Chem Tales: Chronic Misunderstandings

Flash cards helped us learn how to multiply. Can Goldleaf’s make us more knowledgeable stoners?

Taken out of context, many of the terms affiliated with cannabis today are often strange and daunting: What’s a trichome? How specifically do different terpenes relate to the given effects we feel from consuming? New cannabis users are understandably brimming with questions, and the sources for quality answers are simply not as robust as one might expect given just how heavily cannabis is dominating the news cycle these days.

Enter Goldleaf, an Ohio company interested in visualizing some of the information associated with common questions.

“Our sweet spot,” founder Charles McElroy explains, “is to take the science behind cannabis and make it pretty and approachable and kind of elegant.”

Before starting Goldleaf, McElroy spent time as a volunteer with the Marijuana Policy Project, which works to provide education and access to medical cannabis for military veterans. He’d previously worked as COO for the clothing company Noble Denim & Victor Athletics, as well. The concept for Goldleaf — “science-forward and thoughtful products for cannabis enthusiasts” — was partially inspired by McElroy’s time at Miami University, where his M.B.A. track was in business informatics.

“We want to take the teeth out of it a bit,” McElroy says of Goldleaf’s mission statement, “so people are more interested in some of the educational aspects.”

Although Goldleaf doesn’t yet operate locally, one of its recent releases will assuredly prove beneficial to many of the craft farmers currently operating in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle. The company’s “Cannabis Quality Reference Cards” consist of colorfully illustrated, easily legible breakdowns on subjects like cultivation techniques, light spectrums, indoor versus outdoor, the entourage effect, and terroir. If any of those terms seems unfamiliar, well that’s exactly why Goldleaf put this latest deck out.

Cannabis is unquestionably Goldleaf’s focus, but McElroy clarifies that, at its heart, it’s a print company.

“We love data visualization,” he says. “We love painting the science behind cannabis in a pleasing way.”

At a moment when educational infrastructure regarding the cannabis industry still remains in its infancy — if it exists at all — the demand for a welcoming, nuanced approach to disseminating information is sorely required. At the government level, the focus remains on establishing professional pipelines and apprenticeship programs to ensure those eager to make a career out of cannabis have the necessary training. Progress on that front is slow as well, but in the interim, more and more first-time consumers of all ages are beginning to demand more information about how cannabis can help them.

According to Eaze’s most recent annual “State of Cannabis” survey, the percent of Boomers who purchased legal pot in 2018 increased by 25 percent from the year before. First-time buyers across all demographics increased by 140 percent in 2018 in jurisdictions where it’s legal. The bottom line is that a ton of uneducated consumers are currently walking into dispensaries or placing delivery orders with little context to what all of these different products mean.

This is why Goldleaf has also created a number of other products geared toward consumers, not growers. There are patient journals, the aforementioned reference card packs, art prints, and more. As SF Weekly reported last month, a recent art show at the African American Art & Culture Complex in Western Addition focused on the fallout from the War on Drugs but also dedicated some space to a few oversized posters from Goldleaf to provide interested exhibit guests with some basics about the plant.

Next up for Goldleaf is a series of posters in the vein of vintage travel posters advertising hemp and cannabis farms. McElroy says he’s hoping to include a few unexpected destinations.

“We’re trying to tap into that retro travel style,” he says, “except these would feature hemp and cannabis farms. Obviously, we’ll have California and Colorado, but I’m actually really excited to dip into some of the states that people don’t normally think about. We’re going to be doing one for a hemp farm in North Carolina. I think that’s kind of the challenge here: making visuals that are clearly related to cannabis without being like super heavy-handed.”

Whatever comes next, Goldleaf is committed to visualizing the data we have on cannabis and presenting it as beautifully and succinctly as possible. They are eager to make cannabis education widespread, with staff across the U.S. and in Canada and Mexico.

“Everyone on our staff has an element of altruism in their approach to cannabis,” McElroy explains. “A lot of them have an interest in social justice reform or experience with organizations that focus on that. I think that’s a common thread. Our focus is on a shared interest in justice, as well as the scientific aspect.”

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