Have questions about cannabis? Whether you’re a novice looking for advice, trying edibles for the first time, or searching for a strain to help with anxiety or depression, these metro Detroit pot pros have you covered.
Emily Koehler of Breeze
24517 John R. Road, Hazel Park; breeze.us
While living in cannabis hotspot Lansing, medical marijuana user Emily Koehler saw an opportunity to ditch her food service gig for something she was passionate about. She found jobs at local farms and dispensaries and never looked back. She’s now a budtender at Breeze, a Hazel Park provisioning center that — with its marble floors and sleek, modern displays — looks equally suited to selling high-end jewelry.
How does budtending differ from your previous jobs?
It’s not just another sales job. You can’t treat it like you’re selling food or cars. Customers come in to improve their quality of life, so you connect with people on a more personal level.
What has cannabis done for your own health?
My therapist suggested it to treat my PTSD, and it improved my quality of life. There’s something powerful about taking your health into your own hands.
What’s one cannabis myth you’d like to debunk?
We get a lot of disappointed people who’ve heard they could gain energy from sativas. Sativas produce a euphoric, stress-relieving high. This can make you feel more energetic, but not in the way a stimulant would.
What would you recommend for depression?
Some studies show long-term THC use can worsen depression, so I recommend non-psychoactive cannabinoids. The Wise Owl CBD tincture. Take it daily, like a vitamin. Slowly, you’ll start to see the effects.
Michelle Ficyk of Greenhouse
103 E. Walled Lake Drive, Walled Lake; greenhousemi.com
Inspired by medical marijuana’s effectiveness in stabilizing her diabetes and bipolar disorder, Livonia resident Michelle Ficyk became a receptionist at a Downriver provisioning center. There, she learned about the cannabis industry but wanted a more active role in helping customers. Then, 10 months ago, she started working as a budtender at Greenhouse in Walled Lake — a quaint, inviting provisioning center nestled in a green colonial.
How have you used cannabis in your own life?
One of my biggest issues was insomnia. It took so many pills before I could fall asleep that my doctors worried I’d stop breathing during the night. Finally, we tried medical marijuana, and it helped enormously. I never looked back.
What advice would you give to a new user?
Keep track of what you used, how much you used, and how it made you feel. Those notes are invaluable to us as budtenders.
What would you say to a customer who’s anxious about using cannabis after an unpleasant experience?
I’ve had those customers. I assure them that we’ll walk them through this process so carefully that the risk is virtually nonexistent. I’d rather people start slow than have a bad experience.
What’s your favorite way to use cannabis?
I’m an edibles fan. The effects last longer than with inhalation, making them ideal for long-lasting pain relief or falling and staying asleep.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Helping people at their wits’ end, like I was three years ago. It’s tough to hear what they’re going through, but when you can help them, it’s amazing.
What would you recommend for pain relief?
Indica. It targets the body, as opposed to producing a head high, like a sativa. For people who aren’t looking for intoxication, THC topicals can be enormously effective.
Anthony Jones of High Profile
617 Packard St., Ann Arbor; highprofilecannabis.com
Ypsilanti resident Anthony Jones began working at High Profile — Cloud Cover Cannabis’ flagship location — a year ago, after leaving a job that made him unhappy. With a background in retail, he felt at home at the Ann Arbor provisioning center, which carries products from the company’s own facility in Webberville, as well as from a variety of other brands.
What makes you so passionate about the industry?
I’ve seen what it’s done for not only our customers, but my own family as well. My grandfather uses cannabis for his ailments, which include diabetes and congestive heart failure. The other medications that might help come with so many adverse side effects, it’s hardly worth the trade-off.
What’s your favorite strain?
Cloud Cover Queso Perro is my go-to. I love the smell. It’s one of those old-school, musty strains you don’t see as often nowadays. Plus, it’s a nice balance of body and head high.
What advice would you give to a cannabis novice?
Take your time, because things hit people differently. I’ve known people who’d take edibles, and it would hit them in 15 minutes. Then, I’ve known people who didn’t feel it for three hours.
How should a new user go about choosing a product?
Choose a strain you enjoy the smell of. We always say, “The nose knows,” meaning typically, something that smells good to you will give you a positive high.
What kind of products are best for anxiety relief?
I’d suggest something with CBD, to balance out possible negative side effects of THC. CBD on its own can help with anxiety as well, so CBD tinctures and topicals are good options. And steer clear of sativas.
Robin Uicker of Liv Ferndale
2625 Hilton Road, Ste. 100, Ferndale; livferndale.com
Two years ago, West Bloomfield resident Robin Uicker realized her food service job wasn’t providing the fulfillment she desired. She asked herself which industries she was passionate about and thought immediately of medical marijuana, which had been supporting her mental health for years. She worked for about a year at an Ann Arbor provisioning center, before relocating to help open Liv Ferndale. A unique feature of this warm, modern space is its waiting room, which doubles as a smoke shop, complete with papers, pipes, glassware, and other paraphernalia.
Why do you use cannabis?
I struggle with depression and anxiety, so it’s a mood stabilizer for me.
What’s your perspective on the stigma around cannabis?
People sometimes see cannabis as just a numbing agent and users as lazy. But in the last few years, people have started to see loved ones benefit, and that perception is shifting.
What motivates you to stay in this industry?
On any day, you have no idea who might need your help — they could have autoimmune diseases, cancer, fibromyalgia, PTSD. What keeps me intrigued is that there’s always more to learn. There’s always new research being published and new, innovative products coming out.
What should someone look for when buying cannabis for the first time?
Don’t focus on just one thing. You don’t go to the grocery store and just get whatever is cheapest, or to a party store and get whatever has the highest alcohol percentage. Don’t get stuck on just percentage or just price tag; try to find something that’ll work for you overall.
What products are most effective for sleep aid?
Edibles. The effects last longer than other methods, so they’ll help you stay asleep. The Motor City Cannabites Goodnight Grape candies specifically target sleep. I can personally attest to that.
Natalia Cardenas of New Standard
24906 John R. Road, Hazel Park; anewstandard.com
Natalia Cardenas loves customer service. But after 10 years of waitressing, she’d grown unsatisfied with the food industry, and the lockdown-mandated closure of the restaurant where she worked was just the push she needed. Intrigued by the elevated provisioning center she’d seen driving down John R., she applied and was hired as a budtender at New Standard. The Hazel Park space feels both lush and relaxed, with abundant greenery and midcentury-chic décor.
Why do you enjoy using cannabis?
Cannabis unlocks my creative side. It also helps stabilize my mood and brought me out of a depression when I was younger.
You’ve been in the industry just seven months — how would you describe your experience?
Sometimes, guests come back saying our products are helping them, and I break down in tears. It’s much more rewarding than just not forgetting someone’s ranch.
What do you recommend for someone who’s had unpleasant experiences
I’d point them to CBD. It’ll counteract the psychoactive effects of THC, which can heighten anxiety. The Cresco Star Tonic cartridge, for instance, contains a 1-2 ratio of THC and CBD and offers a calmer high.
What advice would you give to someone trying edibles for the first time?
Eat food with them. Cannabis needs to attach to something in your stomach; otherwise, it won’t activate. Or, it could activate three hours later, which may not work for your schedule.
What’s the difference between the medicinal and recreational menus?
Mainly, the medical menu has a lower tax rate. It also offers some higher-dose products, but many products appear on both menus.
What do you recommend for social occasions?
Sativas are euphoric and can make people very social. I like the Wana Mango Sativa Gummies. They make me feel chatty and giggly.