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Photos by Mario de la Cruz

Budtender of the Month: Benjie Sanchez

I feel like we’re truly healers.

Having grown up in a large family of athletes (his uncle is famed boxer Abel Sanchez), sports has always been an important discipline in his life. His ethnic diversity of being Canadian, Native American and Hispanic is something he’s very proud of, which he expresses through fashion. Follow him on Instagram @benjie_tokes.

You just turned 31. Were there a few close calls in your 20s?
There were a lot of close calls. The plant has truly helped me through it all. I drove my mom crazy with the ER visits. I’ve broken bones, been shot more than once, I’ve been kidnapped – been around the block. I now try to stay away from those things. It’s all public record.

How does your mother feel about where you are now?
She’s just happy that I’m doing what I love and that I’m helping people every day. There’s nothing more rewarding than when someone comes in with Parkinson’s and they need RSO and I’m able to help them with some Beard Bros – and I get to see the change in the patient. I feel like we’re truly healers. 

You’re a very outspoken budtender, always canvassing on the positive side of Cannabis. Why do you fit so well in the Catalyst organization?
It’s like we’re a football team and Elliot Lewis (Catalyst CEO) knows where to put the players based on their strengths. I just follow his lead. I look forward to doing bigger and greater things in this industry when the time is right. It’s easy to build vision when you have such a strong mentor. 

Where do you find the drive in your personal life to want to achieve being your best?
I’ve been in rough places, and I don’t care to go back. I’ve been at rock bottom. I’ve been to prison and lost it all. So, I just want to uplift and bring positivity to the industry one day, one customer at a time. What my struggles have taught me is what I don’t want in life – and that’s as important as knowing what you do want. My goal every day is to be a good example to people and show them that this smile is real. 

What music are you listening to currently?
I’m into ‘90s music like the Chili Peppers, Incubus and Wu Tang Clan, but I also like a lot of blues. I got it from my grandfather. Music is the key to the soul.

About Mike Ricker

The first time Ricker smoked weed was at a Santana concert at the age of 12. He then followed in his footsteps as an award-winning radio personality who became notorious for offering a stage for bong toking listeners in 9 different markets over 20 years. In 2016, the Cannabis industry came calling and the rest is history.

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