strains are not accurately described by those three categories. That is why we decided to take a different approach where we describe strains based on their flavours and aromas.Spensir, President of THC Canada
The “Sativa” section has been replaced by “Sour, Citrus, Haze”, a classification that encompasses many “uplifting” strains that would typically be associated with the word “sativa”, but emphasizes flavour over plant morphology. Sour Diesel, Congolese and Orangeade are three strains that could be found in this category.
The “Hybrid” section has been substituted with “Dank, Kush, Gas” three words typically associated with hard-hitting, sedative, “Indica-dominant” strains. This section is for the smoker looking for relaxation and potency. Strains such as OG Kush, Pink Kush, BC Rockstar and more will be found in this category.
The “Indica” section has been re-written as “Sweets, Desserts, Exotics”, three words typically associated with flavourful, “Indica-dominant hybrid strains”. These strains include California genetics such as Gelato 33, Zkittlez and Ice Cream Cake.
Innovating to Better Educate Consumers
Overall, this type of change helps educate consumers about how flavour and aroma dictate their felt experiences of consuming cannabis. THC Canada has a more advanced, connoisseur-type consumer than the average dispensary in Canada. They also prioritize staff training and hiring individuals with experience from the legacy market who know their stuff. THC’s expert staff can help guide newbies and connoisseurs alike to find a strain that is perfect for them, based more on flavour than plant morphology.
Ontario-based retailer Erbn Green had introduced a similar concept to rid itself of the “Sativa/Indica” distinction when it launched – separating strains by taste (sweet, sour, earthy, spicy) intent (THC, 2:1, 1:2, CBD) and strength (0-10% THC, 10-20, 20-30) all at once – with a unique shape and colour coded system.
Think about the way that consumers purchase and brands sell wine. A sommelier will mostly focus on the flavour and after-taste of a wine (versus the alcohol content), which tells you all you need to know about the quality and experience of the product. Cannabis is the same in many ways, the average consumer just hasn’t caught up.
Scientific research backs this up. PHD researchers at Dalhousie University (and more) have proclaimed that “Indica and sativa labels are largely meaningless when it comes to cannabis complexities”. This same research points to terpenes, “the entourage effect” and categorizing based more on flavour and aroma as a more accurate way to classify cannabis cultivars.
These movements away from the boring and outdated “Sativa/Hybrid/Indica” distinction are important for moving our industry forward as a whole. Consumers, brands and storefronts alike are slowly changing their mindset on buying and selling cannabis to emphasize taste and experience more than just potency.
Last Updated on September 16, 2022 by Hannah Thomson