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Photo by Wyatt Early

Budtender Tierre Thomas Jr. of Panacea Wellness

The overall wellness of myself, and feeling like I’m taking care of myself, is what makes me happy.

Tierre grew up in a military family, starting elementary school in Germany without speaking a lick of the local language. Returning to the states in first grade, he moved around the country a lot and bounced between his mom and dad following their divorce. He first encountered Cannabis in middle school at the age of 11, and after trying it again about a year later, he felt relaxed and happy for the first time in what felt like forever. By high school he was a regular Cannabis user, and after losing his younger brother to a heart condition following graduation, Tierre turned to Cannabis and other substances as an emotional crutch to deal with the loss. 

He soon realized his drug use was damaging his body, even landing him in the hospital at one point. This was the turning point where Tierre realized he needed to intentionally use the plant more medicinally, educating himself on cannabinoids and terpenes. The journey from his old life to now has been a long one … made possible through the healing powers of Cannabis. 

What led you into the medical Cannabis industry?
My roommate who I moved in with at 18 had met a guy who owned a pharmacy and a dispensary. He had asked me if I had any interest in working in the pharmacy, and I thought, ‘Hey, I could use some extra money.’ So I worked as a cashier there, and eventually the owner asked me if I would be able to fill in for people leaving his dispensary. I went through the drug tests, fingerprinting, and everything needed to begin working there, and I had my med card at the time too. I started to dive in further to the depths of the weed industry and all of its terms, and I have been off of any recreational drugs since 2018.

Growing up in a military family, did you see Cannabis around the world?
I didn’t really see Cannabis until I got back into the states. My mother’s family has a long history of addiction – so drugs, Cannabis and alcohol have always been around me. Granted my mother would try to shield me from it as much as she could, but my grandmother and uncles were using Cannabis every day and my grandfather was selling it. I didn’t really understand it until middle school when I saw and tried it for myself.

What makes you the happiest about the transitions you’ve made in life?
Mainly just feeling healthier, you know what I mean? I feel healthy, my mind feels stable, my relationships are flourishing. Me and my girlfriend actually got together at the beginning of 2021, and this is the most happy relationship I have ever been in. The overall wellness of myself, and feeling like I’m taking care of myself, is what makes me happy.

What do you say to friends who are still stuck in their old ways?
I don’t even judge in that sense – to each his own. I was also in the same place some people are, so I can’t judge. At the end of the day, there is no amount of preaching that will change anyone’s mind in that aspect. It’s gotta be on your own. At some point in your head you’ll think, ‘All right, I can’t do this anymore.’ When I was on all that shit, people always told me I should chill out but there was no convincing me otherwise. I just tell people to be safe and careful.

Would you consider yourself self-made?
It’s a combination of a protective but not overprotective mother, and me figuring things out on my own. I feel like if she had been overprotective and tried to shield me from certain things, it would’ve pushed me to want to do those things even more – maybe to a point I wouldn’t have been able to come back. She told me about my family members going through certain things, but I didn’t listen and learned lessons the hard way. Eventually you figure out that those things will affect you in the same way, and you have to figure it out on your own.

Where do you see Cannabis going in the next five years in Maryland?
Oversaturation, I see it coming pretty soon. I mean at first there will probably be a much larger demand than availability of product when the rec market goes live. Eventually, we’re going to be oversaturated – something similar to California I hope – with the availability of products and brands. With Cannabis, it shouldn’t be one of those things that’s like a monopolized industry – it should be oversaturated to create levels for the mom and pops out there.

Photos by @errlywyatt

About Wyatt Early

Wyatt is a Maryland native, stoner by nature, obsessor of hash rosin. After getting his start in the printing industry with a family company, he took on the role as state director for Maryland Leaf, and frequently contributes to the magazine with photos and articles.

This article was originally published in the February 2023 issue of Maryland Leaf.

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