Dry, moldy… too expensive. Canadian consumers are not afraid to be blunt when it comes to the legal cannabis available across the country.
Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom according to some of Canada’s most vocal and well-versed cannabists. A new crop of cannabis reviewers are exploring the ever-growing options of legal bud and sharing their experiences in an effort to help guide consumers, and, dispel myths and misconceptions about what exactly is available on the legal market.
We spoke to five prominent cannabis reviewers in Canada who shared their process for reviews, how much they spend, and which products have standouts since Oct. 17.
Although Unity Marguerite of Vancouver spends a lot of time reviewing strains, she really considers her role as a cannabis educator.
On her YouTube channel, before she starts any review, she’ll take a look at the Health Canada guidelines to ensure what she’s discussing is compliant, “I have a list of 38 items, sometimes it can be really challenging to discuss.” She’ll then purchase three and a half grams at a time and begins to dive right in.
“I like to consume [a single product] for at least 24 hours, so then I can understand how it impacts me, without consuming it with other types of cannabis at the same time.” Her goal is to complete one deep dive strain review, every two weeks.
She looks at the price, the terpene profile, the potency and the concentration of the lead cannabinoids, the packaging and the packaging date—to name a few. She notes, “I have to take when it was packaged into consideration. If it was grown in Ontario and then it’s shipped across the country to be BC, then I know it’s being held before it’s being sent out to stores. I do try to be reasonable.”
She’s been surprised by some of the things she’s tried to date like the Jean Guy by Canaca, “when we opened that up, it was more of a popcorn bud. You’d squish it, and it was a bit powdery.” But when she went to smoke it, it was super smooth, no one was coughing and the high was really nice. “That was super interesting.”
She’s had a lot of instances like this, sharing that when she opened the LBS Ocean View strain cultivated by Tweed it was essentially dust and the moisture level was crunchy. “But I had one of the most amazing highs, so that review felt complicated, ya know?” Marguerite feels like this is indicative of a new industry having growing pains reminding me that, “we’re transitioning to a legal market, whether we like it or not.”
Find Jean Guy and Ocean View Near You
If you’ve been on Twitter in the last year, you’ve likely seen a strain review by Pancake Nap referenced by some of your favourite cannabis journalists.
Since the spring of 2016, Pancake Nap has been releasing his strain reviews online for everyone to read—he considers it a journal of sorts.
With a bachelor of science and an interest in botany, Pancake Nap has always closely followed the cannabis industry. “I’ve always had an interest in cannabis and in the market. I keep track of prices and what’s out there,” he shares with Leafly.
Since legalization, he has reviewed 90 products by producers with a license and tries not to consider the price but notes, “As soon as I pay $16 or more for a gram, I start to get a little bitter about it because that’s close to outrageous.”
When he starts his reviews, he is doing a lot of qualitative analysis: he starts by touching the buds and looking at them, then smelling them and tasting them before forming a final opinion.
“I have a lot of opinions on what ends up being cool,” and so far what has made the grade is White Widow from 7ACRES, noting that it has been a truly consistent product across the board. “Every single offering have the same type of trim structure that now whenever I see other people posting pictures of 7ACRES cannabis on Twitter, I can just recognize it.”
He’s also tried some of worst of the worst, acknowledging “sometimes it’s bad, but I don’t mind saying it. I guess the preface would be, everyone’s experience could be different. But yeah, most of them have been not so great.”
Find White Widow and Tangerine Dream Near You
Lake City Cannabis is Chestermere’s first approved cannabis dispensary, but it has also earned notoriety for co-owner Ryan Roch’s strain reviews.
For just over a year, Roch has been posting his reviews onto YouTube to not only foster cannabis community but to help his fellow cannabis consumers make informed decisions on what to purchase.
While he doesn’t have a total count of the reviews he has done to date or an amount he sets out to spend per month, Roch will typically purchase a gram at a time, try the strain out for two weeks at a time to ensure he’s given it a fair shot and then go from there.
Once he’s received his bud in the mail and he’s ready to do a review and the first thing he’ll do is smell the cannabis. “It’s really important for me to understand exactly what the first scents are before I even look at it,” then from there, he’ll visually inspect it to see the trichome density, what the bud looks like and to see if there are any impurities or how the bud was trimmed.
“There are definitely some standouts in the market right now that are pushing really great products,” Roch assures me. Immediately he points to Blue Dream by Tantalus Labs and Purple Chitral by San Rafael, as being two great strains. “In terms of quality, it was probably one of the better things I’ve ever had.”
A lot of time when Roch is sitting down to put together a review, he will try a strain for a two week period to make sure he’s given it a fair shot.
What Roch has noticed since October 17 is a significant uptick in the quality. “There’s a lot of people who have said everything on the legal market right now is garbage, which is just unequivocally not true,” Roch laments.
He believes that people don’t the understanding of the level of quality control that most licensed producers have to put into their products. “It’s just outstanding and I don’t think we’re always giving legal weed a fair shot.”
Find Blue Dream and Purple Chitral Near You
Women seem to be at the forefront of the cannabis movement, so we were so excited to stumble across this Instagram account, which takes a sassy perspective on reviews, headed up by two women in Ottawa.
FernCulture420, who call themselves, Fern, has made it their mission to dispel cannabis myths, one doobie at a time. Their posts ‘notes from a daily smoker’ aim to inform new and seasoned cannabis users, while providing additional support and education.
Since launching their account in November, Fern tells Leafly that to date they have “literally tried every single one of the strains so far” that have been released on the Ontario Cannabis Store.
Each month they try to maintain a budget of $200 on strains, but admit that the pricing is “pretty expensive compared to what you would get in the black market.”
The pair like to keep their reviews as general as possible, speaking about the smell, the appearance, and the burn. Fern tries to keep their personal views out of the reviews, as they know their experience with the plant could be different from someone else’s noting, “other people are going to have different preferences.”
White Widow from 7ACRES earns a top spot as one of Fern’s favourites, for being smooth with not much of a taste and a true cerebral high, closely followed is Quadra by Broken Coast Cannabis, which Fern described as “beautiful, crystal-covered nuggets” that left her feeling “smiley, dreamy and extra chilled out.”
When asked what it’s like to be a woman in the reviews game, Fern shares that it’s great to bring a different sort of perspective to the table. “I think that there are a lot more women that smoke weed, but for some reason, it seems like men have more freedom to be open with their drug use. Let’s change that.”
Fern wanted to give women a safe space to learn about cannabis without feeling intimidated or like they couldn’t access the knowledge they needed about strains. “This is why we started putting our reviews up.”
Find White Widow and Quadra Near You
While Jonathan isn’t known particularly for his strain reviews, he is quite knowledgeable about cannabis. Just this year, he was nominated this year at Lift Expo under the Influencer & Cannabis Crusader category and frequently uses his Instagram to speak about different strains he is consuming.
When legalization hit, Jonathan thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do a huge order through the Ontario Cannabis Store and really get a sense of what kind of product was out there.
“The biggest things that people have [criticized] is the pricing—it’s just all over the place and it’s really super expensive. That’s one thing I sort of disagree with. I don’t think the pricing is super expensive at all,” he shares that if the quality and the accessibility matched the pricing, people likely wouldn’t be complaining.
He tried the BC Sensi Star from Flowr, which he says “was probably the best pre-roll that I tried out of all of the pre-rolls to date.” Some things that made it memorable? It smelled good, it tasted good, it burned well and they didn’t use just shake for the joint. “For $10.35 for a half gram, it’s probably the best deal on the entire website.”
For him, there has been a huge misnomer that has been perpetuated that the black market had great cannabis before legalization. He recalls to Leafly, “I remember getting some of the worst buds ever, with terrible trim, like off a buddies grapevine. Now there are companies like Whistler, who are ahead of the curve on how to keep buds at their optimal freshness. Why the hell hasn’t every LP hasn’t done this?”
To date, the Tangerine Dream strain by San Rafael still stands out to him at the best bud he bought for $10.40 a gram, and he has tried some super stealth and innovative products like the HEXO Elixir THC Peppermint Oil Oral Spray. “It’s super great and tastes pretty good too. The high is very quick. From a medical perspective, it’s not very strong, but from a rec perspective, it’s an enjoyable high when you’re going out to the movie theater and you need a dose in the middle of the movie.”