Gage Reisinger is a medical cannabis consultant at Backroad Wellness in Lima, Ohio, and a current executive program student at the Cleveland School of Cannabis in Independence, Ohio. I recently had the privilege of speaking with him about his experiences as a budtender.
What I learned: He’s an all-around genuine, empathetic individual who is making his dreams come true by providing great service and in-depth patient education.
Tell me a little about yourself, your background, and how you came into the cannabis space?
A few years ago, before Covid hit, I had gone into a job interview for a private security company for one of their local manufacturing facilities and the interviewer asked me about my stance on cannabis. I’d never been asked that question before so I was kind of taken aback. But I answered honestly, saying that I’m neither 100 percent for nor against legalization. But I do think it will be the next “Green Rush,” and if you can take advantage of it early, go ahead and do it.
They offered me a dispatcher position for $3 more an hour than the position I was applying for and I felt like this is the big break that I wasn’t expecting. I worked with that company for a little over a year then moved to Verilife dispensary in Wapakoneta and was there for almost two years. I transitioned to Backroad Wellness earlier this year.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is the consultations. They call me “Professor” at work because I like to sit down and educate my patients not just on selecting their THC percentage as most people do, but on all the cannabinoids and benefits of them that they can use to treat their condition.
If someone comes in and it’s my first time consulting with them, I start by figuring out what their condition is, and what their daily routine is, so I can figure out what products will best fit their lifestyle and then make those suggestions. I look at their purchase history and ask how they liked certain products so I can make recommendations.
Not everyone will take the time to learn what terpenes and strains work best for them, so if patients can give me a list of what strains they like, I’ll put in the footwork for them and research – even off the clock -to be able to help them out. It’s just in my DNA to help people and I want to help patients get the relief they need.
What are some positive comments from patients about the OMMCP? What do they feel can be improved?
I hear a lot from people that they don’t always get the level of consulting and education that I try to give in my job. I think that Ohio should have a standardized training program for our budtenders.
Our pricing has definitely come down in recent years, but I still get people who say they will just go to Michigan where costs are lower. However, those same people admit that Ohio’s quality is better, but ultimately it comes down to price for them. It’s a double-edged sword but I also don’t think you can compare a medical-only program to a recreational program. I will say though that many patients have asked about Senate Bill 9 and have asked us to fill them in on that because they are unsure what it means for the medical program.
How do you stay up to date on news, products and other happenings in this ever-changing industry?
I use any avenue possible. I’ve made it mandatory for all of my budtenders to have Leafly as one of their quick links at the register so if you have a strain that comes in and somebody is asking about it, you can instantly look it up and determine what the dominant terpenes are and best uses for it, in order to educate them. Beyond that, I always pay attention to posts online from vendors about new products becoming available and I research them to gather all the information I can for my patients. I keep a stack of every info sheet and paper given to me by vendors since the beginning of the program so I can go back and cross-reference as needed.
What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
I hope to eventually be at a cultivating and processing facility, being able to work with rosin and high-class flower.
What are some of your passions outside of cannabis?
I’m either fishing or I’m blowing glass. I’m a glassblower and I’ve been taking lessons for the last two years, slowly building out my home studio, but it’s expensive. I could definitely see myself maybe selling some pieces down the road more consistently, but it didn’t start out that way for me. I went to a demo at a headshop and thought it was really cool and decided I wanted to try it. I started taking lessons and picked it up quickly. Over the past two years, I’ve learned a ton, made a lot of friends, and even sold a few of my pieces which paid for my lessons. I definitely see it as something I want to grow with and continue doing for a long time.
What advice would you give someone just starting their cannabis career?
Be open and absorb it like a sponge. This industry is always changing and you’re going to need to adapt and overcome every obstacle that comes your way.
Guest Post by LeeAnne Crawford