Written by Andrew Seale
Tylenol is a lot like a McDonald’s hamburger.
“Every single time, it doesn't matter where you go – a McDonald's hamburger is going to taste like a McDonald's hamburger,” says David Berg, president and chief technology officer of Strainprint Technologies, a decision support system for cannabis users. “The same thing goes for a drug like Tylenol… you know what the outcome is, it's been rendered into a molecule or a compound so they can replicate that a million times over without any problem.”
But cannabis, well… cannabis is a whole different story.
“It’s a plant (that) has over 400 different medical constituents in it,” explains Berg. You may know that it’s sativa or indica, you may even know a bit about CBD or THC or the name of the supplier or a name like “Sticky Punch or Kosher Kush.”
“(But) those funny names are each individual plants and as the plants differ, the human body is going to react differently to the compounds in those plants,” he says. “Unlike Tylenol, you could put ten different types of cannabis in front of the user and that user can have ten different reactions.”
And while there may not be a way for any producer to drive a standardized experience, Strainprint is taking a stab at helping medical cannabis users track their intake and decipher which strains and dosages work best for them.
The startup was incorporated in 2015 by Stephanie Karaskick, who suffered from PTSD.
“She was being treated with standard pharmaceuticals that had some very nasty side effects, went to a doctor and said ‘I don't like what these drugs are doing to me,’ ” says Berg. The doctor recommended cannabis but couldn’t offer any advice on what strain to try. Karasick began experimenting and keeping a journal.
“She was very diligent and started to understand patterns as she tried different types of cannabis, the outcomes she was experiencing,” says Berg. Not just how it was affecting her PTSD but how it affected her moods, her appetite – everything. The doctor was amazed by her thoroughness and it sparked an idea. So Karasick enlisted her husband Evan, who ran a digital agency and they assembled a team to work on a prototype.
Around that time, Berg met Karasick. He’d been looking to get into the tech side of the cannabis space (Berg was a founder of CleanTech North, a mentorship community) and signed on. He’s been with the company for the past two years.
They launched the mobile app a year ago for free. It’s directly integrated into the legal supply chain and allows users to thoroughly track their experience from what they’re treating, to the effects certain strains or types of administration (oil, vaporizing, smoking, edibles, etc…) can have. Strainprint has since grown its suite of tools to include analytics that can support licensed producers, clinics, retailers, pharmacies and government with real-time decision making for cannabis users.
“A year later we’ve collected half a million data points all lab verified alongside over seven million data points on medicinal cannabis use in the country,” says Berg. “It’s the largest medicinal dataset on the planet.”
And Canada, he says, is the best place to build the knowledge base.
“The only place you can build something like this while protecting patient interests is in Canada,” says Berg. “We treat everyone's interaction on Strainprint as if it's a medical record because we understand the importance of what people are reporting.”
Photo Credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)