Despite racking up $25 billion in legal cannabis sales last year, social media networks have yet to put respect on the weed game’s name. The main cannabis culture hub, Instagram, is as popular (1.21 billion users) as it is frustrating. The shallowness, the hustlers, the scammers, the comment drama, plus legit brands losing their accounts over and over—Meta’s photo sharing app has become distinctly unchill.
In 2022, the session is migrating to online spaces that can be deeper, and more thoughtful. If you really want to know what’s on the dispensary menu for 2023, you won’t find it on the ‘gram. The future of weed is on Discord.
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What is Discord?
Founded in 2015, Discord is a free host for personalized online servers that now sports 250 million users. Brands post links to join specific ‘servers’—which are little communities organized around a game, your friends, or increasingly, weed breeders. Download the app, and inside each server you can read the equivalent of forums around specific topics, like Grow Tips, as well as instant message questions to other members and moderators, share photos and videos, and enter contests.
Most importantly, Discord is not beholden to Instagram’s marijuana policy, which prohibits advertising and sales. As a privately-held company, Discord has its own terms of service. Both their community guidelines and terms of service ask that you “don’t use the services to do anything else that’s illegal,” which cannabis is at the federal level, and that “selling or facilitating the sale of prohibited or potentially dangerous goods” is prohibited.
Exotic Mike of Exotic Genetix started using Discord years ago for gaming, but it wasn’t until this January that he thought to use it to siphon his biggest fans from Instagram to a safer haven. He, as well as the other sources interviewed for this story, state that they do not sell any seeds or weed through Discord. None of them have been reported for any of their cannabis content either.
“Discord is like taking the forum boards and mixing it with a messaging system that’s really high end. You can make phone calls, video chat, text, you can archive stuff. It’s a great platform for information and corralling a crowd,” he says.
It can also keep the business side of things flowing if Instagram implements shadowbans or posts get reported.
“If IG decides to take our account down, Discord will be a backup platform for core users who want to know about EG stuff.”
Go from Discord noob to pro with this run down of the best weed Discords to let your weed freak flag fly.
It’s no secret we at Leafly are big fans of Exotic Genetix and their award-winning repertoire. Their founder and leader Mike created their Discord in January of 2022, and has garnered over 15,000 members thus far.
Expect daily giveaways, and seed release announcements. Peruse Mike’s grower’s guide for fans and colleagues alike to refer to on their own cultivation journeys. He even hosts a live podcast where subscribers can ask questions and send Mike off on tangents. For super-obsessed, he coordinates a couple different seed release-related NFT giveaways that come with lifetime benefits.
“If they’re gonna take the time to jump to a platform that’s harder to engage with, the success comes down to the user and how they can find it. We tried to make our Discord way cooler than our IG. Those users are my real deal superfans.”
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the adage “early bird gets the worm.” The worm in this case is award-winning breeder Compound Genetics’ new Discord. Why join the 220,000 masses on IG when you can be one of 2,000? In addition to coordinating new drops (that new Pave line looks fire!), you can also talk shop in individual strains, like Oregon Leaf Bowl 2022 winner Jokerz. There are threads for exposing scammers, pheno discourse and showing off your heady glass collection.
Archive Seed Bank
A favorite among breeders and stoners alike, Archive Seed Bank’s Discord is a distillation of what makes their seeds so good: attention to detail, set goals and boundaries, and indispensable insider knowledge. Their seed lines, such as Moonbow #75 and Face Off OG crosses, have individual threads for nuanced questions, and they even provide a running list of online scams and impersonators to avoid.
If you want to cut to the chase of growing and yield, Colorado’s Clearwaterbuds is for you. This is a true growers space; you won’t find many memes here. Rather, the designated chats are set up for finding new flavors in seed packs, growing guides for both newbies and oldheads, a virtual seed-swap market, and strain breakdowns where users can report on and review how the seeds they buy become trees. There’s even one to share Instagram handles to help restart and/or grow accounts that have been suspended or fully deactivated without explanation.
Mass Medical Strains
“Back in the day I thought that if you even searched Google for anything grow-related, your house would get raided the same day,” writes Mass Medical Strains via email. “The intentions were to bring the MMS community and any cannabis people together in a safer place online, where things can be discussed without censorship or fear of our accounts being deleted. The Instagram community is hard to see in one place or search to find anything good these days, but in comparison, everyone in the Discord is so friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to share and build with each other.”
Their Discord server has almost 6,000 members despite it only being a couple months old; it’s a lot easier to foster camaraderie without worrying about getting reported and having to start from square one. Part of MMS’ mission is to help burgeoning growers focus not only on bag appeal, but the effects imparted by what they’re smoking; they have channels to feature each of the new strains dropping, and even “Grow Off” contents for users to determine who’s doing the best job growing MMS creations.
“I love seeing my plants grown out in different gardens, each one is unique and many of them I can recognize before even reading the captions and descriptions. I encourage everyone to be very aware of the way the cannabis they smoke makes them feel.”
Not everyone prefers smoking flower or typing in a chat room; if you’ve ever wanted to press your own rosin or make homemade and high-dose gummy bears, there are server channels for that on Irie Genetics’ Discord. The Irie Army Discord also has quite a few themed voice chat rooms to choose from, for growing weed as well as some of the things you tend to do on weed, like working out and watching movies. There are also other informational Discord recommendations, and each strain in their currently offered genetic library has a separate channel to really get into the individual weeds.
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Founder Rasta Jeff started the Discord to go deeper; besides passing knowledge down, he wanted to make friends and cultivate relationships beyond shop talk. “Social media is a great tool for marketing and building a brand, but the personal interactions feel very limited,” he tells Leafly over Discord. “On Discord I can post and chat and educate freely without fear of censorship or threats of my account being removed because I used the wrong words in my post. Many of those plant issue conversations lead to lifelong friendships!”
In the simplest terms, “I have [Discord] as a lifeboat and IG is a yacht,” says Compton-based breeder Masonic Smoker. Instagram’s policy on marijuana is still stuck in what Masonic Smoker calls “the Dark Ages.” His first account made it to 50,000 followers before it was shut down, and he says he usually hits 30K before parent company Meta inexplicably pulls the plug; his current account, masonic_smoker3.0, has 32,000 followers as of publication. Without his account he can’t network, go Live, or sell seeds of his proprietary Wilson strain.
“Instagram is where I can mingle with my tribe; I saw the lake and went fishing,” he says. But, “I’ve been having my page taken down for three years. That shit hurts. It’s depressing. A lot of us feel that if Instagram quit today, we would need to find a new job, and that shouldn’t be the case.”
While his Discord has grow pics and channels for users to share resources and know-how, he also keeps it fun, with channels for sharing pet pictures, discussing video games, and just plain ol’ shitposting. He’s less active on it than his Instagram, Twitch, and Youtube accounts, but it also presents a new opportunity for discourse without the fear of vindictive lurkers.
“You can have a lot more thought provoking discussion on Discord; [it’s] kinda like a barrier. It weeds out the numbskulls. People will talk more seriously about growing, more cohesive, thought out and it stays there in Discord.”
This boutique growing Discord comes highly recommended by Exotic Mike. Based in Washington state, Solfire Gardens is the mind behind new titillating strains such as Bahama Mama and Dirty Squirt. Their Discord is the “heart” of their community, and it shows in how they’ve made their server particularly easy to browse for users still finding their Discord legs with a comprehensive primer post to best utilize all channels. These include growing tips, photo galleries, gaming chats, auctions, and even a primer on buying bitcoin.
Like any other industry, cannabis breeders contain multitudes. Sure, they love weed, but they don’t only have to love weed. The biggest pro our sources gave Discord is its versatility, and the ease with which multiple topics and conversations can unfold with ease, while keeping their momentum day to day. Raw Genetics has many of the pillars of a cannabis Discord: grow advice, drop announcements and weed porn pics. But they also have so much more, like their bundle of crypto-focused channels, music and movie recommendations, and of course, dank memes.
As of 2022, the perfect platform for weed lovers still doesn’t exist. But we’re getting there, and hopefully, without the help of billionaire buyers. In the meantime, we can revel in the grow chats and keep following the new accounts of our favorite innovators rising from the Meta ashes, without whom we wouldn’t be blazed right now.