Following the legalization of recreational cannabis use in the state of Colorado in 2012, The Denver Post started sifting through applications for their first cannabis critic. The Post quickly set their eyes on Iowa transplant Jake Browne, who began working in the marijuana field in 2009.
After beginning at a medical marijuana dispensary, Browne worked as a blogger, consultant, and social media manager, before hearing of the opportunity to be the critic on the “Colbert Report” in late 2013.
As Colorado quickly emerged as the leader in the cannabis legalization movement, Browne has been right there working on providing insight into the industry for readers. Since he began, Browne says he has reviewed over 30 strains, including Purple Haze, Afghan Kush, and Amnesia Haze.
In a state where a leading public universities are teaching classes on marijuana law, Browne is right beside the movement offering an inside look into the industry through his writing. Similar to the wine reviews that have been a staple in newspapers for years, Browne is offering reviews for a product that is just beginning to take flight.
“Usually every week I go to a different shop and get [a strain] and review for structure — how it looks, how it smells, how it tastes. It’s similar to wine criticism, but I get to talk about how it makes me feel as well,” said Browne. “I think it’s really essential with there being so many questions that people have these days.”
There is more to his position than just getting high and writing about it, Browne has a system that he goes by to help readers get the most out of his strain reviews. “There are a number of different notes that people are unaware of,” he said about dissecting the smell of different strains. “One can smell like fresh pines with tennis ball rubber smell to it, while others can have a fresh citrus smell like a tangerine.”
Aside from the smell of the pot, other factors such as having no mold, mildew or bugs are important. Browne says that in good strains, the taste should reinforce the smell. Browne also aims to feel out the “initial high,” that he says differs from the lasting high a person gets from cannabis intake.
Colorado is indeed center stage in the nationwide move towards legalization. Cannabis and is playing a very unique role in the lives of Colorado citizens, whether that be through government, schools, or journalism. Browne realizes that other states are watching and waiting to see the evolution of a legalized marijuana market.
“Other newly legal states haven’t taken this on with the same gusto. It has become its own cottage industry in ways we never would have predicted.”
Now at just 32 years old, Jake Browne is helping to lead the way for a new generation of critics responsible for providing the public audience with insight into an industry that hadn’t been legally accessible until now.
Photo Credit: The Cannabist
This post was originally published on May 21, 2015, it was updated on October 5, 2017.