Jul 3, 2018
Transcript for this episode is found below the pic:
On this episode of PodcastDx we get the dope on medical cannabis from Budtender Alex. A Budtender can help guide customers through the hazy world of medical marijuana. Feel free to ask them any questions you have, alot extra time for your first visit so you can get the "420" on product lines, methods of delivery and strain specifics. This cash only business is not yet covered by insurance.
Episode 14 Budtender.wav
Ron [00:00:16] Hello and welcome to PodcastDX the show that brings you interviews with people just like you whose lives were forever changed by a diagnosis. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on this podcast.
Lita [00:00:54] I'm Lia and Jean is still not with us due to that pesky migraines, but we will be covering migraines on a podcast coming up soon.
Ron [00:01:05] And I am Ron. Collectively we are the host of PodcastDX. Allow me to introduce today's guest with us in studio. Today is Alex a local bud-tender in suburban Chicago. Welcome Alex.
Alex [00:01:20] how's it going?. Thanks for having me guys.
Ron [00:01:22] Thank you for coming in.
Lita [00:01:23] Yes welcome. Alex it's, I'm glad you got back from Alaska OK. And we're good to have you here in the studio.
Ron [00:01:29] Yeah. The last time we tried this it didn't work on our Skype but hopefully we'll get it up and going soon. But we're glad to have you here and be able get firsthand knowledge from you especially coming from where you just came as well. So if we can jump in to the segment where we're talking about what the dispensaries right now they may be legal in this state but it can still feel intimidating for someone to step inside it and not know what to do. Which questions to ask and how to find the products that they want. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
Alex [00:02:12] Yeah no definitely. When we see this was probably more so when we first opened. We've been open for two and a half years now. There's a it's still kind of taboo. No one really they weren't. I guess there was an access to information about it first of all so when they were coming in you know they had no idea unless they were a frequent user before. So there was a lot to tackle. You know there's a lot of oils that were not around for people in and certainly their dealer if you will. And it wasn't medically legal didn't have it. There's a lot of different edibles. You know if there's you're finally getting to choose what strains work best for you not having to rely on the shady transaction that worked or didn't work if you will.
Ron [00:03:02] So there's still that taboo with people coming in.
Alex [00:03:07] Sometimes. You know we've seen it a lot more in older patients or if they're not. And I want to say minor. Usually the minors will say like 10 and under those parents are very accepting and that's why they're there. That's kind of their last resort. But. There's a couple you know patients I guess that are probably in that range of 14 to 18 and at 18 you can actually use smokeable products in Illinois. If you're under the age of 18 you can't. You can only use edibles or sublingual oils or lotions like transdermal patches stuff like that which is very good because you know there's no reason to exactly expose yourself to smoking that early when you don't have to.
Lita [00:03:58] Right. I think our most important question is do the staff members at the dispensary like yourself being a staff member a bud-tender. Do they actually assist each patient or client in the purchase. And do you have to be trained for their job.
Alex [00:04:15] Yeah. So every bud tender and even if you work you know up at the front desk you know the job is to communicate to the patients you know maybe what's new what's working you know we're not exactly giving names and sensitive information if you will about patients we're just saying hey you know we've heard seven out of 10 patients say this strain works best for migraines and stuff like that.
Lita [00:04:40] Oh migraines. We got to get Jean over there.
Alex [00:04:42] Yeah. Dr. Who, great strain.
Lita [00:04:45] OK.
Alex [00:04:46] So with that being said I guess yeah we definitely are very hands on and. It comes from experience I guess if you will.
Ron [00:04:57] Did you see before you went to school.
Alex [00:04:59] No not exactly school in training. I did a hemp staff certification class. It was like a five hour class you took a test. You got a nice laminated piece of paper saying that you were qualified to be a budtender, if you will but it didn't. It didn't really mean much. It's just something to put on your resume if you will. I mean we did training at Windy City that was substantial enough to get you by you know a lot of that information comes from homework if you will you know whether it's at work or at home. You know most people that are in the industry they love it. You know it's it's. Not hard to get into but if you're in there and you don't want to be there you don't think it's going to really work out. Well it's very you know you get tied up in it you know what. You never thought you could remember all these patients names and faces and symptoms but you do you know it it goes.
Ron [00:05:54] From your job.
Alex [00:05:56] Yeah. You know and it goes from the 45 minute maybe first transaction not transaction but interaction and goes to something 20 minutes maybe 30 minutes the next time. Sometimes even like five minutes. I came in and out. I gotta go somewhere. I just want to grab my usual.
Lita [00:06:15] But this is really very personalized.
Alex [00:06:17] Yeah yeah. Oh definitely. You know there are personal interactions that are taking you out of your comfort zone definitely. I mean there are you know tons of times where you're like I never thought I'd find myself in this situation or talking about this with someone or or you know you disagree with patients sometimes you know it's a safe place really. We get a lot of things that are said we definitely don't allow any negative we'll say energy or you know. Actions in the dispensary but every once in a while you disagree with what a patient has to say but it's not about cannabis. It's about something you tangent off or something so which is nice do you really get to understand where they're coming from. You know it's it's not always they're, You know someone's very standoffish or I don't say aggressive but they seem rude. It's not them it's their it's their symptoms it's their pain it's the fact that their medications that they were taking weren't working and now they're trying this and it might be new to them and it's frustrating because it's trial and error but it's there's no negative side effects you know. So even though they haven't found what's right for them they're reassured by well at least I'm not vomiting or I'm. Not more suicidal or something you know.
Lita [00:07:38] I have a umm, I have new. Respect for your profession and what you just said because I mean seriously you are you're not really trained. Specifically in how to handle all of these different things but you do it. Out of your heart and out of your gut and because you. You believe in the product. And you want to help people and it's it's really tough. Hey Ron doesn't it make you feel like old time medicine like you know back in the 50s when doctors used to make house calls and you're not that old. I'm sorry.
Ron [00:08:20] She brought it up again.
Lita [00:08:24] Laughing.
Ron [00:08:24] But no I'm listening and I do agree with you Lita. I do have this newfound respect because I don't know if we're gonna keep this in the podcast. I'm not a big fan of marijuana or legalization however I am a fan of the medical marijuana just for the purposes you're talking about.
Lita [00:08:45] And that's all we're discussing. So don't worry about it. It can stay in here.
Ron [00:08:50] I do have a question though. A few of them because of the industry and all of that and these questions are cost related. Is any of this covered by insurance or is it all out of pocket. Do you guys take credit card or anything like that. And how much can somebody expect to pay when they come in to to buy some new products.
Alex [00:09:13] So the insurance definitely doesn't cover it. There is a non for profit out there. Educated alternative or alternative education. One of those is Jose Gonzalez is is the man's name and he is a wonderful individual. What he's trying to do right now is actually get funding so that say you are less fortunate and you come in there and all you can provide is your last tax return in your most recent paycheck. He will do everything he can to either pay for the doctor visit the fingerprinting and a card or maybe one of those three or two of those three and then. He's reaching out to the cultivators and saying hey I want X amount of product that these dispensaries where these patients can go next week, and not have to pay for it if you will. Because it is all out of pocket in the way that it's set up is. I would say can get to be difficult you know not everyone. Not everyone has money and a lot of our patients are on disability so they're getting paid once a month. And you know it's we see it all the time. It doesn't exactly work. You know if some some patients are able to make it work in everyone's circumstances are different. And that's a huge thing. You know where someone might not have some issues that are costing them in life if you will the next patient has it. So there definitely needs to know about a price drop. I mean I don't want to see a price drop but I think paying for the card should be cheaper because when you go when you're spending upwards of 100 dollars easily.
Ron [00:11:04] You know that was my question. So it's not a typical, or it's typical for somebody to spend one hundred dollars or more during a visit.
Alex [00:11:14] Yeah definitely.
Lita [00:11:15] And I mean it's every two weeks.
Alex [00:11:19] No I mean. So your card says every two weeks you get two and a half ounces which is 70 grams which is a lot. It really is. But not everyone uses cannabis the same way where someone might use oils. You know someone want to use flower in now this person that's using oils. They don't just use it under the tongue. Maybe they're cooking with it. Right. So really the other person that's fine bulk flower you know half ounces two ounces 14 grams or 28 grams. You know they're using that to cook with and it's you know we try to. Tell them what's cost effective. So we would always tell them hey you know you might want to look at option A you know a which would be the oils because. It's only 60 dollars for a thousand milligrams of oil opposed to let's say 1/2 ounces on sale for 140. But generally they're 175. So you just saved yourself. One hundred and ten dollars or eighty dollars and got something that's. Just as potent if not more usually more potent. So you can do more with it if you will but not like I said. Not everyone wants to do that and it's maybe it's because they're used to what they have been doing. And that's fine. You know we're also not here to push a product on someone that they don't want. If you will.
Ron [00:12:46] After hearing you talk it makes me wish I would've spent more time paying attention in class when we were talking about the metric system. (Laughing) What you're talking about with the gram is in all of that makes me come up with another question. Say they come in for the first time maybe they're brand new to all of this. Especially hearing you talk about again the different dosages in all of that. How much time would somebody expect to spend the first time they come in there because it's got to be a lot of information you're sharing with them.
Alex [00:13:22] There is and it comes down to their personality. I think really some people are it's new to them so they're scared and they they don't want to not necessarily be there for too long but they're just nervous about the whole thing so they don't really ask all the questions they have right because they're timid and we get it you know we tried to break the ice if you will you know general questions like hey you know have you ever been to a dispensary before you know a lot of people before Illinois that we're living there they would go to Michigan or Colorado and they would if they were forced to go other places and get relief if that's how they were seeking it. But now that they have it here it's still that taboo a little bit less now. So you know we have they get justice maybe over 300 patients or so probably more than that. But it's we don't see that as much but that's because it's like the will say the original hundred two hundred people that they've gotten their friends and family on board so that they're eracing the taboo if you will you know we're just helping by providing that safe spot to come in. I mean share whatever share whatever you want. You know we we've heard a lot we've heard it all I would say and sometimes like I said you know it puts you in a uncomfortable zone if you will but you deal with it and it gives you life experience because you wouldn't know how to you wouldn't know that person's experience without them telling you you know.
Lita [00:14:57] And the patients would return to you regularly then they wouldn't go from space to like from dispensary to dispensary.
Alex [00:15:05] So in Illinois you once you register somewhere and that's where you have to go until you register somewhere else so they don't say you can't do that. But it takes at least two days to register or to reregister somewhere. So what sucks is windy city has four locations if you're registered at one you can't go to another even though we're the same.
Lita [00:15:28] But you might not want to.
Alex [00:15:30] umm true true.
Lita [00:15:30] Because what you're saying you know you might want to like you have a rapport with the person that helped you the first time you might only want to go to that person.
Alex [00:15:40] Exactly. And then there we see the case of hey you know we have a lot of people like that like that strain or that product. So we're going to sell we sell out of it fast you know and you can't. Well yeah. That's a big thing in. It's not like you call the cultivator hey we sold out of this I need you to come drop it off now. You know there's a there's a system you know you place the order if you will you know and then take it. I don't really exactly know how long it takes but then it shows up you know during the work week. So when that happens you know we definitely try to be twisty because there's four windy cities. You know we're like All right. We know this place has it if you want to transfer there we'll put the transfer through you can build we'll call the place we'll make sure they hold it. You can grab it and then they'll transfer you back you know. Or what if they go there and they like someone because we have great staff everywhere so now they're a patient there for a little bit and then they're like well I'm gonna go try the other one you know and and then they're like Oh my God. Windy city is the best because they have the greatest staff. So.
Lita [00:16:46] Do do patients actually bring in a prescription when they come in like does the doctor write down a prescription note give this person seven grams of something or do they just tell you that what their medical goals are like. I want to relieve anxiety I want pain relief I want to sleep aid or something and then you kind of fill the need.
Alex [00:17:11] Yes or no there are no prescriptions. It's actually looked as like a recommendation from your doctor basically saying Hey Doctor X Y Z says my patient can use cannabis. You know if you will so sometimes you'll you'll see people come in saying hey my doctor recommended you know CBD oils or you know a one to one ratio. And that's about the extent of it. They don't know too much in the stuff that they know is is all from what they've heard. Maybe documentaries or what they've read on the Internet which I mean that's how we learn it. But we have more time if you will to focus on just cannabis.
Lita [00:17:58] right, It's your Yeah it's your job.
Alex [00:18:00] Exactly. So when they say you know you need CBD oils there they're exactly right. You know to me it would be like a vitamin you would all want to have it because it doesn't. There's no psychoactive effect that's not getting you high. It's a anti inflammatory antifungal antiseptic you know antibacterial it. It's amazing what it can do for you. Not only sublingually. I mean you could smoke it it does grow like a normal cannabis plant but then topically you know there's some great lotions out there that they don't penetrate your skin and it's like I'm an athlete I've use Icy Hot Bengay bio freeze tiger balm. Some of these lotions surpass this and maybe it's because they're more organically made or maybe it's a CBD but from experience it's it works. You know.
Lita [00:18:55] Right. I've heard that photography is not allowed inside the dispensary. But using your phone your cell phone is not also not allowed. Are there privacy problems is that why.
Alex [00:19:08] I think it's more so. I guess you have privacy. You know I don't think the state wants pictures going up like during the sale if you will. You know. But I will say since we started that rule is a little bit more refined down to certain circumstances before. Yeah I definitely was. No no no. But now it's you know we have people that come in and we have a sale board. You know so just because someone shows up doesn't mean they're there to make a purchase if you are to buy some medicine. So they come in and they're like hey I want to take a picture of that sale board because it's not what was in the e-mail that you guys sent out because their in-house sales if you.
Lita [00:19:56] OK.
Alex [00:19:56] So it's like wait you tell that person. No you can't. He can't look over the sale board.
Lita [00:20:02] right.
Alex [00:20:02] Why you're out to lunch you know you guys all.
Lita [00:20:04] Right.
Alex [00:20:04] OK. Those things. Are more acceptable you know what. If you get a phone call in the dispensary you we don't want you necessarily taking it in the dispensing area because there is a waiting room but you go in the waiting room and you take it you know.
Lita [00:20:20] Is there always a sale on something.
Alex [00:20:23] Generally Yeah. You know at the beginning. No. There wasn't a sale board at least maybe there were the emails that were going out every Monday. You get the weekly sale which is generally by cultivation you know revolution is having a sale. Grassroots is having a sale on flower. Maybe there's some oils on sale if you will but those are more general where just about every other dispensary you're also giving it the in-house sales or maybe something that just isn't getting recognized that we know is is worth it if you will. So we put it up there and it draws the question Hey what's that and then you talk about it. Now they're interested in. Generally it's a good enough price that if they have enough money to.
Lita [00:21:13] Try it.
Alex [00:21:14] Yeah they will add in. You could say bartenders recommendation if you want but generally it's it's a strain up there that we know works is that just something we're trying to push.
Ron [00:21:26] Let me jump in and ask a quick question. The number of customers maybe in your dispensary or statewide has that jumped up.
Alex [00:21:40] Yeah definitely. And that was due to the conditions list if you will. I mean it was there was 38 or 48 I can't remember original conditions which seems like a lot but they were all very serious. You know I mean. Anything from HIV. Cancer. Arthritis. There was osteo I believe. Then there was like severe spinal cord damage. There's traumatic brain injury stuff like that lupus all sorts of different things but there wasn't. Like a chronic pain if you will. Which if you look at it it is a way for anyone kind of to get a candidate card. But at the same time fibromyalgia is pretty much a chronic pain it's a chronic inflammation that actually is diagnosed after the doctors kind of go well we don't know what's going on so it's generally fibromyalgia in this case. You know after all the blood tests are done and stuff like that. So it's harder to get diagnosed with something like that than it is with an overall chronic pain because you've had seven back surgeries you just haven't fractured your spinal cord yet you know. So which is unfortunate you know because there's more people out there with with those injuries if you will that aren't as severe but they're being fed opioids which is.
Lita [00:23:14] Right. Right. Right. You know that's correct. Dr. Weil was talking about that. His. One of his greatest concerns is that in the sports industry they're pushing opioids but not. Pushing medical marijuana. And then they're testing for drug use. And then the players are out of luck because they've been pushed the opioid. So it's just a it's a kind.
Ron [00:23:42] Of fail a drug test.
Lita [00:23:44] Yeah you're right.
Alex [00:23:46] And you know I will say athletes in general they do have. They maintain their body very well. So a lot of them they produce like the CBD oils from hemp that they know are legal if you will because there's microscopic amounts of THC in there that don't affect you know that up into a certain point of THC. It won't affect you really you know and I mean that's not for everyone. But I could say a large percentage of people would not be affected by this. You know the THC factor in the CBD oils. That's why it's out there. That's why there's there's the loophole if you will because technically it's still under the federal ban but. There's numbers to all those bands if you will.
Alex [00:24:37] And they need the numbers.
Lita [00:24:39] So if it lets say I bought something and I'm not happy with it. Can I return it and try something different.
Alex [00:24:48] So no and that is that is a state law. Once you walk out those doors you can't return anything. Now product breaks product actually comes empty. Right. So you're not necessarily flower like if you buy a gram or an eighth it is prepackaged. But generally you can feel the gram in there. You can see through the container and it's you can see the flower in there. But there have been times where you buy a joint pack. There must be five in there. There's nothing in there. So what happens is you reimburse them because one everything's prepackaged so it's not like it came out at the dispensary. It never was put in at the cultivation.
Lita [00:25:32] OK.
Alex [00:25:32] So what you do is basically we have a product issue report and we report all the issues that come through and then I don't know if it's once a month or once a year or every six months or whatever it may be but then you let these people know and then there you know they go about it in a business like manner. So we have no issue with her plate. You know what.
Lita [00:25:53] When it was a faulty product.
Alex [00:25:55] Right. We you can't bring it back in. Which is unfortunate because some of the times with vape pens or cartridges or disposables you can actually kind of fix them if you will if maybe it's just a battery issue or the heating element is it touching something that it needs to and you can actually maneuver them. But we're not allowed to to do that. So generally what happens is if you if it looks broken and you know we ask for a video or picture and we see that you're not getting anything out of your product we reimburse you can you know. But then with that being said there is there's there's some rules or in-house rules behind it. You know if you purchase something like a disposable pen we'll be straightforward and say do you plan on using this within the next week or so. Because if you don't you run a higher risk of opening it one day and that battery not working because the disposable pen is all put together for you. Right. It's just the single little stick with a little soldered battery together you can drop it once and it can break if you will. You know they're very cheap in my opinion but the vape cartridges you can go out and buy your own vape battery from a vape shop that is almost indestructible and will fit the threading of the cartridges and you know you run less of a risk of that breaking. Now if your cartridge breaks in its package you take a picture in. Next time you come in you show it to us and we even reimburse you. No it's not. So you came in and bought five products and they were all broken. You know you as the consumer if you were the patient we're gonna be like hey you can either take a new product or would you just like a reimbursement with your money and maybe try a different product. You know because at that point it's I don't want you going home again for the sixth time and now that's your sanity. We don't want that's this. No one wants that.
Ron [00:27:59] So it sounds like what you're saying is state laws state law once you buy it's yours. However if there's some type of defect whatsoever that you guys will work with the consumer to make them happy.
Alex [00:28:11] Yep. Yeah definitely.
Ron [00:28:13] Now you also mentioned I mean I find this amazing. You mentioned the edibles the flowers the Babe Kircher kids concentrate topically. I know maybe I'm the only one that was not aware that there was so much out there.
Lita [00:28:28] I'm right there with you.
Alex [00:28:30] There are suppositories as well.
Lita [00:28:32] So suppositories as well.
Ron [00:28:33] That's a new one.thank You.
Lita [00:28:35] OK.
Alex [00:28:37] And then you know what it's funny because someone with Crohn's that would be a very useful way to medicate because it's actually getting to their digestive area faster than we do. Yes. So it's you know it in whoopie Goldberg's out there doing her thing for. For women with cervical cancer. She's making tampons and stuff like that with CBD in it. It's funny to think about but that's that's where it's going you know people are thinking Colorado you can get an inhaler which before that. The closest thing to an inhaler would be a vape pen because it's virtually the same amount of air vapor that you know an inhaler is obviously last but to an extent you can get a very soft head off of it putting it on.
Ron [00:29:26] Wow that's totally some impressive stuff. I would not have known earlier you mentioned about again go back to the metric system in grams and all that. Is there a. Limit as to how much a person can buy at one time.
Alex [00:29:47] No. Well yes. So you're 70 grams or two and a half ounces is what you can buy say within two weeks. But you have the free will to buy that and your first purchase. But that being said if you buy your first purchase you then have to wait 14 days f.
Ron [00:30:07] Or their database or something that shows how much.
Alex [00:30:10] OK. Yeah. Like every time you come to the window and you show your medical card in a state I.D. or driver's license you know we scan the medical card and it comes up. You know John Doe 37 grams left 70 grams and they'll ask Hey how you know what's my what's my allotment. And you're like All right pay you get 17 today a you know you're just in luck. You know we have some good half ounces on sale that you might like or something you know something like that. And you know now they're in here and then they might Oh I'm only here for a couple of joints actually. OK. Cool or edible. All right. Awesome. You know.
Ron [00:30:44] Wow that's a lot of information. Thank you. Thank you. You've been very informative. A lot of good information for us and for our listeners and. I dont know do you have anything to add to it.
Lita [00:31:00] Well where once we post this I'm hoping that we get some questions from the audience and if there are questions I'm going to direct them back to Alex because I am not a resident knowledge expert here and we're probably bring you back again maybe in a month or two after we get the questions and then you can address those questions individually is that ok?.
Alex [00:31:25] Definately.
Lita [00:31:25] That's great. Well thank you for. Thank you Alex for adding this critical piece of information to a subject that. I know it's new and confusing to many people especially people in my age group and people in my age group need it. So you know we feel like we're. You were saying taboo. But it's not just Taboo but it's so overwhelming the amount of information is so overwhelming. Thank God that we're going to. Now we know that we've got people like you that will take good care of us and take time with us. Go through it with us. Answer all our questions. I think it's going to be a piece of cake. And as always we have additional information at our Web site. W w w dot Podcast DX dot com, our Facebook page, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. And until next time we're up before we're out.
Ron [00:32:23] before we're out If you have a moment to spare please give us a five star review on iTunes podcast app.
Lita [00:32:29] Absolutely. Thank you Ron.
Ron [00:32:31] And now until next time.