Budtender Spotlight:

James Nielsen

James Nielsen finds community and purpose at The Sorority House

Written by Lizzy Solorzano, Photographed by Armando Ramirez – 4/20 Edition, 2024.

 

After moving between dispensaries, James Nielsen has spent the last four years as a budtender at The Chalice Sorority House. What’s kept him there is the community he’s found. 

For Nielsen, The Sorority House has given him valued loyalty and friends in his coworkers. He believes that he has found a job that offers fulfilling work and strong bonds with his colleagues. His workplace is not only a job, according to Nielsen, but also a close-knit family.

“It’s trust, it’s camaraderie, it’s looking out for each other. We all have each other’s backs,” said Nielsen. 

The loyalty between his coworkers continues when they share information about cannabis. When one budtender picks up new knowledge about a product, they are quick to share it so all budtenders are aware. Aside from researching on his own time, Nielsen said that sharing information between coworkers was how he was able to learn so fast. 

“We’ve seen everything, we’ve dealt with everything. Any knowledge that someone else picks up is passed on to the next person. That way we’re all one cohesive unit,” Nielsen said. “I feel like it’s that camaraderie that keeps us knowledgeable with each other and like a family.”

Nielsen’s interest in cannabis increased because of the medicinal benefits cannabis can provide. He initially researched products independently, but he also gained insights from colleagues 

regarding the potential medicinal benefits. He encountered back problems with bulging discs at 28-years-old and learned that cannabis could aid his recovery. This is when he realized he wanted to educate consumers and help others with their recovery processes.

“Working here, and working with all the products has made me more knowledgeable,” said Nielsen. “It has made me a healthier person and has given me the chance to express that knowledge to other people which I’ve seen affect them personally.” 

Though Nielsen started his cannabis journey with recreational use, his greater interest in its medicinal benefits has encouraged him to use cannabis “religiously” (and still at times recreationally) for the last six years. He has had some consumers share their experiences where they reduced their pharmaceutical medication intake because they felt that their well-being improved after taking his cannabis recommendations. His research extended to treats for pets, where he found CBD treats for his pug, Rebel, to help with his high separation anxiety. 

“I think the education of terpenes is something that is not looked at,” Nielsen said. “I think a lot of people are doing a lot of number chasing. I might make a suggestion of something and it has the terpenes they’re looking for, the smell, the look but because it’s not a high THC number, they want nothing to do with it.”

Extending his knowledge to consumers has allowed Nielson to foster connections with them. He believes the dispensaries in Eugene have a friendlier atmosphere compared to others. 

“I think having that personal touch is huge. You get to know your customers, you know what they want when they come in,” Nielsen said. “It’s almost to the point where you’re holding out a jar [of flower] for them as soon as they come in.” 

Nielsen cherishes the personal connections he makes with the consumers. Occasionally, some will visit and bring treats for him and the other budtenders. Getting to know the consumers is one of the rewarding aspects of the job for Nielson. 

“I have regulars who even text me to make sure I’m here,” said Nielsen. After switching to The Sorority House, he brought clients from his previous dispensaries so that they could continue seeing him. “I think those personal connections and the camaraderie with my peeps are huge when you work in a place like this.”

Nielsen loves the people he works with, highlighting the companionship fostered through playful antics like surprising each other with jumpscares, blasting music at full volume and sharing jokes. These interactions create a strong sense of community among them.  

 

“I’d like to shout out Kalani, Kobi, Summer, Meg, CJ and Allie,” said Nielsen. “I want to show them some love.” 

Nielsen is happy to have a job where the only “work” he has to take home is his bud. 

“There’s no stress when I go home, I have great days when I’m here,” Nielsen said. “There’s nothing else I’d want to do.”