January 02, 2018 | NORTHWEST LEAF
This month’s budtenders of the month are Brian Lee of High End Marketplace and Tyson Humble of Five Zero Trees West.
Brian Lee started as a budtender at High End Marketplace and has advanced to the position of Inventory Manager, where he helps decide which farms and products to carry. He is medically endorsed and passionate about providing the cleanest and highest quality Cannabis for patients, his friends and his family that shop at the dispensary. He also rolls custom joints and started High End Papers, a rolling paper distribution company! Follow him on Instagram @BLee213
When did you first experience Cannabis?
I started smoking at an earlier age, around 15, it was one of those things my friends started in high school and I finally got curious and tried it. You know how people say they don’t get high the first time? Well I got really high my first time. We left school for lunch and didn’t come back. From that first time I really enjoyed it, and knew it was something I was passionate about as I became more involved with the plant and industry as time went on.
How long have you been a budtender and what is your favorite part?
I started as a budtender, one of ten people including owners when the store opened, we all started in same position. Then everyone assumed their position by what needed to be done, and the owners left it up to us where we wanted to go—which is a cool take on starting a business. I like budtending because previously I was a bartender, so it’s the same kind of interaction. I know a lot of my friends and family shop here, so I get to interact and go beyond the normal, be a little more personal. Now that I’m inventory manager, I’m not on the floor as much, but I still enjoy working with customers.
What your favorite way to consume Cannabis?
My favorite way is joints, I roll a bunch of joints, do a bunch of custom joints as well. Picking papers and custom rolling is something I got into in the last couple years, but ever since I remember it was my favorite way to smoke. For my favorite paper, I bounce back and forth between a rice paper like Elements or a hemp paper like Raw.
What are your favorite strains and products?
One would be Skörd, they are local to Battle Ground [Washington], and they do a phenomenal job. They have pretty strict standards, and if it doesn’t meet their standards they won’t release the product, which is rare in the industry. I love Refined for dabs, they do a great job, and Mantis extracts as well. I really like Heavenly buds, a clean green certified grow in Longview, they grow probably the closest to how we would personally grow ourselves.
How do you find the right products for the store?
We do it as a team, the owner and me, we go check out every grow and facility we work with. We go to every farm and tour the garden before we will carry them on our shelves, because you can tell a lot about a company by their garden. Our favorite are the people who don’t grow commercially, the people who go quality over quantity. There’s a lot of product and price points we don’t go after, because we don’t want the lower end of the spectrum. We try to live up to our name of High End, even our more affordable priced products are still the best for that category. And we really want to be able to vouch for the farms we carry; that they grow in a quality manner, and to build a personal relationship with the company.
Why do you like working at high end market place?
The majority of us were friends before we started, we worked together in the service industry. It’s neat to work with like-minded people. I also have a unique opportunity here too, I roll custom joints and started my own side company. I distribute rolling papers, High End Papers, and I work with a lot of our producers to provide papers, so it’s a win-win for me. The ownership here encourages entrepreneurship and people who fill in spots that they feel are needed are rewarded. They want everyone to seek to be at a higher level, and encourage people getting involved.
What makes your shop different than others?
Every one of the employees is medically certified. We want to have everyone on staff be able to talk and provide help to every medical patient that comes in, because medical is a big focus for the whole shop. We have a bunch of staff who use it personally as patients, and we want to bring clean, quality and affordable medicine for us and our patients. It’s nice to know that we are providing the highest quality, if we don’t smoke it we won’t sell it to one of our friends, that’s a big thing for us. We’re also leading Vancouver for the amount of medical cards we’ve provided and our customer service, we’re pretty proud of that!
What are your hobbies when you’re not budtending?
I love anything outdoors. The abundance of nature to play around in here is amazing.
I really do enjoy custom rolling — I’ve rolled a Bender joint from Futurama, ice cream cones, a turkey, a dab rig and more. For Christmas, I just did a Santa Clause joint! I want to keep working on my rolling skills and expand my own company for the future!
HIGH END MARKET PLACE
1906 Broadway St., Vancouver
First Cannabis experience?
My first experience with Cannabis was when I was 18, as a college freshman. I was sitting on a rickety balcony off the back of Pioneer Hall on the campus of Linfield College with my girlfriend at the time. Her dad had given her some Acapulco Gold and we ended up smoking it out of a Pepsi can. We laughed and talked and made the smart choice of listening to “The Joshua Tree” by U2. It’s a fond memory of mine.
How long have you been part of the cannabis industry and what is your favorite aspect of the job?
While I’ve only been a budtender for a short time, I’ve made a concerted effort to join the industry and use my life experience and knowledge as a guide. What motivates me is challenging myself every day in offering exemplary service to customers. I’m also constantly honing my approach to showcasing our exceptional product and accessories.From my perspective, budtending is a way to be yourself—showcase your personality a bit in order to help the customer find what they need.
How do you like to consume Cannabis?
If you offer, I’ll try it. Mostly though, I’m into consuming flower. My bong is like a member of the family. But, I also enjoy edibles and doing my own cooking with Cannabis. I also love to use the new Pax Era vaporizer cartridges device for when I’m being a responsible adult or have to be discreet about consuming.
What are some of your favorite Cannabis strains and effects?
I like heavy body highs — I like heavy IPAs.
I’m a big fan of the myrcene [terpene].
I don’t necessarily feel like a strain’s name or lineage is the exact indicator of what the consumer will experience. Everyone experiences Cannabis a little differently, so what makes one person sleepy might make another feel upbeat. On the shelf, some of my favorites right now are Darkstar from TJ’s, and Mt Hood Magic Durban Poison by Pudding River is awesome.
How do you help customers find the best Cannabis or products for them?
Assessing the needs of the customer through conversation isn’t just a necessity, but a primary tactic for any budtender worth their weight. I try and break the ice with humor, attentiveness and by asking them how they intend to use the product that they’re considering. Everyone’s body chemistry and experience level is a bit different, so you need to get to know who you are selling to and what they intend to do with the product.
How do you feel about the current testing requirements by the OLCC? Do you put much faith in THC or CBD percentages to convey a strain’s effects?
I really wish the state required terpene testing. I put some stock in THC numbers and percentages, but not a lot to be honest. However, I will note that low testing weed has made it nap time for me on many occasions. I do believe that CBD percentages mean something, though. I feel like more and more, CBD is truly becoming the wave of the future—and we sell more and more CBD dominant products every day at FTZ.
What makes five zero trees’ approach to customer service different?
Aesthetically, FTZ is one of the most welcoming shops in the Portland area, and we back up this aesthetic with what we consider to be the best flower and product. The whole staff is amazing; at all times funny, empathetic and supportive. Our customers make it easy to have fun at work, and I think the fun we have makes the experience informative and enjoyable. I love working here.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of the cannabis industry?
I drink beer, and I spend time with my hot wife and three children. I also love to run—mostly in that order. I’m an ultra-runner who has completed races from the marathon to the a 100-mile race and I’m a dad. I’m also a huge sports fan and I love to read. Cannabis obviously enhances all of these activities.
Five Zero Trees West
5336 SW Beaverton