Like oranges from Seville, beef from Alberta and wine from Tuscany, British Columbia is ubiquitous with one particular kind of produce: cannabis.
Yes, BC Bud is a household name that’s renowned across the globe. From Amsterdam to Zurich the province’s product has gained a level of infamy within the cannabis community that no other region in the world can match.
So what exactly is it that makes BC Bud stand out from the cannabis crowd? And just how did Canada’s most western province gain its reputation for producing some of the most mythical marijuana on the planet?
A History Lesson
Despite its association with cannabis, you might be surprised to hear that the earliest references to BC Bud actually stem from the alcohol industry. In fact, it was actually the name of a lager launched in 1931, which shot to infamy after it was smuggled south of the border to quench the thirst of prohibition-era Americans.
Those illicit associations perhaps explain why the moniker was adopted by the cannabis community some 30 years later when the story of BC Bud as we know and love it today began. Those origins once again revolve around our friends south of the border, this time however they took the form of conscientious objectors who flocked to BC in their thousands in order to escape the draft for the Vietnam War.
Once in BC this counter culture found tolerant communities and law enforcement that had an altogether more lax approach to marijuana.
“I think it really stems from the legacy of probably the last 30 years worth of breeding,” says Dan Sutton, CEO of BC-based cannabis producer, Tantalus Labs. “British Columbia has always been a pretty liberal environment in terms of its cannabis legal enforcement, and so growers who might have experienced a more hostile policing environment in California found a home here and they just started experimenting.”
They also found a landscape and microclimates that were perfect for growing cannabis, setting the province on a path towards cultivation that continues to this day.
Dan Sutton, Tantalus Labs
“BC Bud’s reputation stems from a mixture of culture, passion and a lax attitude towards cannabis itself,” says Aaron Anderson, Canadian National Sales Manager at Ascent Industries a research-driven producer based in BC. “This unique mixture enabled cannabis friendly cultivators to dedicate their passion towards developing some of the best genetics while utilizing BC’s optimal climate where outdoor crops can find themselves high on a mountain, perfectly situated among the canopy for maximum sun exposure and access to clean water sources.”
That experimentation sowed the seeds for the real reason that BC Bud has garnered a reputation across the world, and that’s the product itself.
Aaron Anderson, Ascent Industries
“There’s just something about it, it has an x factor,” Dan Sutton says. “You know when you see it, when you smell it, when you taste it and when you enjoy the psychoactive effects from it.”
So just what is it that people love about BC Bud?
“A simple answer is quality,” adds Anderson. “BC cultivators have dedicated decades of experience and passion to develop the highest quality strains and have built a reputation around that.”
The quality of BC Bud isn’t just anecdotal either. Growers from the Province have taken their genetics to Cannabis Cups both at home and abroad where they have claimed top prizes that have helped to cement its reputation among the community at large.
Making it to the Mainstream
Unsurprisingly given its popularity among the cannabis community, it was inevitable that BC Bud would spill over into the mainstream. BC has one of the highest proportions of cannabis users in the country with 20% of the province’s population admitting they have consumed pot in the past three months according to a recent report from Statistics Canada.
Ahead of legalization, we also saw the interest in BC Bud translate into the financial sector where people have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in order to stake a claim on the province’s produce.
“In a lot of ways, Vancouver especially, set the tone for the rest of cannabis culture across the rest of the nation,” says Sutton. “We are a region that’s world-renowned… but the real test will be on the shelves. I definitely believe that BC Bud has cachet today, but there’s a lot for legal growers to live up to if they’re going to match their black market history.”
For Aaron Anderson it’s that history that will ensure that BC Bud continues to set the tone for the rest of the industry as we move into the post-legalization landscape.
“BC now has the opportunity to legally showcase these genetics, products, and techniques into the national and international markets over the next few years,” he says. “Nationally, all legal entities will have equal access to technology and certain genetics, but nothing can replace experience, and in BC, we have some of the most experienced cultivators in the country. In time this will prove noteworthy as the market matures and advances.”
All of which means that BC Bud will sit at the nexus of the legalized landscape when the seeds of an industry that began with Vietnam draft dodgers in the 1970s will finally bear fruit for a province that has become synonymous with pot.