A true bud

PHOTO/JERI CHADWELL

Eric Johnson has worked in Nevada’s cannabis industry as a budtender and now works for the marijuana delivery service BlackbirdGo. He and co-worker Joey Johnson (no relation) are starting a new business called WeEdu. Their end goal is to develop a point-of-sale system that allows budtenders to teach their clients about the cannabis products they have available and the different effects of each. For now, the pair is producing a series of online blog posts labeled like college courses that cover cannabis basics from “WeEdu 110: What To Expect In A Dispensary” to “WeEdu 207: Sublinguals and Suppositories.” They’re available on the BlackbirdGo website: www.blackbirdgo.com/discover.

How did the idea for WeEdu come about?

Back when we were actually budtending, they called us lead budtenders. … The idea is basically automating the process of being the best budtender you could be. That’s something we took upon ourselves when we were budtending. There’s training programs in place, but it’s really a lot. And if you do fall in love with it, it’s a lot learning on your own. … Back when it was all still medical, so we called people “patients.” So it was “patient recognition.” So, you know, if you have a little old lady who walks through the door who’s never seen cannabis before, you have to figure out what she does know and what she doesn’t know and try to lead her, eventually, to what product is going to be best for her. That’s where the idea came from—taking that experience and getting all of those resources in one place … and creating, basically, a search engine to help the budtenders.

So you’re teaching them what they want. Would, say, someone with anxiety use this to arrive at what she wants?

Yeah, you and your budtender could just type “anxiety” in there, and it will pop up with all of the products that a) you maybe would want to stay away from, and b) using a few more inputs like, “something to sleep” … would also help you look for things you want.

Online it starts with 100- and 200-level courses that cover using cannabis, but then the 300-level is “What is THC?” You’re intercepting current users, so is that why it addresses teaching use before the science basics?

We’re trying to go more into the top-of-the-line science that’s coming out and trying to gather all of that and putting it on the frontlines. That was kind of the first one, so we’re going to go into CBD. There’s also CBG, which not a lot of people know about … and CBN and then all of the terpenes, too. … But we’re all learning together. We’re not saying we have all of the answers. We can’t say that yet because no one does. That’s the way that all came down, with pot as a Schedule I drug—and so there hasn’t been all of these legitimate studies done.

Seems like there are a lot of goals here.

Yeah, it’s kind of a “what, how, why” thing. So what we do is educate. How we do it is with the build-in to the point-of-sale system. Why we do it, basically, is … anger at how it’s been held down throughout all of these years. I really see the medicinal value in it. I saw it every day working as a budtender. I’ve seen people that it really, really increased their quality of life.