Gold Leaf journal
Strawberry Sequoia

Strawberry Sequoia

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, canna-journalist, cannasuer, horticulturalist, woman podcaster, east coast born - west coast dwelling lady.

Understanding Cannabis and Your Body Through Journaling: Interview with Founder of Goldleaf

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Journaling has been said to do everything from boosting your IQ and memory,  to helping you achieve goals, spark creativity, boost self-confidence and beyond. But what happens when you mix journaling with cannabis? For our 21st Episode we talked with the Founder of Goldleaf Charles McElroy on the subject.


Gold Leaf Journals

Goldleaf makes high quality journals for cannabis users or growers. These journals are all about User Experience and the marriage of design and functionality.

Our hope is that by elevating a more thoughtful, educated, and eye-catching perspective, we might shift the conversation towards a more holistic future

They take a sophisticated and scientific approach to cannabis also offering posters with infographics and other educational materials. They also do a lot of work within the industry creating custom eduction (decor, pamphlets, info cards, etc.), co-branding or white-labeling our existing wares, and taking on interesting collaborations.


Listen now or read the interview transcript below!


Goldleaf touts itself as a ‘Science Forward Printing Company,’ I wanted to start with: what does that mean? 

It probably does require a bit of explanation. That is the bucket that we put all of our content in. We like making the science behind things interesting and approachable. There are so many topics and narratives we can talk about within that camp of the ‘science forward’. So that’s where we focus. 

It touches on education. It’s got a fair amount of cool aesthetics and artistic things that we can do – from infographic data or data visualization of even the simplest of topics, to illustration styles that harken back to the scientific revolution. We love art and style like pencil drawn botanical illustrations and biological illustrations. Right now that’s our sweet spot, definitely with the content that we do, but also the visual approach that we take.

Terpene Infographic

I find the aesthetic makes it so much easier for me, not only to understand the information but it draws me in, and I love that about your journals.

That’s something we think about on the top. Whenever we do a new piece or project, we want that exact behavior. We want people to be drawn in and curious about it just strictly from their eyes without even considering the content. Then, when they get closer, and they start digging into it, it keeps their attention and educates them. It scratches an itch that people have to learn more and be a curious person.

Can you talk about the therapeutic benefits of journaling in general and specifically journaling with cannabis?

There have been a lot of apps developed and a lot of different approaches to do something similar. We’re not the first to think about journaling cannabis by any means. All we did is we put the user experience first and made a guided approach to it. So it’s less intimidating to somebody new to it all. We’re prompting the user for data points or things to keep in mind while they’re utilizing cannabis that will hopefully be more useful for them when they go back and look at the entries that they’ve taken. 


People have taken notes with standard journals; what we bring is a little bit more of a visual approach to it. Kind of like adult coloring books filling in bubbles and drawing small graphs and things. Part of it is for people who want to geek out a little bit more. And part of it is to prompt those people who are new or unfamiliar to cannabis to be able to take better notes and to be mindful of things that they might not have considered with just a pen and paper. That’s one main difference in our approach. 

In general, I would argue that there are a lot of other ancillary benefits to journaling appropriate for cannabis users compared to something like a computer program or an app.

Just the nature of writing is excellent for your mind and body. It forces you to slow down. It allows your brain to re-compose thoughts. So you’re also going to have the benefit of creating better memories as you’re writing – we all know that cannabis affects your short term memory. Thus by doing that exercise [journaling] when you’re in the thick of some therapy, you’re helping your brain offset that [memory loss], and you’re helping your mind to recognize things that you may otherwise not have been able to point out had you been simply tapping entries on an app.

I think there are a lot of silent benefits to journaling apart from just documenting your journey – you’re also doing something meditative.

Therapeutic Benefits of writing

Do you think it is important also to get away from “Screen Time”? 

Absolutely. I think with that comes not only the constant distraction and the blue light, but from a security standpoint, there is not the same type of vulnerability of putting your medical info into the cloud compared to putting it in something tactile and in front of you and that you can have full control over. Plus you don’t ever need to update anything!

Screen Time

Let’s talk about the Endocannabinoid System: How our systems are all different and how journaling can help you understand yours and in turn, help you heal?

We’ve been cautious with the language that we choose. It is clear that Everybody’s Endocannabinoid System is different and that requires a constant reminder to how you ask for things when you’re writing a data entry piece. 

Because everyone’s system is different, any negative or positive effect is different. Any cultivar or cannabinoid cocktail that you’re having with a specific product would also be different. Thankfully we started getting away from the Indica and Sativa language that certainly can be misleading. With that communication fight, putting more attention on the endocannabinoid system and informing people that it’s the unique chemical cocktail of any plants or product that is going to affect you, and it is going to be different for everybody.

Endocanabinoid map

What works for your friend or your mother might not be the case for you. The only real to tell is experimentation. I know that sounds kind of scary and risky to some people, but thankfully cannabis is, it’s safe. It’s a nontoxic substance. You’ve heard the moniker “start low and go slow”  that’s the sweet spot.

In general, it’s up to the individual to find the boundaries of their endocannabinoid system and learn what outside stimulus affect it. Whether it’s your diet, how much sleep you’ve had, are you dehydrated at the moment? All of those things will subtly play with your endocannabinoid system because that system is essential; it’s tied to so many physiological components. 

The Endocannabinoid System’s mission is one thing: homeostasis and balance. So if you find a Cultivar or a product that is perfect for you, but you get out of balance in other ways -like maybe you’ve not been sleeping well or decided to take a few more trips to a fast food restaurant – that same cultivar may affect you differently under those different circumstances. That’s just how the endocannabinoid system will work. It’s like a scale, always going backward and forward, trying to find that balance for your system. It regulates a lot of things, and through those strings that it pulls, it will render different experiences.

Communicating that is tough. There’s a lot of kind of scientific jargon. We try to boil it down and make something easy to understand for the average individual. With the endocannabinoid system, having that baseline understanding of what it is and how complex and impossible it is to give somebody a clear recommendation or dose recommendation, that’s a challenge. It’s essential. 

Everybody’s different, and you need to find your sweet spot. 

Cannabis Terpene Profiles

A lot of people ask us questions. “I have this condition” or “what terpenes or cannabinoids or cultivars do you recommend?”  It’s not for us to recommend things; we focus on communication and education. That’s what I meant earlier with, with having that kind of measured approach to language. We want to be careful not to steer somebody down the wrong path. If we were to say, “oh, you have arthritis, well this is the cultivar for you, period, end of the story.” that’s rarely going to work. 

There is data and research that has started to be more prominent, that gives clear indications of what might be a good starting point. So I’m talking about that starting point to address specific issues and how the endocannabinoid system could mediate those issues. 

I think that approach should be taken with modern medicine as well, instead of just prescribing pills to fix one thing we should be looking at balancing our system in all ways.

I agree. The fact is that cannabis has this fractured pool of information depending on what state or even what country you’re in. Finding the answers to your Google queries or whatever questions you have in your mind, it’s challenging to get the truth with this subject. I think that could be applied to almost all types of medicine from traditional pharmaceuticals to holistic approaches.

Making people more self-aware and self-reliant for their health is what the journal does. It forces you to be mindful of yourself. It’s something that should be applied to almost any type of therapy you do cannabis or other. You’ll be a better patient, and you’ll be more informed about your own body. 

Gold Leaf journal

I also love what you say about the importance of language. To briefly touch on that, How do you ask the right questions to get the correct responses? 

I was thinking about that for you. In our work, we do a lot of custom work with other businesses and in the cannabis space from all over. Depending on who we’re talking to, we have to adjust the language to fit. For example, we made compliance editions of our journals for Canada, and most of that compliance came with just changing the language from something like dose to serving. 

Then, working with a client in New Mexico, they are still baked into the indicas and Sativas terminology, so it’s not possible to say, ‘hey, this isn’t the best way to talk about this. Let’s change it’. 

We’ve got to instead build off of where the understanding is in the community. I would imagine you guys probably run into that too with talking with all the people you talk to from around the industry, the difference and in terminology or preferred terminology and the colloquialisms and all that.

Cannabis Education Cards

Talk to us About the difficulties of cannabis education depending on where you are in different states?

We’re headquartered in Ohio, and Ohio’s medical program is still in its infancy. For the most part, we will do our events and networking in other states right now that have more robust industries and communities. 

That said, I’m interested in meeting and working with new businesses here in our state. But there is such a missing piece of education here. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen with other states.  I think it is because Ohio is the only state that did not have a ballot initiative to get cannabis passed.

It was a legislative initiative, a strategic one too, to scare away the ballot initiative. The legislation or the legislators have more control over things, but because of that, things have moved extra slow. We’re worried that patients will not be able to access what they need to access because of the way the laws are built here. 

Taking that educational piece and communicating it to these different businesses, it’s almost like they’re not interested right now because there’s nothing they can do about it. If we’re like, ‘okay, 22% of the registered patients in our state are looking for cannabis for muscle spasms or something like that,  these are the cannabinoids that have the best chances of being useful for them.

Well, those are not present in the high yielding cultivars, and only high yield cultivars (with a little bit of variety in there) are being grown right now because the supply and demand is so off right now. High demand, low supply.

The policy generally makes it challenging for a producer to have a bad crop. They will risk losing their license and permit almost immediately. For that reason, they’ve got to grow these safe cultivars that are high yield so that they can put some in cold storage in case something happens. So the variety is not there. 

The narrative of education and options needs to be there, because what it all comes down to is options for patients, and those options are not there yet. Not even close. I don’t think it’ll be here within the next year even though dispensaries are open technically. 

What are your One, five, and ten year industry predictions?

10-year one is, is relatively simple, which is not all that dissimilar from where we are today. So much of the progress is still stifled by where we are politically, and that stuff doesn’t move fast. Even if, if you have people with progressive ideas in line, also taking office, it’s still going to be move slow. 

I know we’ve got a couple of elections over the year, but I don’t think there’ll be any significant changes from where we are now. I think the five-year game you’ll see a lot of more prominent companies coming and absorbing some of the little guys or squelching them.

Larger companies who are not in the cannabis space who have wanted to get into the cannabis space, I think that their projects that ideas will have started to take fruition within that timeframe. 

You’ll see the equivalent of some of the alcohol or tobacco industry players bubbling up as a way to consolidate the industry. I envision that in five years there will be at least one significant legislative change. That could be as simple as decriminalizing cannabis on a federal scale. That would change things fast – from all of these insurance and bank banking tools and services that cannabis companies can’t access or at least have a tough time accessing. I could see that all getting wiped away by something simple as the decriminalization and changing cannabis from a schedule one.

This isn’t even a conservative versus liberal issue. The stats are pretty much everybody in the country is pro-cannabis. Not everybody, but the vast majority. That’s one part. And the other part is money. People and companies love cash. I think that that is going to turn a lot of people’s attention to legalization/decriminalization. They see the potential of tax dollars and all of the other economic boosts that come with this industry. From Canna-tourism to all of the other services that these businesses touch.

I think ten years will be even further down that track. At that point, the federal government will have gotten involved and is making some national regulation of the industry. I could see them having an interest in snatching up real tax revenue. With that, there are also benefits. Hopefully, some of that tax revenue would be earmarked for positive things and communities. It would also mean that the federal government is pro-cannabis just like they are pro-alcohol. 

I’d also like to see the industrial side of things (hemp products) being grown more domestically and digging out some of these states like Kentucky from their economic turmoil due to all the tobacco farmers who have a tough time selling their crops — transitioning them to hemp. Or a lot of communities who struggle with mining and the change in our energy plans. Farming hemp is a good alternative. 

I can see it continuing to be very positive for our nation as a whole. I would also guess that in 10 years there will be very few people who are against cannabis.



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