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Scorpion Grass’ Fighting Budtender

Alaska has a really established Cannabis culture, so there is a lot of understanding about [athletes] using Cannabis.

Washington native Luke Barnes moved to Alaska in 2013 and has since made a name for himself in the Cannabis industry – as both a budtender and a secure transport liaison. When he’s not spending time around his favorite plant, the Scorpion Grass budtender can be found practicing Muay Thai.

How did you first get into martial arts?
I started doing Krav Maga when I was 15, but then transitioned into Jiu Jitsu and MMA. But when I moved up here, there weren’t MMA programs out here in the Valley – so I got into Chinese martial arts and healing before settling on Muay Thai.

As an athlete, how does Cannabis factor into your life?
I feel like Alaska has a really established Cannabis culture, so there is a lot of understanding about me using Cannabis. I don’t try to be really loud about it, but when you work in retail all day and are constantly around the plant, you can come on pretty loud when you walk into a room (laughs). But, I have coaches ask me about CBD and Cannabis uses and I really love educating people about it. Actually, the reason I even started with Cannabis was because of my chronic migraines. I’ve found that Cannabis is one of the only things that helps mellow it out.

Is that spirit of education something you bring into your work as a budtender?
Definitely! I like filling people in about the products that they are buying. A lot of people don’t think about it, but they are determining the market by their buying habits – you’re basically voting every time you buy a product. So, I view my job as part getting people the right product for their needs, but also educating them about who made the product and how. Right now, I am noticing a lot of people being curious about terpenes and the way they affect your high. I am also seeing a lot more people interested in the industry and what’s happening with it.

Getting consumers more interested in the industry seems like a good thing…
The industry here has been going for so long that now there are some big players, so I think it’s important for consumers to get to know the people behind the products. The more the consumer knows, the more ability they have to help steer where things go in the future.

So, as someone who is really into knowing the ins and outs of the products, what is your favorite thing to toke on right now?
Oh man, that’s hard – like really hard! I don’t really have a specific strain because what matters to me most are the terpene profiles. I like anything fruity or citrusy. But if I had to pick one, I’d go with Gas Face from Taku Cultivation out of Juneau. They produce melt-your-face-off indicas that are some of the heaviest I’ve ever tried in the rec market. Closer to home, I’m a big fan of our Peach Sangria.

Photos by @ShipeShots

About OHara Shipe

OHara was born in the frigid north with skates on her feet and a hockey stick in her hand. Now a retired pro athlete, she has found her passion for covering all things Cannabis in her home state of Alaska.

This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue of Alaska Leaf.

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