There are hundreds of pot-related smartphone apps, but few are really worth the time, effort or (often) money that it takes to install them. I recently downloaded ten of the top canna-apps in iTunes to see what's worth getting -- and what's worth forgetting.
Weed Tycoon (free) Complaining about a free game is pretty pointless -- but then again, so is downloading this game. How Weed Tycoon has made the top lists is beyond me; playing it is a complete waste of perfectly good time spent stoned. The object is to buy marijuana from one store to sell at your store and then build up your empire by building greenhouses and buying up your competitors. But the single level you get in the free version of the app makes it pretty much impossible to do that. The graphics might seem awesome if I'd never made it past 8-bit Nintendo's Paperboy, and the game play consists of you sitting around waiting for your money to add up and for the day counter to click by; there's no animation whatsoever. I was bored after five minutes, closed the app and deleted it from my phone.
Weedmaps (free) The granddaddy of the dispensary-mapping apps is essential if you live in a town like Denver and like to check out different dispensaries. While the search function in the app is perpetually glitchy and often returns results for Los Angeles (and the whole thing occasionally crashes), Weedmaps is still the best by a mile. It also has the biggest buy-in from dispensaries -- most of which keep up-to-date menus, hours and specials on the site -- and taps into your phone GPS to show you which shops are closest. But the lack of prices in the bud menu on the iPhone app (a provision dictated by the overlords at Apple) means you'll have to jump over to your web browser to view the desktop site, which does have price lists. We also think the search function could use a little tweaking, as searching by strain rarely works.
GrassCity.com (free) Are you talking to other people about pot pretty much all the time? GrassCity.com has you covered with its app, which connects you directly to its Internet forum (one of the largest and busiest on the web). While the social aspect is awesome, this app's real utility is the knowledge base it puts at your fingertips. Internet forums are arguably the best resources for cannabis users, growers and patients, and an app that makes a pot-forum interface workable on a smartphone is a welcome tool. Have a grow-room question? Pull out your phone and get an answer right away. The "Medical Marijuana Cultivation" section is broken down into several sub-forums that address everything from growing for newbies to tips for advanced ganja-green thumbs.
Leafly (free) For a dispensary-mapping tool, I've always thought of Leafly as the smaller, weaker younger brother of Weedmaps. But the little brother is growing up. And while the Leafly map is still sparsely populated compared to that of Weedmaps, Leafly has some features that set it apart and make it truly useful. Most notable are the strain descriptions: In addition to a small write-up of each bud, Leafly offers the most commonly reported effects, medical uses and potential negatives of that bud. It tells you roughly what to expect in flavor, and even goes into the lineage of the strain and links to the parent-strains pages. While you'll see plenty of useless "best budz eva!" comments, you'll also find some insightful strain reviews from actual patients now and then. Don't trust the user photos, though: There's plenty of mislabeled bud out there, and a lot of it seems to show up on Leafly.
Baked! (99 cents) Although I'm no slouch in the kitchen, I'm usually at a loss for creative pot recipes beyond the standard cookies and ganja brownies. And while I do have a few pot cookbooks tucked away, I always have my phone at hand -- so an app for the occasional pot-food cooking session seems like a smart idea. You can pull up pot recipes all over the Internet, but Baked! breaks things down by meal type (munchies, sweets, drinks, etc.). It also serves up the basics of making pot butter, ghee, cooking oil, hemp oil, alcohol tincture and glycerin tincture, as well as featuring dozens of helpful pot-cooking tips. The app may not be all that useful for the already advanced cannabis cook, but it's worth a try for part-time pot chefs. Continue to get William Breathes's takes on the most popular pot-related phone apps.
USA Marijuana Laws by State ($1.99) Traveling soon? If you're planning on scoring some herb and puffing while away from the pot sanctuary state that is Colorado, it's best to know the law. While there are a few vague legal descriptions for some of the states (Colorado's implies that dealing under an ounce is legal), for the most part the information on USA Marijuana Laws by State checks out, making the app well worth the $2 one-time charge. It also breaks down laws by offense, such as driving under the influence or dealing pot, and gives patient information about states that allow medical cannabis. The marijuana news section is useless, however; it has yet to be updated with any actual news. If you want to find out what's going on in Colorado cannabis, you're much better off going to Westword.com.
Weed Casino (free) From the same not-so-genius minds that brought us Weed Tycoon comes Weed Casino -- which, really, has nothing to do with weed other than the pot-leaf skin on the virtual card table. The free version allows you to play two games out of the five offered (blackjack, jackpot slots, craps, Texas Hold 'Em and roulette). Blackjack is straightforward, though as with Weed Tycoon, there's no actual animation -- just the increasing and decreasing of your money total and the flipping of cards (which have more pot leaves on them). I love a good casino app to kill time, but this just isn't one of them.
The Fatty by Cheech and Chong (free, but with in-game purchases) Like, wow, man! Cheech and Chong have their own app! And it does exactly what you'd think it would do: It highlights pot while doing absolutely nothing useful. You can take a photo with Cheech and Chong, stare at a clock perpetually set to 4:20, set puff alarms for the actual 4:20 every day (which you could already be doing in your phone's calendar), link up with your friends on Facebook who also have the app (all zero of them), and visit a gift shop where you can lose your hard-earned money buying Cheech and Chong swag.
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Mary's Journal (free) Mary's Medicinals has made a name for itself by providing some of the most reliable transdermal THC and CBD patches in Colorado. For patients who need a steady low dose of cannabis to get through the day and people looking to relieve pain, the patches are a hit. Now the company has developed an app that lets you track your medical cannabis usage and note how effective it is each time. The idea is to allow patients to home in on strains and dosages that fit their needs, and to learn more about the natural medicine they are consuming. Usage information is also sent anonymously through the app (observing full HIPAA privacy protections) to Mary's Medicinals, which plans to share it with medical cannabis researchers treating PTSD, depression, cancer and epilepsy. For patients who want or need to keep a record of their treatment, the app is a solid tool that not only tracks how much pot you're using, but also how you felt at the time you took your meds and how effective the herb was. It even sets reminders for when you need to toke up. For more on the app, check out our full Stoner MacGyver review.
THC Finder (free) If Leafly is the less-popular brother of Weedmaps, THC Finder is the lost stepchild destined to live in the basement well into its adult life. Unless you allow it to access your locations, the app freezes and is about as effective as an old Kleenex. And actually, allowing access doesn't make the app that much more useful, either. Dispensary photos take forever to load, few dispensaries have online menus, and several dispensaries listed on the map have either changed names or aren't in business anymore. The strain listing is the only slightly redeeming feature, as it gives good descriptions -- then links you to store menus that are horribly outdated. To figure that out, though, you have to compare the THC Finder menus that don't have a "last-updated" note to the updated versions on -- you guessed it -- Weedmaps.