Name: Zach York, Certified Ganjier
Location: Denver, Colorado
Ganjier Graduating Class: November, 2021
Favorite Cultivar(s): Red Velvet, Ridgeline Farms / Whitethorn Rose, Huckleberry Hill Farms / Thunderdome, Green Dot Labs / Zkittles, 710 Labs / Sour Diesel
What was your position before joining Ganjier?
Inventory Manager at Lightshade, an independently owned chain of 9 medical and recreational dispensaries.
What is it now?
Director of Purchasing | In-house Certified Ganjier, Lightshade
What was your primary motivation for joining the cannabis field?
My primary motivation for joining the cannabis field came down to thinking about what I could see myself happily doing on a daily basis for years to come.
Cannabis seemed like the natural choice, as the potential individual, social, and societal benefits had sparked my passion for years. I treasured the experience of consuming with friends, partners, and myself, as well as utilizing the medicinal benefits of the plant. I wanted to be around it, learn more, and unlock the potential to share with others.
This drive, coupled with the perspective provided by years of growing up under prohibition in Indiana, led to my career in cannabis. Experiencing the unjust laws and the blatant hypocrisy in how cannabis and cannabis consumers were treated played a large role in my move to Colorado in 2012 to try to join the regulated industry.
I started trimming at Alpenglow Botanicals in Breckenridge, CO in 2013, working up to overseeing all post-harvest management and purchasing over the next 4 years. I moved to Denver and joined Lightshade, and have been grateful to explore my professional interests in the Inventory and Purchasing departments.
Why did you choose the Ganjier Cannabis Certification Program?
The collective knowledge base behind the Ganjier Council made the choice clear. The combined experience and reputations of those involved won me over, and it made sense to get as much information as possible from the legacy farmers in California.
The support of Lightshade company leadership in trying to foster and encourage quality production in Colorado also contributed towards choosing the program.
I chose the Ganjier Program because the industry needs the support and guidance of a unifying voice to accurately speak to consumers about flower appearance, aroma, taste, and experience, and backs up what many in the field have been saying for a long time – terpenes, cannabinoids and entourage effect impact experience more than total THC percentage, every individual’s body chemistry interacts differently with any given sample, and organic/regenerative practices have the potential to produce superior results.
What did you expect going into the Ganjier course?
Going into the course, I was expecting to gain a deeper understanding of cannabis and its interactions with the body. I had watched the Ganjier YouTube videos, and was excited to listen to the council members.
What did you find?
I found all of that and more. The wealth of information the Ganjier Council members possess is beyond what I could have imagined.
In addition to the detail provided in the online coursework, talking with the professors at training and testing was immensely valuable.
I’m also grateful for the network and community that Ganjier has created. Post-graduation there are so many ways to participate and jump into the group whether on Discord or weekly video calls.
Was there a game-changing “A-ha” moment for you during the course?
One of my many “A-ha” moments during the course for me was going through the coursework on Developing a Cannabis Palate, by Kimberly Hooks, aka Madame Cannoli.
Focusing in extreme detail and attention to the flavors and aromas being presente, highlighted the importance of intentional consumption, and mindful practice with cannabis. The exercises provided and comparisons to food and wines helped hone my skills for the testing.
What skills/knowledge/philosophy have you been able to take away and apply to your cannabis career?
With the Ganjier Program, I have been able to refine my skills all around. The training in product and flower assessment contributed greatly, as a main component of my current role.
The knowledge surrounding terpenes, and morphology rather than effect defining sativa/indica varieties verified and corrected different things I’d heard before. The philosophies on regenerative and organic practices contributed to my understanding of how those can greatly increase terpene levels and variety.
This is all vital in evaluating and negotiating with brands, and discerning which products to offer to customers at our dispensaries.
What impact has the Ganjier training had on your cannabis career?
The Ganjier training has had a direct positive impact on my future cannabis career. I feel more equipped to be reliable in my current position, as well as prepared to tackle any new challenges that arise. I’ve been able to directly utilize my Ganjier Certification at work, and am working with our sales staff to train them on Ganjier principles and sales interaction guidelines.
To those considering the Ganjier course, what advice would you give?
My advice would be to do it! You have nothing to lose.