Dear Stoner: My friend is a cultivator who is very proud of the fact that s/he grows an entirely organic product, outdoors, no chemical fertilizers, etc. Is this really an issue? I noticed that six of the approximately forty medical marijuana business adverts in Westword proclaim that they market an "organic" product. Also, one business advertises "No Greenhouse Garbage." Is this also an undesirable element in medical marijuana?
Dear Char: Sounds like you've got a pretty good friend. The short answer to your question is yes, stuff like organic nutrients and no chemical pesticides is important — but how important depends on the type of person you are.
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Think of it like food: You're putting this plant into your body in one form or another (that's the point, right?), and ideally you'd like it to be as close to natural as possible. But just as they are with food, not everyone is always so picky about what they put in their body. How do you think McDonald's and most medical dispensaries on Federal stay in business? Like the hormone-fed cattle at McD's, some dispensaries will pack warehouses with plants and blast them with nutrients to increase the overall yield per plant and maximize the profit for the time and energy spent.
That's not to say that growers can't use non-organic nutrients and pull off a good, clean, healthy product — plenty do. Besides, the word "organic" can be a misleading catch-all used more as a branding gimmick than anything else. But still, my take is that natural, organic and in soil is the way to grow.
Indoor vs. outdoor/greenhouse is another debate best left to the preference of the smoker, but implying that all greenhouse bud is garbage is overly dismissive. Grown well and with care, greenhouse herb powered by the rays of the sun can be indistinguishable or better than cannabis grown under artificial lights that pale in comparison to what Mother Nature can offer — as I'm sure your friend will be glad to show you come harvest time this fall.
But there is a kernel of truth in this theory: Greenhouse bud in Colorado hasn't always been the best quality when compared to the indoor herb people out here are used to (Peace and Medicine/Budding Health comes to mind), and many dispensaries have given it a bad name. But some dispensaries definitely do greenhouse right. The last time we tried Grassroots Grown in Denver, for example, we were definitely impressed.