Funny that I’d never heard this term until recently. It refers to the practice of mixing multiple strains of marijuana into the same bag. This was how it was often done in the past, where “pot was pot” and no one really cared so long as it looked and smelled good and got you stoned.
In 2004, I was in New York City to protest the Republican National Convention and I asked a friend there to show me what kind of pot they were getting. He pulled out the predictable small zip-lock bag with unappealing lumps and crumbs of green-brown plant material. “This is B.C. Bud,” he said, adding that it was considered the top grade. It did smell good, but you couldn’t have given that away here. When I asked if he knew the specific strain, he just said “B.C. Bud.”
I suspect that even to this day, much of what ships out of Humboldt County loses its unique identity and ends up labeled only as “Humboldt” or “kush” by the time it ends up in someone’s personal stash. Still, with legalization of one form or another, unidentified or haybaled pot would be the barrel-scrapings of weed. Or maybe someone would reintroduce generics and we’d have black-and-white packaged “marijuana” or, as it would certainly be called in the vernacular, “pot pot.”*
As with any agricultural product, wholesale buyers and retail consumers want a uniform look, smell and effect. Some things, like mixed nuts or mixed greens, lend themselves to being jumbled together, but not weed. The effects of each strain are too distinct and people want a consistent experience. This is especially crucial to medical users who might be looking for strains with specific cannabiniod ratios. For those people, a haybaled bag of weed would be the equivalent of dumping multiple bottles of, say, psych meds in the same jar and picking randomly.
While there have always been pot connoisseurs who demanded specific strains, the increasing branding and specialization of the product and the increasing sophistication of pot aficionados has been driven by the medical marijuana dispensaries. They have been the first businesses ever to be able to openly advertise and give customers…er…patients…a consistent, reliable choice. When you have dozens of strains on display, each has to have a unique name and description so patients can either try something new or get an old favorite.
I think this specialization and professionalism is good for the industry. The sooner everyone involved gets on board, the better position the community will be to take advantage of whatever markets open up once pot is eventually legalized in California and elsewhere.
I learned of the term “haybaling” in the context of a grower who is still operating as if it were the ’80s and pot was still just pot. I’ve said before that one of the downsides to decades of marijuana suppression in the SoHum community is a pervasive paranoia that prevents people from stepping into the light—or at least into the hazy gray—and adapting to the new, rapidly-evolving marijuana economy. Those who still practice haybaling—if they even bother to track their strains as all—will be left behind.
*When generic foods and other supermarket products were first introduced 30-ish years ago, they had stark white packaging with black, block lettering. So, alongside the Budweiser and Pabst, there would be a row of white cans with a cheaper price tag and black lettering saying “Beer.” This was widely referred to as “beer beer.”