Name: Eddie Graveline | Certified Ganjier
Location: Medford, OR
Ganjier Graduating Class: July, 2022
Chemdawg, Mimosa, Sour Diesel, Frozen Lemons, Durban Poison… I like a lot of old school crosses and tropical land race cultivars. I tend to go for things that are uplifting and energetic most of the time.
What was your position before joining Ganjier?
I’ve been self-employed for over 20 years now. I was a busy freelance journalist/ PR Manager and an independent insurance claims adjuster, but it was not something that I was ever passionate about. I longed to get back to a career that was fulfilling in a much more meaningful way than just making a living.
What is it now?
I now own a dispensary in Medford, Oregon called “The Herbsman!” I’ve also recently created a media & consulting company with my friend and fellow Certified Ganjier, Anthony Alvarado. We very recently launched our YouTube channel (HRBSMN TV), where we are focused on creating connoisseur driven content for cannabis enthusiasts. We also offer SAP services to growers and distributors as well as hosting private connoisseur tastings and events.
What was your primary motivation for joining the cannabis field?
Like many who enter the cannabis industry, my relationship with the plant was what fueled my desire to work with it on a professional level. I grew up in a very conservative, stigmatized environment. I knew “stoners” in high school and throughout my early adult life, had a hit from a joint here and there, but never saw cannabis presented in an authentic or elevated way.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 40s that I started experimenting with it in a very conscious manner. Paying attention changed everything and almost overnight, I found myself fully engaged and enamored with the plant. I soon found that it provided precious relief from my various ailments and it played a huge role in helping my wife recover from a severe back injury and subsequent surgery.
After seeing so many positive aspects of cannabis within my own life, I became increasingly frustrated with prohibition and the stigma that I grew up with. Here was something completely natural and non-toxic that my body was designed to receive and use for its benefit! I knew that there were millions of people like me that could be benefitting from cannabis, but wouldn’t consider it due to stigma and perception.
I have a lot of “missions”, if you will, when it comes to cannabis, but I’m probably most passionate about reaching people who have been severely stigmatized and showing them how many ways it can potentially help.
Why did you choose the Ganjier program?
It couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for me. I have a long history of performing quality assessments and ratings for my own personal enjoyment. It started with Bourbon and premium cigars over 25 years ago, where I would keep a dossier with tasting notes, overall scores, etc. I’ve been a wine nerd for a long time and have done the same thing, assessing thousands of wines over the years. I’ve also done formal wine training and certification programs as well (WSET Level 2 certified). Palate training is something I have been doing for decades and really enjoy, so when I saw there was a cannabis sommelier program that did the same thing, I didn’t have to think twice. I approach consumable products as a connoisseur always, but getting the tools to really get deep with cannabis was super exciting to me. Perfect fit and perfect timing.
What did you expect going into this course?
I’ve come so far in the past 18 months. Initially, the assessment training was what I was most interested in. So my expectation was mostly that I would emerge a well-trained, very competent Cannabis Sommelier.
What did you find?
I found an education that was far more comprehensive than I could have dreamed! There were gaps that I knew I needed to fill, but there were so many more that I wasn’t even aware of. I remember watching the first online courses that Frenchy Cannoli taught and thinking, ‘What did I get myself into? This is like a graduate course!’ We were studying history and archaeology, which at the time I didn’t understand the need for. What I’ve learned since, though, is that everything in the course is incredibly valuable. I’ve referenced those history lessons as well as all of the online learning units more times than I can count over the past year. The online learning is intense and can be daunting, but so worth it.
When I attended live training, though, things came together even more for me. That’s when everything really kicked into high gear. The interaction with the Ganjier Council and fellow students on campus are something I will never forget. Those two days will always stand out as some of the most meaningful learning of my life. It may sound dramatic, but I literally left Humboldt a different person than I arrived.
By the time I completed the course and passed my exams, I held a level of knowledge that would have been unfathomable to me just months before. It’s still overwhelming to look back on now. The Ganjier Program educated and prepared me in a way that, like I said, I never dreamed possible.
Was there a game-changing moment for you during the course?
Too many to count! Ganjier Council Member Aaron Varney said a few key things that really stuck with me in the units he taught (Aaron owns dispensaries in Seattle and teaches the retail focused units of the course). One of those was having a triple bottom line: Instead of focusing on being profitable alone, having a triple bottom line means measuring success based on people, profit and planet. He also challenged us to aspire to not simply be the best in our industry, but instead to be the best for our industry. That’s something I refer back to regularly as a kind of compass and a driving force behind the way I deal with farmers, suppliers, customers, etc. Those two tenets made an impact that was worth the cost of the course alone.
Another thing that I really remember clicking for me during the course, and the class farm visit to Sunnabis (Wendy Kornberg’s farm), was regenerative farming and specifically, how it all works. The Ganjier program pulled me toward sun grown cannabis in a way that had not happened before. I quickly became passionate about “outdoor” flower and trying to find real quality in the market. This was all happening simultaneously with my dispensary purchase. I knew the program was preparing me for my rapidly approaching career change, but in the moment, I didn’t realize how important it was or how much it would affect things going forward.
What skills/knowledge/philosophy have you been able to take away and apply to your cannabis career?
I could literally write pages here, but I’ll try to keep it relatively brief. First of all, the assessment or SAP training that I received has been invaluable to me. My obsessive, nerdy need to dive deep was more than satisfied, but even more importantly, it gave me the skills to assess and select the flower and other products that I want to sell in my dispensary (Please visit us at The Herbsman in Medford, OR if you ever find yourself in or near southern Oregon. We LOVE visits from the Ganjier family).
I also have to circle back to the gap-filling understanding of cultivation that I gained during the experience. Going from pieces of knowledge to having a “whole picture” kind of understanding has helped me immensely.
From the moment I visited my first farm as a potential buyer, I’ve been able to converse with and relate to cultivators in a way that instills trust, respect and appreciation. In a period of months, I’ve been able to build relationships where my input and advice is sought out by people with way more experience than I have. It just shows how comprehensive the Ganjier experience can and should be. I’m in a place right now and doing things that I can honestly say, 365 days ago, I couldn’t have. I owe a huge part of that to the Ganjier program.
What impact did the Ganjier training have on your cannabis career/future?
My Ganjier training gave me an invaluable base of knowledge to apply to my business. What I’ve learned, that many people don’t realize, is that most dispensary owners are not involved in the day-to-day operations of their stores (many are not even cannabis users themselves). As a Certified Ganjier, that model obviously wasn’t going to work for me. The knowledge and perspective I gained on the way to becoming a CG has affected every aspect of my experience owning a dispensary. I work in my store every day. I budtend as much as possible and I personally do all of our purchasing and inventory sourcing. Because of what I was learning as a Ganjier student, I started researching and visiting regenerative cannabis farms that I wanted to work with before I completed the program or the purchase of my store. By the time I moved and got started with the dispensary, I had a core group of farms that I’d already visited and wanted to bring into the shop. I’ve continued to build that network of producers that really align with our philosophies.
The dispensary we bought lacked identity completely. Now, as The Herbsman, our mission is clear: We want to be a showcase for the absolute best quality in our local region. I’m really proud to say that we don’t buy any hydro or anything grown with chemical salts and we try really hard to buy from other family businesses as opposed to multi-state operators and big corporations.
Southern Oregon is literally one of the best cannabis growing regions on Earth and I am happy to be the only dispensary dedicated to showing consumers what that should look like. We are also very passionate about educating consumers on everything from the benefits of regenerative farming and full term sun grown cannabis, to helping bridge the gap between the farmer and end user, so that hopefully both get a little more contact with each other through our store. Most consumers have no idea how to differentiate true quality from hype and most farmers never get much feedback from the people who enjoy their harvests.
To those considering the Ganjier course, what advice would you give?
Whether you’re currently in the industry, aspiring to be, or just a connoisseur, this course is for anyone with genuine passion for cannabis. Either way, go for it.
I had a specific career move that I felt justified the expense, but once I dug into the program, I realized that it offered so much more than I ever imagined. It introduced me to concepts and philosophies that I was unfamiliar with and redirected my path in ways I didn’t realize were necessary. Whatever you expect, you’ll probably get. It’s the stuff you don’t expect that takes the experience over the top. The knowledge, relationships and experiences you will gain are invaluable.