Please confirm your age.

I am 21 years of age or older and live in a US state or foreign country where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. I waive all claims which might arise from my use of this website and release any person or entity connected with this website of any liability.

What to Expect in This Episode

Curaleaf’s Greg Gardner is a licensed pharmacist who now works in the cannabis space. He brings a unique perspective, having gone to pharmacy school and worked in chain pharmacies for many years before branching out into cannabis. Unlike many of the guests on Utah in the Weeds, Gardner was not first introduced to cannabis as a user.

Gardner’s employer is one of only a few multi-national cannabis companies in the world.[02:33] He works at the Curaleaf pharmacy in Lehi, consulting with patients and answering their questions about the best way to use cannabis for their particular conditions. Being able to spend time with patients is one of the things Gardner most appreciates about working in the industry.

A good portion of this conversation focused on how medications are dispensed in a pharmacy setting. The trio touched on everything from Utah’s Electronic Verification System EVS [22:50] to how medical providers may, or may not, take the opportunity to suggest delivery method and dosage [20:30]. It was clear from some of Gardner’s comments that there are medical providers in Utah who are not exactly sure what to recommend, so they leave that to the pharmacists.

Gardner also mentioned how he and his fellow pharmacists spend time educating QMPs. [23:20] Much of what they discuss with QMPs is a direct result of a limited EVS. However, things are improving, and QMPs are getting better at making appropriate recommendations.

During the last portion of the conversation, the guys briefly touched on a number of topics including expanding the qualifying condition list [27:50], the types of products being sold most often in Utah [33:30], and visiting cash-only pharmacies like Curaleaf [38:12].

This is a great conversation that talks about dispensing Medical Cannabis from the pharmacist’s point of view. It is definitely worth listening to if you are thinking of going to pharmacy school.

Resources in This Episode

Podcast Transcript

Chris Holifield:
This is episode 64 of Utah in the Weeds. Welcome everybody. My name’s Chris Holifield.

Tim Pickett:
And I’m Tim Pickett, a medical cannabis expert, apparently recognized, like we talked about last week as City Weekly’s best of state.

Chris Holifield:
And you are, I don’t care what you say Tim.

Tim Pickett:
We’re doing good things for a lot of people. So that’s great. I’m excited about this conversation though. Somebody we’ve been trying to get ahold of and nailed down, Greg Gardner from Curaleaf.

Chris Holifield:
Finally, somebody from Curaleaf representing on Utah in the Weeds because this is a pharmacy we haven’t really talked a whole lot about on this show.

Tim Pickett:
No. And we haven’t yet talked to anybody from a national company, a big company. There’s a little more red tape to get somebody like that on the show, making sure that Curaleaf’s okay with it. But they have a good system down there and they’ve been around since August of last year. They’ve been open and this was a good conversation. Greg’s a very interesting guy. He has an interesting story of how he got into cannabis and you’re going to have to listen till the end to find out the answer.

Chris Holifield:
Because who would have guessed, hey, I’m going to go to school to be a pharmacist. And then now he’s a pharmacist at a cannabis pharmacy in Lehi of all places, right?

Tim Pickett:
That’s right.

Chris Holifield:
But what else is going on here with utahmarijuana.org. Tim, what do you got going on?

Tim Pickett:
We’re going to start doing webinars every other week and next week, I’m going to do a webinar next Wednesday night on how to get a medical card in Utah. I think we talk a lot, Chris, you and I, to people who are already in the industry or patients who already know how to do this, and we still run into patients every day that just don’t know that they qualify, don’t know it’s legal. And so we’re going to go all the way back to the beginning and start again.

Chris Holifield:
You have to do it, man. You have to do it every so often. So how can they find that at Utah marijuana?

Tim Pickett:
utahmarijuana.org and if you follow us on social, Instagram.

Chris Holifield:
Oh, that will be right there.

Tim Pickett:
It’ll all be right there.

Chris Holifield:
And I want to say this again. I’m going to say this on every episode, we are always looking for guests on the podcast. If you are a patient, whatever, if you’re involved in the industry, we would love to bring you on the podcast, have you share your story, reach out to Tim or myself and we’d love to set something up.

Tim Pickett:
Absolutely.

Chris Holifield:
Anyway, let’s get into this conversation with Greg though. This was a good one. I learned a lot in this episode and hopefully you will too.

Tim Pickett:
Enjoy.


Chris Holifield:
So let’s get into it. Let’s talk about… I mean, where does your relationship with cannabis start? Where would you like it to start, I guess, for the conversation?

Tim Pickett:
Take us back.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah, you got it. So graduating high school. I kind of had a passion to do something medical health related. My mom was a nurse and then she taught an English and a medical English course in high school. So I had a passion there. I had a neighbor who was a pharmacist who introduced me to pharmacy. So I was like, “This is a pretty cool career.” So I got my pharmacy technician license when I graduated high school. I worked at Target for a number of years and I said, “This is something I think I’d like to pursue.” So I decided to apply to pharmacy school programs. I did want to go out of state. As much as I love Utah, I was kind of ready for a change.

Tim Pickett:
You grew up here?

Greg Gardner:
I did. Yep. Grew up LDS, did the mission work. So I went out of the country for a couple of years, came back and I said, “Hey, I really enjoyed my time out of Utah, but again, I don’t know that I want to settle down in Utah coming back.” Met my wife, we got married just before pharmacy school started, but I was like, “You know what? I want to look for somewhere different.” So I looked at the University of Colorado, which is out in Denver and I got excited to go there because one, they have mountains. I’m a big snowboarder. I like to do outdoor things. And so it seemed like home, but being in a different environment. So up to this point, I have no cannabis experience. No relation-

Chris Holifield:
Never used cannabis.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. Never.

Chris Holifield:
Nothing.

Tim Pickett:
Not in your life.

Greg Gardner:
Nope. Zero.

Chris Holifield:
He’s mum’s listening.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah.

Chris Holifield:
I’m kidding.

Greg Gardner:
But I had friends that did. I had friends that were regular users and I probably had some prejudgments towards them because that’s how I was raised too. I’m a big believer on you just do the best with the information that you have. So I didn’t know anything about cannabis other than it was not allowed. But, yeah. I applied to pharmacy school, got in at Denver. And so when you move there, you go to Colorado for the first time and I’m just driving down the main highway, you can smell it.

Chris Holifield:
Oh, sure.

Greg Gardner:
And you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to-

Chris Holifield:
What was the date approximately?

Greg Gardner:
2015.

Chris Holifield:
So right after legalization. I mean, 2014, right? Was when they legalized it.

Tim Pickett:
When Colorado legalized.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
I mean, yeah. So now it’s-

Chris Holifield:
Wow. Okay.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. So we-

Tim Pickett:
It’s a new world.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. So we’re going out to Denver and again, just blown away because I’m like, hey, this is what I thought would be similar to Utah as far as outdoor activities. But the diversity that’s out in Denver was amazing. The amount of people, differences of opinions. So these were all awesome things. They made it very clear when we were applying to pharmacy school out there. They said, “Hey, if you’re coming out here to use weed, that’s a no-go.”

Tim Pickett:
Did they test you before you went to pharmacy school?

Greg Gardner:
I don’t think they did any-

Tim Pickett:
Drug testing?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. We actually did drug testing at least once a year.

Tim Pickett:
In your school.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. In school.

Tim Pickett:
Interesting. Because I know for PA school, I had to take a drug test to get in.

Chris Holifield:
What? What a waste of money.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. So we did annual drug tests. So that was very upfront. Pharmacy school, that was off limits. No cannabis use while we were there.

Tim Pickett:
No big deal for you though, remember? Right?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Because you grew up here. You’re not into it.

Greg Gardner:
Oh yeah.

Chris Holifield:
In the defense of the pharmacy though, maybe it was maybe to check more for pill popping. It wasn’t necessarily just to check for cannabis, right?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. They-

Chris Holifield:
I mean, there’s other drugs. I mean, it’s testing for.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. I mean-

Chris Holifield:
I didn’t want a paint a bad picture.

Tim Pickett:
I guess so. But really, I mean, this is only a year after legalization in Colorado. I mean, we’re still… You got to figure they’re like, “Yeah. The rest of Colorado can do what they want. We’re in real medicine. We don’t want this.”

Greg Gardner:
Well, what’s interesting, what’s actually pretty cool. And this is… So I didn’t know if we were going to do anything cannabis-related in coursework that we did. Our assistant dean at the school, she actually hosted and did about a week long program where we discussed cannabis and how it works in the endocannabinoid system. We looked at the different studies. So that was my first introduction to cannabis as medicine rather than just people getting high or something. Again, I had no experience with, but I was really interested. So I took it upon myself as I was doing rotations and working.

Greg Gardner:
In Colorado, it’s recreational. No medical providers are part of it. But it was really cool to get to talk to patients and just say, “Hey, do you use cannabis? And if so, let’s talk about what your medication regimen that you’re also using, how those might interact with each other or how you can get different effects or…” Just things like that. So that was my first introduction to talking to people about cannabis. At one of the pharmacies I was at, they had just gotten a shipment of hemp product or CBD oils. And so I got to talk to patients about that. So I did a little bit of research on some of these products and-

Chris Holifield:
And this research was on your own, right?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Chris Holifield:
This wasn’t part of your work. You’re like, “I’m just kind of curious what’s going on.”

Greg Gardner:
And the research was pretty mild. I mean, it was just, learning about CBD and a little bit about how it affects the body, and again, the company was trying to sell the CBD product. And so it was made more based on that specific product. But, yeah. So I did have an introduction to at least how cannabis works in the body and as a pharmaceutical. And what’s interesting is when our class graduated, our associate dean, she also left. She took a position out in San Diego. But she said something as she was leaving that left an impression on me. She talked about, because we focused so much on evidence-based medicine, what’s the best studies for, and making that our path. And she said, “While we focus so much on evidence-based medicine, don’t forget about medicinal-based evidence.” So talking about patient experiences in those matter. And so that was the first way or thing that I was told that was like, “Hey, it’s not all about, what’s the scientist studies saying?”

Tim Pickett:
The studies and the dosing of the pill and the side effects and the number needed to treat these things we learn in school.

Greg Gardner:
Yep. Absolutely. And that made an impression on me because again, that’s what we had just talked about for four years during the program. And then I realized, maybe there is more to medicine than just the best practice, the standard. And so during my fourth year, we were deciding if we wanted to stay in Colorado or what our next steps would be. And while I think I’m in my third year is when Prop 2 here in Utah had passed and got some pushback. So I didn’t really know what the status of cannabis in Utah would be, but we decided to come back home. I had some kids out there and I’ve still got family here.

Chris Holifield:
You had kids in Colorado?

Greg Gardner:
Oh yeah. My wife and I. Yeah, we’ve got two little kids. So I think two and four now.

Chris Holifield:
Sure.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah, so they were little and we wanted to be near family. Utah’s a good place to live as far as things that we enjoyed and we wanted to bring some of the things that we had learned in school and culture-wise some things that we could take from Colorado and see if we can bring that back here to Utah. So we did. So we came back to Utah and again, up to this point, I didn’t really understand that a pharmacist was going to be the one who ran a shop at a medical cannabis pharmacy.

Greg Gardner:
As I was about to graduate, I started to see different job postings for cannabis pharmacists. And that really, really got me thinking that, I love talking to patients about cannabis and I had no idea, again, this was going to be a pharmacist opportunity for me. So I applied, I started looking at different job postings and I made that my goal. Again, I had done retail pharmacy for about the last eight years or so. But I wanted to do something different. I didn’t love working for the chains, I didn’t love working for CVS now that took over Target. I didn’t love that.

Greg Gardner:
I was interested in independent pharmacies, compounding medicines. Being able to basically take a subset of our population that doesn’t have a one size fits all medicine and be able to make something unique for them. So that was always a passion of mine and cannabis fits that bill. Having a medicine that’s different, but people are excited about. And people want to take, people are looking for something different.

Greg Gardner:
So that was my introduction on getting into the cannabis industry here in Utah. I’m thrilled that they wanted pharmacists to be involved because that was something that I could use some of my resources and education on and help patients out.

Chris Holifield:
Now, have you been with Curaleaf since the beginning?

Greg Gardner:
Yes.

Tim Pickett:
You were hired before they even opened, right?

Greg Gardner:
Correct. I think their first week of official doors open to patients was the last week of August. They had an official grand opening the second week of October. So I got hired on, I think the second week of August. I was originally hired on as a part-time pharmacist, 20 to 30 hours a week. And so I was splitting that time as well as working in another independent pharmacy doing part-time at both. But I really started to really feel like I was exceeding at the cannabis stuff. I love talking to patients. I love to get their experiences and what was working for them, what wasn’t working for them. And really just, again, seeing a patient come in and be excited about their medication was new. People don’t come in and buy their blood pressure medicine-

Tim Pickett:
No.

Greg Gardner:
…and be like, “I’m so excited about this.

Chris Holifield:
Yes. This is so awesome. I’m so excited.

Tim Pickett:
Give me Metformin. It’s going to make me feel so much better.

Greg Gardner:
Yes.

Chris Holifield:
Or some medication.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. Plus you get a lot more opportunity to talk to patients and have conversations with patients. Whereas in the retail pharmacy, it’s a very square conversation, very transactional.

Greg Gardner:
I’ll always remember a conversation I had with a patient, diabetic patient new to their insulin prescription that they were going to use. And I spent probably 15 minutes because I had just done a course on it in school. I was all pumped up, excited to go. So I spent 15 minutes with him talking about how to use insulin, how to do their injections and all that. And then as soon as they left, the patient was excited and my boss comes over he’s like, “You can’t take that long with a patient, too long.” I was like, “What do you mean? I just…”

Chris Holifield:
I hear that all the time. I’m a doctor. I mean, you probably see that yourself.

Tim Pickett:
Oh yeah. I mean, well, in medicine, a lot of times you’re paid by the RVUs, revenue value units. Which is, the faster you go, the more of those you can accumulate. And so the better off it is. In pharmacy, I mean, you’ve got a lot of people to see. A lot of transactions to go through. Is that like Curaleaf? What is Curaleaf… What is their view on this whole thing? They’re a huge multi-state company, international now, right?

Greg Gardner:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
They bought that huge European cannabis company.

Greg Gardner:
Correct.

Chris Holifield:
Wow. Congrats to you.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. They’re going to be global, which is pretty cool. I’ve actually thought, if Utah doesn’t work out, I was like, “Find me a way to get over into Spain or get into Israel or something.” Something like that might be pretty cool. Like I said, I loved working for smaller businesses, independent. And so Curaleaf didn’t necessarily fit the bill as far as a small company, but they did fit the bill as far as, I’m still helping patients in a way that’s unique. And they’ve been very receptive because every state’s individual, every state has their own legal requirements for being open.

Greg Gardner:
And so Curaleaf is very amendable to, whatever the state requirements are. They will work around those. So we’ve had a lot of leeway since being open. When we were first started, we had, I think maybe four or five agents and again, a head pharmacist and three part-time pharmacists and it’s grown tremendously. One thing that we’ve done down at Curaleaf is, we don’t do appointment-based for new patients that come in, we do all walk-in. And so we have to staff accordingly.

Greg Gardner:
Sometimes we’ll have no new patients coming in on the background. All new patients coming in do have to have a first initial consult with a pharmacist. So sometimes we’ll have no new patients come in for a couple hours and pharmacists, we still check off orders, make sure they’re compliant with the provider’s recommendations. We check them every single time. But if five new patients show up at once, we want to be staffed to not have to turn anybody away.

Chris Holifield:
Where is Curaleaf? I mean, is it right off of I-15 there in Lehi? Or where’s Curaleaf-

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. It’s in the old Del Taco.

Greg Gardner:
Yup.

Chris Holifield:
Oh, okay. I know where that is. It’s one of the few pharmacies in Utah. Well, I guess I haven’t been to any of the ones down South yet, but I haven’t visited you guys. I need to come visit.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. No. You guys ought to come by.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. It’s a pretty sweet setup.

Chris Holifield:
Yeah.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. It’s really great. Yeah. So it’s an old-

Tim Pickett:
Not a huge pharmacy, right?

Greg Gardner:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Pickett:
How many people do you guys see down there per day? I mean, you see a couple of hundred people a day?

Greg Gardner:
Usually, we’ll average between, I don’t know, 170 and 210 patients a day, which-

Chris Holifield:
No kidding.

Greg Gardner:
So it’s pretty good foot traffic. And it usually it gets busier as the day goes on getting-

Tim Pickett:
And as the week goes on. It seems like Thursday, Friday, Saturday you’re busier.

Greg Gardner:
Oh yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Which was interesting to me to find. I mean, it would make sense in a recreational state, but not necessarily in a medical state, but still there’s a mix of what we would call adult medical use, right?
Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
It’s easier to use that type of adult medicine on the weekend. I would say, right?

Chris Holifield:
I’d rather use that than get trashed and wake up with a bad hangover or something.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, for sure. Absolutely. So talk to me a little bit about the, I’m just really curious about this, how you grow up in Utah, you go on a mission, where did you go by the way?

Greg Gardner:
In Guatemala.

Tim Pickett:
Oh, cool. Okay. So you go to Guatemala, you come home, you go to pharmacy school, you make it all the way through there. And then you become an expert on cannabis. What’s that like for your family? How do you thread that needle? Your kids are a little too young to really understand that yet, but your wife’s not.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. Actually, my wife loves it. She’s not a user of cannabis, but she is a pretty big advocate for just helping people in… So she’s a mental health professional. She works in school psychology. And so I actually get to talk to her about, one of the qualifying conditions in Utah is autism. So she asked me, she was like, “Well, how is this working for your patients who have autism?” And that’s one of my favorite conversations to have is, anytime a patient with autism comes in, just take a minute to talk with them and say, “Hey, how is this working for you? Why is it working for you?” And then I get to talk with her. So he loves it. She loves that we’re supporting this industry.

Greg Gardner:
My parents that live here nearby, it was a different conversation at first. They still always are prodding saying, “Hey, keep your foot in regular pharmacy too.” But it kind of took… So that neighbor that we had that was a pharmacist-

Tim Pickett:
Careful with that communications degree over there, Chris.

Greg Gardner:
With my parents, they were excited that I had a job. They were really excited to see me thriving, but again, with a little asterisk on it. But it took them, having their neighbor who’s a religious leader and the pharmacist, when they told him, and he’s like, “Oh no,” he’s like, “That’s going to be an awesome job for him.” They’re like, “Okay. It’s an awesome job for you.”

Tim Pickett:
Right? Yup. Okay. We’re on board.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. That’s been how that conversation has gone, but generally have pretty good support from everybody. And initially, not knowing much about cannabis, I had a little bit of a tendency to not sure how people would react when I told them that I’m a cannabis pharmacist. That has completely changed.

Chris Holifield:
And people are like, “You’re awesome.”

Greg Gardner:
I tell everybody that I can, that this is my gig and that I love it. And more often than not, when you tell somebody that you’re like, “Hey, I work with cannabis.” When you think is normal, you be like, “Oh, shame on you.” Really it turns out to be like, “Oh, tell me more. This is really cool.” Any pharmacists that I’ve talked to they’re always like, a little bit of almost like a jealousy like-

Tim Pickett:
What’s that like?

Chris Holifield:
They’re like, “Can I come work where you work?”

Tim Pickett:
Like you said, all the people are happy.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Do you know what I mean? You just don’t have very many jobs where people come in and they get happier and it’s like 99 out of 100 are happier when they leave than when they showed up. That’s a good deal.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. No, it’s great.

Chris Holifield:
I have a question on the pharmacy part. So we’re talking about Curaleaf and even how they expanded worldwide now, and they’re all over. One thing I hear from people here in Utah is, they give the whole pharmacist thing. Oh, that’s such a waste to having them in the dispensaries and this and that. But I mean, Curaleaf uses pharmacists in all their locations, right?

Greg Gardner:
Not out of state.

Chris Holifield:
I thought they used them in all-

Greg Gardner:
They do in some.

Tim Pickett:
But they do. I know I’ve talked to Stuart Wilcox, their business development VP and they like that model.

Chris Holifield:
Yeah. For some reason, I thought they… I guess, yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Because they like that medical vibe, right? They believe in that. But they’re out of, where are they out of? I think Georgia.

Greg Gardner:
Up north. So I think they’re out of, this is going to sound bad, Maryland. But I got to double check that one. But yeah, they’re north East Coast.

Chris Holifield:
We’ll say that.

Tim Pickett:
You got it. But I think they do like that medical model. But they only have the one pharmacy here and they didn’t get a grow license.

Greg Gardner:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
But they’re so knowledgeable. Every interaction that I’ve had with anybody with Curaleaf, they’re just so knowledgeable about the national system. I mean, they just have their system dialed. They’re not struggling to open the pharmacy on time. They’re not struggling for the money to make things happen. I mean, they just seem like they’ve got their shit together.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. I mean, I think they do a pretty good job. I know that they’ve got pharmacists in at least five states out of the 20 that they’re in or so because I have a communication with all of them. We have a little LinkedIn group or something that we’ll get on and chat periodically and yeah. As far as the company I’ve worked for, they’ve been good. And they’re responsive to questions there. Like you said, they have, as far as finances and stuff go, that doesn’t usually seem to be a concern. And so when product’s available to get, they can usually get it in.

Chris Holifield:
Just because to me it seems like a good idea to have a pharmacist available at the pharmacies, in my opinion because I’ve been to other-

Tim Pickett:
It’s made me more sense to me too after originally not being so sure that the pharmacist was a good idea, but it really is helpful having somebody there on the medical side-

Chris Holifield:
Dude, I’ll ask question all the time, man.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. Who knows about the interaction between medications and what else the patient is taking and can further that discussion. Because a lot of times we don’t have… I mean, we spend a good amount of time with our patients, but we don’t get into all of their medication lists, all of the time we’re talking about, there’s so much to learn, right?

Greg Gardner:
Right.

Tim Pickett:
We’re just talking about dosing, how to feel comfortable experimenting with it, which I’m sure you’re doing a lot of too.

Greg Gardner:
Sure.

Tim Pickett:
But talk to us about that consultation. What does that normally look like when a patient comes in?

Greg Gardner:
So there’s usually a subset of questions that we’ll ask as a new patient comes in. The nice thing is that we do a triage of a wait list. So when they first check in, we know if they’re a new patient coming in. Again, all patients will pull up on the EVS, we’ll pull up to see if they’ve purchased elsewhere or if they’re, again, completely new to the program. And then we’ll look for any provider notes, uploaded medication lists, basically whatever information we can find on the patient.

Tim Pickett:
Do people actually upload medication lists?

Greg Gardner:
Some providers do. I think the law or the rules changed a little bit where if they didn’t put any recommendation, dropdown menu things, they had to upload a medication list. And so we used to see that more. But they took that requirement away. So now a lot of times we’re just seeing, a drop down menu and what we can sell or how much would be too much to purchase.

Tim Pickett:
Are there a lot of patients that come in with restrictions on purchasing?

Greg Gardner:
It’s kind of a double-sided question. Yes, in the fact that sometimes it’s intentionally restricted on how much you can purchase and usually that’s very clear. So when we see in the notes that says patient… Where the law says you can get four ounces of flower, your provider asks that you can stay under one ounce of flower. So we’ll abide by that.

Greg Gardner:
The tricky one is when providers that don’t have as much experience with the EVS system, they’ll choose a drop menu and put nothing else. So put no information, no anything that says what forms the patient can get. They’re restricted to that one item. And a lot of times that’s unintentional from the providers end. So that’s where a lot of our phone calls to providers will be just, “Hey, this is what the state has asked us.” How they asked us to interpret these recommendations.

Tim Pickett:
Right. Because you’re stuck. I mean, for listeners, when I go into the EVS system to make a recommendation for a patient, you fill out the last four, the social, the name, that sort of stuff. And you hit, okay, I’m going to recommend this patient be able to use cannabis. You then have to go to a separate page and make a recommendation, a dosing recommendation is what they call it.

Tim Pickett:
The truth is, it’s more of a purchasing limit than a dosing recommendation for the most part. But the top form field is all of the different seven types of delivery methods. And you can only choose one in that form.

Greg Gardner:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
So you’re limited. And if you didn’t know what you were doing, which none of us did in the beginning, right?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. It’s gotten a lot better.

Tim Pickett:
You pick one, well, shoot. I’m going to pick raw cannabis flower. And then there’s a text box and you’ve got to type in what you want and the next text box is either milligrams or grams. I mean, we have QMPs that we train and they have no idea, right? Well, it’s 28 grams per ounce. Do I write 2,800 milligrams? Well, no, because the flower is only 20%, but then they… And that’s making a simple thing complicated, right? Like, we all three understand, well, it’s 28 grams per ounce. That’s okay. Just put 28 grams as needed, 30 days, write some notes. But to get to the point where you learned that, it takes a long time.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. I mean, we’re what? I think 10 months in and it’s finally seeming like it’s getting easier and easier and things look more and more accurate.

Tim Pickett:
But how many new patients a day do you see that have incorrect dosing?

Greg Gardner:
Most of the time, rarely now.

Tim Pickett:
Okay. Rarely.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. Most of the time it’s rare. Usually, we’ll look and see who the QMP is, and if it’s not a name we recognize that’s the first flag. It’s like, “Okay, let’s go through a little bit more.”

Tim Pickett:
What do you do with those QMPs that don’t understand or they’re new? Do you just, immediately, you have a protocol, okay, here’s what we’ve got to do.

Greg Gardner:
First of all, we’ll communicate with the patient. We’ll say, “Hey based on how your QMP put in your recommendation, it would restrict you to this kind of purchase. Tell me more about your conversation with the QMP. Was this intentional, or was it potentially unintentional?” If the patient’s like, “Oh, no, my QMP that just to get whatever.” We’ll call over to the QMP, let them know. And usually, I’ll just invite them to come to the store so they can see the process. And at that time, I would do some education. If they don’t want to come in or, if they just want to know on the phone, I’ll usually let them know on the phone as well. But-

Tim Pickett:
Here’s what to put in the-

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Okay, here’s what to put.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. Pretty much.

Tim Pickett:
Put in the notes per pharmacist recommendations.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. And it’s an interesting thing. All of this, it’s a little frustrating because it’s all just technicalities and it’ll go away at some point. The state has talked about revamping the EVS system. So there’s just three check boxes. I do want to restrict my patient to this forms. I don’t want to restrict my patient to these forms or something. So that’s going to happen at some point soon, but we’ll see.

Chris Holifield:
I’m curious if there are any qualifying conditions that you think should be a qualifying condition in Utah, especially as you’ve gotten more and more familiar with cannabis?

Greg Gardner:
It’s tough. We do have a lot of patients. I mean, we have a whole spectrum of patients. Most commonly qualifying with chronic pain. But because cannabis is so multifaceted, it touches on so many areas, patients are using it for sleep or anxiety or depression. So these are qualifying conditions that I think are treatable with cannabis and patients are definitely using it for.

Chris Holifield:
The depression and anxiety and stuff. Yeah.

Greg Gardner:
Correct. So they’re using cannabis for those conditions I would say pretty successfully. They’re not qualifying conditions because they lack scientific journals and evidence to make them qualifying conditions as far as-

Chris Holifield:
Do you think so though? I mean, do you think only the 14 qualifying conditions in Utah are the only-

Tim Pickett:
Have the evidence.

Chris Holifield:
Yeah. Are the only ones with the evidence.

Greg Gardner:
It depends.

Chris Holifield:
I mean, glaucoma, right? Glaucoma’s not a qualifying condition in Utah.

Tim Pickett:
Right? And anxiety is a qualifying condition in other states but it’s not one here.

Chris Holifield:
I’m curious. In your personal, if there is anything that you saw that you’re like, “Gosh, why isn’t this a qualifying condition?”

Tim Pickett:
Right. Do people come in with pain and then they say, “Look, I really just want to sleep better.” Right?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. All the time.

Chris Holifield:
So why wouldn’t sleep be a qualifying condition? It seems to be.

Greg Gardner:
I mean, legislators, lawmakers, I think there’s… In my understanding, there’s a board of medical providers and they’ll look at whatever they believe is the best evidence and go from there. So we’re part of a coalition, cannabis coalition and talked with Blake from Zion, who’s great. Basically just, how that process goes with lawmakers and legislators and it almost feels like some of them are trying to take away some of the conditions that they don’t believe are-

Tim Pickett:
I think there’s actually more discussion on taking things away-

Greg Gardner:
I know autism is the one that’s-

Chris Holifield:
We should talk about new ones.

Tim Pickett:
…than there is appetite for new conditions.

Greg Gardner:
Correct. Yeah. That’s what it feels like, which is a bummer.

Chris Holifield:
What? Because I know you even said PTSD Tim, but I didn’t know there were others.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. I mean, PTSD. The Alzheimer’s one I think comes up now and then.

Chris Holifield:
Oh gosh. Just let the Alzheimer’s people have it.

Tim Pickett:
Right? And I think-

Chris Holifield:
I mean, chances are it’s the last-

Tim Pickett:
…the terminal illness, these rare conditions, HIV, these are things where, boy, if you have those diagnoses, you could do what you want.

Chris Holifield:
Let them live a better quality life.

Tim Pickett:
Right? That’s my opinion. I do like that it’s medical because I… And again, to the pharmacist’s point, having you there to guide people on what to buy, what to use, how to use it. I just think people have such a better experience when they get better education than, hey, I think this might help. I looked up a little bit online. I run down to the dispensary and dinosaur, I get something and I go home and try it. I think there’s evidence to say that doesn’t work as well as the system we have now. There’s going to be a bunch of people that disagree with me on this Chris, but…

Greg Gardner:
Well, it’s important to recognize, everybody that has a medical card in Utah is a medical patient. People’s experiences getting to the medical card, some patients have been recreationally using for a long time. And now are finding a qualifying condition to fit the bill. A lot of patients are brand new to cannabis. And that was my takeaway again from school is, they said, they’re like, “We believe that it would be awesome if there’s a pharmacist dispensing cannabis everywhere because even for recreational patients, you get to talk about, okay let’s just make sure it’s safe or let’s find, is there a better way you can be using this or a safer way or whatever that could be.” But we have that background on providing quick education to patients. Trying to take things that are sometimes hard to understand and making them easy to understand.

Tim Pickett:
What do you think one of the things you have adjusted your opinion is? Because you’ve been doing this 10 months, right? And I know in my experience with patients, my education has changed a little bit. It’s morphed into something different. I talk about dosing a little bit different, I talk about consumption a little different. Overall use, how much people are using, my views have evolved a little bit even in the short time that we’ve been doing it. How has that happened for you?

Greg Gardner:
What I’ve been most impressed with and happy with is that again, we’re staffed with, I think, we usually have three pharmacists on staff at all times. That gives us the ability to talk to returning patients to still continue education on each visit. One thing that I’ve noticed is in the cannabis world, patients at a regular pharmacy, they’ll come in once a month, maybe twice a month if their stuff isn’t on schedule. Cannabis patients come in all the time. They’ll come in weekly, every few days. Some patients buy their whole allotment upfront. But how I started my approach to cannabis education is, I would, without trying to overload patients, I would give them a whole bunch of information upfront and say, “I know it’s a lot of information, try to take some notes and let us know how you’re doing.”

Greg Gardner:
My approach now is a little bit more, let’s introduce you to something. Find you something that’s safe, take notes on how you use it, but come back because you’re going to come back next week. Let’s follow up, let’s see how it’s working for you. So I try to make it more of a journey with patients rather than, this is the one time you’re going to meet with me. So here’s everything you need to know.

Chris Holifield:
What products are people using a lot of that you see down in Lehi, at your location? I mean, are people getting a lot of raw flower? Are they getting a lot of carts, concentrate? What do you guys have different down there? Anything?

Greg Gardner:
Curaleaf, the slight cartridges that have… So vape cartridges is essentially a Curaleaf product. So we do have some things that are made in lab that are Curaleaf branded things that we try to still get out to other places. But there’s two patients that we’ll see. Patients that use the raw flower and they’ll vape or-

Tim Pickett:
They’ll vape that-

Greg Gardner:
They’ll vape that.

Tim Pickett:
…as you put air quotes, right? In there. We try to get people well to vape it.

Greg Gardner:
Right. There’s got to be an understanding of the culture, where people are coming from and how Utah has legalized it, right? And so, we try to be understanding and talk to them openly about that. But the patients that like the flower products. Sometimes they’ll dabble with an edible product or something. And then there’s patients who basically stay away completely from flower, whether it’s for smell purposes or discretion, whatever it may be. So most commonly, for patients, it’s usually vape cartridges and the gelatinous, the gummies.

Chris Holifield:
I was just curious if there was more of carts or more of just-

Tim Pickett:
More non flower in Utah county or at the point of the mountain.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Chris Holifield:
Because my brother has a vape shop in Pleasant Grove.

Greg Gardner:
Oh, cool.

Chris Holifield:
And he’s just said how popular vaping is in Utah county, just because people don’t like that cigarette smell, right? So just was curious similarities there with that weed smell really.

Tim Pickett:
Do you think you sell more vape carts and concentrates than you do flower?

Greg Gardner:
We do. In fact, I just looked at a percentage breakdown of all of our products this morning. So it was 40 something percent edibles, 25% vape cards, 20% flower. I think that’s partly in due just because they’re still, even after a year or a year plus, there still always seems to be a shortage of flower products.

Tim Pickett:
Do you run out of flower still?

Greg Gardner:
Oh yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Wow.

Chris Holifield:
See and that goes back to your mentioning how cannabis patients compare to regular pharmacy patients. Some come in quite often and some, less often so on and so forth. But I find I’ve had to go in more often because of availability. In an ideal world that would-

Tim Pickett:
And being able to purchase an eighth at a time, right?

Chris Holifield:
Yeah. In an ideal world, I would rather go in less often. I would rather go in say once a month, but I found because of availability, I have to go in more often.

Greg Gardner:
I understand. As of recording today, our company doesn’t have a purchase restriction policy. And so as long as you’re within your QMPs recommendation, you can buy as much flower product as you want. I know that’s changed-

Chris Holifield:
As long as it’s available.

Greg Gardner:
Correct.

Tim Pickett:
So that’s different than some of the pharmacies.

Greg Gardner:
I think, yeah. Than most.

Tim Pickett:
Some of the pharmacies you can only buy a quarter or two eighths. Sometimes they were down to one eighth. I remember when Dragonfly was just letting people have an eighth of flower and that was it. That’s all you could buy. But do you think that that lack of restriction is… It’s good for patients in some ways, but it also helps you run out of flower a little bit sooner than some of the other dispensaries?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. It is a challenge because we’ll look at what menu and availability at all the other shops. And it does seem like we’ll get a lot of things in and then it lasts a week. And so it’s great for the patients that happened to come by that week. Or as soon as something’s available, we’ll get 30 phone calls like, “Oh, is this available? I’m on my way.”

Tim Pickett:
Do you do drive-through?

Greg Gardner:
We don’t do drive-through yet. We have Del Taco’s drive-through-

Chris Holifield:
I was going to say-

Greg Gardner:
…ready to go. But there was actually a Lehi ordinance when we opened up. I think there was a lot of fear or something. So drive-through is one of the things that they excluded from our operating plan. And we’ve met with some of the Lehi officials and they’re much more, oh-

Tim Pickett:
They’re like, oh!

Greg Gardner:
…you didn’t bring hell to Utah county.

Tim Pickett:
Yes.

Greg Gardner:
So that’s something that’s probably coming. If it’s going to be soon, probably maybe in a couple months would be my guess. We have online orders that patients can submit their orders online and come down. We have a register that’s set up specifically for that so they can come right in. And if there’s a line, they can skip the line.

Tim Pickett:
They can skip the line and use… Do you take Hyper?

Greg Gardner:
We don’t. Right now it’s cash only.

Tim Pickett:
Right now it’s cash only.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Okay.

Greg Gardner:
For all listeners, there’s no ATM on site. And so-

Tim Pickett:
So where do you send them?

Greg Gardner:
Maverick. That’s next door.

Tim Pickett:
Oh really?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
But the guy who owns that ATM, he knows.

Greg Gardner:
Oh yeah.

Tim Pickett:
He’s like, “I’ll put cash in the-

Greg Gardner:
Every time we go to Maverick, they’re like, “Why do we have so many people using our ATM now?”

Tim Pickett:
Got it. Any plans to get an ATM?

Greg Gardner:
Not currently that we’ve been informed with. They’ve had multiple attempts at getting debit card readers working with some of the local banks. So I think that’s going to be priority still, is finding a way for people to use their card that they would use it in ATM just to use it onsite.

Tim Pickett:
Right.

Chris Holifield:
Where do you see yourself going within the cannabis industry? I mean, would you like to just stay as a pharmacist? Would you like to get into any other aspects of the industry or are you okay with where you’re at?

Greg Gardner:
One, I love where I’m at. Again, Curaleaf has been supportive of molding the position for whatever’s needs are. So I’ve loved staffing pharmacist, I’ve loved being part of making sure inventories are good and building operating plans. As far as with the cannabis industry, it’s hard to say because in a lot of other states, pharmacists, it’s not a role. And so for pursuing further type career, it’s hard to say what a pharmacist opportunity would be. But I love that it’s here in Utah and I hope that it’s here to stay at least, while Utah’s remains medical.

Chris Holifield:
That leads me to, we get a lot of people listening that want jobs at the industry. I hear this every time I visit pharmacies, “Are you hiring? Are you doing this?” Are you guys hiring on anything? Any kind of just bud tenders or, whatever?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. We currently have, I think, one full-time position that’s looking to be filled. But because again, movement within the company. So we’ve got a new store manager, is going to open up an assistant manager position. If we hire internally, that’ll open up a full-time position, we move up-

Chris Holifield:
So there’s always stuff, yeah?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. There’s always things. I think we usually take resumes. We’ll usually have people apply online because they put the postings on Indeed and Glassdoor or something. But, yeah. We do hire pretty frequently.

Chris Holifield:
I’m just curious. Anything else you want to talk to him about Tim? Anything else you want to ask him why we got him? I mean, while we got the mics are hot. Anything you want to talk about, man? Greg, anything?

Tim Pickett:
What’s your favorite strain?

Chris Holifield:
Have you used cannabis yet? Have you used cannabis.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. I’m a medical card holder here in Utah. So yeah, I went from having no experience with cannabis other than learning about it in school. I didn’t have plans necessarily to become a cardholder because again, I just assumed by using cannabis, I would be high. And so when we opened and I started talking to patients about their personal experience and, hey, wait a minute, I get migraines all the time. Or, after I play basketball, my foot’s in pain for multiple days afterwards, maybe I can find something for that. So I did. I got my card. I’ve tried a couple of the vape cartridges. Vape flower, maybe a few times. Edibles, a couple of times. I use it maybe once or twice a week or something like that.
Chris Holifield:
And you find it to help?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah, absolutely. I still have yet to really find how personally for, if I can catch a migraine in the moment. And this is a lot of our education is, what’s going to work fast and what’s going to be helpful for you in that moment? Or, if you’re looking for something quick to work or if you’re looking for something for chronic pain lasting you throughout the day. That’s how you-

Chris Holifield:
You ever tried the creams for-

Greg Gardner:
Absolutely.

Chris Holifield:
I get big knots in my neck, man, just for migraine type stuff with that and stress knots.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. I usually use a cream for, again, topical after playing basketball. And putting on the neck for migraines and stuff. I think it helps.

Chris Holifield:
I find it helps too.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah, absolutely.

Greg Gardner:
But yeah. It’s been all good experiences. That’s, I think, like I said earlier, just doing the best with the information that you have, learning about the safety of this medication and why it’s still classified as a Schedule 1. Basically, no medical use and seeing how much it’s helping people and how safe really, even more so than a lot of pharmaceuticals has definitely helped change my perspective on it. I would say having worked in the store and being like, “Okay, here’s all of these things that patients love.” And it definitely intrigued me to get my card more than had I just been meeting with a doctor who recommended it.

Tim Pickett:
Do you feel that experience of ease of use has helped you explain it better to patients?
Greg Gardner:
Yeah.

Tim Pickett:
Or you can do both. Do you think it’s like, no, you have to have a relationship with cannabis in order to be a pharmacist. Or you could not be a consumer of cannabis and still give good education. I don’t know. What’s your opinion about that?

Greg Gardner:
Part of the reason I got my card was because, for so many patients it is experience-based. So that’s part of again, why I was like, “Hey, I fit this criteria.” So that’s what kind of piqued my interest. I don’t believe that you have to use the product. Similar to any other medication. Pharmacists, we can do a whole bunch of education on stuff that we’ve never tried before. Probably most things we’ve never tried before. And I make sure that when we hire staff, that’s very clear to them that, by no means do you need to be a medical patient in order to provide good education. So I make that very clear up front.

Tim Pickett:
That’s good to hear.

Greg Gardner:
Personally, I think it’s been beneficial because I can speak a little bit to how fast something will work and what that will feel like. Or if you do something that’s too much, what you can do to help you alleviate some of those things. And so that’s our ongoing communication with patients are just helping with things like that.

Tim Pickett:
Really cool. It’s cool to hear stories about super conservative LDS people who get introduced to the cannabis space, get involved in it. It helps legitimize it as medicine. It helps everybody else that’s around you and around the people that you talk to legitimize it. It’s a big deal in Utah, especially to have your type of person involved in this.

Greg Gardner:
I hope so.

Tim Pickett:
I love that.

Greg Gardner:
And that’s really why we came back. I feel like being in Colorado, we learned a lot of things and I was like, “If there’s anything I can bring back home, I think that’s awesome.” We want to make Utah and our community as great as we can. So whatever we can help provide, we do so.

Tim Pickett:
That’s awesome.

Chris Holifield:
Do you know your address off the top of your head? Curaleaf’s address?

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. So we’re 3633 North Thanksgiving Way in Lehi.

Tim Pickett:
Right off that first Lehi exit, right?

Greg Gardner:
Yup. If you’re coming from Salt Lake county, it’s going to be the first Lehi exit on your right-hand side. You get off the exit, it’s going to put you right at the Maverick that’s where you’ll want to stop to get your cash.

Chris Holifield:
With the website, because if you go to curaleaf.com, that probably takes you to the main one, I guess, then what would you select? Utah, to see the menu and everything in there.
Greg Gardner:
I usually just Google.

Chris Holifield:
Okay. Just Google it.

Greg Gardner:
So it’s Curaleaf Lehi. It usually works well and it usually links you to our menu. I have had lots of… Well, I’ve had some experiences where somebody’s like, “Hey, I’m here for my online stuff.” I’m like, “We didn’t…” And they’re buying a whole bunch of stuff we don’t have. So they definitely put their order in Pennsylvania or something.

Chris Holifield:
And they’re like, “Well…”

Tim Pickett:
I’m here for my online. Well, you’re not in the right state.

Greg Gardner:
Yeah. Do double-check. Most of the time it works pretty well, but sometimes it does link you randomly to an out of state and place.

Chris Holifield:
Very cool. Well, thanks for doing the podcast with us, man. Thank you so much.

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. It’s great.

Chris Holifield:
It’s been awesome to have you on the show and find out about Curaleaf, your products and like Tim says, your story’s a little different than some. But even though, it’s kind of the story of a lot of people we’re bringing through here these days.

Tim Pickett:
It really is.

Chris Holifield:
It really seems like it. Otherwise, for people listening, you can subscribe to the podcast in any podcast app that you listen to podcasts in and utahmarijuana.org is the hub. That’s the main website for everything. So head on over there and check everything out. And I don’t know if-

Tim Pickett:
Yeah. If you have any questions for Chris or I, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are involved in the community now up at WBs and these weeds socials. We’re going to advance and recording. So stay tuned.

Chris Holifield:
Yeah, absolutely.

Tim Pickett:
All right. Everybody stay safe out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us For More Information

Call us at:

(801) 851-5554

or fill in the fields below and we’ll contact you.