A Canadian cannabis company has announced plans to release an odorless weed to dispensaries. While the manufacturer claims the product will yield major benefits for weed users and nonusers alike, the new innovation calls into question just what it is that makes weed weed in the first place.

Ontario company CannabCo Pharmaceutical Corp. put out a press release earlier this month saying their new product, “Purecann” marijuana would have almost no odor and be “virtually undetectable,” even when being smoked.

CannabCo president and CEO Mark Pellicane says the product is partially about respect. “Cannabis is great, but there are human beings around us that do not, or cannot tolerate the smell. Children living in an apartment with neighbors that smoke down the hall, or at a public park where kids are playing,” Pellicane said in an email to VICE.

“I know people personally that get nauseous or a headache around the odor. What is the harm in using cannabis and respecting others that do not want the odour when the situation requires it? It’s about respecting others as well.” 

However, it doesn’t take too much deep thinking to wonder about the black market implications of the new tech, and also to consider what it is that cannabis has to lose in order to shed its signature smell.

Drug-sniffing dogs are used by local police to combat illegal drug trafficking, as well as by federal agencies at border crossing and airports. Though its unclear how these canine units would respond to differently-odored cannabis, marijuana without odor could potentially have a major advantage for black market dealers.

Meanwhile, some experts point out that eliminating odor could mean depleting cannabis of some of its medical benefits. Peter Grinspoon, a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and a board member of the advocacy group Doctors For Cannabis Regulation, told VICE that getting rid of the smell means getting rid of terpenes, an element which both adds pleasurable flavor and medical perks including potential antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.

“Terpenes are such an important part of the enjoyment recreationally, as well as the medicinal properties,” said Grinspoon. “Why would you take away the odor?”

Natalie