Smell the roses
It is early, but the legal cannabis market in Canada has had some problems so far. People are talking about stock prices and the supply chain in an attempt to attribute a cause to some of the struggles that are faced in the legal space, and licensees who have broken rules are getting a lot of attention.
While these issues are legit, there are some more fundamental failures going on that represent a significant barrier to capturing consumers from the illicit marketplace—quality and price.
It should be expected that this will improve over time, but my reviews here at Inside the Jar will focus on the now of it all, and the overall experience.
I am not going to break things down by individual terpenes. I will grade samples on a 17-point scale, but there will be no ‘2/4 for bag appeal’ and things like packaging will not impact score. It is about the weed, and whether I like it or not. I will address value and pricing, but I will not take that into account in my final evaluation. Again, it will be about the weed.
The main caveat when it comes to my reviews is that I grow this stuff for a living. I like to think I do it pretty well, with cultivars I love to smoke grown using a living soil system. I don’t need to purchase cannabis for myself, as I have a personal production license, and I have access directly to fellow growers on all sides of the industry.
I will not be the only reviewer at ITJ. I will often have guests join me for reviews, and my fellow writers will pen, record, or film reviews of their own. They won’t be formulaic. Everyone’s cannabis experiences are unique, so we will have varied reviews for our varied readers.
Getting the Weed
I live a block from what was the best dispensary in Canada prior to legalization. Once called Farmacy, now The Original Farm here in Victoria, the quality of product they carried was unbelievable. Their staff was and is still on point, too.
They are now open as a legal shop. The transition from well-priced super high-quality product to expensive and largely flavourless legal product has been tough, I am sure, but they still do everything else very well.
I walked in, said hi, and asked for the very best product they carried.
"I would never pay this price consistently. I do feel gouged. I know what it costs to produce this stuff."
I was told by two senior staff, both of whom I trust to point me in the right direction, that Qwest Ice Cream Cake is exactly that.
So, I bought an eighth.
For $64.99 plus tax.
That’s right, I bought 3.5 fucking grams for $72.79 after taxes.
I would never pay this price consistently. I do feel gouged. I know what it costs to produce this stuff.
As a one-time thing I don’t consider it a big deal to grab an eighth for a review, or even for market research, but I am lucky enough that I don’t usually have to buy my own weed. If I did, I could not justify spending this much, and would happily shop in the illicit market for a fraction of the cost.
It should be noted that this is a very BC-centric perspective. These prices are not out of line with many legal U.S. states, and cheaper than most places I have visited in Europe. The thing is, we have a sophisticated, local, low-risk illicit marketplace, and that is where the competition comes from.
After saying goodbye and leaving the store, I strolled home to smoke a rather expensive joint.
I expected a better package. It is a cheap box that contains what appears to be a cheap plastic container that could fit 10 to 14 grams of product, with a Boveda pack in the container.
This packaging issue is not unique to this product, but for a premium product at a huge price I would hope for something better than what a large-scale operation might use. At least get the package size right for the weight. Leaving all that empty space is just ridiculous.
The branding is also kind of shitty and dull, but that is heavily impacted by regulations.
Everything but Smoke
When opening the container, the smell didn’t jump out at me, but the bud smells good. When I crack a nug, the smell is much stronger, and very unique.
It smells like roses. Like fresh red rose flowers. It is like I just walked into a fucking florist.
At first, I wasn’t sure how to react. I don’t particularly like floral beer or food, as I find it often tastes like what I expect shampoo would taste like. Rosewater is not my favorite aroma, either, as I find is sickly sweet.
In this case, however, it really smells like fresh flowers, and it is actually pleasant.
Moisture is pretty much on point, and it looks nice enough. Not blowing my socks off, but I care less about visual appeal than most cannabis smokers I know.
It breaks up nicely. I am an old-school finger picker, and don’t generally use scissors or grinders. Breaking it up is part of my ritual, I suppose. In this case, I really took to the smell as I broke it up.
"I get some kind of fruit in there, too" said Sarah Lane, who joined me for the review smoke. "Something like lychee or pears."
So far, so good.
As a note, the package lists THC content as 22+ per cent. I don’t find that THC correlates to potency or effect. Some of the strongest weed I have ever smoked came in at around 15 per cent, and there are ways to game the tests.
It tastes sweet, so I see where the name comes from, but it tastes really floral to me. Roses again.
“Not to be pretentious, but you know what it tastes like? Longan, that fruit drink from the Vietnamese restaurant,” said Sarah. Longan is a lychee-like fruit.
It burns perfectly. Even, flavourful smoke. Snow white ash. Flavour right down to the roach. This is proper.
Effects for me are uplifting. There is a slight increase in heart rate, and it is physically energizing. At the same time, I am definitely stoned, with squinty eyes and a bit of a grin going on.
“It is relaxing mentally, yet a bit energizing physically,” said Sarah. “It is certainly not nap-inducing, and it doesn’t seem to be overpoweringly strong.”
I agree that it isn’t super potent, but it is very pleasant. Excellent for passive entertainment, in my opinion, though I don’t think I would want to be doing something that requires focused mental effort. It is movie and music weed.
Sarah’s take is, “it’s the kind of weed that makes me want to watch TV or read a book, but not go to work.”
Qwest Ice Cream Cake
This is good weed. Not the best ever, or anything, but it is unique in smell and taste—roses!—and has a pleasant non-drowsy euphoric effect. This is probably the best legal product I have tried after a year of legalization.