I met Ryan on Stoner Ave at the East Coast Connoisseur Cup after party last month in Richmond, VA. He and the rest of the Carolina Craft Cannabis Co. team were celebrating their recent win of the Indica category with their Carolina Cookies – having driven up from hours down south. The Carolinas might not be the first place that you think of when you think of fire, but take a step back and read this in-depth winner’s interview to get a glimpse of Ryan’s cannabis story. Most of all: Don’t forget to be happy.
Without further ado, here’s the interview!
Carolina Craft Cannabis Co. Interview
Can you share a little with us about your history with cannabis?
I have been a cannabis user for the last 15 years (33 years old), and have become a connoisseur in about the last 10. I’ve always preferred to smoke over drinking, so I have always desired to know more and more about everything cannabis. Most recently, in 2020, right before covid, I decided to move the family out to Oregon. We loved it out there and I wanted to dive into the industry. I watched a bunch of videos and learned as much as I could before going out there (which definitely helped), but the first hand experience was priceless. Learned how to grow out there, as well as breeding, and made some great connections and friends. One of them is one of my best friends now, and my mentor in the growing process. We had our 2nd child in Oregon and decided to move back east Spring of 2022. Since we got back, even though the laws are different, it didn’t slow me down or keep me going at all. Have been popping seeds, breeding, and continuing to get better and more knowledgeable. Everything submitted to the Cup was all from organic living soil, but was also my first ever runs in them, also in tents. Im the most critical person of everything I do, so although I was really happy with how everything turned out, Im excited for the future because I know I can do better.
Who do you look up to in the cannabis industry?
This is actually an interesting question, because if you asked me a few years ago, my answer would be totally different. I used to look up to a lot of people in the industry that, honestly after learning more about them and their businesses, let me down. I’ve learned there are a lot of frauds in this industry the last few years. With that being said, I’d say I look up to my mentor, and all the small craft growers that do it because they love it, and didn’t cave and sell out when that would have been the easy thing to do.
What about outside the cannabis industry?
Outside of the industry, I’d say I look up to just your average American, especially parents, who no matter what and how much it sucks sometimes, still handle their business and responsibilities, day in and day out. I know things have been rough for a lot of folks the last few years, but there are so many good regular people, who suck it up and put a smile on their face and get shit done. Even though they might be stressed, they don’t let kids see that. Also non-parents with hard labor jobs, and important responsibilities to our everyday lives, there are a lot of truly remarkable people, who don’t get the credit they deserve. THANK YOU!
Who are some of your favorite cultivators?
Most of my favorite cultivars are going to be from Oregon since that is where we lived, but Ive had great stuff from CA, WA, MI, VA. If you are ever in Oregon looking for Flower – Eugreen, Focus North, Evans Creek, Archive, and Deschutes. For Concentrates – Happy Cabbage, Bonsai, Eugreen, Archive, and Echo. For Edibles – Gron, Happy Cabbage, Wyld, and Herban Tribe.
What is your preferred method of consuming cannabis?
My preferred method of consumption kinda varies depending on what I’m doing. If I’m around the house, I’m usually dabbing or eating gummies. If I’m out and about and smell isn’t an issue, I’ll smoke flower out of joints or blunts. If smell is an issue then eat gummies.
What’s the oldest cannabis product that you’ve consumed and what was the method of consumption? How was it?
I’d say the oldest product Ive consumed was probably some of the old mids we used to smoke 15 years ago lol. We called it the “BTown Brown” and was smoking it out of a can or plastic bottle. Man I’m glad times have changed haha
What do you like to do while high?
I love to do 3 main things while high –
1.Eat (Obviously right? Lol)
2. Golf (Smoke every time so I can’t use it as an excuse when I’m close to 100)
3. Work in the Garden (it seems more fun to do it high rather than sober)
What’s your go to munchie?
My go to munchie is eating a banana with peanut butter. Between the kids and I, we go through A LOT of bananas lol
Along that line, what is the most interesting food and cannabis pairing you have experienced or come up with?
Mine isn’t really that interesting, but I will say when I first found infused lemonades in Oregon, that changed my perception of edibles forever. For a while I was a little hesitant because most of my experiences with edibles was getting too high off homemade stuff, but those Lemonades changed my view of edibles for the better forever.
What is your mission and vision in the cannabis space?
My mission and vision in the cannabis space is simple. I want it to be treated like alcohol, and help change the stigmas around cannabis, which in my opinion, isn’t what is happening now. Yeah it is being legalized in certain states, but is taxed and regulated roughly 10 times more than alcohol. The people making the laws and regulations, are making it to where only their rich friends can succeed. And its making for a legal market full of trash no one wants. You see it in Canada and California mainly. Which is a big reason the black market is bigger than ever. The REAL cannabis culture IS the black market and veteran consumers. Yeah people are excited to see legalization, but seems like a double-edged sword the way it is going. You can’t have uneducated people who know nothing about the plant, culture, or industry, making laws for such, and expect it to succeed for anyone but them. Everyone should be looking at California and Canada as WHAT NOT TO DO with legalization.
What are you working on nowadays?
I’m currently working on a few different things. First and foremost, building out rooms in my garage, for seeds, clones, flower, and drying/curing. I ran all my own electric last fall, now I’m permanently ditching the tents to better control my environment. Secondly, I’m slowly but surely deciding what seeds I want to pop and hunt through over the next year. And last but not least, doing some more breeding. I have some exciting unreleased stuff coming soon!
What caused you to enter The East Coast Connoisseur Cup?
I wanted to enter as soon as I found out about it for a few reasons. I wanted to meet and network with like minded individuals on the East Coast. I wanted to challenge myself to properly schedule and execute growing on a timeline for competitions. And I also just wanted to see if others enjoyed my flower like my friends and family do. Like I said, Im my biggest critic, so they are always the ones that give me positive feedback, but I wanted to hear different opinions from people that dont love me lol
What was it like when you found out you won?
It was definitely an awesome feeling when I won. I was happily surprised I won with my own strain. That was really cool and it almost felt like winning twice. It was great to have my friends there, but I wish I could have had my wife and 2 little girls with me. That would of made it perfect. The critic in me kept me thinking what I could have done differently to have won Sativa too lol but it felt very rewarding and humbling. It reassured me that all my hard work and struggles the last few years was worth it.
Would you like to share a funny story from the legacy days?
I don’t know if I would consider it “legacy days”, but in 2018, my wife, first daughter, and I took a trip to San Francisco and then Oregon for a week. Our first day in the Bay Area, we go to the Golden Gate Bridge picture taking area on the opposite side away from the city. Naturally I’m excited to smoke my first legal joint ever. Well in one of my not so best moments, I sparked that joint in a State Park (I wasn’t aware of). Then about 10 mins later had a ranger come by and stop me. Well long story short, my first time smoking flower in a legal state led to a $180 ticket for myself. I was very aware of where I smoked for the remainder of our trip.
In the classic /r/trees scale of 1 to 10 high, how high are you right now?
I coach my daughters soccer team, and we have our first practice in a couple hours, so right now, I’m at about a 3 lol had a dab a few hours ago.
Are there any other projects, yours or others, that you’d like to shout out?
I’ve already talked about my projects a little bit, but my buddy/mentor is in the middle of a big pheno hunt right now of some crosses that won’t ever be released. Only a few people will be given any cuts or seeds from the hunt. I’m fortunate enough to be one, so you’ll definitely see some of that flower next year. The only other project I really know of right now is with the man responsible of putting together E3C, I know they are already working on next year, and it seems like it will only continue to get bigger and better!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with The Highest Critic readers?
Last thing I’d like to say to everyone is, don’t let celebrities and people on TV tell you how or what to think. Don’t let people you don’t know, control your thoughts and emotions. We aren’t all supposed to be the same or think the same. We are meant to be unique and different. Love and respect your neighbors, and don’t let difference of opinions prevent conversations. We as people are so much stronger together. I’ve moved cross country twice, and been all over the states, and have met a bunch of amazing people. I have several close friends who don’t agree with me on a lot, but we get along great and would do anything for each other. Life is too short to be angry or upset all the time. Be grateful for what and who is in your life. Smoke good clean herb and BE HAPPY!
Thank you, Ryan and congratulations again Carolina Craft Cannabis Co. Stay tuned for more interviews with Cup winners and enjoy this picture of the winning Carolina Cookies.