Article by Phil Wong, High! Canada
Today we are pleased to have with us Stephanie Karasick from Strainprint. Stephanie was born and raised in the suburbs of Montreal, and left shortly after getting her degree in Graphic Design. She moved to Toronto, working as a copywriter at Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, JWT, Taxi, and MacLaren McCann over a span of 15 years. Somewhere in that time, she began studying photography, left the corporate world to work as an editorial and family photographer, and a mom. The idea for Strainprint came to her after her first few months of using medical cannabis, when she was noticing how little information and scientific validation there was on various treatments.
What led you into a career within the Canadian cannabis industry?
Circumstance I guess, though I still don’t think of it as a career. My deep-rooted passion comes from my own personal experience with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to a traumatic childhood experience which resurfaced as an adult leaving me depressed, anxious and debilitated as a professional, wife and mother.
After numerous failures on the typical prescription medication front to treat my PTSD, which left me feeling numb and checked out with other unwanted side-effects my therapist prescribed medical cannabis.
Having never been a cannabis user, I was confused with the hundreds of medical cannabis to choose from, so I took extensive hand-written notes, developing a robust journal of my medical cannabis experience. My journey to find peace in life was the genesis of the medical tracking app – Strainprint.
And how did you get involved with the cannabis industry?
I got involved not long after I became a patient, in 2014. At that point, Cannabis was a new form of medicine that was having a profoundly positive impact on my mental health. I wanted to learn as much as possible and was shocked at how little guidance there was, certainly for newbies. I wrote down every single time I medicated and started seeing pretty vast differences in how I reacted to various strains. It was somewhere in there that I thought there has to be a better way for people to learn about how their bodies interact with cannabis.
I was fortunate that my husband has a business that develops websites and apps and was able to get a prototype of the idea built. The following year we brought some incredible partners on, so we could build it properly and get this tool in the hands of patients across the country.
Did you encounter any challenges or adversity to adopting a full time role in the expanding Canadian cannabis market, and if so what did you do to overcome them?
Of course, every industry has its share of people who have different motivations and beliefs, and that’s how I see it. We’ve had people tell us they’re building the same software, don’t see the value in what we’re doing, or are still trepidatious of legalities surrounding this space. Those interactions generally fuel me to push harder and to do better.
Can you run us through an average day for you?
The days often feel like roller coaster rides. Today was no different: We had a small technical glitch this morning that was quickly fixed, but really stressed me out. Moments later, I got an email from a Strainprint user who wanted to express her gratitude to us for the app! That she’s finally got a semblance of a life back after years of suffering, thanks to cannabis, and to the app which lets her see everything. Honestly, I cried! Then I dropped off about 25 packages to the Post Office, vapes and other swag for a loyalty program. I take the time to handwrite a note in each package. I love the idea of being able to brighten someone’s day, then I answered emails, updated strain database, we currently have over (3000 strains listed), picked up kids from school, jotted down some ideas on how to improve the app and ordered some more T-shirts.
And what do you have in store for Strainprint in the New Year?
This is going to be a busy year for us, as we continue rapidly growing and expanding into other markets. We really believe this tool will help so many people and want to keep spreading the word about it. I don’t spend much of my energy strategizing about the business side, that’s what I have great partners for! But I know we are doing this for the right reasons. We truly believe in cannabis as a legitimate therapy and the first thing that has to be done away with is the stigma. If we continue along our path, we’ll have the evidence of thousands upon thousands of patients whose lives are infinitely improved from using cannabis. We need more doctors to see this data. We need Government to see this data. We need your neighbor to see this data.
And alongside this, I want to make sure I remember to take time to notice all the beautiful little things around me. My two young girls and dog and wonderful husband deserve that.