BUDTENDERS GO TO SCHOOL
> BY AMANDA SIEBERT
Ever wondered what it takes to be a professional budtender? You might be surprised that it requires much more than simply “knowing your weed”.
Local educator, consultant, and all-around cannabis expert Adolfo Gonzalez operates Cannareps, an industry improvement organization that provides training for cannabis professionals in Canada.
With a background in cultivation, Gonzalez has been engaging with researchers, academics, entrepreneurs, growers, and medical professionals as a frontline worker for over 15 years and has developed a way to teach budtenders skills that will allow them to engage with their patients more effectively.
Through Cannareps, Gonzalez has already helped train employees at over 60 organizations. In an interview with the Georgia Straight, he said he’s looking forward to his next intake.
“Our course is really about clarifying the role of the budtender in society,” Gonzalez said in his downtown office.
The course begins with a full-day seminar that covers the basics of service, intake protocols, interpreting scientific evidence, and hands-on product knowledge. That is followed up by six monthly workshops.
“We want to keep our budtenders grounded, make sure they are acting responsibly, and, more importantly, get them to understand what quality product means and how to verify that,” he added.
With more than a decade of experience as a grower, Gonzalez said very few people actually know how to identify quality cannabis. Although he said that students shouldn’t expect to leave his course a “certified cannabis expert”, he is able to take that 10-year learning curve and condense it.
He isn’t a fan of traditional test structures, so instead of multiplechoice-question exams or surprise quizzes, students will be smelling, tasting, and touching different products in order to become familiar with them.
“Then we’ll get into the details. We’ll sit down with a lot of different versions of one strain, and then extracts that are made from that strain, and then we’ll examine test results and identify terpenes,” he said, asserting that the only way to learn how to determine quality is “by hanging out with a weed geek”.
An important resource, and the blueprint for the course, lies in Gonzalez’s Cann Help Deck, a comprehensive guide that compiles 12 years of face-to-face interactions with medical users, academic publications, and mentor information to outline specific areas of education. Each student gets the deck of reference cards as part of the Cannareps course.
Many local dispensaries use the deck, and in almost two years of use, Gonzalez says, he has only ever received positive feedback.
Created with his wife and business partner, Enid, the deck is divided into four sections that detail cannabinoids (THC, CBD, et cetera), different medical conditions and how they might be treated with cannabis, the various modalities for treatment (smoking, vaping, capsules), and subspecies of cannabis (sativa, indica, ruderalis).
Although the deck is just one component of the course, it provides students with important information that Gonzalez says many doctors and researchers can’t provide.
“A lot of what you find working in the field is actually contradictory to what researchers and doctors will tell you, and they hold the power—but, unfortunately, they don’t have the experience to wield that power,” he said.
While the research community is often limited to studying specific products or compounds, the opportunities for anecdotal data collection at dispensaries are endless.
“Dispensaries have this unique positioning, where they have very broad population sizes and very broad product types that have effectively become the standard of treatment, so when doctors and academics are learning what they know based on studies that use isolated particles, even though the standard of treatment is fullprofile medicine, it creates a bubble of misunderstanding.”
Ultimately, Gonzalez hopes to create a bridge between dispensary workers, growers, and academics by encouraging dispensaries to collect observational data for future study while also creating a training program for doctors and pharmacists who are still unfamiliar with cannabis in a medical context.
“When you start working with the research community, you realize why they’ve had all these blocks in advancement. I can only do so much,” he said. “We need the specialists to see the value of what we’ve built, what this community has accumulated, and where to start using it.”
Cannareps’ September term begins on September 24. Visit cannareps. ca to register, and enter “master” at checkout to get a 10-percent discount.
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September 7 to 13, 2017
Mercury retrograde: done, check. Full moon in Pisces: done, check. If good intentions have been waylaid for the start of the back-to-it routine, take heart. Expect to hit a better, faster forward as of Thursday.
Still acting as a trigger for last month’s solar eclipse, Mercury, finishing up in Leo through Saturday, infuses the here and now with better-than-average creative potency. Once it is launched, undertaken, or expressed, expect it to have a significant life force and to carry you the distance.
Building to Saturday, the sun’s trine to Pluto keeps desire and motivation in ample supply. Together, they’ll help you to build it better and/or to get it under better control.
Last Tuesday, the same day that Mercury retrograde ended, Mars exited Leo for Virgo. Mercury treks into this industrious sign as of Saturday evening. Teaming up with the Virgo sun, Mars and Mercury support all repair work, upgrade and improvement projects, and healing mandates. Make sure to put self at the top of that list. When operating at peak, efficiency expert Mercury in Virgo has a talent for putting the mind to useful tasks, while energy expert Mars in Virgo works on the muscle end. Venus, continuing in Leo, keeps the heart beating at centre stage. Combined, they are working all the angles.
Holding court over the coming week, Venus in Leo trines Saturn on Tuesday, and sun/saturn turn a corner on Wednesday. Combined, they are constructive and shaping. They’ll support all efforts to solidify, establish, secure, and mobilize.
Accomplishment is a simple equation: get at it now and gain.
March 20–April 20
Feeling especially motivated, energized, and/or peaked? Aim to make the most of it Thursday/friday; look to Mercury, now out of retrograde, and the Aries moon to keep you lit up and going strong. Mars is onto task in Virgo, and as of late Saturday, Mercury gets there too. Venus and Saturn keep the coming week moving along a productive track.
TAURUS April 20–May 21
Thursday/friday, set it into motion. You’ll gain betterthan-average traction. In fact, you should find action-taking flows easily and naturally. The sun, Mars, and now Mercury in Virgo now set you onto an especially fruitful and success-generating track. Waste not, want not. Along with Venus on a roll, the next 10 days are optimized for go, get, and gain.
May 21–June 21
You’ll have no trouble stoking a good fire and/or keeping the conversation going, especially through Saturday. Once Mercury joins the sun and Mars in Virgo, the spotlight turns to what’s missing and what needs to be tackled or healed. Take it one step at a time. Try not to let it get overly complicated. Stay practical, aim for efficiency, and simplify where you can.
CANCER June 21–July 22
Dive into it fresh Thursday/friday. Take a new attitude with you. All it takes is for one good one to launch you on your way and/or to set you onto a major turnaround. Roll up your sleeves and get at it. The next 10 days or so can prove to be the most opportune and advancing of the month.
July 22–August 23
Mars has just left Leo, but you’ll have a good handle on Mercury’s gift package through Saturday, and on Venus through September 19. Through Saturday, it comes easily, readily, and naturally. Mars and Mercury in Virgo can put you to work, but they also help you to make better use of your time and money. They’ll keep on you until the job is done right.
August 23–September 23
Now that the full moon is out of the way, you should find yourself on a significant bounce back and energy boost. What’s most expedient or appropriate will become obvious. Look to Mars and Mercury in Virgo to thrust you onto fullsteam ahead. They’ll cut to the chase with better clarity, too. By next weekend, you’ll have sorted out plenty.
September 23–October 23
Thursday/friday, Mercury keeps it/you going strong. Perhaps there’s something special to celebrate or someone special on your radar? Saturday is good for making the most of it too. While Venus in Leo continues to boost matters of heart and wallet, the sun, Mercury, and Mars in Virgo call attention to the work that needs to be done. Stay confident; keep expectations real.
October 23–November 22
Take aim wherever you like. It won’t take much for you to make a success out of it, especially Thursday through Saturday. Mercury leaves Leo on Saturday evening, but it will keep you busier and give you even more to do while it tours Virgo. Tuesday/wednesday are ideal for money talks, banking, getting it under better control, contract negotiations, or official undertakings.
SAGITTARIUS November 22–December 21
At your best and making the most of it, a grand trine in fire gifts you Thursday to Saturday morning. Mercury leaves Leo for Virgo late Saturday, but you still have a few more weeks of Venus in Leo gracing your chart and your heart. The dynamic concentration of planets in both signs sets up a successful run over this next week.
CAPRICORN December 21–January 20
Last weekend through next weekend can take you through an important process, negotiation, transition, planning, or implementation phase. The next 10 days set up the most lucrative portion of the month to get it sorted out and to achieve your desired results. Take your best shot. Thursday to Saturday and next Tuesday, your stars are optimized.
January 20–February 18
Something special on the go? Someone special to spend time with? Mercury continues to keep the creative, social, and romantic spark well lit through Saturday. Enjoy, but also keep an eye on practicality and budgets. Mercury in Virgo, starting late Saturday, sharpens your perception, intuition, and negotiating skills. Play it smart; get a better deal.
February 18–March 20
Mercury in Leo and the Aries moon make for a great finish to this first week back to the routine. On an extended run with Venus, you can make good on the week ahead, too. Mars and Mercury in Virgo keep you especially busy with clients, the public, a new venture, or a key someone.