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Budtender Spotlight: Melissa

Name: Melissa

Melissa

From: Washougal, Washington

Weed history: “I only smoked at parties until recently, when I started at The Herbery. I love that weed can make you more energetic and happy.”

Favorite strains: Kush Face from Doc & Yeti (“I love the super strong body high – and the head high is also great. It’s just happy, happy stuff.”), Blue Dream from Legends, Golden Pineapple from Phat Panda (“That’s always a fun high.”).

Customer support: “I love people with good attitudes – well, I love everybody really, as long as they’re open and understanding. And there are so many more people like that in this industry, it’s just great.”

Weirdest thing about you: “I’ve broken 28 bones. I’m just really active. I’ve fallen down a waterfall and broken three ribs, I broke my right thumb seven times. It’s always something – tether ball, gymnastics, ice skating – anything I can do to get out there. But I always seem to end up in a cast.”

She also fears zebras!

“I got bit by a zebra at a petting zoo,” she said with a laugh. “It bit me in the rib when I was about 10, and I had a huge bruise. I wasn’t supposed to pet it so I was afraid to tell my mom after. And now I’m terrified of zebras. It really was a traumatic event.”

Where do you want to be in five years: “I want to be a veterinarian,” she said. “I love animals so much (with the possible exception of zebras). I plan to go to school for that soon. But I also love being in this industry. I’d be perfectly happy if I was still here at The Herbery, honestly.”

Video Introduction:

Grower Spotlight: Nettles Unlimited (Rikk James Premium Cannabis)

Grower: Nettles Unlimited (Rikk James Premium Cannabis)

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Location: Spokane Valley, Washington

Owner: Rikk James (Fiala)

How did you get into this industry: “I opened a (medical) dispensary in Washington back around 2008, 2009, but it ended up on the shutdown list,” Fiala said. “From there, I decided it would be better to just run a collective garden, which I did until recreational legalization came along. After that I decided I’d rather join them than fight them, so I applied for a grower license – and here I am.”

What sets your farm apart from others: “We offer clean, quality cannabis,” Fiala said. “We make sure our products are flushed properly and we pay close attention to every detail. We don’t grow as big as some other farms so that we can produce higher quality cannabis and spend more time caring for each plant.”

Lighting method: High Pressure Sodium (HPS) full spectrum lights.

Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor grower, tier 2.

1394765_origPesticides: “We haven’t used pesticides in a long time, but we did use Azamax for a while,” Fiala said. “We’ve since developed a little secret where we don’t have to use that or other pesticides anymore.”

Soil/Growth medium: Coco fiber

Signature strains: Channel #5, Willie Nelson, Pineapple Express, Pineapple Skunk, Dragon Crack (“It tastes like Fruity Pebbles,” Fiala said proudly), ADAk (a cross of ATF and AK-47 which he calls “Our most flavorful strain. That’s the fire.”).

Other strains or products of note: “We just bought a rosin press, and we’ll be coming out with our Rikk James Rosin line very soon,” Fiala said.

What would you like to see next as the industry evolves: “I’d like to see cannabis federally descheduled,” Fiala said. “Completely descheduling it would be awesome. But certainly at least rescheduling it – it’s not more dangerous than heroin, that’s a ridiculous claim.”

Grower Spotlight: Golden Leaf

Grower: Golden Leaf

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Location: Benton City, Washington

Owner: Ryan Sanderson

How did you get into this industry: “Since I was 18 years old (he’s 40 now) I’ve been a cannabis consumer and a grower,” Sanderson said. “It’s just something I’ve done for my entire life. I feel lucky to have been able to get into the industry.”

Sanderson grew up in Benton City, but moved to California in the late 1990s to grow for that state’s legal medical marijuana system. He returned to his hometown in Washington about eight years later and became a medical grower. And when Washington legalized recreational cannabis, he jumped at the chance to get into the industry, he said.

What sets your farm apart from others: “I’ve been growing on the same site for at least 10 years,” Sanderson said. “We’re doing this as naturally as possible. Natural soil, natural land. We’re not going out and growing in pots. We grow our plants in a natural environment to be as healthy as possible.”

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“This is perfect farming country, too,” Sanderson added. “We’re one of the top places in the country for growing hops for beer and grapes for wine. and cannabis is actually closely related to hops. So it’s a perfect location.”

Lighting method: Sunshine! The eastern Washington location gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Sanderson said.

Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor grower, tier 3. (they use about 18,000 square feet of that space, with room to expand).

Pesticides: “We haven’t used any yet,” Sanderson said.

The company is experimenting with trap plants and some other natural options to fight pests, he added.

Soil/Growth medium: Natural soil with a compost mix that includes soil enhancers.

“Our compost mix is all plant material – we don’t use anything with animal waste,” he added. “It’s all-natural.”

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Signature strains: Kaia (a Sativa hybrid of Super Silver Haze and OG Kush) and 707 Sour Diesel.

Other strains or products of note: “My other favorite product right now is our CBD-oils,” Sanderson said. “We have some at The Herbery right now. They’re just so well balanced, and it’s a relatively new area for us.”

What would you like to see next as the industry evolves: “I would like to see everybody get a fair shake,” Sanderson said. “Right now I hear some of the larger firms are starting to dominate and buy up many smaller farms. It’s a tough industry to get started in. We’re doing fine, but I’d like to see other small farmers get a chance to join in, and not see it turn into only dominant large farms.”

Grower Spotlight: Phat Panda

Grower: Phat Panda

(The Herbery crew visits Phat Panda!)

(The Herbery crew visits Phat Panda!)

Location: Spokane Valley, Washington

Owner: Robert McKinley, CEO, Johnny Wilson, vice president. (The interview below is with Johnny Wilson)

How did you get into this industry: “My best friend (McKinley) from high school asked me if I wanted to go in on a business project,” Wilson said. “He’s never smoked weed in his life, but he’s a guy who knows how to run a business very well.”

Wilson, on the other hand, is an avid long-time smoker. He said he jumped at the chance to join the fledgling industry.

“I’ve been smoking a good long time, maybe 20 years,” Wilson said. “We grow top shelf cannabis. And what we really want our company to be about is relationships, customers, great products and transparency.”

What sets your farm apart from others: “The obvious thing is our branding, but there’s more to us than that,” Wilson said. “Our facility, for instance, is top notch. We have maximum light penetration, extremely clean production and amazing quality. Our people are also some of the best in the business.”

(Phat Panda Golden Pineapple in flower)

(Phat Panda Golden Pineapple in flower)

Beyond that, the company also prides itself on its strain genetics, he said.

“We had, when we came into I-502, a really strong focus on genetics, and on tracking down very solid stable genetics,” Wilson said.

As an example, he noted the company’s popular Golden Pineapple strain – it’s a strain that was developed for medical use in Southern Oregon. The company looked at several similar strains prior to startup, but the genetics of that particular Golden Pineapple was superior – and the flavor is consistently amazing, Wilson said.

Lighting method: High pressure sodium.

Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor grower, tier 3. “We’re the first indoor facility tier 3 to be completely built out – at least I’m 99 percent sure of that.”

The company started with 16 rooms, and now has 26 of them – with 29,550 feet of canopy space.

Pesticides: “We do use pesticides, but they’re all state compliant and we only use them as needed. Trace Analytics just did an independent pesticide test of our products and we passed with no residuals.”

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Soil/Growth medium: Coco Coir

Signature strains: OG Chem, Golden Pineapple, P91 F?#K Yeah, Platinum Girl Scout Cookies, Bubba’s Gift, Gorilla Glue.

Other strains or products of note: “Keep an eye out for ‘Hot Sugar’ – that’s our new line of edibles, and ‘Panda Pens’ – which is our new line of vapes. They’ll be in stores very soon!”

What would you like to see next as the industry evolves: “I would like everybody to learn what terpenes are, and also to know why THC percentage isn’t the best way to pick a cannabis strain, because terpenes and other cannabinoids play such an important role.”

Budtender Spotlight: Lyn Mullen

Name: Lyn Mullen

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From: Manchester, England (but she’s been in the U.S. for a long time)

Weed history: “I’ve been smoking since I was 14. I just always knew it was something for me. It just makes me feel normal.”

Favorite strains: Indicas of all stripe – “I love, love, love indicas!”

Particularly, she likes Bear OG from Cascadia Gardens, Chem Dawg from Cedar Creek Cannabis, Alien Dawg from Doc & Yeti and NYC Diesel (a sativa) from Golden Leaf.

Customer support: “I think older customers can relate a little more to me because I’m older as well. I also love sharing cannabis recipes with customers.”

Weirdest thing about you: “I do community theater at Magenta here in Vancouver. I love everything about it. Musicals are my favorites. I love to sing!”

Where do you want to be in five years: “I’m very happy in this industry. It’s been a good change. I was a paraeducator for special needs kids before this. In comparison, this is a breeze!”

Video Introduction:

Budtender Spotlight: Kenny Kennedy

Name: Kenny Kennedy

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From: Grew up in Florida, moved to Portland 15 years ago.

Weed history: “I originally smoked a Skunk strain when I was 13 in South Florida and really just enjoyed it – and I continued to do so through my military career.”

Kenny was in the Army from 2002 to 2010, and served two tours in Iraq. He also uses cannabis to treat his PTSD, he said.

“It takes my mind off things and helps me sleep. Cannabis really is amazing stuff.”

Favorite strains: Chem Dawg and OG Kush from Cedar Creek Cannabis. “I love Cedar Creek. They’ve always been one of my favorite go-to growers for indoor. It’s consistent and it’s always good.

He’s also a big fan of Phat Panda, and he likes Golden Leaf for outdoor grown cannabis.

Customer support: “I love all types of customers. I love the old Vietnam vets and older folks, especially. I just really like to help people. Anyone who’s got a smile – and if they don’t have a smile I’m going to give them one!”

Weirdest thing about you: “Probably the weirdest thing is I love driving to work. I live about 24 miles away, and I get really happy and excited about coming in. I hate leaving actually, too. I almost get a tear when I leave. And I love every second of my drive in. For it being called a job to me is weird. I just love being here.”

Where do you want to be in five years: “I plan on retiring out of this industry one day and maybe opening a shop of my own at some point. But I’m really happy where I am, too.”

Video Introduction:

Budtender Spotlight: Sarah Davila

Name: Sarah Davila

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From: Forest Grove, Oregon

Weed history: “Friends got me started when I was about 16. I’ve smoked ever since. Well, I quit twice – but not for very long. Mostly those were tolerance breaks.”

“My favorite thing about pot is the usefulness. I used to just smoke because I was bored or wanted to get messed up. But learning about all the different strains, and all the different things they do has been eye opening. And so as I’ve matured I’ve become more like a walking Leafly. I love the medical aspects of the plant and I can’t wait until we get our medical license this summer so I can tell our customers more about the medical properties of marijuana.”

Favorite strains: “Phat Panda, hands down, is my favorite grower. I especially like their Ape Hanger – it’s a super balanced hybrid, so it does whatever you want it to do.”

Also Lavender, which she uses personally for stress and sinus congestion, and Girl Scout Cookies, which she personally uses for migraines, and because it tastes good.

 

Customer support: “My coworkers often refer older customers, or customers with issues that are looking for particular strain recommendations. I like going beyond just recommendations for the highest THC strain.”

Weirdest thing about you: “I’m fluent in American Sign Language. We have a few deaf customers who come in here and it’s just great to be able to talk to them. I had a deaf friend in high school, so I ended up taking all the language and other classes to better understand and communicate with her.”

Where do you want to be in five years: “I want to be here doing the exact same thing I’m doing now. I love what I do. And The Herbery is a fantastic place to work.”

Video Introduction:

Budtender Spotlight: Mason Davila

Name: Mason Davila

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From: Ontario, Oregon

Weed history: “I’ve been smoking weed for a very, very long time. I think the first time I smoked I snuck into my mom’s room when she was asleep and smoked a roach she had in her ashtray. I’ve been smoking ever since.”

“I ended up here at the Herbery because I went shopping at the main store, loved it, and decided to apply. Now here I am.”

Favorite strains: Anything from Phat Panda, particularly Bubba’s Gift. Also The Holy Grail from Cascadia Gardens, and anything from Cedar Creek Cannabis. “Cedar Creek, it’s always consistent. I love their OG Kush.”

“I tend to like indicas because I like to get stoned, and that’s what they do. Sometimes I also like indica-dominant hybrids.”

Customer support: “I love working with everyone. I can identify with anybody. If you treat everyone like a friend, you can really help them – and find them some great weed.”

Weirdest thing about you: “I have a newfound love for sushi. I lived in a small Oregon town most of my life and they didn’t have any sushi. I moved to Portland not long ago and tried it. I love it. And I love that Portland has so many options for sushi lovers.”

Where do you want to be in five years: “There is nothing else that I want to do in my career other than be in the legal marijuana industry. I could be working right here at the Herbery forever, and be just fine with that. I love budtending. It’s what I’ve always done and hope I always will do.”

Video Introduction:

Budtender Spotlight: James Gerlack

Name: James Gerlack

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From: “Born and raised, Vancouver, Washington!”

Weed history: “I had an older sister, and her friends – I looked up to them. First time I smoked I was 12 years old, and I’ve smoked ever since. I’ve always had a passion for it. My first paycheck actually went to a 4-foot glass bong.”

“Once it became legal in Washington, it was definitely a dream come true. I was working full time in construction and I actually met Jim (the Herbery’s chief operating officer) at the door when I first came in and it was just great. I got the job here and I love it.”

Favorite strains: Golden Pineapple from Phat Panda, OG Kush and Chem Dawg from Cedar Creek Cannabis, Buffalo Bill from Doc & Yeti, Cheese from Going Green.

“I also love Fairwinds as a company. Their CBD tincture, I’ve been using that with a relative who’s going through chemo, and they’ve felt almost no side effects from the chemo with it. The cancer levels in the blood also dropped, although that may be from the chemo rather than the CBD. Fairwinds makes some great products, and in the future (this summer after Washington cannabis companies get their medical designations) I think they’ll put out some great medical products. You can just tell they have a real passion for that.”

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Customer support: “I love customers that want to learn, ask questions and understand new information. We’re all learning new things every day, and I really love customers that want to learn with me. I don’t want to ever give out false information. I think ‘I don’t know’ or ‘let’s find out’ is a fine answer.”

Weirdest thing about you: “I was a lead singer for 10 years in a band called ‘A Tale Through Audio’ – it was alternative rock. We toured all around the area, but we didn’t get where we wanted to before we all had kids.”

“Another interesting thing, we live in a tiny house, and it’s awesome. It has two lofts, and it’s only 200 square feet. It cost us under $10,000 to build.”

Where do you want to be in five years: “I would love to be on the product side of things – product manager – once we grow. I’d love to be out in the field, meeting growers, negotiating deals.”

Video Introduction:

Budtender Spotlight: Josh Werner

Name: Josh Werner

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From: Vermillion, Ohio (Moved to Vancouver in 2014) “I moved here with my girlfriend, who works at Fat Head’s Brewery in Portland.”

Weed history: “I’ve been smoking exactly half of my life (he’s 28), almost to the day. It was a month after my 14th birthday – the 4th of July. I remember it exactly. Let’s just say I was influenced by some older friends. But I found that it was a natural remedy for my ADHD – so I kept going.”

Favorite strains: Sour Diesel and all the Haze strains. At the shop his favorites are Gorilla Glue and Dirty Girl from Cascadia Gardens, and Super Lemon Haze from NW Custom Chronic.

Customer support: “I love all of our customers. That’s why I’m here. I was a bartender for eight years – so if you want somebody used to talking to people from all walks of life, that’s me!”

Weirdest thing about you: “I can freak people out with my knowledge of music. I know a little bit of everything. I can quote the most hardcore rap and then switch to things like Cat Stevens or Bing Crosby.”

Where do you want to be in five years: “I’m here for the long haul. I see myself with The Herbery, wherever the company needs me to be.”

Video Introduction: