The worldwide web of weed January 26, 2022 By Griffin Coop Thousands of Arkansans are hitting the web to learn about the state’s medical marijuana offerings, according to executives at three leading cannabis companies. With more than 78,000 medical marijuana cardholders and more than $447 million in sales since 2019, Arkansas has demonstrated a strong interest in medical marijuana. The state’s dispensaries have turned to web services such as Weedmaps, Leafly and Jane to advertise their products, initiate online orders and inform the state’s growing customer base about cannabis in general. Juanjo Feijoo, chief operating officer at Weedmaps, said his company’s website sees more than 100,000 total visits from Arkansas each month. “When you think about the number of cannabis consumers in Arkansas, I think it shows [Weedmaps has a] pretty high degree of penetration in the market,” Feijoo said. New medical marijuana consumers find the website’s “learn functionality” very helpful, Feijoo said, by learning more about dispensaries and products. Weedmaps typically sees a significant increase in web traffic when a state starts a new medical marijuana program and new consumers want to learn more about the marketplace and the products available, Feijoo said. Founded in 2008 in Irvine, California, Weedmaps went public in 2021 and is traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The company offers a variety of services, including the posting of dispensary product menus and other cannabis information on its website. Like Leafly, Weedmaps also has a strain library where users can learn about cannabis strains, offers online ordering and helps to integrate menus into dispensaries’ websites. Weedmaps lists 31 Arkansas cannabis businesses on its website, including 20 of Arkansas’s 38 dispensaries. Weedmaps’ website typically displays prices, THC percentages of cannabis products, reviews, crowdsourced tasting notes and common effects. Weedmaps also offers comprehensive services for dispensaries called “business in a box.” This service allows dispensaries to use a single vendor rather than using as many as 12 vendors for services like point-of-sale technology and customer contacts, Feijoo said. Next year, Weedmaps plans to launch a social media platform with the help of rapper and cannabis entrepreneur Berner. While more than a third of Americans get their information about cannabis primarily from social media, Feijoo said, a lot of social media platforms have a very restrictive approach to cannabis. “We want to create a safe space where consumers can really learn and discover cannabis and potentially discuss and ask questions,” Feijoo said. Weedmaps is not alone in the cannabis web services marketplace. Leafly, based in Seattle, provides web services to 25 Arkansas cannabis-related businesses, including 19 dispensaries. A representative for Leafly said the company could not disclose its Arkansas data, but said the website has more than 125 million visitors every year. Founded in 2010, Leafly started as a strain database where consumers could learn about cannabis strains and understand their effects, according to Ross Moulton, Leafly’s vice president of strategy. The company eventually added dispensaries and clinics to allow them to showcase their products, services, hours and locations. In 2018, Leafly introduced online ordering. In 12 years, Leafly has grown to list dispensaries in 41 states and seven Canadian provinces, with around 4,600 total retailers on the site today, Moulton said. Leafly offers many similar services to Weedmaps, including menu listings, online ordering and listing of product details like THC content. The site also has a Cannabis 101 section with blog posts about cannabis and industry terms. The Releaf Center in Bentonville was the first Arkansas dispensary to receive an online order through Leafly in 2019. Kyle Campbell, manager of the Releaf Center, said the dispensary was initially on both Weedmaps and Leafly, but his customers gravitated more to Leafly where most of the dispensary’s online orders were being placed. Last year, as much as 90% of the dispensary’s orders were coming through online orders, he said. Campbell said Leafly has been helpful for educating both his customers and his employees so they can help educate patients. “A lot of these people have never used [marijuana] in any form,” Campbell said. “It’s something that can be very intimidating and something they don’t know anything about. So, we push a lot for education on our employees so they can help educate the patients, and Leafly is a very strong platform for doing that.” Jane Technologies Inc., also known simply as Jane, is another web-based cannabis service used by 26 Arkansas dispensaries and visited by more than 10,000 unique visitors from Arkansas every month, according to a Jane representative. Founded by military veteran Socrates Rosenfeld in 2017, Jane provides similar services to those offered by Weedmaps and Leafly. Used by more than 2,500 dispensaries in 37 U.S. states and Canada, Jane offers menus, reviews, descriptions and more for dispensaries. Jane’s reviews are especially reliable, Rosenfeld said, because reviewers are required to have purchased the product they are reviewing. Jane, which can be found at iheartjane.com, allows users to sort the effect they are hoping to achieve from a cannabis product, Rosenfeld said. Using these filters can be helpful for people new to cannabis, because it can help them more easily identify products that will allow them to achieve the effects they are seeking, according to Rosenfeld. Harvest Cannabis of Conway, which was the first Arkansas dispensary to use Jane, uses all three of the web-based platforms. Robbin Rahman, executive director at Harvest Cannabis, said it’s important for his business to use all three because each one offers something a little different. Rahman called Weedmaps a leader in the industry for helping customers discover dispensaries and products. But, while Weedmaps processes online orders, the platform does not communicate with the dispensary’s seed-to-sale inventory tracking system, requiring the dispensary to make manual adjustments. Jane, on the other hand, does a good job of working with the inventory system, he said, and does not require an employee to change the inventory data manually. Leafly, with its informative blog posts and definitions of cannabis terms, is a very good resource for educating people about cannabis, Rahman said. The site is so helpful at explaining cannabis and its terms that Rahman has even drawn from it when making a presentation to the state’s marijuana regulators, he said.