Budtender Bios: Jelena
Meet Jelena, Farma’s Head of Education and editor in chief of Farma’s cannabis science blog. You can also find her written work all over the Internet including Project CBD. We might be a little biased, however, Jelena is one of our favorite cannabis writers on the West Coast.
If she is not buried in her laptop, working non-stop, pumping out content about our favorite plant, you might observe her in the wild; attending a local concert, practicing the drums, or bouldering. She loves cooking and her favorite style incorporates recipes from Croatia, where her family currently resides. She makes incredible sarme!
As Farma’s Head of Education she is dedicated to continuing our mission of improving people’s lives with cannabis through research and science. Beyond contributing to Farma’s continued employee training, she also revived Farma’s biweekly Employee EDU program, which hosts stellar guest speakers from all over the cannabis industry.
She is always quick with a joke or ready to share a dank meme. Her humor and positivity is inspiring and her laugh is infectious! She’s a rising star and we are so excited to see everything that she is going to accomplish. We are so thankful for her tireless efforts.
Q: What do you do at Farma? (any special role?)
A: I’m Farma’s current Head of Education, since Andrea left us to do amazing things as the science editor at GIE Media in Ohio. Essentially, my job boils down to being a project manager for weed education; I create staff training/education materials, organize weekly education meetings, read and sort through cannabis research and share findings with the team, manage the Farma blog, and am also working on a really fun project with one of my team members making educational brochures for all things cannabis.
Q: What did you do before getting into the cannabis industry?
A: Before getting into the cannabis industry I worked random service industry jobs while going to college. I went to school at PSU for International Studies with a focus on Eastern Europe, and pretty much my entire life I thought I would go to law school and eventually pursue a career in international diplomacy. Much to the chagrin of my parents, that didn’t really pan out.
For my senior thesis I wrote about propaganda in the dissolution of Yugoslavia. After spending over a year doing research for that project, I needed to do something drastically different for the sake of my sanity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was during that time that I started smoking weed.
Q: What made you want to get into the cannabis industry?
A: Right around the time I started getting into weed for my personal use, recreational cannabis was starting to heat up in Oregon. It hit me that cannabis was going to become an international medical phenomenon and I should probably jump in and learn as much as possible. Who knows, maybe I’d get to use my degree after all.
It wasn’t until 2018, when I applied for a Fulbright scholarship and got denied, that I committed to cannabis as a long-term career. At that point, I said fuggit and dove into the industry full-force.
Q: What’s so special about Farma?
A: Two reasons:
- This is the first research-driven dispensary in the world, with a robust education program and a dedication to empowering consumers in an age of rampant misinformation and misleading marketing.
- Farma is an absolute goldmine of creative talent. Most days it feels more like a super-powered creative incubator than a dispensary. My coworkers are musicians, artists, photographers, videographers, illustrators, writers, designers, potters, carpenters, psychonauts, botanists, students– the list goes on. Working here is inspiring.
Q: What else do you do?
A: My full-time job is at a digital creative agency called Sherpa, where I’m their content director. I basically handle all the words for a company’s website and various digital marketing outlets; I do strategy, web copy (everything from short, punchy taglines to product descriptions to web pages and long-form posts) and manage a lot of weed blogs. It’s really fitting because Sherpa specializes in hemp and cannabis businesses, so I get to apply all the science I learn at Farma to my day job.
My side gig is freelance cannabis writing. So far I’ve written for Project CBD, Cannabis Dispensary Times, and Cannabis & Tech Today.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I generally spend free time reading, cooking (and eating), and watching movies. Occasionally I go “out,” and even more occasionally I “exercise.”
Q: What’s your favorite way to consume cannabis?
A: Long live the one-hitter pipe.
Lately, though, I’ve been trading the smoke for edibles to spare my lungs a bit.
Q: What do you enjoy doing while stoned?
A: Cooking. Ideal scenario is getting stoned in the morning on a Sunday when I have no obligations and making an enormously elaborate meal- then eating it with friends.
Also, writing– but only first drafts. Weed gets me into a more playful, less serious headspace. It’s great for getting words on the page.
Q: Favorite terpenes?
A: I like beta-caryophyllene, pinene, and limonene. I’m a sucker for citrus-forward aromas that show up a lot in varietals like Pineapple Cookies, Tropicanna Cookies and Tangelo Haze.
Q: Favorite minor cannabinoids?
Q: Favorite cannabis type (I, II, III)?
A: I like Type II flower. I like to get high, but I’m also very sensitive to THC. If I can’t find a Type II that satisfies my flavor preference, I’ll mix a Type I and a Type III together.
Q: Favorite non-flower product (and why)?
A: Empower roll-on oil, for sure. It has THC, THCA, and CBD– pretty much the holy trinity for my perpetually sore muscles.
Q: Describe a favorite memory of using cannabis.
A: Disclaimer: don’t try this at home.
Once upon a time, my best friend Ana and I smoked a joint the day after she got her wisdom teeth taken out (not advisable). We ended up getting cataclysmically stoned and going to Red Robin, and, like the smart people we are, smashed two baskets of crispy chicken strips. Despite there being a gaping wound in her mouth, Ana couldn’t feel a thing, and she ended up getting dry socket, obviously. Lessons learned: cannabis can be a very powerful analgesic, and getting stoned can be a double-edged sword if you’re not careful.
Q: What is a popular misconception about budtending that you can mythbust?
A: That we’ve tried every single thing in the store.
It’s actually quite a damaging assumption on the customer side to think budtenders do (or should) have experience with every product on dispensary shelves. I often experience people that get annoyed with budtenders who can’t recount a personal experience with every item the customer is curious about. The reality is that keeping up with the products in a dispensary (there are hundreds of different products and they change every single day) would cost us more money than we make as budtenders in the first place.
The pressure to “keep up” with strains and products is immense, and to actually do so would not only leave us all bankrupt, but would require us to pretty much be high on a different cannabis product in every second of our free time. It’s just not possible– especially considering how many folks that work at dispensaries (like myself) are THC-sensitive.
And, contrary to popular belief, budtenders rarely get free product because regulations are so strict (if their dispensary is compliant, that is). So whatever we sample, we pay for out of pocket. Side note: consider tip jars as budtender research funds if you want to get the best recommendations from us.
Q: What do you think is the most important skill a budtender can have?
A: Enough humility and integrity to say “I don’t know.” We’re not doctors, we’re not scientists, we’re not pharmacists. What is known about cannabis is relatively little in the scheme of concrete scientific understanding. All we can do is our best to keep up with the research that’s emerging and to connect our customer base to that information.