The Strains You're Spending Extra Money for May Be Fake

Someone may be blowing falsely branded smoke up your ass.

"You start with a good name. That's the most important thing," slurs a 20-something serial entrepreneur who, along with a handful of friends, is responsible for millions of dollars in marijuana sales in the past few years across the country.

He and his colleagues are drunk, strewn on my oversized pink couch in the Hollywood Hills, evading the East Coast winter. "Carter III, Drake Cake, Gucci Gucci…. The weed is so good now and so available, you don't really set your product apart with quality anymore. You're selling something you want to get noticed; so you brand it. It'd be dumb not to."

He laughs, cutting a line.

If you don't work directly in the weed industry, or have friends that do, it may come as a surprise that a good portion of the strains you splurge on are simply fanciful monikers dreamed up by intoxicated 20-somethings spending your money on harder drugs for themselves.

It's literally impossible for the consumer to discern the strain of a weed by smoking it.

This is not to say all strains are fake. A very real strain-development scene is occupied by those deep in the game. But in the general populace, people who care about strains can be broken into two groups: Those who profit from the weed industry, and those aspirational consumers who equate buying a hot strain with rocking this season's Birkin bag. 

Only one group actually knows about strains, and that's the people who work directly in the production of marijuana. Most seemingly strain-savvy ancillary businessmen fail to understand that even their most-trusted dispensary is 100 percent serviced by criminals who have no problem lying to take as much of their money as possible.

"We'd get bricks from wherever. They'd have some Spanish words on them. Then we'd smoke some, sometimes not, and make up names, flavor profiles, all that."

Bob Doran/Flickr

This practice of whimsical deception is not a new one. I grew up in Ojai, a small valley town north of L.A. that was especially big in the weed dealing game during the mid-2000's, my high school years, before medical marijuana took over the market. I watched kids grow weed, make up some absurd name for it—like Strawberry Goo Bro—and proceed to sell the shit out of it. With the introduction of legal marijuana, what was a small-town drug hustle occurring in pockets across the country became a profitable nationwide up-sell scam.

This con is rampant. It's literally impossible for the consumer to discern the strain of a weed by smoking it.

"What happens is once a strain gets hot, it's basically like an Oscar dress going into sweatshop production," my entrepreneur friend says, shaking shoulder-length hair from his face. "Weed is branded as whatever and sold to dispensaries as such. The dispensaries really don't give a fuck either way. They're getting their money, and the bulk of consumers will buy it never knowing the difference." 

Once you're stoned, you're stoned. There's no way to suss out the minutia of attributed effects and feelings the grower or seller made up. People pretend; it makes them seem more knowledgable on a topic where knowledge in the mainstream is scarce. But weed isn't just for hippies anymore. As the multi-billion dollar industry evolves, capitalist practices of deception are on the rise. There's money to be made, and there are people willing to blow some smoke to make it.

Consumers need to stay just as wily.