He said he has a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana, but whenever he visited the dispensary he could never remember which of the many types of marijuana would work best for him.
"There was a huge range of things to choose from," he said. "I just started tracking them on a spreadsheet for my personal use, and then I started fleshing out this idea with myself and two friends."
The goal of the site is to help marijuana smokers keep track of the strains of marijuana they like most and are most suitable for their needs. The site includes anonymous reviews for more than 150 strains of marijuana -- grouped by effects (creativity, giggly, sleepy, etc.), medical use (anxiety, migraines, stress, etc.) and activity (create art, relax, play video games, etc.) -- and visitors can add strains if a specific strain isn't yet listed.
But if you opened up Leaf.ly at work and your boss happened to walk by, it's likely he'd never even notice the site's somewhat controversial content.
"We make a conscious effort not to have any pot leaves on the site or anything like that that would give you away. The goal is to be safe for work," he said. "It's not going to be painfully obvious what you're looking at."
Scott said he kept reading articles about "the subculture to the pot culture" -- professionals and soccer moms who light up a joint instead of pouring a glass of wine -- and thought they might be able to build a business around their needs.
"I don't know if it's acceptable right now, but more people are doing it and kind of in the closet about it -- that's really our target audience," he said. He said he's currently bootstrapping now but has plans to build out a business model involving partnerships with dispensaries.
Another upstart website, PriceofWeed.com, also employs a user-friendly design to reach beyond the stereotypical smokers.
Started by Cory, a 23-year-old from Toronto and his friend (they also asked to withhold their last names), the site anonymously crowd-sources the street value of marijuana to give people a sense of how much pot should cost in different places around the world.
"We develop websites as a hobby and creative thing. We do start-ups," said Cory. "This was just born out of a curiosity, more out of solving a personal question than to make money."
He said the simple, non-weed-heavy design was inspired by Leaf.ly.
Soon after launching, his site made its way through the Internet, landing on the media site Gawker, New York Magazine's site and others. At its peak, it received about 25,000 visitors in one day.
PriceofWeed combines user-submitted data about the price of weed per ounce (sorted by quality) and an interactive, searchable Google Map. To keep the prices accurate, Cory said the site throws out outliers -- potentially fake prices that are statistically outside the average. It shows, for example, that an ounce of high-quality weed is $447.35 in New York, versus $415 in North Dakota.
NORML's St. Pierre said the new kinds of websites speak to the normalization of marijuana.
"Sociologists would say over a certain period of time, something that was 'deviant behavior,' over time, depending on the changing mores and value of the society, tends to take something that was thought of as being on the outside and [moves] inside, otherwise known as mainstream," he said.