Following his piece on the cannabis connoisseurs decrying the quality of Massachusetts’ bud, Boston Globe cannabis reporter Dan Adams joined Boston Public Radio Monday to share why Bay State weed gets a bad rap.
“The truth is just across the board, fairly or unfairly, there’s this perception that the cannabis available at licensed dispensaries here is just overall not of good quality,” Adams said. “And that even if there are good strains here and there, it’s a crapshoot.”
Consumers’ chief complaints are related to cannabis quality, from crumbly, dry weed, to mildewy or seedy buds. For many consumers, the inconsistency — along with high prices — make for a lousy state cannabis market, with some turning to the illicit market for better, cheaper products.
But growers say cultivating marijuana plants in Massachusetts means they have to contend with more hurdles than farmers out west. Due to the state’s colder climate, many growers require indoor growhouses for successful crops, unlike operations in more temperate states like Oregon and Washington, where marijuana crops can largely be grown outdoors. Indoor growers have to finetune their ventilation, air conditioning, humidity controls and watering cycle in order to perfect their crops.
“Cannabis can be a very fickle plant,” Adams said. “It really wants very certain conditions to get the highest quality, but you can — out of the genetics you have out of the seed or the clone that you’ve started off — you really need to grow it carefully. So as the market was booting up, it just took [growers] time to sort of dial in all those procedures and get it right.”
In a previous appearance on Boston Public Radio, Adams noted that prices in Oregon were much cheaper compared to the commonwealth’s cannabis products — partially due to regional growing challenges.
“People are still paying $55, $60, even $65 for an eighth ounce of flower, which is really quite expensive,” Adams said in November. “If you go out to a place like Oregon, you could get the same amount of cannabis for $10 or $15.”
Growers also have to contend with the state’s marijuana microbe test, in which flower samples are examined for mold and other bacteria before its safe for sale.
“Our limit [for microbes] is quite low. From a consumer perspective, that’s probably a good thing, right? It's stronger consumer protection,” Adams said. “From the perspective of a grower though, they feel like this encourages them to overdrive the bud, because the more moisture that you leave in it, the more potential there is for the sort of microbial growth that could cause them to flunk the test, which is expensive and leads to a lot of delays.
“If [some growers] find out there’s mold in it, they’ll dunk it in hydrogen peroxide,” Adams said. “They have special machines that will radiate it to sort of kill anything living in there. And sure, now you pass the test, but you’re left with this very flavorless sort of [bud].”