This week I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with a sales rep from Saints, Onjha Whetzel. She's been in the cannabis industry for the last five years and has a lot of unique insight into what it takes to be successful here. If you ever have the chance to burn one down with her, definitely take it. She's one fun person to know. Check out our video and read the full interview below.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I'm Onjha. I help direct sales at Seattle Green Bud, or Saints, which is what we're actually moving towards now. I've been in the industry for about five years now. I used to be a budtender, I'm in dispensary sales now, I love being an advocate, and I do a lot of social media influencing for the cannabis industry.
So let's start with the big question: Why do you choose to consume?
Oh my goodness, there are so many reasons. I mainly choose to consume because of not only physical reasons, but mental health. It really helps with depression. I kind of started getting into smoking because the first time I smoked, I realized that I started coming out of my shell a little bit, I felt a lot happier, and I just wanted to continue being able to feel more artistic and getting out of my shell and being able to talk to people without feeling uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure I would never be able to do an interview like this if I didn't smoke cannabis.
You used to be a budtender, now you're at Saints. How did you make your first transition into the cannabis industry?
I started in the industry in 2013, right after I graduated high school. One of my mom's friends had just started a grow and needed trimmers, so I was like "Fuck yeah!" I love weed, so why not try and at least start trimming it. So that's where I started out, and then I sort of moved my way around the industry. The person who owned the grow also had a medical dispensary at the time, so I worked at a medical dispensary for about a year. From there I moved on to a recreational dispensary. Now I'm still working in sales, but instead of selling to the customer, I'm selling to the dispensaries.
Because you've been around cannabis so long, I'm sure you've met and talked to a lot of people both in and outside of the industry about cannabis. Have any of these interactions had any impact on your decision to stay in the industry for so long?
The medical patients are who keep me in this industry. They're the main reasons I even have my Instagram and decide to keep it around. I've thought about deleting it on multiple occasions, just because it is kind of a lot to have a lot of followers while you're posting about your life. It can be overwhelming. But the one thing that keeps me not only in the industry but on social media are the medical patients. The amount of questions I get about how cannabis can help them, what is CBD, what is CBN, what is THCA - all these things. I like to educate people and show them that weed isn't just about getting high. It can help you in so many other ways.
Okay, so you said it was a family member who originally helped you get into the industry. How does the rest of your family feel about it?
I'm really fortunate. I come from a family where my mom smokes, my grandma smokes, my sister smokes. My step-dad doesn't smoke as much, but we're pretty much just a huge family of stoners. We call Thanksgiving Danksgiving because there are just joints always being passed around pretty much. We really don't have any little kids in the family, so it's pretty much just a bunch of adults hanging out and smoking.
You have a lot of experience in the industry now, and obviously it's an extremely lucrative one. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to break into cannabis and work in this field?
My best advice is to be willing to learn, be open, and be willing to start from the bottom and work your way up. If you really have a place in this industry, you will get there. It's taken my 5 years to get to where I am, and I definitely had my times where I didn't want to continue to do it. But keep going, no matter what, and this industry will give you something back.
What is your favorite way to consume?
My favorite way to consume is definitely via a bong hit or a dab.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're stoned?
My favorite thing to do when I'm high is probably being in bed and watching Criminal Minds with my boyfriend, smoking a lot of weed with our two cats and our dog, just chilling. Either that or going on a hike with my boyfriend (or my friends, but my boyfriend and I go on a lot of hikes.)
What's your favorite strain?
My favorite strain is either Cookies or Fucking Incredible. I say Cookies, because that's in the market and I can actually find it and find a good strain of it. Fucking Incredible is really hard to find, so if you know where to get it, please let me know. It's my favorite.
You've been in the industry for a while, so I assume you have a lot of high stories. What's your most memorable one?
Okay, so, one time during my first week at Have A Heart, I wasn't expecting to be called on, so I had smoked probably five or six dabs, and had been taking bong rips all morning. I got a call asking me to come in and cover a shift. I was new, so obviously I said yes, because I wanted to be able to get good shifts. I came in, and I remember standing behind the counter while someone asked me for the joints they wanted, and I absolutely lost it. I turned around and tried to find the pre-rolls. It was game over. I couldn't find shit! So I had to be like "Alright, I'm gonna get somebody else to take over my till" because I was just way too high. So I chugged water, and I stocked for the rest of the day.
What's your go-to high food?
Oh my god, my boyfriend just asked me this in the car because he said I can't mess this up. It's either Dick's or Panda Express. They're both a two minute walking distance from my house so it gets pretty bad sometimes. I eat a lot of Dick's burgers.
What's the best piece of life advice you've ever received, cannabis or non-cannabis related, that has helped you get to where you are now?
Follow your dreams. I know that sounds really cliche, but I've done a lot of things to help other people be happy. But once I started focusing on myself, and started the career I wanted and started living the life I wanted, I became happier both mentally and physically. So just manifestation and focusing on your dreams. That's the best advice I could give.