How Unique Cannabis Genetics Drive Brand Building

Cannabis genetics are the cornerstone of Green Dot Labs’ Boulder, Colo.-based concentrates operation, and according to co-founder Dave Malone, the craft beer industry provided the inspiration he needed to give the company’s unique cultivars their own identities.

Malone says the craft brewing industry started out as a select few companies with lines of beers that were almost indistinguishable among consumers, but as soon as brands began investing in marketing, consumers started gravitating toward specific brands.

The cannabis industry, he says, has a lot to learn from this approach.

“That’s what we’re aiming to do with our genetics, is give them their own identity,” Malone says. “People may prefer different brands for whatever reason, but they still look at our Cherry Fluff strain, for instance, which is [branded as] a beautiful cherry on a big pile of whipped cream, and [the marketing is] very captivating and seductive. People identify with that.”

Photo courtesy of Green Dot LabsGreen Dot Labs’ Peach Brain Freeze cultivar

Dan Banks, director of cultivation strategy for Denver- based Lightshade, echoes this sentiment, adding that marketing is beginning to play a large role in the cannabis genetics space, with name-brand recognition starting to emerge among consumers.

“You have a couple different demographics,” Banks says. “You have people who are used to getting certain things from dispensaries, [and] they want to see those things maintained. Then you have people who are interested in anything new and checking that out, and if it’s new, then they’re like, ‘I want more of that’ or ‘I want more from that lineage.’”

Founded in 2011, Lightshade is one of the largest Colorado-owned, vertically integrated cannabis operators in the state. The company operates a greenhouse operation in Denver, as well as four indoor grow facilities.

When Banks joined Lightshade in late 2019, the company was cultivating roughly a dozen varieties across its five facilities, but it has since grown its genetics library to nearly 70 cultivars, with roughly 30 in regular production.

“Over the last year and some change, we’ve grown the library of genetics in the company and then implemented what we call a phenotyping program,” Banks says. “Basically, that’s a systematic way of introducing new varieties into production and gathering information about their performance, both on the horticultural side and also on the quality [and] potency side, as well.”

Lightshade acquired vertically integrated cannabis operator Sacred Seed last summer, which provided the company with a large bank of new genetics. Heading into 2021, Lightshade will establish an in-house breeding program to produce unique and proprietary varieties.

“[We’re] really trying to get some unique variety, … while also trying to cater to consumers that are looking for specific name-brand strains, as well,” Banks says, adding, “A lot of the things that people are excited about right now, there’s a lot of marketing behind that. Sometimes that marketing has a lot of substance backing it up, and other times it’s just a lot of hype.”

Photo courtesy of LightshadeLightshade plans to establish an in-house breeding program this year to produce unique and proprietary cannabis varieties.

Along those

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