Budtender Bios: Gregory
Meet Gregory: educator, seasoned connoisseur, bar-graph illustrator extraordinaire, and the Farma nominee for Willamette Week’s 2019 Best Budtender award. Gregory keeps immaculate, hand-drawn records (the proverbial Terpene Book) of every terpene profile in the case, and he’s the reason our customers– and let’s be real, our staff too– get so excited to look at lab reports, numbers and acronyms all day long.
Q: How long have you been using cannabis?
A: For most of my adult life I was grateful to the neighbor’s grow or the sandwich baggie of shake that occasionally found its way to me, however since recreational went legal I’ve let myself indulge more. In this age of information and consent it’s new all over again.
Q: What got you into it?
A: The feeling of enlightenment got me into it. Seeing the benefits of cannabinoids keeps me in it. I love the way it alters my perceptions and shifts my consciousness. My creativity and inquisitive nature is more engaged, I see connections and beauty. I feel gratitude more broadly. My glass is always half-full.
Q: How long have you been a budtender?
A: 2 times around the sun.
Q: What are some difficulties?
A: Dealing with the stigma that’s been made around cannabis; it’s the elephant in the room. It keeps a lot of good people from starting healthy relationships with cannabis on their own terms, or from even daring to come into a dispensary. While the stigma is lifting in some places, it’s entrenched in others, and the devil is in the doubt. Learning to speak about a palate of molecules that we’re just beginning to understand, to a variety of people, who each have a unique context and subjective reality with clear and memorable descriptions, without making false medical claims… that’s a challenge. It’s a good one though.
Q: What do you do at Farma? Any special role?
A: I’m a budtender (a weird title for the job) and I help manage the dispensary. I consider myself a sommelier of sorts, and an educator. I’d like to think I’m the guy people bring their mom to when she’s in town. Specifically, I also maintain a terpene menu book at Farma. Taken from the lab results, I hand draw colorful bar graphs for the terpene contents of each of the chemovars in our case. It’s a book I originally made to help us budtenders keep track of all these details, but it’s also turned into a fun educational feature with customers. It feels good to see people getting excited about terpenes, making better decisions, and learning about themselves through this.
Q: What do you like about your job?
A: The people! And of course, the homework. 😉
Q: What did you do before getting into the cannabis industry?
A: I had always wanted to be a teacher. After years of teaching English in Italy and Japan, I returned to Portland to get certified and work in the kindergarten/elementary side of Waldorf schools. While I put myself through school I worked at New Seasons. For nearly a decade I was a cashier there, loved the customers, loved the neighborly interactions. I was the guy excited for Senior day. I was the guy who had the flying squirrel hand-puppet and would engage the young ones for a joke.
Q: What made you want to get into the cannabis industry?
A: My love for people got me into cannabis. And then, with legalization, I began taking detailed notes tracking my own experiences and fleshing out what might be useful and insightful metrics. Designing a system for myself got me even more curious about cannabis and what it could mean. I believe cannabis is even better when we know ourselves and it’s on us individually to decide how it’s going to play in our lives. It’s an exciting time.
Q: What’s so special about Farma?
A: That we actually care. We’re a diverse constellation at Farma, and each contribute something. It’s a small enough team to have a family feel. Everyone there matters and it’s easy to shine. I learn things from my coworkers all the time.
Q: What’s your favorite way to consume cannabis?
A: I’m a devout dry herb vaporizer. The Arizer solo is my go to. The more gentle temperature rise and the layered flavors really work for me. The ability to adjust temperatures gives me a way to play with terpenes and the nuances I can get.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do while high?
A: I enjoy playing piano, drawing, working out, cooking… I stay engaged. Though I occasionally enjoy “armchair lock” engaged in a conversation, a creative project, or with a book, being outdoors is more my normal. Taking walks and exploring the PNW’s green corners is where I often have the best experiences. Moments of wonder, insight and perspective make me happy.
Q: Any favorite terpenes?
A: Pinene and limonene, together and/or alone do it for me. I like the bright clarity that comes with them. However I’ve come to see terpenes as the players, understanding the effect is like gauging the energy of a room during a party, we have to look at the way they relate. Exploring the nuances and staying open to them all is fun to me. I like having all the Terps at the party. And more lovely linalool please.
Q: Favorite minor cannabinoids?
A: CBG. I’m excited that neurogenesis may be another possibility soon.
Q: Preferred cannabis type (I, II, III) or ratio?
A: Type-I for me, if vaporizing flower. Though I prefer the balanced type-II ratios for edibles.
Q: Favorite non-flower product (and why)?
A: Herban Tribe’s orange juice. It’s a limonene party! I like to make ice cubes with it. The effect is especially bright, social, and heart-opening.
Q: Describe a dear memory of using cannabis.
A: I’ve had many great moments using cannabis but a truly great moment happened sober just when rec went legal. I noticed that week that we all joked more about it openly. We didn’t have access to it at that point, but already there was a lifting of drama and shame. Knowing it wasn’t a crime, we could laugh about it, out loud, increasingly less sneakishly. The erosion of transgression felt freeing. I began having more fun moments with co workers, friends, and neighbors.
Q: What is popular misconception about budtending that you can mythbust?
A: That more THC is better a high. It’s not for many. Like with alcohol, there will always be those who go hard on it, but most of us will find our relationship with it and learn what actually feels best.
Q: What do you think is the most important skill a budtender can have?
A: To stay curious and humble: with these first glimmers of scientific research, we need to know ourselves and be ready to adjust and update our understanding of cannabis constantly. And show responsible use is really possible.