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Cannabis 101: What are Strain Sheets?
If you’ve poked around our new website a bit, you may have noticed our selection of of Strain Sheets – which you can search through to get more information about a variety of items we have in stock.
But you may find yourself wondering what they are and how they are different than regular strain reviews.
So let me tell you a little bit about myself and what I’m trying to do with them.
Before coming over as media director at Main Street Marijuana, I worked as a journalist covering the cannabis industry for The Columbian. I also spent over a decade prior to that in New Mexico covering science, health and technology (which sometimes included cannabis reporting) for two major papers there. And I have a science degree (in geology, from the University of New Mexico).
I started smoking again after nearly a 30-year hiatus when recreational marijuana became legal in Washington state.
But one of the issues I faced as a reporter (and founder of The Columbian’s Cannabis Chronicles blog) was that it was nearly impossible to get consistent reviews of I-502 products.
Most of the reviews you see on Leafly.com (which is a great educational resource if you haven’t looked at it) are broad overviews that aren’t specific to individual growers or products.
The site has some very nice strain overview information, including a list of effects, benefits and negatives – and often has some history of how each strain came to be. But the text reviews left by consumers there and on other sites most often take the form of simple statements like “great weed,” “I was totally wasted” or “dank!” – which I never found particularly helpful.
As I started to explore strains, what I wanted was specific information, grower by grower, of what the experience of the strain actually was. For example: Did it make me paranoid? Where did I feel the body buzz? What did it do to my energy level? How long did it take to kick in? What emotions did I feel? What was a fun activity to do on it?
And one of the cool things about all the strains out there is that each one will affect you a little differently – according to your own biology. If you find a strain that lights up all your body’s bells and whistles, you’ll know. And you’ll want to keep track of those so you can get more once you finish exploring the variety that’s out there.
I tried to make the questions in the strain sheets fairly objective. The goal is to describe the experience of the strain as scientifically as possible, and not necessarily to judge it.
So I started off by coming up with a list of things I wanted to know about each item I tried and how it affected me personally. And at first I kept all of that in a notebook, but then I decided there might be some benefit in sharing and getting others to join the fun.
So I wrote that list out as a series of questions on a printable form – which you are most welcome to use and download here: Blank Strain Sheet.
One bonus to Main Street Marijuana’s list of strain sheets – and I have to give high praise to our owner, Ramsey Hamide, for this – is that we can be perfectly honest about our impressions of the products we sample. If somebody’s reaction on a strain sheet is negative, we’ll post it just the same as we would a positive one.
When I started, I told Ramsey I wasn’t comfortable pretending to like something just so we could sell it. And he, to my surprise, agreed – adding that he thinks being honest in our reviews/strain sheets was a good way to decide what products we’ll restock.
It also gets more product-specific information out to all you wonderful customers so you can make better decisions about what to buy.
So here’s how I fill these things out:
When I do a strain sheet, I make sure I haven’t used any other product for at least 12 hours – so that my palate, so to speak, is clean.
I note the time I ingested the product, and the time that it actually kicked in.
Then I pay attention to my body – focusing on where I feel the buzz and how it makes me feel.
I don’t take anything else (no more hits on the pipe, etc.) until the buzz has pretty much completely faded – so I can note how long it lasted and the specific effects of the individual strain.
And I only do one a day, maximum, so that I know I have the same physical baseline for each strain sheet.
One of the things I’d eventually like to do with these things is create a larger pool of them, from a wide range of consumers, to see if there are any consistencies in experience and to see if there are any major differences.
For example, one thing we noticed after having some of our staff fill out the sheets is that it appears some products affect men and women very differently.
With the sheet for the 420 CBD bar (edible chocolate bar), for example, three female employees who tried it told me that it didn’t do very much to them, and two male employees told me that it hit them very, very hard.
The sheets may not be purely scientific in nature, but if they reveal trends like that, I think it would be fascinating to compare the data.
Join the fun:
If you’d like to do your own strain sheets about our products and share them with other consumers, we’d love to add them to our existing list on the site. And we can leave your name off of them if you prefer (although it would be nice to add your biological gender and age so we can better look at any trends).
To do that, after you fill it out, send a copy to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – along with what information you’re willing to share (your name, etc.) – and I’ll pop it up with the other reviews.
-SueVo (Sue Vorenberg, email@example.com)