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Photo Courtesy AKO Farms Direct

Budtender of the Month: Korbin Tugmon

The socializing that comes with sharing Cannabis has allowed me to open up more.

This 23-year-old cat dad is a Sitka native who loves wildlife and nature. When he’s not delivering awesome vibes from behind the counter at AKO, you’ll find him streaming video games, doing creative design, or rolling joints before cooking yummy meals at home.

What did you do before budtending?
I worked in kitchens. I took after my dad because he always worked in kitchens, so I thought I would follow suit. I began at a local seafood restaurant as a dishwasher and eventually made my way up to sous chef. Eventually, it became stressful – and when the Cannabis industry turned legal, I decided to see if I could apply my skills to a different trade. 

How did that work prepare you for being an exceptional budtender?
There wasn’t much in common between the two jobs, because before I was behind the line and now I’m behind the counter. I wasn’t a very social kid growing up, so I was kinda hiding in the kitchen. The first couple of days in the retail store were nerve-racking. My first day was actually 4/20. But after a while, I started to get to know my fellow workers and customers … I came to realize that people are just people and I shouldn’t be afraid. Now I find myself saying ‘hi’ to strangers on the streets!

This job has made you more sociable. Has Cannabis helped with that, too?
Definitely. It’s one of the most social things I do, actually – use weed and hang with my friends. I don’t get out much otherwise. Like I’ll go fishing and hunting during the season, but most of the year, I go to work and then home. The socializing that comes with sharing Cannabis has allowed me to open up more. 

Have you made friends with the people you work with at AKO?
You know I have. Everyone I work with I consider a friend. We’ve established a solid community at AKO, which I really like because at my old job, it wasn’t fun – it was just doing a job. There’s a lot of positive communication here. 

If you could cook a meal and then roll a joint for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Matty Matheson. He’s a Canadian chef and restaurateur. I would roll him a Strawberry Banana full-gram joint and cook some seared salmon, the classic Alaska way. 

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 October 2023 issue of Alaska Leaf.

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