Iconic Berkeley, CA, record store Amoeba Music opened a dispensary next door to its space on Telegraph Avenue in the summer of 2018. The fledgling business has already generated quite a buzz, both literally and figuratively. Buyer Chris Garcia works hard to find the best cannabis, from buds to edibles. I interviewed him to find out how he landed such a sweet job.
“I started as a music buyer for Amoeba Music. I was the one who ordered all of the toys & collectibles,” says Garcia. “I eventually became an LP pricer and buyer. Around the same time, I received my medical marijuana card. I also started growing my own medicine. I read every book I could get my hands on. Through time my passion for music & cannabis grew.”
After 15 years at Amoeba, he was thrilled to find out that the proprietors planned to open a dispensary, and even more thrilled to be offered a job as the head cannabis buyer. Making the transition was a natural step; Garcia already knew what good cannabis looked like, and quickly picked up the tools and skills needed to examine it more thoroughly.
“I ask to see the [Certificates of Analysis] of any flower I am interested in purchasing. I have to view, smell, & taste any cannabis that I am considering for purchase,” says Garcia. “I put it under my trusty Celestron microscope to view the color & condition of the trichomes. And I look for any discoloration on the vegetable matter.”
When buyers choose which bud to buy, they have to know more than just how much THC is in it. A common misperception among cannabis consumers is that THC is all that matters; the belief is that the more THC a plant contains, the higher it will get you.
“THC content is important, but in my opinion, the terpene profile is just as important,” says Garcia. Terpenes are the essential oils contained within the cannabis plant that give it its unique flavor and smell. Due to a phenomenon called the entourage effect, they also enhance the effects of the cannabinoids THC and CBD.
When asked for product recommendations, Garcia has plenty. “I am enjoying the new licorice edibles by Emerald Sky. I also like OM Edibles’ Melange Gummi, and the CBN cartridge and tincture from Mary’s Medicinals. There are so many delicious new strains currently on the market.” He breaks his recommendations down into indoor strains (Melonade from AlienLabs, Gelato 33 by Kings Garden, Viper Cookies by Madrone) and outdoor strains (Angel Cake and Tangie by Blue Nose, Doc’s OG by Pacific Cultivation, N’ice Cream by Connected).
He prefers to work with trusted farms repeatedly. “I like to source our in-house flower from small, family owned farms,” Garcia says. “Clean Green Certified [the cannabis industries equivalent to an organic designation] farms are also a preference. The Emerald Triangle is the region I source all of our sun-grown flower from….I have cultivated, no pun intended, close relationships & bonds with my small farm families.”
Besides getting paid to sample the best cannabis, Garcia’s job is enviable for another reason: he gets to live his ethics. “Promoting the environmental & health benefits of consuming sun-grown cannabis is always on my agenda,” he says. In an age of enormous, indoor grows, he’s truly making a difference for both the environment and Hi-Fidelity’s clientele.
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