Oct. 14 2015 11:30 AM

Medical marijuana market flooded with strain varieties

One of the most popular conversational topics in provisioning center lobbies and smokers circles nowadays is the vast number of Cannabis types, generally known as "strains." You may have heard or read something like, “Marijuana today is not your grandpa’s weed.” That is certainly true in one way: A few decades ago, nobody bred CBDrich strains because that variety is not known for getting someone high. Back then, you were lucky if the pot you were getting actually had a strain name. The selection was pretty limited in comparison to the number of strains available today.

Today’s selection is virtually endless in names, flavors and cannabinoid profiles. Most people make an instant double take when they hear someone talk about “medical marijuana” while using strain names like Green Crack, Cat Piss, Granny Panties or Dumpster Poison.

So how do these strains get their names?

In many cases, even I’m left scratching my head. But most of the time there is a sensible reason for the designation. Sometimes the smell, taste or effect plays a role in the name. Other times the name is a mash-up based on the two strains that were bred together to create the new strain. There are also some strain names, like Charlotte's Web, that are christened after certain people — in this case a young epileptic patient named Charlotte in Colorado.

There are no limits or boundaries regarding who can create or name new strains. A Lansing-born strain named after Danny Trevino, founder of Hydroworld, is a local example of a newly developed variety of cannabis. Trevino had been growing this strain for years by the time he started teaching marijuana growing classes at his hydroponics store.

“I used to tell (people) that the name was ‘Classics’ because I didn't have a name,” Trevino said. “But because I developed it, it popped in my head to name it ‘Danny Trevino's.’ And then it went nationwide.”

Many patients think that the name of the strain is important when looking for their buds. Sometimes they just know what they like, other times they look for a selection that sounds more palatable than others. One patient even told me that he sometimes looks for a specific strain he’s heard of in a rap song.

Local dispensaries have noticed the importance of having a good name attached to their bud. A representative from the Kushion, a busy shop on Michigan Avenue that is known for its quality strains, weighed in.

“Some patients seem to (choose a strain) for the name over the quality of the meds,” said the representative, who preferred not to be named. “Not understanding phenotypes, a patient may choose a certain strain based on popularity and overlook a better quality strain that they may not have heard of.”

At the Kushion, the most popular strain is called Animal Cookies, while the slowest moving strain they’ve carried is known as Blue OG. When asked about his personal favorite strain, the representative said it was one of his own creations.

“I once bred a strain that was very popular in Lansing, and it's still being passed around,” he said. “I named it Flandango at first to sound silly, but then it was shortened to Dango.”

But that wasn’t the only strain that’s been created by the folks at the Kushion, and it won’t be the last.

“I’m working on one now called Gorilla Cookies,” the representative said, explaining that it is a cross between two popular strains: Gorilla Glue #4 and Animal Cookies.

Steve Green, who writes this column every two weeks, uses marijuana to prevent seizures. He has no business ties to any dispensaries or products.