Headspace Sensory LLC Publishes the First Ever Scientific Study of Cannabis Strain Aroma

FORT COLLINS, Colorado, Feb. 5, 2018 -- Headspace Sensory LLC, a company dedicated to the olfactory analysis of cannabis, today announced the publication of the first scientific study of strain differences in cannabis aroma. The study appears in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal PLOS ONE.

“Smell plays a key role in how people experience cannabis,” said Headspace Sensory founder and managing member Avery N. Gilbert, PhD, the study’s lead author. “Each strain has its own aroma and the range of smells across strains is extraordinary—it rivals that found in different wines.”

The study, conducted in Colorado where adult recreational use has been legal since 2014, examined eleven cannabis strains, including such popular varieties as OG Kush, Durban Poison, and Lemon Diesel. Volunteers, all over the age of 21, sniffed samples of dried cannabis flower and rated them on a ballot of odor descriptors.

The consumer panelists found big strain to strain differences in aroma. Statistical analysis revealed a broad pattern in the data. “We found two basic aroma profiles,” said Gilbert. “One is characterized as earthy, woody, and herbal, and the other is described as citrus, lemon, sweet, and pungent.”

Study participants were also asked to estimate the psychoactive potency of each strain, based solely on how it smelled. The citrus, lemon, sweet, and pungent strains were judged to be more potent than the earthy, woody, and herbal ones. This perception had little to do with the THC content of the respective samples. “The actual amount of THC in each sample had no bearing on smell-based perceptions of potency,” said Gilbert, who believes the result has implications for the marketing and branding of cannabis. “Consumer preconceptions are important and the industry needs to understand them.”

Gilbert said Headspace Sensory is already mapping the aroma profiles of additional strains. He believes this information will be useful to all sides of the rapidly growing industry. “Cannabis users are totally into the smell of it, and they need a reliable guide to nose their way through hundreds of available strains. Growers and breeders need reliable data to create aromatic strains that appeal to specific consumer preferences. Our goal at Headspace Sensory is to begin a whole new conversation about smell.”

The study reported here, “Consumer perceptions of strain differences in Cannabis aroma,” was written by smell scientist Dr. Avery N. Gilbert and analytical chemist Dr. Joseph A. DiVerdi. Full copies of the study can be downloaded for free at the PLOS ONE website:



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About Headspace Sensory, LLC

Headspace Sensory is a privately held startup based in Fort Collins, Colorado, founded in 2016 by well-known smell psychologist and entrepreneur Avery N. Gilbert, PhD. The company is pioneering the sensory evaluation of cannabis to bring consumers, growers, and dispensaries into the conversation about strain-specific aroma. It uses quantitative methods and an authoritative olfactory lexicon to create data-based aroma profiles for dried cannabis flower for many of the most popular commercial strains.

For more information about Headspace Sensory LLC, visit http://www.headspacesensory.com

Send media inquiries to media@headspacesensory.com

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