California craft sun-grown cannabis, seen thriving in Mendocino County’s Green Mountain Ranch this summer.

Growing up, I was conditioned to believe that the shiniest, reddest apple was the best one of the bunch. After all, it most closely resembled the apples in fairy tales and beloved stories. Then, I tasted it. It was beautiful, sure, but it tasted like chemicals and just slightly like apple. Years later, I discovered the secret that the best, most delicious apples were not the waxy red behemoths in the grocery store. They were the misshapen, oddly colored apples at the farmers market. These apples didn’t beg for your attention but rather gained your loyalty through their pure and unadulterated apple-ness.

For many years, cannabis has suffered the same fate. Magazines full of tightly packed, orange haired buds became the Playboy centerfold for many a young cannabis consumer outside of the Emerald Triangle. The images defined the ideal, the best, the kind of bud only true cannasseurs could obtain. Yet, there comes a time when one may grow old, and you want to go deeper. Enter sun-grown cannabis.

Sun-grown cannabis is the delicious, but inconspicuous, apple at the farmers market. It’s the shy person who doesn’t try to be everyone’s friend but is the most fascinating person in the room. The stigma toward sun-grown cannabis was driven by prohibition and an inability for anyone outside of northern California to have regular exposure to cannabis as a true agricultural crop. Cannabis was something grown in closets, in basements, with high intensity lighting, fans and carbon filters. My first cannabis cultivation experience was when my “dealer” gave me a plant. I bought an expensive light, some chain, and turned the small closet in my one bedroom apartment in Chicago into a grow room. This was the experience of most cannabis consumers, until recently.

Legalization has blown the roof off the “sun-grown is inferior” fallacy. Finally, people can grow their own cannabis and cannabis artisans can openly discuss their passion. For the first time since prohibition was enacted, the public truly has access to cannabis grown in full sun and they are starting to understand why that is important and see the benefits.

In my opinion, sun-grown cannabis is superior both in effect and in impact to the environment. While high intensity lighting can mimic the sun’s rays, it cannot fully replace the effect that natural sunlight has on the development of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes. Sun grown cannabis can fully embrace the sun in a way that indoor cannot replicate. Sun-grown cannabis not only takes advantage of the elements, it also harmonizes with them, leaving the land stronger and richer in its wake.

Amanda Reiman, the article’s author and Flow Kana VP of Community Relations, waters Baby Blue, one of her personal sun-grown cannabis plants at her home in Mendocino County.

The stigma against sun-grown does not come from the consumer side alone. Years of reefer madness mentality have driven people into a panicked frenzy over seeing a cannabis plant growing outdoors in the ground, under the sun. There is an illogical fear that cannabis being grown out in the open or backyards or gardens will somehow lure children into consuming.

Both the antidote to this stigma and the path to recognizing sun-grown as an incredibly high quality, holistic product are allowing people to experience sun grown cannabis both in its finished state, and through exposure to the plant while it is still in the ground. Many of the farmers in the Flow Kana family happily open up their farms to guests to help reduce the stigma and help people gain comfort with seeing cannabis as an agricultural crop. Additionally, the International Cannabis Farmers Association (icfa.farm) does outreach, education and research on the unique properties of sun-grown cannabis including the establishment of an appellation of origin program so that small craft sun-grown farmers can be recognized for their superior product and culturally driven methods.

Now, before all of the indoor growers that I know start knocking for my affinity for sun-grown, let me say that there is absolutely a place in this market for indoor cultivation. In the field of cannabis research, there is a need to produce a standardized plant that can be replicated in a controlled environment. However, for consumers like me, whether they are a cannasseur or new to cannabis, nothing beats cannabis grown under the sun, the California Way.