For many in the industry – cannabis is a passion, not a job. At Item 9 Labs, we love to highlight those individuals that bring their knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment to the work, to make the cannabis experience richer for everyone. Christian Tallabas is one of those people. He has a natural curiosity about all things cannabis that keeps him learning and growing his expertise. His knowledge about the finer details makes him indispensable to the patients that come to him for guidance. Read on for more about Christian’s journey into the industry and what keeps him motivated….
For Herbal Wellness Center West Valley budtender Christian Tallabas, working in the cannabis industry isn’t something he chose to do on a whim.
“It was more of an ambition. It was really hard, but something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” Christian says, referring to his switch from traditional retail work behind a cash register to being a budtender. “[This is] something I have genuine knowledge in, interests me, and fascinates me.”
Before COVID-19, Christian could frequently be found in the entertainment district, visiting nightclubs, lounges, and being his outgoing self. For now, he’s focused on other pursuits.
“I’ve just been researching more about cannabis,” Christian says. “There’s few things that interest me in the world besides coffee, cannabis, and firearms. So, that’s nice to do in my free time.”
Learning the Trade
He’s noticed coffee and cannabis have many similarities, noting that places like Hawaii offer both great marijuana and beans.
“They all have origins of the world, which they come from, and depending on the roast, they can hit you almost like a Sativa, Indica or a hybrid, the darker or the lighter the roast,” Christian said, who knows that cannabis knowledge makes him better at his job while also better assisting patients.
He’s not hesitant to share some of his favorite things about his preferred cannabis companies. “I asked people their number one, or they ask me, what’s number one? I always say Item 9 [Labs]. You guys make an excellent flower line and those pods are tremendous. I applaud you,” Christian says. “I want to say thank you to Herbal Wellness Center for giving me a chance, just another kid off the street with a willingness to learn … I hope to just use my knowledge to help people inside and outside of the industry.”
Christian, who first started using cannabis as a teenager for anxiety, began to take note of the plant’s medicinal effects around when he was 18 years old. Besides behavior improvements, he noticed that edibles and THCa from fresh leaves really helped his digestive issues. He’s long wanted to receive an official diagnosis for his symptoms but as a minimum-wage worker in AZ without access to regular health insurance, he’s had to stick with a self-diagnosis and experimentation on his own for now.
While still fairly new to the industry, he’s noticed many cannabis company representatives give product sales pitches, which bums him out. He feels he’d be better served to be educated about weed than be told how to sell it.
He’s also quick to point out to patients that not all products may be helpful to all patients. “You can’t eat a gummy if you have cancer. They eat off the sugar cells,” Christian says. “I get a lot of those patients who are just like, ‘What’s fire, what’s the best bud?’ But with those same patients, I’m able to educate them, because a lot of them look at THC percentages…I have to make abundantly clear that I feel that’s just one-third of the picture. Because a lot of these don’t take in the terpene profile, as well as the look of the trichomes and other small factors. A lot of them come back and they say, ‘you know what? Thank you man, that eighth of DoSiDo, that was testing lower than the eighth of Jack Herer, was exactly what I needed.’”
Christian sees his job as more than just someone selling marijuana, but part of that patient’s support system, noting that for many of them their budtender and other dispensary staff are the only people they’ll talk to all day. “I do get a lot of those patients, they don’t have a lot going on in life and they come to me and they have a great time and they break down and they say, ‘It’s not like this. I don’t have friends. I don’t have a family to talk to. It’s nice to come here.’ The best part of my job is to make those people happy.”
Let’s face it – now more than ever, we all need to bolster our support systems. In these challenging times of political division, a global pandemic, social and racial tensions, we need each other more than ever. At Item 9 Labs, we are grateful for essential workers like Christian and brighten people’s days, remind them they aren’t alone, and help them connect with the best medicine for their needs.