LOS ANGELES (CIRCA) — LeafedIn.org wants to give users the best networking platform for all members of the cannabis community.
There are services — Weedmaps, Leafly and other map-based apps — that have emerged to help pot-seekers find the perfect strain at a dispensary.
Now, there's an app that wants to help you expand your cannabis network and meet other weed consumers and distributors, big or small.
"Whether you're an individual vendor, looking for employment, a consumer, a medical patient, a recreational user looking for product," LeafedIn.org has got you covered, said 28-year-old founder John Khainson.
How LeafedIn.org differs from the rest
The app bills itself as the "world's first peer 2 peer network," allowing users to connect to other users in the area, whether they're workers, employers, buyers or vendors.
Khainson says other products in the market connect businesses to consumers, whereas his mission is to "create a community."
The app, available on iOS and Android, allows users to message other users to arrange transactions or simply talk.
About the founder
Before shifting his focus full time to LeafedIn, Khainson, who lives in Southern California, used to be a product manager in the financial and technology sector.
"About two years ago," he said, "I started getting the idea for LeafedIn because I saw that we're reaching a point where the nation as a whole was telling us that, 'Look, we are OK with marijuana.'"
So, he gathered his savings and launched LeafedIn.
Khainson, who was born in Russia and immigrated to the United States when he was a child, says that at the beginning of LeafedIn.org, it was "just me."
Is it legal?
Pot is legal to some extent in a growing number of states, but the laws around cannabis consumption are still being written, so it's tricky for any entrepreneur entering the space, but Khainson says he's "100-percent sure" LeafedIn.org is legal. Khainson likens the nature of his app to Craigslist.
"The big thing I have to say is we're just a networking solution. We don't facilitate transaction. We don't take fees off any transactions."
On the app and on the desktop version, you can see buyers, workers, vendors and employers. Khainson says most of the users right now are "buyers," but experts in the industry say the "employers" feature shows promise.
"Employers often complain that they have a very difficult time finding qualified candidates," said Chris Walsh, editorial director of Marijuana Business Daily, a marijuana news outlet.
"There are several cannabis-focused job sites," Walsh said, "but most aren’t very comprehensive and no clear-cut dominant player has emerged."
"They get inundated with queries from people that simply want to work in the marijuana industry but don’t have any relevant skills."
Each pin on a map is accompanied by a detail card listing information like "average rating," "distance" and even lists "premium vendors."
This is how LeafedIn.org makes money. The app is free to download, but it does "monetize certain add-on services for vendors, certain visibility services."
Khainson wants avoid banner ads as long as he can because he thinks it interferes with the trust users should have for the product.
Comparisons to LinkedIn
LeafedIn.org sounds a lot like that other job networking site, LinkedIn.
While the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office did approve the "LeafedIn.org" trademark for publication, LinkedIn decided to oppose it.
A spokesperson for LinkedIn in 2017 said the company does not comment on "pending legal matters."
Khainson said he believes he has "the right to this trademark."
"Instead of being a networking app, now they can have this notion of a LeafedIn community."
Khainson says his app is "more than just a map," or a place to find a job. It's a "community" for consumers to connect with one another.
What's next for LeafedIn.org
Khainson has big plans for the company he started less than a year ago.
He recently launched Marijuana Creative, a consulting firm for marijuana businesses, small or large. When he launched LeafedIn.org, it was just him. Now he has a team of three people working with him.
"It's as much about being a business as it is being a way for marijuana activism to move forward."