Budtender Profile: Emerson

BF: What brought you into the cannabis industry? To Apothecarium?

Emerson: I worked in cannabis about ten years ago as a side hustle and later worked at Hot Cookie Bakery in the Castro district [of San Francisco]. We used to donate baked goods to Apothecarium for community outreach events, and it was also my go-to dispensary.

I have always wanted to help people be more educated to help others. I want to help other people see how it can help them also.

BF: How did cannabis become part of your healing practice? Why do you medicate?

Emerson: As part of my transition, I’m taking testosterones. Hormones can make us feel so out of whack when they are out of balance. For example, I react to emotions in a different way [since taking testosterones]. I use cannabis to stabilize my mood… and it helps with the physical changes as well.

Doctors often go to prescriptions. I feel like that ends up numbing our emotions instead of helping us work through them. Cannabis has helped me work through anxiety and emotions, and I think it’s beneficial to all people to face these things rather than numbing them.

BF: Do you prefer sativa, hybrid, indica or high CBD? What’s your favorite consumption method?

Emerson: Typically, I smoke indica-dominant joints throughout the day, mainly because my anxiety gets really high. Especially with testosterone and hormone replacement therapy, you go through lots of waves of emotions due to the amount of active hormones in your body. Indica helps calm my anxiety, so I use it in an anxiety-relieving way more than to get sleepy. I also use CBD for aches and pains.

When I was recovering from my top surgery, I didn’t have to use pharmaceutical pain medication because I replaced them with CBD in the form of cartridges and edibles. I do enjoy CBD cartridges throughout the day… say I work out or something, it alleviates any sore muscles. Typically I smoke, but sometimes I microdose with edibles and a Bloom Farms CBD cartridge throughout the day.

BF: Did you use topicals after your surgery?

Emerson: I want to experiment and see if a high-CBD or high-THC topical would help with the scarring. I haven’t done that yet because I still have to wear strips with medicine on them. Right now I have a lot more scar tissue underneath the skin that needs to be broken down, then I can try to see how creams will help.

BF: You are living your authentic truth. Tell us more about your partner, your daughter and your transition.

Emerson: Well, my story is a complicated one. During my transition, I had to find a love for myself. I took it as a challenge from the universe, like it was asking me, “Okay, prove to me that this is worth it to you.” I just trail-blazed through it and decided to only be around light and like-minded people. Whoever I lost through it, even if it was the people I thought loved me most, it wasn’t the standard of love I was living for. Once that breakthrough came for me, I fully accepted what was happening, like: “I’m ready to live this life for myself, and whoever loves me will stand by me regardless.”

That’s when I met my partner, Blue, through Instagram. I sought solace and confidence through my Instagram because that was all I had, and those people were the most supportive. They told me I had to keep going and said I was inspiring them to keep going. I had to listen to my own advice, which is “Never settle, always know who you are and always know your worth.” I didn’t have that growing up. I didn’t have a trans person to look up to… it was all just lesbians, so I figured that’s who I must’ve been. There was no one in media, because that’s not what we were seeing growing up. If I am able to, I should be one of those people that these kids can relate to and see that they can be happy, they can be a dad and they can be successful in their workplace just by being who they are. Once I realized that, the universe gave me my partner. That was the gift that I received—true love through loving myself truly.

Throughout the whole thing cannabis played a huge role, and that’s why I love it so much. My cannabis family at Apothecarium were the first ones who helped me through my hardest times. The first person I ever came out to was our HR person. They were the ones who helped me figure out how to transition. They were the ones who put my name down on paper for the first time in writing. They’ve seen me through this whole situation. That’s why I’m so die hard for that company. They are the ones who made Emerson happen for me. They are a very queer-friendly establishment. The majority of my coworkers are queer, and it’s a very safe space for us. That’s also why I’ve stayed in cannabis. For me, it’s not only the relationships you build through members and education… cannabis really brings together your friendships and relationships.

BF: Tell us a little bit about how you and your partner talk to your daughter about cannabis? How do you feel about discussing it with her?

Emerson: We get this question a lot. The conversation mainly started because any kid wants to know what their parents do for work. For a long time, I just said that I help people find medicine and work with a certain medicine plant. In terms of using, I brought home some buds and showed her what nugs look like. I also have a big book of buds, an encyclopedia of different strains with pictures. I told her that it’s a plant just like any other plant found in nature, that it grows from a seed and that it grows flowers like a lot of plants.

For thousands of years, different people and cultures have used flowers and herbs as medicinal plants for the mind and body. Just like when burning herbs like sage and palo santo to cleanse spaces, some people like mommy and daddy use this smoke to cleanse our bodies and minds. That’s why it’s different than smoking cigarettes, which input a lot of chemicals that are harmful to our bodies. This is a different type of smoke, because it is coming from a natural medicine plant.

We don’t ever smoke in front of her. If there is ever a time when it is around, we might say, “I have to go use my medicine, I’ll be back” and step outside. It’s not a weird taboo thing, and it doesn’t make her feel uncomfortable because she understands. We also told her some people choose to take a lot of pills, which can hide your emotions, but this medicine doesn’t hide your emotions, dull you or make you feel like you’re not helping the issue. It’s an adult use thing.

We believe that it’s not something she should think about in a glamorous way and is really something people need for specific reasons. She knows that when she becomes an adult, her decisions will be her own, but it is something she should come to us about before deciding. Our policy has always been to be as honest with her as we are with each other.

BF: Do you feel we are making progress in the cannabis industry to change the hearts and minds of non-cannabis users?
Do you feel a shift in perceptions?

Emerson: I think we are well on our way, but there is a lot more progress to be made. A lot of my day-to-day interactions are with the older community, and many say that they have been changed. It does take their grandkid or son or daughter to encourage them… or their best friend who was using a cream that changed their life. I’m really proud of those interactions; they’re the ones I really work for. It’s kind of like a telephone effect: One conservative person gets it and they tell a friend, then they get it and tell their friends. That’s why I always encourage people to buy as a gift for an aunt or grandparent. Because our generation understands it, the next generation will understand it… It’s not a big deal to us, but the older generations need help to understand.

They’re the generation making the laws. I’m not worried about ten years from now, but right now we need to help people who really need this medicine. There are so many people in need [of relief], and this is the most healthy way for them to feel better, but they’re being inhibited by a random societal stigma. I think it’s going to get better with time and as more research is done. But right now it’s important to for us to keep educating the older crowd—so keep suggesting to your parents and grandparents. Get them microdose edibles for the holidays or something. Allow them to feel safe and comfortable and talk them through it. It’s not as big of a deal as society made it back then. They made it so crazy back then with propaganda like Reefer Madness, and  I don’t fault them for believing the information they were given. You have to rewire and relearn things, even at an older age.

BF: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Emerson: I’m hoping to get more information about cannabis use out there for people who are transitioning. If you are transgender or transitioning and need advice for specific use of cannabis and natural healing through your surgery and hormone replacement therapy, please contact me on Instagram: @palmer_fivevi

Photos by: Jamie Thrower

Author: Ariel Verissimo

Ariel VerissimoAriel Verissimo was born and raised in the Central Bay. She has worked in the spa and beauty industry as an aesthetician and makeup artist and has been a patient and advocate in the cannabis realm for over 10 years. Now living in the East Bay Area with her husband, two rescue dogs and a crazy Bengal kitty, Ariel is keen on festivals and camping and enjoys adventures outdoors with friends.

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