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Leafly’s Cannabis Rating System Tasting Standards

Published on November 29, 2017 · Last updated November 15, 2023

2023 Update: We’ve rebooted ratings! This time they’re called “Leafly Ratings” and you can find them all on the Leafly Ratings tag-page. We’ve done 36 in 2023 and counting. Yew!

Leafly has long been the go-to source for community-curated strain reviews, but did you know our in-house experts have a system by which to grade specific strains and products? Learn more about our Cannabis Rating System (CRS), how it works, and how it can help you find the best cannabis on the market. Find all of our official ratings and reviews here.

Cannabis Rating System Guidelines

What do we rate and review?

Leafly’s in-house experts essentially rate and review any and all cannabis products that are rich in cannabinoids and/or terpenes. Specifically, we taste and rate cannabis flower, concentrates, extracts, hashes, edibles, and other ingestible products. All products must be tested for and pass potency and purity standards by a Leafly-approved lab.

How does your 100-Point Scale work?

Based on applicable criteria (see below), each product reviewed will receive a score between 1-100. Here’s a key to understanding what that score means:

  • 95-100: Extraordinary (an exceptional expression of cannabis genetics; a true top-shelf flower)
  • 90-94: Amazing (cannabis with remarkable characteristics)
  • 85-89: Great (a flower with special qualities)
  • 80-84: Good (a solid, well-grown flower)
  • 70-79: Respectable (an enjoyable flower that may have minor flaws)
  • 0-69: Unremarkable

Where do flowers and products we review come from?

Flower and other cannabis products we rate and review are submitted by growers and processors. Occasionally, due to restrictive sampling regulations in some regions, products are purchased by Leafly at retail dispensaries to ensure compliance with local laws.

Who rates and reviews flower for Leafly?

Leafly’s tasting panel is overseen by Will Hyde and Bailey Rahn.

  • Will Hyde is a cannabis expert and co-host of Leafly’s “What Are You Smoking?” podcast. He’s a former budtender and cultivator who has helped judge cannabis competitions throughout the Northwest. Complex hybrids with piney, diesel notes are his favorite.
  • Bailey Rahn is Leafly’s Editor of Informational Content and co-host of Leafly’s “What Are You Smoking?” podcast. She’s been writing reviews in the cannabis space for 6+ years. Her ideal cannabis strain is functional, creative, and reeking of citrus.

Blind Tastings

To keep ratings free of bias, all products Leafly rates are tasted blind to maintain integrity, impartiality, and fairness. Tasting blind helps tasters avoid potential bias or preference towards growers, brands, methods, regions, and strains. We believe tasting blind gives an equal opportunity for each flower or product to stand on its own. Honesty and independence from business and personal relationships are imperative to providing consumers with useful, authentic ratings and reviews. We take this responsibility seriously!

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How are Leafly’s tastings set up?

Tasting sessions are performed on a rolling basis throughout all legal cannabis markets. Occasionally samples are collected for specific contests, competitions, or product spotlights. If you have a strain or product you would like an official rating for please contact us at cannabisratings@leafly.com.

How are flowers and products tasted?

Understanding that cannabis is a highly personal and subjective experience, we have developed our ratings to emphasize the full experience of engaging with each individual strain or product.

  • Flowers are rated on their appearance, aroma, flavor, cure, and effects.
  • Hash and concentrates are rated on their appearance, consistency, aroma, flavor, and effects.
  • Edible and ingestible product ratings are based on their presentation, creativity, flavor, texture, and effects.

Appearance – Tells us how eye-catching this product is. “Bag appeal” has always been an important factor when choosing cannabis. We analyze flowers for their structure, density, resin (production and quality), and the trim. Additionally, hash and concentrates are analyzed for their clarity, color, and overall appeal.

Aroma – Cannabis should captivate all the senses, and the aroma (or nose) is a major indicator of a robust flavor profile. To appropriately analyze aroma, we evaluate each flower and product for its “jar volume” (how odiferous it is when you open the package), its “grind volume” (how aromatic it is once you start to break the product down), and the complexity of the aroma. A complex aroma will have three or more very noticeable, distinct characteristics.

Consistency – Hash and concentrates can come in a variety of forms and consistencies. We evaluate the form, ease of use, and if the makeup of the product meets or exceeds general consumer expectations for any given texture (shatter, crumble, oil, etc.) or product type.

Creativity – Edible and ingestible products offer a unique opportunity to use cannabis creatively as an ingredient in a larger fusion of components. Creativity is expressed by infusing cannabis in novel, exciting, and innovative ways.

Cure – A proper cure is imperative for a truly exceptional strain. When we assess a flower’s cure, we are appraising the feel of the bud and how well it is dried. Exceptional flowers should be sticky from the resinous oils without being wet from its moisture content. A well-cured flower will break down into easy-to-use fragments without turning to a dust or powder.

Effects – Effects are easily the most subjective aspect of grading cannabis products. To distill this down to a repeatable practice that can be applied across products and critics, we analyze the onset and duration of the effects as well as the overall comfort of the consumer’s experience.

Flavor – Depending who you ask, flavor could be the greatest factor of the cannabis experience. A great-tasting flower, hash, or product can often make up for any shortcomings in other departments. All cannabis products are rated for the complexity and allure of their flavor. With inhaled products like flower and hash, the flavor is analyzed in both smoked and vaporized forms.

Presentation – Presentation is an essential quality in the culinary world as well as with branded, packaged goods. With edible and ingestible products, we evaluate and rate the presentation and packaging on how it affects and influences the overall experience.

Texture – Texture is a crucial attribute to consider when analyzing any of the things we eat and consume. With edible and ingestible products, we consider whether the texture of the food is enjoyable and if it adds to or detracts from the overall experience.

How many times is a product or flower tasted?

Cannabis and cannabis products are rated once per harvest, with the score being attributed to the specific harvest date of that lot. Scores remain valid for 12 months or until a change of method or output is defined and a request to re-score is received, whichever comes first.

Statement of Ethics

Expertise, authenticity, integrity, and trust are imperative foundations of Leafly’s Cannabis Rating System, as well as the respective scores and tasting notes associated with these ratings.

Leafly’s tasting panel and approved guest tasters are all students of cannabis with a range of experience and expertise formed over years through dedication to the plant. With a deep understanding of the nuances of cannabis and discerning tastes, Leafly’s panel of critics has accumulated expertise by tasting and engaging with all forms of cannabis, interviewing and collaborating with experienced growers, breeders, and processors, visiting the pioneering regions of cannabis cultivation around the world, and through detailed connection to and awareness of the history and culture of cannabis.

In order to foster an environment of trust and integrity, Leafly’s tasting panel holds authentic response and reaction above all else. To maintain a credible and balanced system, we have implemented and maintain the following procedures to protect validity and reliability of these ratings:

  • Blind Tasting
  • Financial Independence
  • Ethical Behavior

Policy for Using Leafly CRS Ratings

Leafly grants licenses for the limited use of our cannabis ratings by dispensaries, growers, processors, distributors, and other members of the cannabis industry. This license is permitted under the condition that products, packaging, and any other marketing materials include the complete and accurate ratings and tasting notes. All use of the CRS ratings must be properly attributed to Leafly. Ratings and tasting notes cannot be altered, and are only associated with the strain or product referred to in our initial review.

Copying, downloading, or printing of Leafly’s CRS Tasting Notes, other than for personal use or for the purposes of promoting sales transactions, are expressly prohibited.

Should we discover inaccurate or inappropriate use of our ratings system, we reserve the right to withdraw approval, and, if such improper use is egregious, to pursue legal action to prevent it.

If you believe a business or individual is inaccurately citing Leafly ratings or otherwise misusing them and violating our policies, please use the form on our Contact page.

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Leafly Staff
Leafly Staff
Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.
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