Aminah Leary is a Farma budtender in Portland, Oregon. She also owns her own cannabis edible company, Baked!. Leary is a certified budtender under the Sativa Science Club certification program and has an interesting story about how the cannabis industry called her back to the Pacific Northwest.
Leary has been back in the Pacific Northwest for around a year after living in Atlanta, Georgia. Leary originally left Portland to find a place with more diversity. “Portland is white, Oregon is white.” Leary said.
Leary studied personal training and holistic health while in Georgia. Life was going fantastic and got even better after she gave birth, but her life hit a roadblock in the form of debilitating postpartum depression. To battle the depression, her doctors started prescribing her anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication in Xanax and Cymbalta. The doctors could never calculate a correct dosage for Leary. These miscalculations made her fell asleep during her shift, and the hospital she worked for terminated her. Leary continued to struggle with anxiety and depression and the prescriptions never helped.
Leary found the hope she’d been searching for after her brother came to visit. He brought some weed with him and smoked it with Leary. After smoking it, Leary felt more social and functional in her elevated state. At first, she didn’t attribute her symptom relief to cannabis use. She grew up with an anti-cannabis stance like many of us, because of the misinformation that was spread about cannabis for years. After Leary’s brother left, she kept using cannabis occasionally. During this time Leary remembered that her sister used cannabis to help appetite issues during her successful battle with breast cancer. Between that and her recent experimentation with cannabis, Leary started connecting the dots between her cannabis use and relief of her symptoms.
Leary visited Portland to visit family and see what the legal cannabis industry was all about. During her visit, she found a more diverse and welcoming atmosphere than the one she remembered. Leary realized she didn’t want to leave, so she decided to stay and find a way into the cannabis industry because cannabis saved her life. Leary credits Emma Chasen, Cannabis Educator and Consultant as the person that gave her the opportunity to join Farma and get her foot into the industry.
“I smoke for my life,” Leary says.
Since joining Farma, Leary’s cannabis experience and knowledge have exploded. Her favorite way to enjoy cannabis is consuming edibles, specifically, 2:1 THC/CBD caramels. She enjoys the time-lapse effects of edibles for their potency and so she can smoke some flower while her edibles are kicking in.
High Noon Cultivation Co. is one of Leary’s go-to cannabis brands. She loves their Irish Cream strain, which is a cross between Cookies & Cream and The Real McCoy. Mt. Hood Magic is another strain Leary smokes everytime she can get her hands on it, it’s a cross between Northern Lights #5 and Durban Poison and has a complex terpene profile made of limonene, pinene, and a touch of terpinolene.
Leary is currently in the process of building her own space within the cannabis industry. Baked! is a cannabis-infused cupcake brand that she builds when she’s not slinging cannabis and terpene education at Farma. As much as she loves Farma, bud tending and the cannabis industry as a whole, Leary still sees major room for improvement.
Budtender training is one department that needs improvement, specifically, it needs to be standardized. Right now it’s up to each individual retailer to train their employees. Shops like Farma take the extra step to train their employees in cannabis science, others just throw them on the floor and let them figure it out. When there’s no standardized training, customers have completely different experiences in different stores. It can also lead customers to different experiences in the exact same store. This causes lopsided exposure for some products and lack of exposure for others, which makes it harder for inventory managers to create a consistent ordering schedule. Leary believes budtenders need to be trained and treated in a fashion that reflects their importance in the industry.
“Budtenders are the heartbeat of the industry,” Leary said.
Leary also wants to see brands work together more often. Weed markets are over-saturated in the moment and she believes people need to work together to move product instead of just pushing weed into the market, more collaboration, less competition.