Budtender Spotlight: Patrick Aylward

I recently had the privilege of speaking with Patrick Aylward, a former chef turned budtender, turned entrepreneur, and owner of Yatz Solutions, a cannabis packaging and compliance company based in Cincinnati, Ohio. We discussed how he started working in the cannabis space, his budding company, and his thoughts on the industry in Ohio.

Patrick was a chef and hospitality employee for 15 years until the early days of the pandemic when he began to question his passion for cooking. A colleague and friend shared their plans to attend the Cleveland School of Cannabis and transition into the cannabis industry. At the time, Patrick was in his early 30s and had never considered cannabis a legal career option. But was intrigued and quickly began a quest for his first position in the cannabis industry.

The same colleague who had sparked his interest initially was helpful in Patrick landing a budtender position with Sunnyside Dispensary (formerly Verdant Creations) in Cincinnati. During his three years as a budtender, Patrick enjoyed assisting medical cannabis patients in finding products that worked best for their conditions while simultaneously creating an environment of normalization for them. “Being able to help people, make it normalized for patients, that’s what makes the job fun and enjoyable,” he said.

Eventually, Patrick decided to move beyond retail and began researching various cannabis business ideas that he could potentially start. His perseverance paid off and Yatz Solutions was born. Yatz Solutions is a cannabis packaging, consulting, and compliance company that is committed to service excellence and building meaningful relationships while focusing on the consumer experience and environmental impact at every step. They partner with other cannabis packaging brands, such as Sana and Treehugger, to provide high-quality, safe, and sustainable packaging to all their customers.

Yatz and its partners focus on packaging designs that are made from recycled and reclaimed materials and even offer plant-based packaging. “We partner with packaging companies that go beyond packaging and actually care about the industry,” says Patrick. In addition to packaging, Yatz Solutions provides compliance and inventory management services to ensure their customers’ supply chain is always moving, and free of disruptions and errors. Their team of specialists stays up to date on all regulations for Ohio and other states to ensure all packaging sold is compliant with state-specific regulations.

When asked about his thoughts on the current medical cannabis program in Ohio, Patrick states, “The current program in Ohio isn’t working. Senate Bill 9 has some positive things, but it’s like putting scotch tape over a water leak.” He further elaborates that there are still many people incarcerated for cannabis, those living in fear of consuming their medicine in nonlegal states, and the vilification of seed-to-sale businesses through astronomical tax rates and the inability to write off legitimate business expenses.

The reality of overregulation and continued stigmatization of cannabis narrows the scope of what can and cannot be done within these operations, causing growing frustrations within the industry. Despite this, Patrick seems optimistic, adding, “Ohio is proving we will have adult use. It is conducive to Ohioans having the necessary access while helping the smaller companies succeed.”

Guest Post by LeeAnne Crawford

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