Man wearing a bucket hat and blue rubber gloves harvests a large plant of marijuana. He peeks through the green cannabis leaves and flowers to look at the camera. Man wearing a bucket hat and blue rubber gloves harvests a large plant of marijuana. He peeks through the green cannabis leaves and flowers to look at the camera.

Roots and Reefer Episode 1: The First Patient with Jeremy Hodges

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The First Medical Cannabis Patient of The Source tells his Story

A cartoon version of a woman with white skin and silver hair and pink glasses next to a woman with brown skin and big, black hair. The women are wearing earrings in the shape of marijuana leaves, and the text, Roots and Reefer is in the green, yellow, red, and black background.

On this episode of Roots & Reefer... "I got there I think around 6:15 or 6:30 in the morning, it was so dark. I brought a chair with me, I was
camping out basically by the front door..." we are interviewing Jeremy Hodges, Patient #1.

This is Roots & Reefer, your source for education, inspiration, and destigmatization.

I'm Wendy Love Edge, and I am Rochelle Bradshaw.

Joining us now is Jeremy Hodges, patient #1.

Hodges grew up in eastern Arkansas and has lived in Fayetteville for 25 years. Previously a financial aid counselor at the U of A, he has a bachelor's degree from the same institution in communications and a great voice. He also has a certificate in cannabis science and operations from St. Louis University.

Welcome to the show Hodges, thank you so much.

Thank you for having me. It's an honor to be here today.

Thank you for being here, Hodges.

So why cannabis? Why are you in this industry?

Well, I started using cannabis at around 18 when I first went to college for the first time. I avoided it during high school just because my parents were kind of crazy and whatnot. And I didn't like that lifestyle. When I was away from home, someone offered a joint. I remember it was rolled in graph paper and that was fall of 1990, and it was the first time. It just really did something for me. We all struggle with things, and I've had a lot of you know, mood issues and whatnot, and cannabis makes me happy. You know, I can be a grumpy boy sometimes and cannabis just invariably brings me back around and you know, elevates my mood puts a smile on my face.

Oh, wow, that's fabulous. So you are patient number one... How did that happen?

Well, I voted in November of 2016 to legalize medical cannabis in the state. I was a proud voter. And I've always been pretty civically engaged. And, you know, as a lifelong cannabis connoisseur, I was just really excited to see it come into the state. I followed it closely, you know, just reading news and the internet and everything. And about 10 days before The Source grand opening, one of our competitors opened up out in the woods. And I went early to that too. I just want to see what it was going to be like, and it was a big crowd there. And I decided, you know, when I heard The Source was going to open in August, whatever day that was 13th, maybe of 2019. I decided I want to be the first person there. Because you know, that's just something to do in life. You want to be the first at something so I got there, I think around 6:15 or 6:30 in the morning, it was still dark, and I brought a chair with me, camping out, basically, by the front door. No one came for the longest time, but the news crews came in, they all wanted to interview me on camera, but I wasn't down with that. Because at the time I worked for the U of A and I didn't want to broadcast my cannabis consumption.

You heard it here, guys. Patient number one, interview number one.

Now that was in Bentonville, right, correct. And I heard a rumor that you also kind of closed that place?

Last July, when we had to shut the store down for a couple of days as we moved to our new facility in Rogers. I worked the last closing shift that night, so that was just kind of thrilling to have been there when it first opened and there when the door locked for the final time. So that was just kind of a full circle type thing. You know, it's just it's just amazing. This journey I've been on.

Yeah, I mean to tie this together for everyone who doesn't realize it...

Hodges also now works for The Source. So he was patient number one, then he became a budtender.

And that's a major life change! Yeah, I would think of it as a big adjustment. It's been quite a change, you know. I've questioned things at times, but looking now, there's been a lot of great changes here recently at The Source, and I'm just really excited about that. But that was one thing I mentioned on my cover letter for my application back then, was that I was you know, the first patient. I think that helped me get put in another pile to follow up on. It's pretty cool.
So have you been to dispensaries in other states?

It was a few months before our Medical program actually rolled out here. It was March of 2019. I went with my family to Las Vegas. I went to Planet 13 out there, and that was my first ever visit to a legal dispensary. And when I got through the door and got checked in, 

I just got down and kissed the ground.

After using for all that time for your own health, right?

To be able to do it legally without fear of legal repercussions or anything was amazing. Because you know so many years you had when you traveled you have to put it in a certain spot. You know I won't go there but… you could never be too careful and too safe. I still have my ticket stub from when I got checked into Planet 13. I still have a couple of empty containers from my first purchase at The Source actually. We actually got some solventless rosin back then from Natural State Medicinals.

You know out of all of the cultivators prior to The Source launching In The Flow, I would say that Natural State Medicinals has consistently been one of my favorites.

I agree as far, as the big boys especially, I think they're consistently one of the best. I think they take it more seriously from a medicinal standpoint. 

I'm glad you brought up In The Flow! So Hodges, we both work at The Source, and we've been enjoying some delightful craft cannabis lately. Do you agree? 

I was wanting to know, what is your favorite In The Flow strain?

It’s so hard to pick, but I have to say that my favorite is Danky Kong. It just really helps with anxiety for me because I am quite anxious, you know? Well, thanks to cannabis, I've come off of medications for anxiety over the last five years or so. Danky Kong just really helps me with anxiety, it takes away a lot of the tension in my upper shoulders and whatnot. It just kind of melts away. And just once again, it's just mood elevation like no other.

I say Danky Kong is followed closely by Donny Burger and Chemmy Jones.

A man wearing black scrubs and blue gloves hangs cannabis plants upside down along a rack in a cure room.

What about Wavelength Extracts?

I would have to say Purple Punch is my favorite. I love the flower by whoever. But the Wavelength Purple Punch makes me giggly. And I have trouble laughing a lot. You know, I'll get a chuckle once in a while, but I don’t always get a full belly laugh. And Purple Punch Helps with that. 

A product image of a cannabis vape cartridge with a purple W and the words Purple Punch Wavelength extracts on a white background

Is there anything else in the cannabis world that you're really passionate about? 

There's a lot of things I'm passionate about and yes, in the cannabis world. One thing in particular stood out when I did my studies at St. Louis University for my cannabis certificate. I had to do a capstone project. And I did that on the importance of social equity in the medical cannabis industry, in the whole state or in the whole country, and particularly in Missouri and Arkansas. (Missouri, because that's where St. Louis University is, of course.)

It's not a fun topic necessarily for most folks, but it's very important. When cannabis was prohibited 1937, prior to that, it was the immigration of Mexican folks fleeing civil war in Mexico around the turn of the 20th century. They brought with them the custom of smoking cannabis recreationally.

And so it was black people and brown people, black folks in New Orleans and other places, who popularized cannabis use recreationally. Black and brown communities carry the torch for familiarizing American culture with cannabis, and they paid for them they paid the price disproportionately for that. It's important that when states legalize, they make a habit of ensuring that there is some social equity. 

I think it's important for cannabis users just to be aware of the history of the plant in our American society. 

You know, how, why was it illegal? What were the reasons behind all that? It's all about power and money and control. So it's just interesting to see you know, and I never thought I would see the day when we're sitting here with legal cannabis on the table! It still just blows my mind.

I get paid to go do this too.

Crazy. I have a friend who's over 70 now and she'll say, “Well, this is great, but I kind of miss that feeling of it being illegal!” It's just the bad girl in me that is kind of disappointed.

My wife doesn't really consume much, but I wonder if that was one of some of my appeal to her - the bad boy in me, because I was a heavy cannabis user.

So Hodges, what is your hope for where we are going in the state for the cannabis industry? 

Our state is so unique, because we're limited to the eight cultivators. And it's just that there's such limited competition in our state that the market has been so slow to mature compared to other markets. You know, Oklahoma has been around about the same amount of time, but their market has matured more due to competition. It's just it's amazing how that drives down prices.

I hope we can continue to see compassionate care programs grow, anything that we can do to help the patients out. I want the industry to continue to grow to be more patient-centered, where we can help them get the medication they need at a price that they can afford. 

It helps for patients to know the science behind the products. We can take deep dives with new patients sometimes and talk about our endocannabinoid system and how our body interacts with terpenes and cannabinoids. I think it's important to have an educated patient base, so they know what they're getting.

If patients journal and take notes, then they can learn about how they react to different terpenes. Oh, maybe linalool isn't working for you, maybe it just knocks you out all the time. If you’re taking notes, then you will know to avoid that. So I just want to help patients get something for a fair price and help them understand the science and the rationale of why things work the way they do. 

I was going to ask you for a “bud tip,” or a budtender tip? 

But you just mentioned getting more knowledgeable about the terpenes and what they are doing for you. But do you have any more tips? 

When you come to The Source, ask us what is the best deal, because I'm there to help you find the best value that you can possibly get for your money. And if you want to spend $22.50 on 4.2 grams of whatever, I want to help you stretch that dollar. Lean on me. I'll break all of the little stems out and get you the best bang for the buck. 

And you know why you're able to break the stems out? Because we're deli style! 

Yes, only deli style dispensary in Northwest Arkansas.

It makes me want to kiss the floor! It's just amazing being able to look at the buds and smell them, because it's a plant. So we are attracted to different things by looking at the plant and by smelling it. 

Well, yeah, that's the whole aromatherapy industry, which is a billion dollar industry or something like that, I don't know. But that's all based on the same terpenes. It's how our bodies react to smells. And certainly, if I can't have a preview smell of that cannabis, I don't really want to try it. Because I'm really picky. I like dank, cheesy, funky, skunky smelling stuff. I don't really like gassy things and diesel type things. They don't appeal to me. And if I'm not using deli style, I usually can't figure that out. 

A large jar of cannabis in a deli jar is being dumped into a blue, gloved hand

Explain, what is deli style?

So a lot of stores sell prepackaged flower. You know it might be a gram, it might be an eighth a quarter, whatever, but a lot of times it's in a pouch, a mylar pouch that you may or may not be able to see through. We're not allowed to open certain things depending on how they're sealed or whatnot. But there are some that come in jars too.

But deli style is just like the deli at the grocery store. We have a big jar that holds about a pound of cannabis flower in it. We've got a big scale there, like you'd find at a deli, you know, where they slice your meat. And we got tongs, and we take out the buds and we put them in a little canister that's been tared out on that scale, and we can weigh it out. 

The minimum purchase you can do is one gram, but after that your limit is just your allotment or your wallet. We're not beholden to the traditional eight, quarter, whatever. We can do $40 worth of something or whatever it may be, we're happy to do that. 

Also, just because let's face it, the medicine is expensive, right? So if you're not sure if it's going to work for you, you can just buy a gram and try it out. And then you can go back and make a larger purchase. I think that's really important, especially in this current economy, and people are struggling, you know, so we don't want to waste money on something that's not going to work for you. 

Exactly. And there are plenty of folks that will come in and they'll literally buy, you know, 10 one gram samples. It's a little time consuming, but we're happy to do it. Because we know that at the end of the day, the goal of this is for you to find what is going to work for you. And we're happy to do whatever we can to accommodate that. 

So are you happy with your job change? Do you like being behind the counter? 

Yes, I do. I'm a helper, that's what I've been called in life to do, is to assist people. To help them with whatever that may be needed. I used to be in Financial Aid, where I'd have to tell people all about the federal law that governs everything. Why they could or could not have a grant or a loan or whatever it may be. 

And now I'm just here to help guide you through this cannabis journey. You know, I'll tell you as much or as little as you want to know. I will talk to you for an hour if you want to have a deep dive, or you know, I'll get you in just a moment. I haven't worked in a retail setting in about 25 years, so that's been a real change. But it's exciting. I love it. It keeps me a little youthful, except for being on your feet all the time and when your dogs are barking.

So, yeah, I think there's hopefully going to be more opportunities at The Source. We’ve had some exciting things going on lately. New opportunities seem to be presenting themselves as we speak. So, you know, hopefully there'll be an opportunity to do some more things too. 

I can see why you're so passionate about the source. 

Yes. Thank you. It's a pretty cool place to work.

Thank you for making the switch. Thank you to the U of A for letting him go. 

Well, this has been a great conversation. Thank you so much for joining us. 

It's been an absolute honor. I feel really privileged to be here with you all. So thank you so much for including me. 

May The Source be with you!

Listen to the full episode for an awesome strain review of Chemmy Jones! [Spoiler alert: Chemmy Jones gets all 10s in her review!] Read more about Chemmy Jones here!

A large nugget of cannabis flower sits on a circular bamboo top and is surrounded by green foliage.
Chemmy Jones by In The Flow is grown exclusively in Arkansas by The Source Cannabis dispensary and grow in Rogers, Arkansas.

Roots & Reefer is an industry-shifting cannabis podcast, educational platform, & lifestyle brand. Our mission is to educate the public about the benefits & joys of cannabis, ultimately destigmatizing medical marijuana use & making it less taboo & easier for people to talk about. Visit the Roots and Reefer website to learn more!

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