Medical Marijuana Breeds Pot Snobs

All marijuana is not created equal, and some smokers are experiencing a “golden age” of cannabis choices thanks to the wider use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported April 22 that some pot smokers sound more like wine lovers in describing various strains of weed. “I would describe this as grapey, candy-like, sweet, with a slight undertone of spice,” said Oakland medical-marijuana dispensary CEO Stephen DeAngelo of a recent sample. “It is grapey, but I get flowers,” added Rick Pfrommer, purchasing agent for the Harborside Health Center. “I would use the word pungent. It has a pungent funk undertone.”

Harborside alone offers medical users 40 types of marijuana to choose from, crossbred from strains originating in Burma, India, Mexico and California. Websites like weedtracker.com offer product reviews and other information. Jorge Cervantes serves as the unofficial guru of marijuana “cannasseurs”; he judges different strains of the drug for High Times, which sponsors the annual Cannabis Cup.

“Some of the fragrances you should look for are sweet, spicy and musty,” said Cervantes. “If it's sweet, what's it like? Is it like bubblegum? Is it like honey? … Is it minty? What does that mean? Is it like a rose? Or a cherry?”

For medical users, reviews usually focus on each strain's therapeutic potential, such as whether it works to treat problems like pain or nausea and how much of a “head high” or “body high” it delivers.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which considers all use of medical marijuana illegal, is less concerned about the drug's fragrance than how potent it is: federal drug officials say that the THC content in marijuana has skyrocketed since the 1970s. “It's a marketing thing, truly just marketing,” said Greg Sullivan, head of the DEA's San Francisco field office. “We know they are different strains, like with wines, but we don't analyze that … Marijuana is marijuana. They've gotten very good at growing marijuana. It's become an art.”

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