Not everyone has a green thumb

Good thing budmaster Jake has an eagle eye for ‘the cure’

Budmaster Jake helps patients at Northstar Holistic Collective, a quiet downtown collective known for its excellent Tahoe OG Kush strain.

Budmaster Jake helps patients at Northstar Holistic Collective, a quiet downtown collective known for its excellent Tahoe OG Kush strain.

Photo By Louise Mitchell

Visit Northstar Holistic Collective at 1236 C Street,
Buddy Peeler is a medical-cannabis patient writing for SN&R under a pseudonym.

When I first got my medical-cannabis card, I did not know there was going to be a huge difference from one club to another. Sure, some are fancier than others, and some have really cute young women working there. But a Purple Kush is a Purple Kush and Sour Diesel is a Sour Diesel. Or so I thought.

Budmaster Jake at Northstar Holistic Collective told me more about genomes, genotypes, phenotypes, THC, CBD, the Punnett square and Mendel’s Laws than I got in an entire semester of Bio 10 at Sacramento State. Jake looks more like a high-school science teacher with tenure than the usual clueless stony-eyed surfer dude who seems to be behind every pot shop counter in Sacramento County. He is a walking encyclopedia of cannabis and its cultivation history. He is also an expert on various problems with contaminated weed and shoddy growing methods.

Jake personally inspects all the medicine that comes through Northstar’s doors for mold, mildew and insect damage, and rejects anything that is not up to his standards. “The first thing that I look for when I first open a bag,” he said, “is for that initial smell to hit me. If it has a really good smell to it, then I know that that person who grew it at least knew what they were doing with the cure.”

Using a magnifying light and his keen senses, Jake recently inspected a pound, ripped open a seemingly nice, tight bud, only to discover powdery white mold. The vendor was sent. “If I didn’t search that pound and find that mold,” Jake expounded, “then we would have been providing bad medicine to our patients. It would do more harm to them by selling something with mold in it. Respiratory, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cancer—they can all have a full meltdown!”

Budmaster Jake is also passionate about helping a patient get the right dosage of THC and CBD. “To be quite honest,” he said, “being a patient myself, I hit other clubs, and I can tell you not every club really inspects their herb. There is a lot of powdery mildew on shelves out there that people don’t realize.”

Part of the problem is that medical cannabis is the new California gold rush, or what may be known in a hundred years as the “green rush.”

“Any mom and pop can open a shop now, if they have the funding to do it,” Jake observed. “Let’s say your son talks you into opening a shop, so the parent funds this. They have a kid that they think knows what is going on, but does he really? Does he really have the background to know what he’s looking for? Does he just look and say, ‘That’s fine,’ and buy it because it looks good and smells good, but does he know what mold looks like? Does he know what powdery mildew looks like? Does he know what spider mites and damage looks like?”

Cultivating medical pot has become a home-based industry, a modern-day egg-farm scheme to get rich quick. But, like an episode of The Flintstones, many amateur growers end up with bad weed, huge electrical bills and angry spouses. It isn’t as easy as just buying some clones, putting them into a 5-gallon planter and, like magic, you have great pot.

“The very first time that I grew pot,” Jake said, “I thought it was the best thing ever. I look back on it now, and it was the worse pot that I’ve ever seen.”

To help educate Northstar’s members, Jake teaches a Saturday morning growing class. “There are a lot of first-time growers that have no clue,” Jake said, shaking his head. “At the grow class that I teach, all these guys are all novices. None of these guys have no idea about pest, molds and mildew and what they are doing and what they should be looking for. That’s why I’m trying to help them out, to realize that this is important stuff that you have to look out for.”