We are Spiritleaf: Meet Gary!
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At Spiritleaf, we believe diversity in the workplace has both internal and external benefits such as greater career satisfaction and better community acceptance. A diverse workforce can provide a fresh perspective, allowing for better creativity and innovation. Employing a wide range of diverse individuals gives companies an opportunity to outperform their competitors, elevating their overall brand. Our employees stem from a wide range of professional backgrounds; each bringing their own unique skills and talents to the table, working together to continue our incredible momentum of growth! Learn about the individuals behind the Spiritleaf brand, in this ongoing series.
From the high-tech world to podcasting! This next interview is with a staff member from the Spiritleaf Kelowna location, learn about his many interests below.
Tell the audience your first name and a bit about your background. Like where you are currently located and what past profession or schooling you have taken etc.
Hi, I’m Gary from Kelowna. After years of management in high-tech, I was pleased to move into the cannabis industry. I’ve taken every course offered through Colorado’s Trichome Institute including Cannabis Interpening, Cannabis Consultant training, Extraction and Concentrates. Plus, I took the Retail Cannabis Sales course through Okanagan College. I have also been doing my own research for years and incorporate many of my findings in my bi-weekly podcast called The Cannabis Potcast. I also keep my training fresh and relevant with the multitude of courses on the Spiritleaf training portal.
What inspired you to work in the cannabis industry and with Spiritleaf?
My passion for the plant and my dissatisfaction with how cannabis has been treated in the past. Legalization arrived at the right moment for me to re-focus and move from high-tech into the cannabis industry to celebrate a plant I have known for fifty years.
What position do you currently have with Spiritleaf and what do you like best about working for the company?
I am the manager of the Kelowna store and I love everything about Spiritleaf.
“The start of something incredible” spoke directly to me and the goal to remove stigma has been a personal goal of mine since 1972 (the year the Ledain Commission stated Marijuana should be legalized in Canada). Creating a comfortable environment for all and offering cannabis education as part of the experience sets Spiritleaf apart as the leader in Canadian cannabis sales.
In your opinion, what are the main responsibilities of a cannabis concierge or budtender?
A cannabis concierge needs to be focused on the needs of the guest, not on their favourite cultivar. A few probing questions about past usage and intent for current usage provide the concierge with a map of experiences they can suggest or promote for the guest with the intention of creating an enjoyable cannabis experience. Determining a preferred consumption method is another key question to begin the conversation to ensure the concierge focuses on the guest’s needs rather than just making a sale.
What question do you get asked the most either at work or when people learn about your career?
Do you get high at work? My answer is always, “Ironically, since starting work at Spiritleaf I smoke far less cannabis than I used to BECAUSE we have all signed papers stating we will NOT consume cannabis at work”. While I would love to mark 4:20 each day by smoking a joint, instead we just celebrate legalization every day recognizing when 4:20 arrives!
The stigma surrounding cannabis consumption is still present in society. How do you help normalize its use day-to-day? Do you educate people on social media or some other way?
I challenge the stigma at every opportunity. I challenge the acceptance of alcohol in so many areas of society where cannabis is still seen as such an evil alternative. I challenge the validity of community fund-raising drives that offer baskets of booze yet would not consider for a moment offering a cannabis prize. I challenge the absurdity that a drink after work is fine but smoking a joint is not. I am constantly fighting the stigma.
Working in a regulated industry can be challenging. Give an example of how you overcame a particular restriction and give some advice to newcomers to the industry.
Our industry is between a rock and a hard place. Being restricted to non-medical conversation presents some unique challenges that require equally unique solutions. I’ve found a simple adaptation of my communication style works well. I put the focus on the recreational aspect of our industry and replace words like sleep and pain with relaxation and perception. Finding the cannabis solution for our guests requires some creative thoughts and equally creative language while maintaining our recreational nature. Think sleep but speak relaxation.
Was there a certain ‘transferable skill’ that helped you to be successful in the industry? If so, tell us more about it.
Communication is the biggest transferable skill I bring to the industry. As I learned in Toastmasters, a good communicator is first and foremost a good listener. This is critical for customer service and understanding the guest’s needs. Communicating a clear articulate response completes the communication circle.
Have you had a sesh with anyone notable?
I did interview Ian Power who bought the first gram of legal cannabis in Canada, but I have only had a virtual sesh with him!
Do you have a story to tell about a fav cannabis brand or strain?
One language choice I’ve made since legalization is to not refer to them as strains. A strain is a virus, like Covid 19. Instead, I have adopted the term cultivar – short for a cultivated variety. I review many cultivars on my podcast in a segment I call Cultivar Corner. This is a non-traditional review –I open the container, smoke the joint and the vaporizer letting the listener hear it all including how it affects me. My two favourite cultivars to date have been: Natural History’s LA Kush Cake, and Doja’s Dream.
If you had some advice about responsible consumption or consuming with intent, what would it be?
There are a few elements required for an enjoyable session with cannabis:
- A good cultivar to match the mood – relaxing or energizing, creative or contemplative. Matching the cultivar to the mood is your first goal.
- The right setting – a comfortable environment where everyone feels comfortable. Having the wrong people around will impact your stone – choose your stoner friends wisely.
- No agenda – nowhere to go and nothing to do but enjoy yourself. With nothing else planned you have the freedom to enjoy every aspect of your high and all the twists it may take.
- As a podcaster and cannabis educator, what’s the number one stigma regarding consumption you hope to reduce?
The biggest stigma we still face is with a certain demographic that believes the drivel from the days of Reefer Madness, that THC is an evil poison that will make a user lose their mind. This is the stigma I try and diminish every episode of the podcast. THC does not deserve the notoriety it has and consistently fighting that stigma is important for everyone in the legal industry.
*Due to government regulations, we are unable to show images of our staff and encourage you to check out their personal links for more. Connect with Gary here, to hear more from the Cannabis Potcast. Also on Instagram and Twitter.
We are Spiritleaf. Find out what makes our office culture unique in this previous article on The LEAF, follow this link here! To read this first feature, click here.