Connecticut Post (Sunday)

Adult-use Cannabis Gives Local Businesses Room to


- by Alyssa Seidman

Ifyou knew where Richard Ouellette came from, his career as a cannabis grower wouldn’t really surprise you. He described his hometown of East Windsor as “a small town with a lot of farmland.” It was here his passion for helping things grow first took root.

“I was always outside in the garden getting my hands dirty,”

Ouellette recalled. “It really connects me to the earth and increases my awareness of what’s going on around me.” Ouellette applies this awareness to his work at Curaleaf’s cultivatio­n site in Simsbury. The company operates in more than 19 states nationwide, and has crafted lab-tested cannabis products in a variety of formats in Connecticu­t since 2017.

Ouellette has been a Curaleaf team member for five years. He started out making deliveries to its dispensari­es across the state, then eventually moved into a full-time position in the manufactur­ing department. His hard work ethic earned him a spot on the cultivatio­n team as a harvester, which offered an even closer look “behind the scenes,” he said.

“That really started to ignite a fire and passion for the work,” Ouellette said of the position. “I learned as much as I could from the people around me, and had some great role models and mentors teach me the ways of the plant.”

The work grind paid off once again when Ouellette was promoted to supervisor of the vegetation department, which is responsibl­e for nursing and cycling plants prior to cultivatio­n.

“My role is to keep the vegetative plants cycling so they’re healthy and able to clone,” he said. Cannabis cloning involves taking a cutting from the mother plant and rooting it in water or soil to grow on its own. “One of the challenges I had was being able to intuit the plants’ growth rates and what I had to do to get them where I needed them to be.”

Ouellette said it typically takes about six months before a plant grown from a seed is ready to hit the shelf. During this time, the growers create a bond with each and every plant, which results in a gratifying experience once the product is ready for sale, Ouellette said.

“The plant stays in the vegetative stage for six weeks — three in the clone, three in their pots getting ready to go into the flower rooms — and then they stay there for about eight to nine weeks,” he added. “Processing and packaging takes another month or two, but good things take time.” The legalizati­on of adult-use cannabis has required Ouellette and his team to


pay even greater attention to what different strains do, and how they may impact one’s endocannab­inoid system. This vast network of chemical signals and cellular receptors regulates and controls many bodily functions, including learning and memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperatur­e control, pain control, inflammato­ry and immune responses, and eating.

Ouellette discussed some of his favorite strains that Curaleaf grows and the effects he personally experience­s. “Our Silver strain has a low THC count and can be a good option for stress, anxiety, and, surprising­ly, asthma; it’s one of my favorite go-to flowers,” Ouellette said.

“Our Ruby has a sweet, tropical scent and for me yields happy and content feelings, but when I’m looking for a THC (dominant) product I like our Citron cartridge — that’s how I ease my mind.”

Understand­ing the different constructi­ons of THC and CBD is key to introducin­g cannabis as part of one’s health and wellness routine, Ouellette said. He encouraged those looking to branch out into the adult-use market to “dive into the details, ask questions, and do anything they can to promote their knowledge” of cannabis.

“Understand­ing that content will really help you feel confident walking into the dispensary and working with the pharmacist­s and technician­s to find what you’re looking for,” he added. “Every person is different, so not every person is going to experience the same effects from the same strain.”

Ouellette credited his climb up the Curaleaf ladder to all the people he’s had the pleasure of working with.

“I would not be where I am today without my team; they come in every day with a passion, a positive attitude, and great intentions day in and day out,” he said. “It’s not just work, it’s something we love to do.”

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