Everyone has an opinion on everything nowadays. Trouble is they think their opinion is gold, that everyone wants to hear it, and that it really matters in the scheme of things.
So, we should start by clarifying just what an opinion is. An opinion is a reasonable person’s conclusion after weighing all things after research and observation. It is not a matter of taste. Just because you like strawberry ice cream more than chocolate does not make strawberry the better ice cream.
Now, you might discuss what ice cream has the bigger calorie or saturated fat content, but the flavor is simply a matter of taste. “De gustibus,” the ancient Romans would say.
Why bother writing a cannabis strain review?
- Share: Well done, a cannabis strain review will share information. As long as weed has been around, it has still been an underground culture. As that culture comes to light with increased decriminalization and legalization, there remains a large market out there that doesn’t know a lot about the cannabis world.
- Contribute: Each review adds to the culture and the shared knowledge about pot. But, that also implies that the reviewer has a responsibility to get it right. The collective knowledge that reviews build over time reaches more readers and culture-makers than you can imagine.
- Reputation: Reviewers can make a career of commentary on new and existing strains. They can literally make a “name” for themselves, position themselves as the got-to voice. That means creating credibility, authority, and readability. But, you should use your real name and stop using the cute pseudonyms and inside-jokes.
Good reviews of cannabis strains make positive contributions to the cannabis culture and economy. It updates the weed scene and cues in the user on the good, bad, and ugly of specific buds.
Writing a cannabis strain review requires some key elements:
1. Open-minded: A good reviewer does not have an agenda in favor of a strain farmer or dispensary. Writers must watch the adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives should be descriptive, but they should not flatter or condemn without real evidence. Adverbs naturally express judgement; that’s their job. But, you must use them sparingly to keep the review focused on the facts.
2. Credible: Readers remain loyal to reviewers who have clearly used the product reviewed and/or those who demonstrate their research. But, reviewers must also demonstrate a knowledge of the product line, strain composition, origins, and customer preferences in taste, aroma, and so on.
3. Fair: “Fair” can be fickle. In many cases, it only exists in the eye of the beholder. But, the reviewer must admit error when observations are laid on the table. It means you have compared and contrasted options, considered causes and effects, and dissected the object into all its reasonably identifiable parts. In this way, despite your view, others may see things differently.
4. Clear: The whole cannabis culture presents a problem with its clever and coy vocabulary that is not always clear. Strains have interesting names, but only a few weed families have any consistency. Testing results are not easily available to or verifiable by reviewers. So, in many cases, reviewers are drawing incorrect or altered information from other sources, continuing the inaccuracies. And, finally, many of the quality metrics, like taste and aroma are subjective.
5. Respectful: Very few voices know everything there is to know about cannabis. And, no one has been authorized to put a cannabis provider out of business. At this stage, cannabis strains are very tied to their creators, their seeds providers, and their farms. A cannabis review should respect the business economy. For instance, a bad experience with a strain can be a one-time incident and does not represent the entirety. If a provider is clearly at fault, it can be proven. Absent that proof, the review should give businesses the benefit of the doubt.
6. Study: Reviewers should be students of the cannabis culture as it appears in print. You must know the terminology, botany, anatomy, genus, phenotypes, and more. These terms keep the review centered. The more you know about the science and business of the cannabis, the less likely you are to make simply judgmental remarks.
7. Chart: With well-kept and specific notes, you create a discipline. Using notebooks, you can list features, benefits, side-effects, and medical/psychological features. These checklists will give system to your approach and backbone to the writing. Each review, for instance, should cover the following:
- Appearance: Where possible, include a picture of the healthy cannabis flower. It gives texture and dimension to your verbal description. It will show what you mean with adjectives like “orange,” “wispy,” “crystal,” and so on. Not every flower in the same strain looks alike, but presenting the picture may help customers identify and evaluate it in a dispensary.
Holding the nug under the best light and rolling it gently between your fingers, you should compare it with the best characteristics of its sativa or indica origins. The best nugs should be dense, not too wet, and not too dry. If too spongy, it may be larf, and you don’t want to review the strain based on less than the best sample.
- Aroma: Every smoker has remarks to make about the aroma, but few really know what it means. For some it’s the odor in the room, the smell of the sample, or the remnants left in your exhale. Smell is a funny sense, and putting it in words is subjective.
The reviewer is not assigned to name the “best” aroma. It is better to describe it directly and simply. It might help to understand that aroma comes from the plant’s terpenes. Plump and plentiful terpenes will produce stronger aroma. Now, because terpenes are also indicators of the psychoactive results, good reviews spend time describing the terpenes.
Most readers think of aroma in much the way they would think of cigarette, cigar, or pipe tobacco, the dry or post-grind smell. Grinding will intensify the smell, so when comparing strains, you should do so on the same basis.
- Flavor: Taste is another subjective measure with everyone having their own preference. The reviewer should describe the taste as objectively as possible without trying to persuade anyone or change their mind about what they like
In reading many reviews about the same strains, you’ll see significant differences in taste. To write a better review, you should break down the steps in your smoke. Remembering that the pleasure comes from a combination of factors, you should start with the smell of the ready product. After lighting it, you can smell the burn; then, record the taste sensations in sequence as you inhale, hold, and exhale. This takes experience, so note taking will help you finalize your determination of the taste experience. (Generally, you want to identify the primary taste sensations without the snobbery used to describe wines.)
- Effect: As a writer in the canna-culture, I struggle to find alternatives to much-used words like “buzz,” “couch-locked,” and “wasted,” and others. The slang changes constantly and varies among generations and regions.
But, if you are reviewing from personal use, you must record the key impressions. It might help to have a prepared checklist to record and score the effects as they progress through the experience. One effect may be a loss of the memory, so you need something to recall the impression.
It takes experience to balance the experience and the record, but if you have some idea what to expect and time to give it, you can write or tape record your impressions. One secret is to take your time with the smoke and the experience, so there is some fullness to it.
How to write a cannabis strain review?
You want to write from a fair and credible position. Having established and communicated that credibility, you must put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Chances are they are reading online. And, that means they expect brevity, visuals, and charts. So, it helps to provide scores, thumbs up, and stars to illustrate your overall appraisal.