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Priced for Potency: Alaska Likes Strong Weed, And They’re Paying For It

Priced for Potency: Alaska Likes Strong Weed
Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


Priced for Potency: Alaska Likes Strong Weed, And They’re Paying For It

A recent report finds that Alaska’s cannabis consumers are spending 80 percent more for high potency strains than in other states, and they’re uninterested in strains below 20 percent THC.

It makes sense that Alaskan residents rank high on the list of states whose residents enjoy potent cannabis. To live in The Last Frontier is to endure subzero climate and long cold winters that, in many cases, only allow the residents to experience a few hours of sunlight each day. The situation gets even worse in northernmost parts of the state, where the population is covered in darkness for 67 days of the winter season. Toss in the fact that city life is pretty much nonexistent and supply chains are extremely limited, and it is easy to see how a trend has emerged since the state legalized marijuana: Alaskans seem to have an affinity for high potency pot.

And they are willing to pay for it.

A recent report from the Anchorage Daily News finds that Alaska’s cannabis culture is spending in upwards of 80 percent more for high potency strains than in other areas. Dispensaries have seen no shortage of customers snatching up those buds packed with at least 20 percent THC. It seems the population has found solace in the sort of weed that might give others panic attacks.

But this affinity for the “top shelf” does not end there. In fact, the higher the THC content, the easier it is for dispensaries to sell it. States officials, like Brandon Emmett with the Marijuana Control Board, say “Alaskans have an obsession with marijuana over 20 percent (THC).”

It doesn’t seem to matter that these powerful breeds are close to double the price of the average strain (14 percent), “they very much are buying on potency,” one dispensary owner explained. “I don’t see that going away anytime soon.”

This trend has become such a rabid force that industry experts predict that some of the cultivation operations churning out low-THC products could face bankruptcy.

Jessica Alexander, lab director at New Frontier Research, calls the trend “real nonsense” that only stands to drive up the cost and put some cannabis companies out of business.

But Alaskans like what they like and who can blame them for turning to strong cannabis to help with the harsh weather?

But the thing is, Alaskans may be spending more money on bud that doesn’t necessarily come packed with any more of a punch than the cheaper stuff. This can be attributed to the inconsistency of the state’s testing labs. The report shows that one lab might test a crop at 20 percent THC while another lab might test the same product at 14 percent. These discrepancies have been a hot topic for the past several months. Cannabis testing simply lacks the standardized procedures used to ensure the safety of things like water and soil. Because of this, consumers really cannot be sure that the THC levels marked on the packages of their pot purchases are accurate. So it is conceivable and distinctly possible that most of Alaska’s cannabis consumers are getting ripped off.

However, while the state struggles to find a solution to the testing problem, the cannabis industry is trying to rationalize with the consumer as to why it is ridiculous to base their pot purchases solely on the potency alone. They say most people do not drink hard liquor as opposed to beer simply because these beverages contain a higher alcohol content. Why should cannabis be any different?

Dispensary owners want consumers to examine other aspects of the product, like appearance and smell, before opting for the higher potency strains. Sometimes, they say, really nice low-THC strains are getting passed over simply because the customer doesn’t believe the numbers will facilitate their desired buzz.

While there is some truth in this logic, the other truth is Alaska’s affinity for stronger weed is likely leaving many dispensaries with a surplus of low-to-average THC cannabis. And they are losing money. As much as the local cannabis trade might be down on this purchasing trend, the market is customer driven, not the other way around.

If the population wants strong weed, then perhaps cultivators should shift gears and start filling the dispensaries with more high potency strains rather than trying to save loss leaders. After all, the cannabis consumer in Alaska is really no different than in any other legal state. Some of the most popular strains in the nation (Blue Dream, GG#4, Durban Poison) often test at over 20 percent THC. These are the specific breeds raking in millions of dollars each year. This means Americans, in general, prefer the stronger stuff.

Give them what they want.

TELL US, do you think strains should be priced based on potency?

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