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Photo by Mike Ricker

Budtender of the Month: Juan Rios-Sanchez

"I’m not wealthy by any means, but I’m rich in the heart and that’s what matters the most."

Born in Mexico, Juan Rios-Sanchez’s parents emigrated to California when he was three years old, where he grew up heavily involved in team sports until discovering skateboarding. This is where he learned that to succeed in life, you always have to get up after you fall. He loves to read educational books, currently with his nose buried in “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki. (Follow Juan on Instagram – @riosjuannn.)

You just became a father a year ago. How does that feel?
It has its challenges – mostly the lack of sleep, of course – but it’s a beautiful feeling having a mini-me. I have to work extra hard to provide for my family because I’m not wealthy by any means, but I’m rich in the heart and that’s what matters the most. 

You’ve been hustling in this industry for years working for multiple companies. How do you feel about where you are today?
I love this industry because I owe everything to this plant. I grew up with epilepsy – it was eighth grade when I had my first seizure – and doctors were terrified because you usually get diagnosed before puberty and mine came after puberty started. I was prescribed medication – five pills a day for about four years – which I’m grateful for, but I feel like I really messed up my liver at a young age. 

How did Cannabis come into your life?
When I was 16, my best friend informed me that weed can help people with epilepsy. He educated me a little on THC and CBD, which created the spark that got me wanting to know more. I gave it a shot and eventually when I went in for an MRI, the doctors showed me a scan of my brain and were amazed that it looked completely normal – that I no longer had epilepsy. They asked what I was doing differently, which was a pivotal moment because my mom was there. I told them that I started smoking marijuana and asked if I could get a medical card. It changed my life.

How will you approach the subject of Cannabis with your child as he gets older?
He’ll have the understanding that this is medicine for his parents. I don’t want him to have fear about it or feel that it’s a bad thing. This beautiful plant that grows in nature must be respected, but when the time comes, he will have his own relationship with it. 

What’s the coolest nursery rhyme that’s always in your head these days?
(Sings) ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – my little boy loves that. 

Photos by @rickerdj

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.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of California Leaf.

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