The week leading up to Veteran’s Day, Tom Parlin, a retired Marine, spends his day behind the counter at Kaleafa weighing out flower and bagging up concentrates. Tom is a vet with a logistical background whose passions lie with helping people – especially his fellow Veterans. Four years of service instilled this budtending vet with a hankering for more, as he is now tackling becoming an EMT. As I was chatting with Tom, I quickly noticed his excitement for talking about Cannabis and his love for the community. He raved about his coworkers at Kaleafa Woodstock, crediting them for a big part of why he has stayed in the budtending biz. He highlights himself as being “not your typical stoner” and bringing Cannabis awareness to Veterans to break the stigma. Being a self-proclaimed “lightweight” Cannabis user himself, Tom appreciates a hefty bong rip, holiday cooking with some delicious homemade butter, and finding the farm that grows the best Brazilian Sour.
How long have you been in the industry? What made you join?
I’ve been at Kaleafa for almost three years. Originally, I was a part of starting up Eaze, doing delivery logistics. But when I first hit the floor as a budtender is when I felt that I really flourished.
How is it to be a Veteran in the industry? Any knowledge you like to apply now that you are a budtender?
I was in the Marines for four years and was a part of landing support, so basically all logistics. That is why I got into the weed game. I wanted to get back into logistics, which I thought applied with getting Eaze started up with deliveries, shipping, etc. I get to break a lot of stereotypes as a vet in the industry. Cannabis is still a new subject for most vets and when they see me, they feel better. It comforts them knowing that there is another vet helping them over the counter, and that they have their back. Plus, I get to give back to my vets.
Give me an example of a time you felt your best as a budtender?
COVID had not hit when I finally came to the floor as a budtender, and the place felt like Wall Street. It was so memorable. I had to learn quickly on my feet about weed, the industry, and how to deal with guests. After the long day, we would get some beers and reset. We felt like, as a team, we were a force to be reckoned with.
Best advice for someone new to Cannabis?
Start slow so you don’t ruin it for yourself, because that can happen. Cannabis can be for everyone – I had a first-timer come in once and drop $400 on products just so he could figure out what he liked. We want people to come back and to get them away from societal taboo thinking, and I feel like it’s my job as a budtender to help you with that.
If you had to eat any edible, what would it be?
I like to make butter and add it to pretty much anything I cook in the kitchen. But I tend to make cookies the most.
Who would your fantasy sesh include?
I have a few answers. The first would be the Founding Fathers. How cool would it be to toke up the night before The Declaration of Independence was signed, with them knowing what was going to happen the next day. The second would be my dad because he hasn’t smoked a day in his life, and I would love to be there for his first time. But my main answer is the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles. I just think it would be a blast to kick it in the sewers, converse with the Ninja Turtles, and get stoned.