Here’s What’s In and What’s Out in Cannabis This Harvest Season

Vape crisis or not, there is a palpable return-to-nature vibe happening in legal cannabis.

(Ian Stout)

OUT: Vaping oil

IN: Smoking sun-grown flower

Even before the current PR nightmare surrounding the possible health dangers of vaping, the world of vape pens and cartridges was murkier than a lot of us wanted to admit. Without sufficient research or understanding of the mechanisms, consumers don't have much clue how to distinguishing good vapes from bad and proper operating technique from dangerous misuse. With flower, there's one test result and, in most cases, a shorter supply chain before you get to the grower who brought that plant to harvest.

Vape crisis or not, there is a palpable return-to-nature vibe happening in legal cannabis, and "sun-grown" is back to being a selling point. Formerly a curse word that immediately dropped the value of your flower, the more affordable, environmentally friendlier cultivation method is the new industry standard down south as California's recreational brands get established. Even the way people smoke signals a return to simpler times—the must-have smoking device of the year is the Session Bong, which is nothing more than an understated beaker bong. No percolating glass filters, no ice catch, no dab attachment, just a classic glass bong for flower.

OUT: Blunt wraps

IN: Alt-papers

The future of rolling is wrapped in hemp leaf and rose petals. Whether it's a side effect of the healthy hemp craze or it's just nice to use something different, there's less tobacco mingling with weed in smoking circles as of late. But with hemp wraps that smoke a bit smoother, preserve the taste of the flower itself, and—in the case of rose petal-wrapped smokables like Bull Run's 2 gram Pepita—look a lot more Instagram-ready, it isn't a huge surprise.

High Hemp Wraps, made with traditional wood pulp or rice papers, are the new standard for everyday rolling papers, mainly due to the lack of newspaper flavor. Local brand Barbari brought its herbal blends to the Afropunk festival in New York this year, rolling hemp spliffs for attendees with herbs like peppermint, jasmine blossom and raspberry leaf. Inside and out, it seems more botanical remedies are disrupting tobacco's corner of cannabis culture.

OUT: Pot brownies

IN: Dose-your-own edibles

You no longer have to develop a sweet tooth or live by the baker's whims to consume weed your way. Seriously, go on Leafly right now and try to find infused brownies anywhere—it's an endangered commodity. That's because you no longer need to buy a weed brownie to eat one. Now, you can sprinkle infused flakes of sea salt by Alto atop fresh-baked cookies at home, drizzle Müru Syrup on top, or drop some Ruby CBD sugar into your tea.

With all these choices, not only does the end product taste better, you get to customize your own dose in-house. And if you were buying pot brownies out of sheer necessity in lieu of smoking or vaping, innovative products like Buddies THC-infused toothpicks get you high without forcing you to eat candy.

OUT: Chasing OG strains

IN: New strains unlike any we've seen before

Breeders aren't wasting any more time seeking out alleged descendants of iconic strains. Instead, they're combining treasured found genetics with new cultivars, revealing effects and experiences we didn't know were possible.

Up until now, the cannabis elite defined themselves as people in the know who went to all the right Dead shows, and swore they smoked the real, original OG Kush or Blue Dream. While modern genomic progress is making those claims a little more trackable, the significance of such a pedigree is waning. Even if you tracked down the last remaining strain with traces of true Acapulco Gold genetics from the '80s, it wouldn't be anything like whatever was being flown into the States via some rock star's charter planes.

The new novelty in cannabis—and one that is far more satisfying—is cultivating new and old strains with the knowledge we have now, and bringing out characteristics previously unheard of. Instead of differentiating strains by two cannabinoids (THC and CBD), consumers are walking into stores knowing they can seek out a modern strain full of terpinolene, a psychedelic-aligned terpene previously found only in minuscule amounts, and experience a trippier high than strains with 29 percent THC and a sleepy, myrcene-dominant terpene profile.

OUT:  CBD and chill

IN: Hemp happenings

The secret is out that hemp-derived CBD sold outside dispensaries is far less potent than CBD-dominant cannabis products in licensed dispensaries. If you want real restorative effects, go to a dispensary. If you want a moderately mind-altering smoke that won't get you conventionally high, but is also legal to buy outside a shop and smoke anywhere cigarettes are allowed? Hemp is the truly recreational flower.

Toward the end of a night out, a low-dose hemp joint can settle a stomach and bring you back to earth without giving you the spins—it's basically the Aperol spritz of cannabis. By definition, a hemp plant won't contain more than 0.3 percent THC, but some hemp strains can produce 10 to 15 percent CBD. At the 2019 Cultivation Classic, OM Shanti Farms turned every head in the room when its Suver Haze won the Hemp award with a plant that came in at 0.2 percent THC and 15.2 percent CBD.

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