Written and photographed by Kaylynn Wohl.
How long have you been in the cannabis industry?
I’ve been working at New Millenium for the last two years. Before that, about three or so months working for a farm that my friends had just started. So it was early plant development and setting up the framework for how they were hoping to have things run.
Do you think those three months at the farm prepared you for working at a dispensary?
Definitely. It kind of gave me the knowledge to know what it looks like on the farm end of things. Any facet of the cannabis industry is important to know when it comes to being a budtender just because you never know what kind of questions you’ll get from people.
What kind of questions do people ask you? Anything strange?
I get weird questions all the time. It seems to be from older folks who are used to the old way of how it used to be where they would get what they got and use old terms to describe. So when I ask if they’re into sativa or indica more, or if they have any experience with CBD, they kind of look at me like I’m asking if they believe in aliens or I’m speaking in another language.
Why did you choose to join the industry for work?
I felt a passion for cannabis. I noticed the benefits that it could provide, and it just made sense with my customer service background. I just felt like it would be really cool to be able to direct people towards the thing that will work best for them, whether it’s flower, edibles, or topical. Making sure they leave with a product that’s going to work for them but also a positive experience makes me feel like I’m doing a good thing. I’m also raising awareness for cannabis in general. There’s still that stigma in a lot of places that treats it like this terrible thing. In 2021, I just think it’s time to get the bad stigma out and focus on helping people. So many people of so many walks of life could benefit from cannabis.
Do you feel like a weed expert due to how long you’ve been there?
In a way. The industry is constantly changing and especially now with more states legalizing and they’re able to do more research. My expertise is only applicable so long before more research comes out; it’s constantly evolving. It’s exciting to be able to learn about all of these new things. My job is to guide these people towards a product that’s going to work for them, so in a way I’m learning all this new stuff too. It never gets old. But yeah, I’m a weed expert.
How has your job changed during the pandemic?
It’s been a lot of back and forth. Early on there was a lot of frustration with people not being able to smell the flower they wanted to get. A lot of people depend on their senses, and taking that away was difficult. As it’s gone on, people have become more understanding. It’s taken away a large portion of the experience though and they rely on us to be their guide more than before. They’re trusting us completely. Other than that, dealing with minor logistical things: deliveries for pop tops and our red warning stickers that go onto everything have a bigger delay, so that’s something we’ve had to keep in account for when ordering. A couple different times, we stopped allowing people coming into the store completely. At that point, we have to go off of their questions and look at everything we have and try to find what will fit their requests most specifically. There’s a lot more responsibility on the budtenders part.
How has your relationship with cannabis changed since becoming recreationally legal in Oregon?
To be honest I didn’t have too many experiences with cannabis before that. The ones I had were kind of negative. The psychoactivity was nerve wracking for me. I started trying new things, whether it was edibles or just flower. Cannabis taught me a lot about myself. I was able to recognize my anxiety by name, and I’m grateful for that. Since it became legalized, I’ve had opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and saw what it’s all about to form my own conclusions. A general respect has occurred over time.
When did you first try cannabis? Can you describe the situation?
The first time was around 2013. I drove up to Seattle with a close friend of mine, and it had just become legal there. A guy at the dispensary recommended us a joint. It was called Orange Dream. I’ll never forget the strain, and I’ve never seen it since. We had a plan to go smoke it at a park and see a movie. We didn’t get that far because I crashed my car into a friend of a friend’s car and ruined the day. I was totally sober. Probably anticipating the experience freaked me out. Later that night, my friend and I decided to smoke the joint. I sat down on my cousin’s couch and just stared at the wall. I swear I left the room. I’ve never had an experience like that since. I genuinely feel like I wasn’t even there. Honestly it was a terrible, terrible time. It held me back a long time from trying it again, but I did, and I had another bad experience. Then I tried it again later on, and it got progressively better as I started to understand the feeling. Avoid Orange Dream.
Do you have a favorite strain and why is it your favorite?
Not really. I think I’ve allowed myself to be open to really everything. So I go into each joint, each edible and be ready to see where it will take me. I like finding a joint with a really good flavor. Sometimes I’ll get a high that will get me really giggly and puts me in a great mood. It’s just so diverse, and it’s one of my favorite things about it to be like ‘okay what did I get today and what’s it going to do to me?’ Maybe it’s Orange Dream after all.
What’s your favorite method of consumption?
I’d definitely say joints. I think I have an oral fixation; I pick my hands sometimes, and I used to smoke cigarettes. I think joints naturally filled a certain predisposition with having my hands needing to be doing something. Plus it’s really nice to watch it burn.
What’s your favorite thing to do when stimulated by cannabis?
I use it most nowadays in my personal time, because I never know how it will play on my anxiety. I like to do creative writing or playing video games. If I have a good, visually interesting movie, I’ll light up before.
What do you do when you aren’t at New Millenium?
I hang out with my cats, I smoke weed, I play video games. I’ve been obsessed with New Girl lately. I feel like I’ve wasted all these years not watching it. Writing here and there. Otherwise, just staying inside and chilling out. I’m honestly worried for whenever the pandemic ends, and I’ll be expected to do stuff outside of my house. I might fake my own death…
What’s so special about New Millenium?
New Millenium genuinely tries to provide high quality products for affordable pricing. And I mean that. Before working there, I would go to different dispensaries to find prerolls. I was surprised how many don’t offer houserolled prerolls, and I was surprised how pricey they could be. We consistently have $2 prerolls. Half of the strains we have in flower we try to have in prerolls so people can try it before buying an ounce of it. In 2021, cheap weed should be the way of the world to give people their medicine—we’re not Big Pharma!
Is there anything you’d want the public to know about utilizing dispensaries during the pandemic?
Be understanding with your budtenders. Know that we are all experiencing the same thing you are. A lot of us are overworked, have lost family members or been forced to sacrifice as well. We are trying our absolute best to do what we’ve always done: to provide you a great experience, good quality cannabis and something that will help you out. We’re doing our best. We’re all people.