Whatever floats your bud

Jay Frentsos, budtender at Urbn Leaf in San Diego.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

As one of the original employees of licensed San Diego marijuana dispensary Urbn Leaf, floor manager Jay Frentsos is jumping into legalization head first. This means navigating a learning curve of new regulations, long customer lines and changing perceptions, something he’s all too excited to do as someone who has been working in cannabis for many years.

PACIFIC checked in with Frentsos to see how things are going since prohibition was lifted on Jan. 1, and to get some advice for would-be dispensary-goers.

PACIFIC: What kind of people are shopping at Urbn Leaf these days?

JAY FRENTSOS: We’re seeing so many people over the age of 50! I think that’s the biggest group. It’s been illegal for their whole lives and they just want to see it for themselves. Also, a lot of people are coming in looking for alternatives to pharmaceuticals for depression, anxiety, pain or other things.

Budtender Jay Frentsos shows various marijuana edibles sold at the Urbn Leaf marijuana dispensary.

Budtender Jay Frentsos shows various marijuana edibles sold at the Urbn Leaf marijuana dispensary.

(Hayne Palmour IV/San Diego Union-Tribune)

What are people buying the most?

The standards — flower, concentrates and edibles. CBD (cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis plants) products are very popular. And the sex stuff! The lubes and suppositories are going like crazy.

What can dispensary first-timers expect on their first visit?

We are very customer-friendly here and are happy to answer any questions. First, I’m going to ask them if they’re using it for a medical problem or just to experiment and have fun.

If it’s medical, we’ll determine whether they want to smoke or use a tincture or other topical product. If it’s for recreation, I’ll ask them if they smoke or if they’d prefer edibles.

Then I ask how they want to feel — uplifted and awake or something to help them relax or fall asleep. I ask them if they prefer to feel it in their head or their body. If they smoke, I’ll ask them about flower versus oil cartridges or wax.

What do you recommend they try?

For a first time marijuana user, I always suggest flower. You’re in Southern California, it’s always had the reputation of being a weed-friendly place. We grow exotic strains and a first-timer would only need one puff to get that head change and body effect. You can try flower grown outdoors first, that’s lower potency. Then move onto the top shelf indoor flower.

Jay Frentsos, budtender at Urbn Leaf in San Diego.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

What would you say to someone who’s apprehensive about using cannabis or visiting a dispensary?

I’d say just give us a try. All of this is regulated. It’s not like the Wild Wild West anymore with sketchy dispensaries. Here, you can see the bud room from the street. And everyone who works here has dispensary experience and knows their stuff.

Have there been any notable customers visiting Urbn Leaf since Jan. 1?

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan was here earlier today. We invited her in to show her that there’s people here from all over the world, all different ages, all kinds of people. That it’s not a bad thing.

Also, my mom came to visit and she hasn’t smoked in 20 years. I gave her two 10 milligram edibles and she was giggling for hours.

Is budtending like bartending at all?

Yes, there’s definitely a comparison. It’s product knowledge — you have to know what’s right for someone based on what they’re asking. No different from someone asking for a dirty martini or an Old Fashioned, you have to know milligrams, effects, flavors, price points, where it comes from.

What’s the funniest question you’ve been asked?

Probably instructing people how to use the suppositories — you stick it in your butt! And once someone came in and pointed at a bud and asked what it was. It’s weed! We’re trained to handle any question though, nothing is too basic.

Do you support the lifting of marijuana prohibition in California?

I want to say yes, so more people can try it. But the regulations they put on it make it harder for everyone to get on board. Medical patients that have had their cards for the last 10 years? They’re not used to the lower dosage regulations, the lines, the taxes, the mandatory childproof bags they have to pay for and they’re frustrated. It’s really affected edibles, too — diabetes patients now have to eat more to get relief, which isn’t healthy. Recreationally? People are stoked. But me, personally? Yes, I think I’m glad it ended. I’m working harder, but I am a cannabis enthusiast, and I’m glad more people can use it.

What’s your personal favorite way to indulge?

Personally, I like dabbing (using wax concentrate). It’s more potent.


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