Curaleaf budtender Mariah Lopez has developed a special greeting for her customers over the past two years. It's simple yet effective.
The 25-year-old lifelong Arizonan dons an ear-to-ear grin, and flips a cheesy peace sign in the air. The greeting never fails to elicit a smile and it has become Lopez's trademark — one of them, anyway. She's also known around Curaleaf's Peoria dispensary on North 91st Avenue for being a dabbing mad mixologist who is fearless when it comes to combining products to find her ideal high.
Phoenix New Times sat down with the budtender to talk about numbers chasing, back doors and her favorite way to enjoy cannabis.
Phoenix New Times: Most cannabis enthusiasts have a fun story about how they first fell in love with the plant. What’s your love story?
Mariah Lopez: Oh, for sure! I was just chilling at a friend's house, and she asked if I wanted to try an edible. It was downhill, or maybe uphill, depending on your interpretation, from there. All I know is that it went somewhere (laughs). I didn't know anything when I started with cannabis.
PNT: How did you go from eating mystery edibles in high school to becoming a professional weed slinger?
Lopez: Just having friends who were becoming budtenders and brand ambassadors. It’s funny, but the first time I applied at Curaleaf, I didn’t get the job, so I started at Bloom. Then Curaleaf acquired Bloom, and I got to stay. So, I kind of went in through the back door, but I am so happy it worked out.
PNT: What’s the number one thing your customers ask for?
Lopez: What’s the highest percentage (strain) you have?
PNT: So, numbers chasing …
Lopez: Exactly. THC percentage isn't everything. Total cannabinoids and the terpenes are what you really want to look at because that's what is going to get you high. The THC is just one part of it.
PNT: How do you persuade a consumer to try a lower-percentage product?
Lopez: I feel like intention is a big part of it. If you buy something that you think isn't going to get you high, you're not gonna get high because you're disappointed in it before you even try it. A lot of times, I’ll recommend they try a good OG strain like Granddaddy Purple. It has a low THC percentage, but it hits hard.
PNT: What are you toking on these days?
Lopez: Well, I am a concentrates girl. I'm a little impatient, so I like being high now versus having to smoke like two or three bowls to get the same high as one dab. I don’t have a specific strain I am dabbing on right now because I love to mix different concentrates together.
PNT: So, like a cannabis mixologist?
Lopez: Yes! I take a little bit of this and a little bit of that to create something unique.
PNT: How do you know if you’ve hit on something good?
Lopez: Honestly, I’m looking for a really heavy body high that still keeps me kind of functional because I like playing video games. I don't want to pass out in the middle of playing Minecraft.