by Nebula Haze
Not long ago, cannabis was illegal in just about every part of the world. Thankfully, this amazing plant is finally being recognized as a safe alternative for many people who seek symptom relief and enjoyment. Today we’ll look at seven 2021 trends in the cannabis movement that affect cannabis enthusiasts and growers.
2021 is shaping out to be a big year for cannabis!
1.) 2021 Legal Status (Legalization is Spreading)
More people can legally enjoy and grow cannabis now than ever. Once-hostile countries are discussing legalization, and several countries have granted adults the right to grow and use cannabis plants.
Currently legal to grow weed
- Canada – federal legalization
- Mexico – legal by Supreme Court (set for federal legalization this year)
- South Africa – legal by Supreme Court
- United States – some parts, still federally illegal
- Uruguay – federal legalization
2021 United States Legalization Updates – sign up for the Marijuana Moment newsletter for US legalization news
- Good news:
- Federal change likely under current administration (banking, federal legalization, etc.)
- New Jersey – recently legalized for adults but no home grow
- New Mexico – adult-use legislation is soon to become reality!
- New York – 2021 adult-use legalization passed. Home grow will be allowed after a delay (“no later than 18 months after the first retail recreational sales begin”)
- Pennsylvania – bipartisan bill is gaining momentum as governor signals support
- Rhode Island – recent governor budget proposal includes adult-use legalization
- Virginia – bill passed to legalize cannabis in 2024
- Bad news
- Bonus good news: Magic mushroom and psychedelic legal status changes
- Positive bills, rulings, & proposals: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Missouri, New York, Texas, Washington, and dozens of US cities.
- Criminal penalties removed in Oregon and Washington, DC. City measures passed in Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, Somerville, and Cambridge.
Psychedelic legalization has recently gained a ton of momentum. Magic mushrooms may offer relief for some sufferers of PTSD, alcohol addiction, end-of-life psychological distress, depression, migraines or cluster headaches, menstrual irregularity, PMDD, anxiety, bereavement, and more. Many people report that mushrooms help them quit other drugs like opioids that are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects. We’re still learning about the benefits of this special fungi, but there’s evidence that it can have a wide range of positive effects for some people.
Just like cannabis, psychedelic mushrooms are safe and offer relief for a wide variety of hard-to-treat problems. Adults deserve to make their own decisions about magic mushrooms.
Around the world, 227 million people currently live in a country with legal weed and legal home grow. In the US, about 24% of the population has local laws that allow any adult to grow their own weed. We’re witnessing a good start towards worldwide herbal freedom, but there’s still a long way to go.
2.) More/Different Genetic Options
2021 continues to see dramatic increases in strain availability as more people grow at home and try their hand at breeding. This past year has witnessed thousands of new strains hit the market from hundreds of new breeders. The cannabis seed industry is experiencing a total revolution, with new genetic options that growers like me would never have dreamed of just a few years ago.
As a result…
- Easier to buy seeds now than ever
- Tons of new breeders are entering the scene (both great and terrible)
Even with everything going on, people can get seeds delivered almost anywhere in the world.
Seed shopping is different
- Less emphasis on isolated strains that are maintained and developed over years (i.e. Blue Dream, Purple Critical Kush)
- Lots more limited edition seed “drops” and one-time crosses.
- Genetics come and go at a rapid pace. Strains and even breeders are often gone by the time you get to harvest.
- More parts of the world are contributing strains, resulting in unique new genetics
- More information available regarding cannabinoids and effects, making it easier to find strains that are high CBD, high THC, symptom-specific, etc.
New strains tend to come and go. I recently grew this Ocean Fruit by Square One Genetics. By the time I harvested and recommended the strain to a friend, it was long gone.
- Strain names are getting tastier. Many new strains are delightfully named after sweet smells, desserts, candy, and other tasty treats. I personally feel this trend is simply an effective marketing ploy as I haven’t found these names to be particularly accurate.
- Many seeds are labeled only with their genetic breeding history (i.e. “Pink Wifi #4 x (Lemon Sorbet x Girl Scout Cookies)” or “Mandarin Sunset RBx1”)
These Mandarin Cookies buds smelled like great weed… but absolutely nothing like mandarin oranges or cookies.
3.) Bud Appearance is Changing
People’s preferences are changing as their choices expand. When buying weed from a dealer, you generally had few strain options and bud appearance took a back seat. Now, many dispensaries let consumers slowly examine dozens of strains before purchase. This has caused breeders and commercial growers to start competing on bud appearance, like a peacock or bird of paradise trying to impress a mate. When I started growing in 2008, most popular strains were a standard hairy orange without much sparkle (trichomes). Effects used to be the biggest difference between strains. Now looks are often just as important.
Vintage strains from “back in the day” almost universally produced green buds with lots of hairs that turn from white to orange
Newer strains tend to look more colorful and sparkly, with fewer hairs
Extra Popular Bud Traits in 2021
- Sparkle/glitter (trichome coverage)
- Greasy/oily/sticky feel to buds
- Stinky and overpowering smells
- Not too hairy
Yields are also taking a back seat to other genetic factors like appearance. Some breeders aim for “quality over quantity” to the point where a perfectly grown plant can still end up producing tiny yields. Growers can certainly improve results plant training and other techniques to increase yields, but if you’re growing new strains and produce small yields it may have nothing to do with you. Luckily, most breeders list information on strains such as what yields to expect on average.
When it comes to strains aimed at home growers, there seems to be less focus on yields and more on bud quality than in the past. As a result, buds from new strains are often more like “nuggets” than the huge “colas” that once dominated the genetic market.
4.) Seed Banks Move to Different Countries
Another huge recent change has been the shifting location of seed banks. Many seed sources have moved their place of business due to new restrictions from Brexit, Spain, COVID, and poor mail service.
- Many seed banks had to move due to seed inventory and mail service issues related to Brexit and COVID
- Seed banks are being lured to countries with federally-recognized legality such as Canada, South Africa, Mexico, and Uruguay
- Some banks have moved to the US due to the booming market. Not only that, tons of new American seed banks are popping up, resulting in overall better strain availability in the Americas. The current US government seems more lax on federal enforcement than the previous administration, and five states have passed some sort of legalization in just the last 6 months. There’s a lot of momentum behind cannabis businesses in the US.
Canada is becoming a popular new spot for seed banks due to federal cannabis legalization. Plus Canadian adults can legally grow up to 4 plants. Learn more.
5.) Edibles, Candy & Tinctures Dominate the Market
Smoking cannabis flowers (buds) used to be the main way people consumed weed. However, more health-conscious ways of consuming are becoming more and more popular as people turn away from smoking. These products often have less of a smell and allow you to accurately dose ahead of time over a long period without the need for smoke breaks.
- People increasingly want to avoid smoking
- Flowers only make up about 45% of retail sales in the US!
- Edibles are one of the fastest-growing products on the market
- Edible products seem less illicit to many consumers
- No/little smell during storage and consumption
- Accurate dosing becomes possible
Some states like California have onerous edible limitations (10 ml THC per serving, for example) that make them unsuitable for people who need higher amounts and don’t want to eat thousands of calories in edibles to get the required dosage. This is causing consumers to make their own edibles or seek out stronger edibles on the black market.
Gummies are one of my favorite edibles to make at home
6.) Extracts Gaining Popularity, too
Other cannabis extracts like hash and rosin are taking a front seat as people look for alternatives to smoking. Many consumers are seeking extracts created through natural means without any solvents or chemicals.
- Various forms of hash
- Pure hash oil
- Kief (whole trichomes typically collected via a sift or screen)
- Live resin (a potent extract made from freshly harvested plants)
These are all essentially different ways of getting the “good stuff” from a cannabis plant. Typically these are popular because:
- Greater potency – higher levels of cannabinoids like THC
- Variety – each type of extract “feels” a little different
- Use up trim, leaves, and extra inventory – Growers can make extractions from extra leaves or plant matter (“trim”) that contain cannabinoids but aren’t suitable to smoke. Extracts also let you use up extra inventory (if you enjoy growing, you quickly end up with more weed than you can use) or buds that didn’t come out as good as you hoped.
Extracts offer greater potency and variety compared to cannabis flowers. They’re typically eaten, smoked, vaped, or turned into “dabs”.
7.) Better Quality Overall
In general, quality is going up for genetics, growing equipment, and available forms of weed. Even many “bad” breeders offer great strains because the genetic pool is better overall. My favorite 2021 trend is that more information is available than ever to help growers produce professional bud quality at home. Small-scale home growing produces better-than-dispensary buds when you do it right.
The availability of quality grow equipment, genetics, and information has never been better
That being said, with a new market comes fakers and scammers. It’s more important than ever to order genetics, nutrients, grow lights, and other growing equipment from trustworthy sources. Never order genetics from an unknown breeder, especially any person that contacts you unprompted on social media like Instagram or Facebook. Legitimate breeders won’t slide in your DMs, they let you come to them. Notice what other growers are using for genetics that you like, and try to order from their sources.
Don’t throw your money down the drain. Save cash (and frustration) by sticking to reliable, trustworthy vendors.
Not sure where to get genetics? Barneys Farm has been around for years yet they also embrace change. Their new strains regularly incorporate the best of new genetics and (unlike a lot of the new breeders) they isolate strains so you know what to expect and can get the same strain again later. No breeder is perfect but Barney’s Farm strains reliably produce good buds with a variety of unique effects. I highly recommend every grower give Pineapple Chunk a try at least once.
Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know what trends you’ve noticed for 2021 so far. It’s an exciting time to be a weed enthusiast or grower!