It's often said budtenders are the face of the legal cannabis industry. But how well do we really know them? In this new, occasional feature, we chat with the people responsible for guiding our highs to get a little insight into their background, their goals within the industry, their favorite strains—and the things you do as a customer that totally annoy them.
Name: Jessie Arnold
Dispensary: Oregon's Finest (1327 NW Kearney St.)
Years as a budtender: Two
Last job: Starbucks
WW: What was your first experience with cannabis?
Jessie Arnold: I was 20 years old, a late bloomer compared to some. I was working at Starbucks in Los Angeles and met a bunch of cool cats over there who were super-chill, and found out later they smoked weed pretty heavily. They introduced me to it. When I moved to Portland, I got real lucky that cannabis was legal and it was just kind of around and easy to obtain.
How'd you become a budtender?
I was a customer at Oregon's Finest for a second, and they were by far my favorite dispensary. I was looking for another job, and I just sent the general manager an email and said I love your aesthetic, I'd love to work there. They got back to me pretty easily, and I had an interview the next day. It was just sort of right place, right time.
What's your favorite strain and why?
Sour Banana Sherbet by Fox Hollow. It's a good morning, noon and night kind of weed and makes you feel happy and social without feeling too racy or too stony.
What's the most annoying thing customers do at a dispensary?
They ask, "Can I fly with this? How do I travel with it? How do I shove it in my suitcase?" It's a whole new industry, so it's understandable, and it's still customer service. By far, though, that's the No. 1 question. It gets really repetitive to let people down and say, "It's still illegal, you can't do it." And people are like, "Well, hypothetically, what if I do this?"
How would you improve the cannabis industry?
Well, I think weed should be taken off the Schedule I drugs list. If weed is reclassified in the drug family, that would definitely open up a lot of doors as far as legal cannabis goes. I would try to change the packaging laws to be more sustainable. The cannabis industry has so many plastic tubes and different jars and exit bags and propaganda for different edibles companies. I think it has a long way to go in that regard.
What are you personal goals within the industry?
Budtending is awesome, and it's opened me up to a lot of cool people and opportunities for networking, but I'd definitely love to do more education around cannabis or more of the hands-on experience on the farm and learning more about the process itself.
Where's your favorite place in Portland to go while high?
What's your favorite thing to do while high?
I really like to cook or go for a run. With cooking and running, it engages all your senses at one time, and I like to fully experience being high and experiencing the world or using my hands and being active. Chilling and listening to music and being stoned is great, but my favorite thing is cooking or running because I can experience everything at once.