How did you get this job?

I was pretty lucky, I started as a patient as part of the Medical Marijuana Program. Tacoma Wellness was a dispensary I was assigned to. It is a family owned business and I was introduced to the owner. Just out of a good conversation, I ended up building a great relationship with them. I noticed they don’t really use their Instagram. Me being a photographer I let them know I could be of good assistance if they need help with social media.

I guess they liked me enough that I ended up running their Instagram and eventually getting a full-time job.

Was there the standard hiring process?

I did have to send in my resume but the hiring process was a bit different for me. I didn't have to come in for an interview like my co-workers. They hired me based on my personality and good relationship.

How long have you been working for them?

One year part-time and around 2 years full-time so it will be 3 years pretty soon.

Where have you worked before?

I was involved in government contracting for about 7 years and at the end, I started a part-time job at the dispensary, the rest is history.

What’s the main difference between your current and previous job?

My government job was a lot more formal, now I have more freedom. Running Instagram I can really express myself and I can be really open about weed at work. Talking to people about what weed they like to smoke and stuff like that is pretty cool.

What are the hours like? 9-5?

The store hours during the week are 1 pm - 7 pm and Saturdays 11:30 am- 5 pm. I definitely get to enjoy my morning's little bit more.

What was the key that convinced you to work here? Money? People? Benefits? Job itself?

I really like being there. I work with good, genuine people and always enjoyed marijuana. I used to work around 40 hrs/week and now I work around 37-40 hrs/week. I ended up taking a pay cut and have to pay for benefits myself. However, I was willing to sacrifice it because I can focus on more things and it can't really beat the freedom I have now.

What’s the best/worst part?

The best part is definitely the free “stuff”, the staff, my employee discount and of course helping people.

The worst part? Working weekends. I am used to my Saturday’s being off but that’s the sacrifice I’m willing to take.

Did working for dispensary inspired you to have one on your own, one day?

It’s funny, three years before marijuana was legal in DC, I took a road trip with my friends to Denver on 420. Denver was medical for a couple of years and just went recreational that year. On my way back I knew one day I want to own or build a dispensary. I wanted to be in the industry before all the legalization. This job has been a blessing and motivating to actually do it one day.

However, I know it’s not easy. Cannabis is still federally illegal so it's tough to even open a business bank account. Our store is open for 5 years now, we’ve won the best dispensary in DC for the past 2 years but we’re still in million dollars of debt. It’s not easy even for the owners to make a living.

You have to remember it’s new and just starting, we have a lifetime to figure out and break the stigma.

Is it hard to make a comfortable living?

For sure. I got in at a good time when it first started so thankfully I didn't have to change my lifestyle too much. It’s way harder now, for a lot less due to competition and other states legalizing it. People start at the minimum wage, $12-15 an hour which is not a lot, with no benefits or healthcare.

Do you have to have any other jobs/projects to “survive”?

I personally do. I have more time now so I can freelance on the side. I DJ and I do photography, which definitely helps.

It is not a usual job, what does your family think?

They actually weren’t cool with at all. My parents knew I smoke but they didn’t even know I had a medical marijuana card. My grandma still thinks I sell medicine and she doesn't really need to know. Although, she is my biggest fan so she would support me no matter what. I guess we don’t really talk about that kind of stuff over dinner. At the end of the day, I am an adult and I can make my own decision.

Take us through your day, please. What are your daily tasks?

My main task is a conversation with our patients. Not every patient who comes in wants to smoke. We offer other methods like concentrates, tinctures, edibles and things like that. I need to be fully aware of what we have available in the inventory, ask them what are they looking for, make suggestions and help them to get the best option possible.

You really smell weed everywhere in DC. I know it’s legal to smoke it but what are the restrictions?

In the medical marijuana program, you cannot purchase more than 4oz within 30 days. You have to obtain a medical marijuana card, based on physician's recommendation number.

It was way harder years ago, it was basically open just to cancer patients. After the bill was passed, its pretty much open to all symptoms. If you have anxiety, headaches, back pain etc., you just see your doctor and come to us to help you finish the process. After you pay $100 you get your card in the mail a couple weeks later and you are ready to get your weed.

You are allowed to smoke it on your property or on a property with an owner’s permission. If you smoke on the street or in the car you taking a risk of getting a ticket.

You must hear a lot of interesting stories from your patients. What have you learned so far?

Definitely a lot. I feel way more knowledgeable about different components and things about weed. I’ve learned about various types of diseases that cannabis helps to cure. I’ve known about weed, smells, strength, names and stuff like that but now I know more about the medical side. I have also witnessed how it actually helps people. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs one week and walking next week. I experienced it myself also. It’s fascinating.

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To learn more about Tazz, you can check him out on Instagram or Tumblr.