It seems that since the start of the information age, which also roughly coincides with the release of Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” album, marijuana has been inching towards acceptance and legalization. The cultural acceptance of the plant is moving faster than legalization, but unless there is an unprecedented federal backlash, laws will further relax and legalization will become more widespread.
Since it is the information age, and marijuana is still somewhat of a taboo subject, marijuana patients, recreational users and other curious parties can learn about marijuana from the web, rather than getting raised eyebrows from clerks as they buy books and magazines. What follows are some of the best examples of the Worldwide Weed Web.
Leafly may be the most complete site for marijuana information. Part glossary, part dispensary directory and part encyclopedia, Leafly has a sophisticated design to their classifications and ratings. Strains of marijuana are separated into three main classes: sativa, indica or hybrid, with color-coded icons that resemble elements from the periodic table.
Leafly also features user reviews and an aggregated score for strains. Information on strains is compiled by user data, and Leafly displays pros and cons for each, as well as descriptions of strain taste. Leafly’s dispensary-finding function can be filtered by many categories, such as veteran discounts, top strains, and of course, location. What’s more, Leafly has a mobile app, and the desktop site has a “Safe for Work” switch that removes images of buds.
Focusing more on where the marijuana is than what it does or what it looks like is Weedmaps.com. The Weedmaps site loads a local map when navigated to, and if there are dispensaries in the area, they populate the map with icons denoting whether they are medical or recreational, as some in Colorado and Washington are. Weedmaps also has a table of ailments with the corresponding cannabis chemicals used to treat them. Weedmaps advocates marijuana testing, and denotes whether a strain has been lab tested on their hosted dispensary menus. Speaking of those menus…
Both Leafly and Weedmaps have an online portal through which dispensaries can connect. When navigating to a dispensary on Weedmaps, the strain menu is the first thing the user sees. However, the menu is updated by the dispensaries themselves, and can sometimes be outdated. Leafly has the same problem, but their dispensary info is broken up over a set of tabs, opposed to the layout on Weedmaps where everything is on one page.
Leafly appears to be centered more on information about the strains of marijuana, while Weedmaps is more about finding marijuana. Like Leafly, Weedmaps also has a set of mobile apps, which is good, considering their site doesn’t appear to have a mobile version.
Aside from utility sites like Leafly and Weedmaps are news sites springing up to bring the cannabis counterculture into the mainstream. This article appears on one such site, for instance. Another example is found at thecannabist.co (.co is the abbreviation for Colorado). The Cannabist is a marijuana website run by The Denver Post, the largest daily newspaper in the Denver area. The site provides marijuana news, as well as strain reviews and recipes. The Cannabist is also a bit of an alt-weekly, covering concerts, art, music and more.
Now that the cannabis industry is becoming legitimate, opportunities to write about its culture, as well as to provide information on its products can be done safely on the web by business people and writers without fear of straying too far from the mainstream. What comes next? Rolling joints on iPads instead of album covers? Your local cannabis forecast on the 8s? Global Pot Satellites?
Current innovations in the industry already make the future look promising. The Rolla Supply Company offers the Media Shred Sled, which can hold a smartphone or tablet so gadget users can break up weed in its tray by the light of their electronic device or stream “The Big Lebowski” while they roll a joint. For marijuana users who prefer vapor, why carry a vaporizer and an iPhone when the VapeCase by Lotus combines them into one? The information age has relaunched marijuana for today’s society—get your tech ready.