Budtender Spotlight: Desirae Taylor from the Greener Side

Written and photographed by Jassy McKinley

What made you want to get into the cannabis industry?

Well originally my mom had a medical marijuana card, and she actually started getting her card in 2001. So I was about eleven or twelve years old then, and my parents weren’t shy about it being an open thing. Honestly, it helped my mom turn around 150 percent. She was a recovering alcoholic, and she still is eighteen years sober to this day. I think it’s partly because of marijuana. When I saw that it essentially saved her life in that aspect, it really got me to understand there is more to helping people than just pills and what the doctors prescribe on a daily basis. Twenty pills a day weren’t doing what one to two bowls of marijuana would do for her in that aspect of healing. So once I started getting into it right out of high school, I got my own medical marijuana card and started doing my own research. Eventually after getting into dispensaries as a medical patient, I got to know a lot of the owners. I got hooked up with one of the owners here in town at the Flower of Life originally and she hired me as a budtender. That was before it was recreationally legal. So I started as a medical budtender then became a recreational budtender and that was about 6 years ago.

Would you say your mom shaped the way you got into the industry?

Absolutely. I’ve seen what she’d been through, I’ve seen it all too commonly. Looking at it from a medical standpoint, it’s definitely fueled my way of looking into more natural resources as far as treating people in the medical industry and stepping away from pharmaceuticals. I personally don’t take any pharmaceuticals. I treat it all with marijuana. You read about these diseases, and then you look at what marijuana has done for those people. When you see these stories and hear them over and over again and you’ve seen it for yourself, you can’t deny those results. They may not come from a scientist or a doctor necessarily, but when you have a person stand in front of you who had a death sentence three years ago you have to wonder, how?

What is your favorite strain of all time?

My favorite strain of all time would be white widow, if i had to pick just one. There’s something about the taste, the smell, the high. It all around compliments me and who I am, and the type of high I enjoy at the end of the day.

When did you first try Cannabis? Could you walk me through your experience?

Despite my parents growing in my house I didn’t actually try it until I was eighteen. I wanted to wait, a lot of the kids were peer-pressuring so I was around it and I was aware of it but it happened to be with a group of friends. It was an interesting experience because it was like ten of us in this group, so I don’t think I really got stoned at that point because everyone was passing it around so maybe I got like one hit off of the bowl. A week later I smoked a joint with a friend and it was just between the two of us, and that’s when I really got stoned for the first time. I lived in a small town so we smoked at the boat dock and right after we had finished a cop rolled up and I was so stoned. My friend had smoked before so they were fine but I was just staring at the cop and he was asking me if I was okay. My friends were like “she’s fine! she’s fine! she’s tired!” I was just thinking how much trouble I could have been in.

How long have you been a budtender?

In the broader span of being a budtender, I did take a little bit of a break in the six years for about four to five years I took maternity leave. But for the greener side I’ve been here for about 2 years.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding and favorite part of my job is the people. Being able to interact with them and have that relationship that I have with them is my favorite part. When you spend 40 hours a week away from your family this becomes your 2nd family.

Have you experienced any challenges/successes lately? 

The challenges haven’t been as big lately I feel the industry has really taken a jump forward, especially since COVID has happened. That might seem a little weird to some people but budtending has sped up for sure.

What would you want people to know about being a budtender?

 Some people think it’s kind of an easier job since you just sell weed but I think that’s what kind of sets our dispensary apart, because here we want to be knowledgeable and we want to know about the products. Don’t be shy, be picky about what you want because that’s what your budtender is there to do for you.

What is something you take pride in your dispensary?

 We take pride in definitely what we order and what goes on the shelf. We care about what everyone is getting, we double check everything we put out, and we don’t want to put stems in there. We want to make sure if we wouldn’t buy it then we wouldn’t sell it to the public. That’s another thing I love about it here.

What do you hope to see in the future for the cannabis industry?

 Legality across the board is number one and I think a lot of people can agree with that, and I’m talking federally legal. It’s definitely keeping the pharmaceuticals on the board, and from having marijuana being discovered for taking care of tumors and cancer elements.

Do you have a favorite quarantine munchie?

 Ben and Jerry’s jamoca ice cream had me there for a couple of months. I think that’s what contributed to my ten pounds from quarantine.

Is there anything you would like the community to know?

It’s a really fun industry. Anyone thinking to get into it and you’ve been second guessing yourself: don’t. Just go for it, I kind of did and I am not regretting it. Now ten years after  thinking back to all the college applications I was doing, what career I was getting pushed into. I realized I was settling for something  I wasn’t really passionate about and when you’re passionate about something you love that makes every day your job. If you want to get into the industry now is the time to definitely get in and start doing it before the rest of the United States takes off. Opportunities are waiting especially for the rest of them around the corner and I know there’s a ton of states on the ballot for medical and recreational marijuana this year here in a couple of weeks. So definitely get out there and vote! Your voice definitely matters at this point in time if you want to see marijuana become the way of the future, it’s just a matter of time. We could use all the voices.

Budtender Spotlight: Micheal Blye of Chalice

written by Kimberly Harris

1)    Where do you work and how long have you worked there? 

I work at Chalice, a dispensary in Tigard, Oregon. I’ve worked there since February 2019, so for about 16 months. I’m a senior employee, which means I’ve worked there the longest. 

2) Do you have any past budtending experience? 

Working at Chalice is my first job as a budtender. I got my OLCC license in the Portland area, but a lot of places want a full year of experience. It was hard for me to break into the industry at first, because how was I supposed to get a year of experience without being hired first? Chalice is pretty good about onboarding people without prior experience. 

3) Why did you want to work as a budtender? 

I have work experience in retail and customer service, but I wasn’t passionate about working at a clothing or food place. I transferred to budtending to follow my passion for cannabis. Working in customer service gave me the experience I need to work with people and sell products as a budtender. 

4) Why are you passionate about cannabis? 

I’ve been using cannabis for most of my life. I enjoy the relaxation benefits as well as how it makes me appreciate things in life more. If I’m stuck in a mental rut, cannabis helps me gain a renewed perspective of life and the things I go through in my life. Cannabis also enhances the things I’m already interested in like listening to music and watching films. 

5) What are your main responsibilities as a budtender? 

I’m there to help people make more informed decisions about the products they want to use. Especially for people who don’t have that much experience or tolerance. It can be overwhelming for a first-time customer to get into cannabis if they don’t have someone to guide them. 

6) How do you guide customers? 

Asking questions like, “what are you hoping to get out of your cannabis use?” or “what issues do you want cannabis to help with?” is how I guide customers. I try to help them hit their “goldilocks zone” which is the just-right feeling of enjoyment and relief. Whether it’s for medical or rec purposes, I give help guide them to the high that they want to experience. 

7) Do you use your personal experience to help guide customers, or has Chalice trained you to help guide them? 

 I’ve been a certain type of cannabis user throughout my life. As someone who’s been using it for 15 years, for anxiety and psychological relief, or just to feel the pleasure of a high, I have a lot of experience to help gude customers. I can relate to the different reasons that customers want to use cannabis. 

8) What’s something you like about working as a budtender?

It’s nice to meet a bunch of new people and get to know what they are all about. I meet a variety of people with a variety of experiences with cannabis. I like to know their knowledge or their tolerance to figure out how to best guide them to a product that they will enjoy. It’s like trying to find the right pieces to fit together in a puzzle – it’s fun. 

9) Has cannabis affected your social life or interest in hobbies?

Cannabis creates an instant bond for people. I meet new people everyday and sometimes make friends who like to smoke too. It’s nice to share a passion and hobby with other people. It has introduced me to new things that I never knew I was into, like new types of music, artists and a new appreciation for smoking together to watch movies and chill. I’ve been introduced to card games like Magic: The Gathering. The fantasy aspects to it can be enhanced through cannabis. I’ve also been recommended to Dungeons and Dragons because of the entertainment. Nothing can get you more into the fantasy realm of a game like some nice cannabis. 

10) Since working in the COVID-19 pandemic, has your position as a budtender been affected? 

With everyone stuck at home, cannabis users are doubling down on their interests by stocking up on products and probably smoking all day since there’s so much extra time on everybody’s hands. People who are recently laid off, and may not have smoked in years are coming in to use cannabis again. It’s been a unique challenge to reintroduce cannabis into people’s lives, especially since cannabis has become more potent, probably, since the last time they smoked. There’s been a huge increase of customer flow as well as an increase of first-time customers. 

11) Is it harder to work as an essential worker? 

It’s really stressful for everyone involved. My staff and I are working harder than ever before, there are a lot of call outs because people are concerned for their health and everyone is exhausted. It’s a challenging and tough time to work. For me, I have Type 1 Diabetes which puts me at more of risk, so I have anxiety at work about potentially being exposed. On the bright side though, I’m able to connect with people and socially interact with them during a time that everyone is mostly isolated from socializing. 

12) How do you lower your risk of being exposed? 

At Chalice, we are required to wear face masks, wear and switch out gloves as much as possible and follow social distancing orders. I’ll also squirt hand sanitizers on my gloves if I need to. The store was crazy busy at first because people were panic buying cannabis, then 420 happened. Now, it’s starting to slow down to a normal pace, which helps with my anxiety to exposure. 

13) What are some more guidelines Chalice has put in place to prevent exposure? 

We are encouraging people to do curb-side pick up and placing orders ahead to minimize the time people spend in the building. 

14) Is there something you want to say to customers right now? 

I think the biggest thing is for customers to put a mask on. It’s a little step to take to wear a mask when coming in, follow social distancing guidelines and maybe even wear gloves. I hope that people understand it’s a crazy time, so just be nice and pleasant to one another. We are incredibly busy so please be understanding about sold out items and have patients. 

15) How do you feel about working around the new guidelines? 

I’m happy that they are in place because I’m worried about my own health and risk of exposure, it makes me feel a lot better while at work. 

16) What is your favorite strain? 

Monkey Tape from TJ’s Garden is one of my favorites. It’s a cross of gorilla glue, a sativa hybrid and checks all the boxes I’m looking to fill when I smoke. The nugs have a nice texture since they’re not too dense, it reminds me of pre-legalization cannabis – sticky, stinky and a nice stoned feeling that isn’t too intense. 

17) What’s your favorite type of cannabis product? 

I’m a traditional flower guy. I like any cannabis product around, but during the COVID crisis I like to use edibles to help protect my lungs. I like equal parts of THC and CBD to help minimize anxiety. Charlotte’s Web is an oil product that tastes like candy to me, with 6% THC and 55% CBD. 

18) What is your favorite way to enjoy flower?

I like all types of water pipes to smoke with. Even though I’ve been smoking for 15 years, I still don’t know how to roll a good joint. I’m a 100% bong guy. 

Budtender Spotlight: Kayla Palmer of SOCC

written by Emma Routley, photos provided by Kayla Palmer

How long have you been a budtender?

I’ve been a budtender for just over a year.  I started here at SOCC (Southern Oregon Cannabis Connection) in February of last year and it was an amazing foot in the door.  It’s opened a lot of opportunities for me and I just couldn’t be happier with my experience.

Why did you become a budtender?

Coming from Idaho, a career in weed was definitely something that seemed not really possible, a bit out of reach. So when I moved to Eugene, I saw a very attainable goal.  Budtending is something that utilizes compassion and empathy and helping people as well as cannabis. Where I came from, smoking was definitely against the curve. It seemed like a no brainer for me to go for it.  It’s making sure you’re not selling somebody something that gets them too stoned or destigmatizing it for people who are not used to the idea. It’s definitely a humanitarian game. 

What happened the first time you smoked weed?

The first time I smoked weed it was on the fourth of July.  My best friend, she was like “Hey, so I have some pot, you wanna try it?” and I was like “Yeah… yeah I do.” So we smoked in a little pipe in her parent’s bathroom and we went out and had a blast. I’ve never been so enthralled by fireworks in my life. I was pretty young, like 13.  That was the first time I smoked but I didn’t become a habitual smoker until later in high school.  

How does cannabis help you personally?

I started out as a social smoker.  Then as I got older and had more experience with it I’ve found it helps calm my social anxiety. And, I get headaches pretty bad.  Upon digging deeper into cannabis I found relief from my migraines in certain strains. It’s been amazing, it helped me in a lot of ways aside from relieving my social anxiety.  It has helped me become a more caring person because it forced me to take things a bit more slowly and really consider what I’m doing and what I’m saying. It’s definitely been a gift for my overall personality. 

Has cannabis ever helped you out of a bad mental state?

A few summers ago I was cutting back on weed.  I was a cleaner, I just didn’t have a lot of time to smoke. I didn’t make time for it, I didn’t see it as a huge priority.  It was a really hard, emotional time for me and when I would let myself smoke, it wouldn’t completely take away the sadness but it would give me a better perspective. It would let me slow things down and just look at my situation and be a bit more positive. It definitely helped give me better tools to get me out of that funk I was in. Since then if I’m feeling off and I can’t really decide why, I’ll take a second to smoke and almost every time it helps.

What’s your favorite method of consuming cannabis?

Lately I’ve been pretty into dabbing, but my old faithful method is taking a bong rip. Whenever I go a while without smoking, I am craving that feeling of holding my bong and taking a big rip.

Where do you want to take your cannabis career?

My goal is to just keep making people happy.  A lot of the time I have customers coming in who are kind of embarrassed that they don’t know a lot.  I never want anyone to feel like that because we are in a pioneering age and just even being willing to learn is amazing. I hate being afraid to ask questions because I feel like I might be looked at as dumb for not knowing it and I never want someone to feel that way when they’re talking to me. 

What is your favorite way to help people with cannabis?

We actually get a lot of customers that are pretty new to cannabis.  We get a lot of older customers who are in to check it out for the first time.  My favorite way of helping is breaking it down to the ground level and sharing as much information as I can, at a pace they want to follow.  It makes me so happy to feel like I’ve helped somebody become more accepting of cannabis. There are so many people I know who would benefit from it if they only knew exactly what they were getting into.  To be that vessel, to relay that info is top-notch pleasing for me.  

What do you want to see in the future of cannabis?

I want there to be a bit more regulation, mainly because I want there to be more mainstream info out there.  I want to see more testing, more experimentation with the potential that it has. I want it to be made very public info as opposed to something that you only see if you are in the scene. 

What’s your favorite snack when you’re high?

Ice cream.  Ice cream all the way.  I don’t care what flavor.

What is your favorite strain?

I love Chocolope.  It’s a Sativa that makes me very social, I’m calm but I’m not tired.  It’s a good strain for me. I can chill or get stuff done, or if I’m with my friends I’m not just gone. 

Budtender Spotlight: La Mota

written and photographed by Kimberly Harris

La Mota celebrates women in weed every day because the CEO Rosa Cazares supports a female dynamic within the cannabis industry by helping women grow within her company. Cazare believes femme represention is important for women to know that there is space for them within the industry. La Mota is growing quickly in Oregon with sixteen current locations and seven more on the way. 

La Mota budtenders Spencer Duke, Anastasia Langford and Jeremy Mitchell walk us through how they see the companies role in representing women within the cannabis industry. The budtenders also share different ways that they use cannabis for personal care and enjoyment.   

How does La Mota support a female dynamic within the cannabis industry?

Spencer: Rosa can be given credit for that. She always hires wonderful women who are knowledgeable. Girls are rocking it just as much as guys are in this industry. Our district manager is a female, I work with two other women and we are in the middle of hiring another lady. 

 Anastasia: I’m treated equally here because all that matters is what people bring to the table. Females are making moves in the industry by taking charge. At first I thought the industry was male-dominated, but a lot more females are becoming established within the industry. 

Jeremy: The female presents here is definitely comforting to me. I feel like a woman’s presence can bring a more sane and nurturing environment. I don’t think there’s a stipulation of what gender identity is working and growing – just as long as they’re growing good weed. 

What do you think about the feminine image that La Mota represents? 

Spencer: I feel like there are so many women who use the products that if there were only males representing it might not make females feel comfortable enough to come in – we are out here too. Women are learning, growing, teaching and medicating within the industry. 

Anastasia: La Mota celebrates women’s place within the industry. There needs to be more female representation because it’s not just guys that smoke. 

Jeremy: The public might view dispensaries as a male-dominated industry but we work in a pretty diverse community. Women could be more self-conscious to come into a dispensary so having a female owner and more women working for our company could encourage more women to open up to us and feel comfortable shopping here. 

How can cannabis help with menstrual pain? 

Spencer: Cannabis is amazing for pain – I personally use a CBD bath bomb religiously because the CBD is helpful for my menstrual cramps. I swear if I would die if I didn’t have those sometimes. 

Anastasia:I have customers who come in specifically for CBD when they’re cramping. Personally, I stick with the higher doses of CBD when I’m menstruating. It helps with my cramps and puts a little pep in my step because my period can make me feel sluggish. 

Jeremy: I can understand how cannabis helps because it alleviates stress and could take some of the pain off. I’d recommend an Indica strain to help. 

What’s a way you consume cannabis besides smoking? 

Spencer: I like topicals because the effect can ease the tension in my neck. I have a traumatic brain injury so I have a headache 24/7 and using my cannabis-infused lotion gives me relief. There are so many medicinal uses for cannabis. I have something with cannabis in it for everything. 

Anastasia: I really dig infusions. I like that there can be just about anything infused with cannabis. There are ways to make a fully medicated meal like barbeque, burgers and fries. I have a friend in California who does medicated meals on wheels and he brings medicated meals to customers.

Jeremy: Drinking it – my favorite drink is one with Adabinol, which is a syrup infused with cannabis. They use a live resin base and the high is a forceful kick. 

What’s your favorite way to enjoy cannabis?

Spencer: Blunts, I dab oil down the middle and put a pinch of flower on top of every blunt I roll. I’m a social smoker so I love rolling up a couple and passing them around. 

Anastasia: I like concentrates. I really like the crumble, the diamonds and crystals that we have here at La Mota. My favorite way to dab is out of a banger and a rig. 

Jeremy: I like to do a trifecta, which is drinking Ababinol, smoking flower and taking a dab because it gives me a nice buzz. My tolerance is so high that I have to do all three if I really want a good experience. 

Budtender Spotlight: Genevieve Auman

written and photographed by Kimberly Harris

 Genevieve Auman has been working at Spacebuds for 14 months. Sci-Fi decorations, laser colored lights and star constellations bring customers into galactic space while they buy cannabis. Within her two years of budtending, Auman focuses on helping customers find the best way to experience cannabis whether it’s for pain relief or fun.  

What made you want to be a budtender? 

I love cannabis and I love sharing knowledge, it’s my favorite part of the job. The first time I smoked my social anxiety went away, my pain went away and I experienced relief for the first time. It was life changing and I knew that this was what I wanted to do. The medical applications of cannabis are so huge.  I know friends and family members that suffer aches and pains who have experienced relief with cannabis. There’s an answer for people who are in pain and I wanted to be a part of the answer.

What was the first time you tried Cannabis?

I was hanging out with a group of friends at one of their houses and they were passing the bong around. I think I stopped coughing 10 minutes later after taking a hit. It was definitely an interesting experience, but I realized after I was done coughing that my pain was gone, my anxiety was gone and this was the medicine that I’ve been looking for. 

 What’s your favorite activity to do after using cannabis?

 I like cooking. I love getting a good case of the munchies going and cooking up some delicious food. The smells are more potent, flavors are cranked up to ten and food becomes better than it was before. Cooking is always a wonderful way to enjoy my high. 

Do you have an OLCC protocol to follow while working? 

 Everyone has to have their OLCC handlers card licensed through Oregon. It’s a gift to sell marijuana. Only half of the country is legalized at this point, and we are still waiting on the federal government to legalize it, so I believe it’s a privilege to do what I do. Marijuana in Oregon is tracked seed to sale. All products have a number assigned to it and the state of Oregon tracks those numbers through a OLCC database to know exactly where the product goes. 

What does it mean to have a license? 

 Essentially it means that I’m licensed to be behind the counter in a dispensary or work on a farm or do things with, under federal law, a schedule 1 drug that is deemed legal in Oregon. The state of Oregon has licensed me as long as I strictly follow rules and guidelines. A lot of the rules are limited to how much I can sell to someone in a day. There are categories for every product with daily limits per person to purchase. 

Do you feel it’s your obligation as a budtender to inform people?  

As a budtender, I am a point of knowledge about cannabis. I like the educational aspects of my job. I believe there’s no such thing as a stupid questions. I approach customers with “How can I help you the most?” I learn a lot by asking my own questions and having personal experience. I try to ask customers what they are looking for, what experience that they are seeking and how can I help them find it. 

What’s a rule that you think is important for customers to understand better? 

 I want to keep daily purchase limits fresh on people’s minds. It’s not that I don’t want to sell you more, it’s that I can’t. Concentrates want to be sold in bigger amounts, but state standards limit us on how much we can sell to a person. I’ve learned a lot about rules by being licensed and my own research. I recommend researching any sites with .gov links.

What is a rule that you wished customers remembered? 

Bags are for childproofing. If products don’t come in childproof packaging, a container that’s resealable, we have to put it in a bag that is up to Oregon’s standards of childproof. And secondly, budtenders have to check everyone’s ID. I can recognize if a person looks over 21 years old, but it’s a part of my job to check for a valid ID regardless. 

Budtender Spotlight: Melissa Call

What made you want to become a budtender?

I think when I first moved here I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I just wanted to live in a new area, I moved all the way from Pennsylvania.  I have a lot of friends in this area and that’s why I ended up moving here. The cannabis industry was kind of going up at the same time, it was something I was already pretty passionate about and I knew I was good at marketing.

What made you want to work at TJ’s?

I knew I’d have chances to work with plants, because TJ’s is community-based and they have their own grow. I was really interested in learning more about the grow process and how organic and no-till growing practices effect the plants versus farming methods using nutrients. They are completely no-till, and completely organic.  It takes a lot longer and there’s a lot more to deal with like bugs and pests in natural ways. I have a lot of respect for that.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I like that spread of information—like having a first-time user in their 50s come in and not know anything about cannabis, or CBD, or the health benefits of the plant. I like getting to break down those barriers that have been built up over the years. It’s nice to see them become comfortable with the products or see the products benefit them. It’s cool to watch people go on their personal journey with cannabis.

Have you been surprised by who the customers are?

I am a little bit surprised about how it’s everyone. There’s a little bit of every group in cannabis. It’s something that can benefit anyone and I think people are learning that very quickly.  

What do you think about cannabis being legalized in Oregon?  

It’s been medically legal here for so long, I think that’s benefited a lot of people. Switching over to recreational in some ways has hurt medical patients, unfortunately, and that’s really a hard thing to watch happen. But I think it’s something that could even out as people are heard. Because there is a community of medical patients that really care about that and they want to continue building on it.

Do you have a favorite strain or product?

I really like tinctures, especially for times when it’s hard to smoke. Tinctures are a great way to consume. I love the convenience of it, I love how it’s truly probably the most medical product we produce. You see the concentrated forms of cannabis, and you’re just getting the effect of it purified so much. We put it in coconut oil so it’s got a nice taste.

What would you recommend to readers?

I recommend that if you’re shopping for flower you go by farm, because it’s an easy way to guarantee you’re going to get an organically grown product. A lot of the times if you’re strain-hunting you’re going to be disappointed. Every dispensary tries to stock strains, but it’s not always good farms that grow the strains that people want. That’s always my best advice for customers—not to look at the THC, not to look at the strain name, but smell the jar, know where it’s coming from. And if it’s organic it’s going to be a higher quality.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re high?

Usually stretching. I like heavy CBD strains before yoga, it really helps your body loosen. Other than that I like hiking and watching movies. There’s all sorts of situations where it can be really fun, but I definitely like to be active.

Do you have a favorite type of music you like to listen to when you’re high?

Usually acoustic music, there’s something about string music I really like. It makes me feel happy.

When was the first time you got high?

I was a senior in high school. I was with my brother at my parent’s farm. We were by a pond, and we were smoking a joint that he rolled with some of his friends. I was about to go to college, and It was kind of his initiation — ‘you’re going to college and I want you to be prepared for things.’ So I got to have a nice comfortable experience, and it was with a family member so that was nice.


Budtender Spotlight: Katrina Johnston

How and when did you become a budtender?

I was in between a rock and a hard place, I was working mediocre jobs, and I realized, “Oh shoot, cannabis has been legal for almost a year now, what am I doing?” I got really ambitious from there. I called every single store in Eugene and asked who was hiring, but initially I did not get the job at Next Level. I was trained at The Greener Side, which is the oldest dispensary in Eugene, and the way that I was taught, numbers weren’t the focus. I was learning all about the growth process. I would spend hours cruising the computer, reading articles and talking to customers and vendors. When the industry was developing and there were so many unknowns, every day was a challenge because you had to learn how to package properly, how to hand it out and understand what weights were. But since cannabis law is always changing, there are new changes happening every 3 to 7 days, you don’t what law you might break so you have to be careful.

I was in between a rock and a hard place, I was working mediocre jobs, and I realized, “Oh shoot, cannabis has been legal for almost a year now, what am I doing?” I got really ambitious from there. I called every single store in Eugene and asked who was hiring, but initially I did not get the job at Next Level. I was trained at The Greener Side, which is the oldest dispensary in Eugene, and the way that I was taught, numbers weren’t the focus. I was learning all about the growth process. I would spend hours cruising the computer, reading articles and talking to customers and vendors. When the industry was developing and there were so many unknowns, every day was a challenge because you had to learn how to package properly, how to hand it out and understand what weights were. But since cannabis law is always changing, there are new changes happening every 3 to 7 days, you don’t what law you might break so you have to be careful.

What was it like the first time you got high?

The first time I got high, I smoked a homemade gravity bong, and I got blasted. I wasn’t scared at all, I was like this is cool — I was a much happier person. As a seasoned Oregonian, I also remember the first time I hit oil, we called it honey oil, and I remember I could not talk for 2 hours after that. When you’re young, you have all these other emotions going on and when you’re high on top of that and it can be a lot. I was young, but I was one of those people who had anxiety as a kid. I switched high schools and was having panic attacks every morning, and I ended up doing better in school after I found cannabis. It’s funny because I was an above and beyond student and I was so high a lot of the time. Cannabis is such a diverse product, that it’s not one size fits all. I’m one of those people who can do their coffee and their cannabis and then plow through shit.

How do you approach recommending a product to a customer?

That can be a really fun adventure simply because it’s an opportunity to learn. You ask yourself, what is this person like, and why might something work for them. You instantly go through your mind and think about every customer that’s been similar, so it’s like, cool, I’m in to learn something and they’re in to learn something. And it’s a win-win. We are experts simply because of our customers or else we would have nothing to gain. I have learned so many things about the world of cannabis through talking to people. I always want customers to come back and tell me how a product worked for them.

What do you look for in a strain?

It’s weird the different kinds of smells you look for depending on where you’re at in your life. Currently I absolutely love indicas. I’m looking for the body high, I’m looking to get out of my head. But I am a non-discriminate user because I believe more in the genetics effects rather than whether it’s an indica, sativa, or hybrid. Because there are so many different things going on with a plant, you can’t base your preferences off those categories because sometimes a super purple indica has me cleaning my entire fucking house. These are classification and scales that legal states have created, but there’s no universal measure, and that’s when budtending becomes really difficult.

Best part about budtending? Worst part?
Getting that real personal connection with a customer, whether it be enlightening someone who hasn’t done this before, finding something that works, or just finding someone who you connect with who wants to learn and have an open mind. And the downfall can be that so many people don’t take selling weed seriously. But learning acceptance in yourself and others is what has helped me not worry about that. Either you let it run you or you run it.

What do you think is special about Next Level Wellness?
Next Level Wellness is the best company I have worked with, and I’ve worked with plenty of other dispensaries. I wanted to work in a place where I had room to grow and Next Level is this diverse place that allows me to do that. They’re really involved in the community, they do all sorts of cool events that I get to be a part of.

Favorite way to consume?
If I didn’t have asthma, I prefer flower all day every day. The effects of a flower are just so pure that when you do all these other things with it, it gets lost. Right now, my favorite way to consume is edibles. I’ve been digging macarons.

What’s one stereotype about cannabis users that isn’t true?
Who uses cannabis. We’re having a lot of the elderly community come in, who grew up with Reefer Madness, asking what they can take in place of opioids for many reasons. It’s really amazing to be a part of that because you’ve opened somebody’s eyes to something that they would have never ever considered and it can help them. Selling weed is really fun, but working with people you know you know you’re helping is the whole fun.

What’s your favorite activity to do while high?

My favorite thing to do is a have a good conversation where everybody’s laughing. I like being comedic and doing improv and creating crazy stories with my brilliant friends. And there’s nothing better than laughing your hardest and purest. Everybody has their version of That 70’s Show that they remember, sitting in a circle with their friends — because you can’t not be in a circle. Stoners are always in a circle, man.

Favorite thing to munch on while high?
Typically candy always. But there is nothing better than a burrito. My favorite thing to do on my day off was what I call, Sundazed and Confused. Every Sunday I would get a burrito, watch Dazed and Confused, and get stoned.

What accessory or paraphernalia do you like to use?
This bong that has an electric nail that stays at a certain temperature all the time. That way you get a better flavor profile, and since I can’t smoke flower anymore, it allows me to get the full benefits from that plant. It makes me feel one step higher in the cannabis world.
When you’re not here, what might you be doing?
There’s nothing more that I enjoy in this world than making a meal for a group of people. I bake very well, and I also like cooking. Cannabis bring people together and so do meals. You’re required to just sit and enjoy your food and nobody strays away from that moment. You talk about life and you get to enjoy a meal.

Budtender Spotlight: Malik Patterson

words and photos by Julio Jaquez

Malik Patterson, a 21 year old San Bernardino native who came to Eugene to study at the University of Oregon, was a student and a budtender at Cannabliss and Co. It wasn’t until after high school that Patterson was first introduced to marijuana. As an athlete of the San Bernardino track and football team, using marijuana as a recreational substance never crossed his mind. Knowing that both of the sports he played required healthy lungs, Patterson wasn’t interested in slowing himself down.  “I didn’t really know I was that good.” explained Patterson, describing the skill on the field that came so easily to him.

Patterson stopped playing sports after high school, and figured that since he wasn’t playing, he would give recreational marijuana a chance. “It was great, that’s when I was like ok, I see what everyone is talking about,” Patterson said.

Patterson says that after he smoked for the first time, he understood why everyone was raving about marijuana. His first high was pleasant.  “It’s a stress reliever,” Patterson said, “and this high is something that I can control.”

Three weeks after this first high, Patterson experienced another first: a seizure on the mall escalator that ignited his interest in the medical benefits of marijuana. With no previous history of having seizures, Patterson was caught off guard. Still to this day, Patterson is grateful for help of bystanders and a medic who stabilized him and transported him to the hospital. After waking up from a seizure-induced blackout, Patterson woke up in a hospital bed.

While he was being diagnosed, Patterson realized that his urine was going to be tested. He knew THC would show up in his system and his mother would find out he had gotten high. So he confessed.  To his surprise, his mother simply replied, “You started smoking later than I did so I can’t be mad at you.” Patterson was diagnosed with epilepsy that day, and after that he and his mother began to research and inform themselves about his condition.

Patterson’s diagnosis inspired a new interest in medical marijuana. Patterson learned that marijuana contains cannabidiol (CBD), a substance in cannabis that can help control seizures in some people with epilepsy, and also reduce anxiety. In addition to using marijuana to help with his seizures and anxiety, Patterson also smokes marijuana to get high and take time to reflect on his life and the his expectations he has for himself.

   Patterson’s s interest in the cannabis industry continued to blossom after moving to Eugene, OR. “It’s a whole different thing when it comes to the sale of marijuana here,” says Malik when comparing the difference of prices of marijuana in Eugene to his hometown, San Bernardino. “This is probably the cheapest place you’ll ever find weed in all of America,” Patterson said. With various dispensaries around Eugene offering relatively affordable $60 ounces, Patterson couldn’t really believe the cheap prices.

Not only did Patterson’s arrival to Eugene mean an  introduction to cheaper marijuana, it also brought a change in priority. Coming to the University of Oregon meant the acceptance of brand new responsibilities and a different way of life. As the pressures rose in college, Malik began to experience seizures more often than before. He realized that his seizures were connected to the increase of stress that came with school.

After working in the corporate world as secretary for roughly two years and feeling less than himself, Patterson decided to step in a different direction and join the ranks of the cannabis industry.  Now working for Cannabliss and Co. Patterson enjoys his new position. He works at the front desk, and he continues to develop his budtending skills. For Patterson, budtending is more than just taking flower, weighing it, and handing it to the customer. Patterson says the distribution and weighing process of budtending is one of the most precise things he’s done.With more and more experience, Patterson gradually continues to work more shifts behind the counter. As a consistent smoker and connoisseur of both CBD and THC heavy strains, Patterson is happy with where he is, and says that marijuana has helped him to take full control of his life.  Patterson now feels he is in a better place than when he first arrived to Eugene. His ability to handle the daily stressors that are thrown at him is stronger, and and continues to feel more like himself.

Budtender Spotlight: Bridget Gavin of River Valley Remedies

How and when did you become a budtender?

I started out in April of 2015 working for Joe and Chelsea Hopkins at The Greener Side. Bloom Hill Botanicals, my family’s cannabis farm, provided The Greener Side with some flower and I jumped at the opportunity to work one-on-one with patients. I’m indescribably grateful for them and the opportunity to work as a budtender just as adult-use legalization became a reality in Oregon. I wanted to broaden my experience within the cannabis industry, and because of that I’ve worked with several different brands. Over time, I took positions at Cannabliss’ the Sorority House and Green Health. All the while, I was still actively a part of Bloom Hill Botanicals. I finally found my fit for budtending in River Valley Remedies, and I really feel as though I’ve won the employment lottery working here.

What was it like the first time you got high?

I felt all the constantly incoming stimuli from my anxiety suddenly become very orderly and manageable. I was in a safe space with people I trusted. Because I grew up in the area, the cannabis was a really good quality too. It was like I went from staring at a Jackson Pollock to a fractal. Everything had a lot more order to it.

What’s one funny or weird customer interaction you’ve had?

I once had an older gentleman ask me where my ruderalis was at because all the real growers knew that was the best stuff out there. Ruderalis is another taxonomy of cannabis, like indica or sativa, and it’s usually associated with high fiber and low cannabinoid output.

How do you approach recommending a product to a customer?

Questions, questions, questions! I start by genuinely asking them how their day is going. Making the consumer feel welcome and connected with is essential to getting honest answers to questions relating to cannabis and how and why they use it. What’s your desired effect is probably the question I ask most behind the counter. Some consumers will have really specific end results they’re looking for and some are just looking for the current staff favorite. Budtending often requires unpacking incomplete information a consumer picked up online or from prohibition area, so getting to know the consumers baseline is really important. It all starts with being an engaged listener.

What’s one stereotype about cannabis users that’s true? What’s one that’s false?

If working in weed has taught me anything, it’s that the only guaranteed commonality between cannabis users is that they use cannabis. The people I get to help in a day represent such a wide array of life experiences I don’t think that there’s a particular stereotype that rings true for all or even most of them.

What do you look for in a strain?

Mostly smell. When I’m on the consumer side of the counter, I’m the person who wants to smell every jar. I also like to look into the producer and the genetic lineage of the strain. If a strain has a terpene profile available to look at that is always a huge plus for me. I make a note to look out for that producer at other shops in the future.

What’s special about this shop?

Education! There is a constant push for education of our staff which leads to education and empowerment of for our consumers. We aren’t just looking to push you into the trendiest product or highest THC. We really want you to be in control of your experience and getting the most out of using cannabis. Looking at cannabis not just as a single active ingredient but a medicinally beneficial plant containing thousands of compounds is at the heart of understanding cannabis’ full potential.

Best part about the job? Worst part?

I think the answer to both questions is the same, the people. Getting to know and help so many people is deeply rewarding; however, because cannabis is such a life-changing substance for people, the stories they share can be very emotional and even draining at times. However, hearing about someone being able to manage the side effects of their chemotherapy or the symptoms of their MS makes all of the emotional investment worth it.

Favorite way to consume?

I love a good clean bong rip, although a joint is my method of choice when in a group. I also have a medicine cabinet full of tinctures. The founder of Sativa Science Club, Mary Jane Poppins, has talked about how tinctures capture a particular strain at a particular harvest in a way that preserves it well for future enjoyment and I couldn’t agree more. Tinctures can almost be akin to vintages of wine in that way.

What’s your favorite munchie food or favorite thing to do while high?

My favorite activity for partaking is probably playing my ukulele or knitting. I really like to get creative when consuming.

What accessory or paraphanelia do you like to use?

My bong and I have been together for a while.

When I’m not here, I’m…

Usually helping out at Bloom Hill. When I finally get a moment away from the cannabis world I like to get my loved ones together for a nice meal.

Are you high right now?

Not necessarily, although I did take my CBD capsule this morning. It’s like my multivitamin, I try to never forget it.

 

Budtender Spotlight: Tyler Banks

How and when did you become a budtender?

It was the summer of 69… Wait, scratch that! That was the moon landing… albeit how I became a budtender did feel like a story that was written in the stars. It was a mystically magical combination of waiting, timing, and experience. Some longtime friends came to me with a job offer and an idea to open a dispensary. Moss hadn’t even been born, still a twinkle in their eyes, yet I knew this was going to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Two and a half years later I’m still working the most emotionally rewarding job I’ve ever had to pleasure of partaking in. My skill set of working in all avenues of customer service, for 17 years, had really paid off.

What was it like the first time you got high?

I’ll never forget that first time I got high. My step-brother and I felt it necessary to venture as far away from the house as physically possible. Once we made it to the other side of the pond on my parents property, we sat behind a tree, fired up my new Zippo, and sparked a party bowl big enough to get 10 people high! I can still remember the sensory combination of lighter fuel and ditch weed terps. We coughed our lungs out, every hit, and proceeded to space walk our way back to the house. Time slowed way down, my body felt extremely heavy, and we managed to polish off an entire box of strawberry shortcake popsicles. I blasted off to another world with my new best friend, Mary Jane.

What’s one funny or weird customer interaction you’ve had?

You never know when they’ll strike, but as soon as they ask you a question, and don’t wait for a response, you know you’ve entered the Twilight Zone! No matter how much information you provide, all they can hear are their own thoughts. I dub them the “thinking out-loud” customer. Most of the time my silence can snap them back into reality, and we find something they didn’t even know they wanted. Win win! I get a lesson in patience, and they get a solid recommendation.

How do you approach recommending a product to a customer?

I’ve found that it’s a two way street. I like to begin by asking a few questions of my own. “What time of day do you like to consume? How would you rate your tolerance to Cannabis? Are you looking for any specific effects?” Gathering information about a customer gives me a head start to effectively finding something I think they’ll enjoy. Because strains react differently to each person, I try my best to ask enough questions, not to overwhelm, but to ease them into making their own decisions.

What’s one stereotype about cannabis users that’s true?

What’s one that’s false?

Can they find joy in the simplest things? TRUE! My Cannabis of choice soothes inflammation and pain, slows down my thought patterns, and mellows the mind enough to truly enjoy the little things in life. Not the annoying little things, the magnificent eccentricities that get lost in our hyper analysis of the world around us. Take some time to slow down and appreciate the sloths pace for a change. What more can I say? The sloth life chose me.

Do all Cannabis users like watching Bob Ross? FALSE! Not all stoners enjoy the soothing sound of his voice, the way he creates something from nothing, life lessons taught via “happy little trees”, and squirrel buddy shenanigans. On second thought, I take it back! Everyone, stoner on not, loves Bob Ross.

What do you look for in a strain?

Terpenes. More often than not, if I enjoy the smell of a strain, I’m going to enjoy the taste and effects. My relationship with the Cannabis plant and this process, has not led me astray. I do tend to lean towards a more mellowing mood, so terpenes like Caryophyllene and Linolol are some smell profiles I seek out.

What’s special about this shop?

Moss Crossing is not only a soothing place to chat it up and buy a blunt, it’s a hub for information, and a springboard for squashing stigmas. They value our opinions, treat us with equality, and nurture a compassionate environment that enables us to approach the day with patients and kindness towards whomever walks in the door. Also the laid back vibe and decor of the shop won a DOPE Magazine Industry Award for the “Best Atmosphere” in all of Oregon! Stop by, if not for some education, just to say HIGH and see what we’re all about.

Best part about the job?

Worst part?

Best: The people! Experiencing first hand how Cannabis is benefiting a customers daily life is one of the most rewarding things about being in this industry, and that’s just the customer side of things. My co-workers, the owners, vendors, growers, extractors, bakers, crafters, so many wonderful people involved in making Oregon one of the BEST States to find something safe to consume! We are one of the few states that requires ALL products to be free of pesticides and mold via rigorous analytical testing. Go Oregon! Keep’n it green!

Favorite way to consume?

The best way to consume is to find what works best for your lifestyle. I’d say my favorite way to consume is the “combination method”. I start most days with a baseline level of Cannabis derived CBD, taken in a tincture or mint, to squash any pain or inflammation I’m experiencing. I have some screws and hardware in my femur from a car accident I was in a number of years ago, so CBD’s have become a big part of my herbal treatment. Then, depending on what day it is, I generally get my THC sometime in the mid to late afternoon with a gummie, chocolate, or infused beverage. I usually save my smoking rituals for the evening time with a hit of the bong, Hemp wrapped Moss Crossing rolled blunt, or CO2 oil vape pen. Ultimately I don’t dislike any of the methods of consumption, so I do tend to mix things up if I’m feeling fancy.

What’s your favorite munchie food or favorite thing to do while high?

Favorite munchie? Salty and sweet, or anything crunchy, and chocolate. Yeah, chocolate.

Favorite thing to do while high? Playing mentally challenging games. Something like “Cards Against Humanity” is a great balance of social interaction and sparks my mind enough to enjoy cleverly crafting a properly inappropriate winning card. I also thoroughly enjoy zoning out to nature documentaries, making abstract art while listening to psych rock, playing kickball, and brainstorming the answer to the universe. So far I think it might be 42.

What accessory or paraphanelia do you like to use?

Hempwick has quickly become one of my favorite accessories. It enhances the smoking experience by removing butane from the inhalation equation, and allows for a more accurate sensory experience. No fuel equals more natural flavor. Just make sure you’ve fully extinguished your hempwick between uses. My favorite paraphernalia has got to be the Launch Box from Magic Flight. It’s a dried herb vaporizer that has a lifetime warranty, numerous accessory upgrades like: a grinder that fits perfectly on top to funnel herb right in, a water bubbler that attaches with a hookah hose, and a home use cord that plugs into a wall outlet so you don’t have to drain the batteries. It is the most simplistic portable flower vaporizer on the market. #availableatmosscrossing 😉

When I’m not here, I’m…

Lucidly traversing a dreamscape created by my subconscious mind OR discovering a new band I had no idea I couldn’t live without.

Are you high right now?

Yes indeedy.