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5 Tips for Hunting Your Favorite Strain or Product

Wine tasting? Craft beers? Yawn.

One in five Americans lives in a legalization state where cannabis appreciation has risen to equally heady heights. The limited edition strain Green Lantern is mentioned in The New Yorker this week. Licensed cannabis is in Grammy swag bags. New product releases rival that of designer sneakers.

Much like coveted Pliny the Younger Ale from Russian River Brewing Co., rare batches of flowers and extracts that blink on and off menus in a matter of hours—sometimes minutes in legal cannabis markets like California and Washington.

But it’s 2019, and there are ways to scout the supply chain and reserve what’s yours. Here’s five ways the pros are keeping their cupboard stocked with only the best.

Make That Hotline Bling

(Mack15, bortonia/iStock)

Say it with me now—simple text messaging services, or “SMS.” More than six billion texts are sent each day in the US, studies estimate.

For example, I’m getting texts from the influential dispensary South Sacramento Care Center, and I don’t even live in Sacramento! But I need to know when the new fire is coming out, and SSCC texts me if California’s designer flower growers The Village drop more of the tasty strain Mimosa, or Alien Labs releases some new Galactic Gas.

Leafly readers can now get SMS texts about designer strains and deep deals from their local stores. Find your favorite local stores on Leafly Finder, then tick the “Follow” button in the top right to opt in to their texts.

Follow Favorites on Instagram

Social media is hit and miss for cannabis.

Facebook bans a lot of content, especially anything that has to do with sales. On Twitter, some stores do tweet out deals, but the photo sharing service Instagram is unrivaled for cannabis marketing reach. It just hit one billion users.

“Instagram is the end-all-be-all of where elite marijuana is these days,” said Oakland cannabis journalist Jimi Devine, a designer strain chaser. “While other people will try and get a PR team to convince you where the best pot is, the actual best growers in the world are just telling everyone where the drops are going via their story modes.”

Instagram is notoriously fickle about commercial cannabis content. Growers constantly “get deleted, start a new account, and the circle of life continues,” said Devine.

But because of Instagram’s simplicity, visual focus, semi-anonymity, and ubiquity, it’s the number one world forum for growers and their followers.

“The hyper-boutique flower market is probably the most consumer-direct marketed aspect of the industry, because the consumers are going straight to the sources to get that info as soon as it drops,” said Devine.

For example, I need to know when NUG’s new award-winning, mega-potent, THCA-diamond-infused infused pre-roll hits shelves; for research purposes, of course.


“I know it gets overwhelming with the current deluge of spicy weed memes and cool dogs, but Instagram is where hype lives right now,” said Jake Browne, Colorado cannabis critic and co-founder of The Grow-Off. “I recommend turning notifications on—especially stories—for the brands you absolutely can’t miss a drop of.”

Bust Out the Map

Legal sales are just 17 months old in California, and five years old in Colorado and Washington. Consumers often don’t know that they’re walking around with access to online maps of nearby legal stores and their menus, often searchable by brand. That includes Leafly’s Dispensary Finder.

Leafly’s dispensary locator feature lists more than 630 licensed stores in California and 135 delivery services. There’s more than 300 in Washington, over 500 in Colorado, and 560 in Oregon.

Use apps with a map like Leafly during travel to other legalization states to locate boutique treats like Pruf Cultivar at Serra in Portland, OR or TLC’s Purple Punchsicle in Los Angeles, CA.

Closer to home, Leafly’s map lets you see the closest shops and delivery options, and compare prices.

Looking For Legal Cannabis? Leafly Has All Your Local Menus

Get the Newsletter


This just in: newsletters are the new newsletters. Salesforce found in 2014 that 95% of folks who opt in to a business’s email newsletter find it useful.

Getting a dedicated email from your local store cuts through the noise of social media. Unlike social feeds, you don’t have to worry about some mindless algorithm burying the news.

Instead, add your local shop newsletters as trusted email senders and automatically collect them in a folder. Come Friday afternoon, rifle through your email cache of deals, then go shop like a pro. Email newsletters also help medical patients, who know what they need, find it at the best price.

Sign up for shop newsletters when you first visit a store, and Leafly has a useful newsletter, too.

Befriend the Budtender

Sneakerheads have been known to bribe shoe store employees to get inside info on shoe releases. We’re not saying do that. Maybe just tip the budtender generously.

Whatever you do, the spirit remains the same—make a true connection with your connect. Cultivate relationships with the folks sourcing your favorite brands.

“The budtender/back office hook up is my usual go to,” said Amber Senter, the Oakland, CA CEO of Leisure Life, and founder of Easy Sundaze gatherings. “Once it’s hit Instagram (and it’s a highly sought after strain), it’s too late!”

A budtender friend can send you texts when a rare new strain like Berner’s Cereal Milk hits store shelves, or a limited-time BOGO (that means “buy one get one”) special.

A cool cashier will also personalize recommendations based on your past purchases. That’s how ECO Cannabis shop rolls in Oakland, CA, said Elise McRoberts, brand strategy director and aficionado. “We’ll take down our shoppers’ preferences and personally call them when we receive new shipments,” she said. Now that’s service.

So there’s five ways to be an elite exotic cannabis hunter. Go forth and happy hunting.

How do you pounce on exotics? Or are you just happy getting what you can get?

David Downs's Bio Image
David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He's written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including 'Marijuana Harvest' by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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