My brother is a weed scientist. Every weekday morning, he drives to work in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, throws on a lab coat with “Northwest Botanical Analysis” stitched over the pocket, and starts putting tiny samples of ganja through a gas chromatography machine, among other gadgets.* He tells breeders and the “dispensaries” that that currently distribute pot under the local medical marijuana system the potency of their various colorfully named strains as well as the relative amounts of the many subtly different compounds, called cannabinoids and terpenes, that make each one a different experience to smoke. He checks for mites, pesticides, and mold (a common problem with bud grown in Seattle’s damp basements). These days, he’s talking to the state Liquor Control Board as it works on the rules and regulations for retail sales of dope starting later this year.
When I tell people about my brother’s job—that is, when I tell people who are roughly in my demographic of thirtysomething and fortysomething parents—I nearly always get the same response: “Really? Can he score me some weak weed?”
Clearly, there’s a market segment out there that isn’t being catered to by the dope industry. And these relatively affluent customers want something more like a glass of wine at the end of the day than the effect summarized by one recent review of the guava dawg strain in Northwest Leaf magazine: “lung expansion, flavor worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize, and the ability to instantly make my face feel like it’s been shrink-wrapped.”