First Cannabis Review App Launches in California


The cannabis industry’s first social review mobile app designed for reviewing cannabis products has just launched in California. Simplifying the process of finding the next best strain or brand, Budist aggregates reviews and ratings from professional critics and cannaseurs alike. 

Akin to film and entertainment sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, Budist incorporates a 100-point rating scale, blending reviews and ratings from expert ‘Budists’ and the general public and offering a transparent space for consumers to get honest reviews of established California brands.

Connecting Consumers Based on Shared Cannabis Preferences

Jocelyn Sheltraw

Headed by female powerhouse entrepreneur and Cali-cannabis vet Jocelyn Sheltraw, Budist’s launch marks a new era for the cannabis industry as the platform aims to normalize cannabis through its mainstream mobile app review format — kindred to apps used by travelers, foodies and wine enthusiasts.

“Put simply, Budist is an app that features product reviews from everyday cannabis consumers as well as professional critics. New users can scroll through a feed of reviews and filter them by category to discover which products are most highly recommended by the community for a given use case, which leads to a more informed purchasing decision,” says Sheltraw. “More broadly, Budist is a social network that connects consumers based on shared cannabis preferences.”


A Solution for Both Brands and Customers

Sheltraw created Budist in hopes of solving two key problems within the marketplace: 

  1. To help consumers find the best products for their needs by giving them greater access to product information and peer recommendations.
  2. To help drive product premiumization by creating a platform that celebrates product diversity —particularly for brands that have a more nuanced, niche or premium offering.

“Both problems are borne out of the current distribution bottleneck that restricts access to product and brand diversity and that limits safe and reliable access to trusted sources of information,” Sheltraw states. “By decongesting this bottleneck, Budist can also play a role in manufacturing the market as a whole and give brands the channel they desperately need to build customer retention and loyalty.”

Building A Mobile App From the Ground Up

This isn’t Sheltraw’s first rodeo with the mobile app scene. Upon graduating from college, she was immediately thrust into the business world and joined the emerging mobile app industry in 2008. After spending 10 years working with some of the leading app developers, including Uber, Pandora and Spotify, she joined the cannabis industry in 2018 with data analytics company Headset. 

“My background in mobile apps, cannabis technology and market development equipped me with the ideal skill set to launch a platform like Budist,” remarks Sheltraw. “First and foremost, it gave me the startup experience needed to build a disruptive technology company in a rapidly emerging market. But equally important, it taught me how to build community and harness network effects, which are critical skills for creating a social marketplace like Budist.”

What Sheltraw is building has the potential to be a Yelp or TripAdvisor for the world of cannabis, so having the necessary skills and background to help bring Budist to life is essential. 

Generating Revenue for a Strong Future for Budist

Image credit: Budist.

As with any business, Budist was initially funded through business partners and investors, according to Sheltraw. Soon, they plan to generate revenue by offering paid opportunities for cannabis businesses. 

“Brands will be able to upgrade to a premium brand page where they can highlight best-selling products, new releases and special offers,” explains Sheltraw. “They will also be able to add a store locator to their page where users can find products for purchase. And as we generate leads to retailers, we will be able to capture revenue from those referrals.”

Still in the early phases of its inception, Budist has plenty of time to start earning revenue. Once they do, Sheltraw’s goal for the mobile app is to be a go-to resource for cannabis consumers to “discover new products, engage with a community of enthusiasts, and develop their connoisseurship and love for the plant.”

“By doing so, we aim to give brands the platform they need to tell their story, highlight their offerings, and create more meaningful customer relationships. Together, we hope to elevate the cannabis experience and conversation and to destigmatize cannabis for more mainstream acceptance and adoption,” Sheltraw concludes.