Olympia's Coolest Jobs: Medical Marijuana Consultant
Passion and empowerment are what’s in it for these locals who contribute to a sustainable community through the unique work they do every day
Conrad Meints – Medical Marijuana Consultant at Northwest Collective
(Photo sidebar subtext: Conrad Meints proudly points to his state-issued consultant certification, standing next to a photo of the mighty bud that may hold a wealth of undiscovered cures)
Some folks tend to snicker when the topic of medical marijuana comes up. If you’re someone who prefers a whisky coke over that green smoke then you’ve likely regarded medicinal cannabis as no more than backdoor access to an illegal drug via vague complaints of (air quotes) lower back pain (snicker). Now that weed for fun is legal there’s perhaps less cause to doubt those who seek the plant for their ailments. This shift in public policy and attitude makes sense when you consider the circumstances: Prohibition ended during the Great Depression of the 1930s when teetotaling legislators faced bleak tax revenue. The same was true when the recent Great Recession turned the tide for politicians needing a fix through new taxes on fully legalized pot. Now that we have made the collective decision to allow citizens to simply recreate with weed, the clouds of controversy have cleared some. For the first time, the light shines on a single plant that may hold a host of curative properties, kept in the darkness of contempt and criminality for so long.
For Conrad Meints, a local medical marijuana consultant, this is a serious topic and always has been. “I grew up in a shamanistic Native American household steeped in the tradition of plants as medicine,” Conrad explained during our chat at his workplace, Northwest Collective, located in rural south Tumwater. Conrad has from a young age been drawn to the study of plant-based medicine, and especially the multifaceted qualities of the cannabis variety. He mentioned the early realization of its gentler effects on his dad who was a Vietnam vet self-medicating with the bottle. Conrad could see a better path forward to address his father’s disorders with the much less harsh side effects of a joint. He is committed to seeing the benefits of this plant become available to all without restriction: “Personally, I won’t be happy until pot can be grown in anyone’s garden along with their tomatoes. People can make beer or wine in their garage with their kids nearby, so why not cannabis?”
Conrad’s a local boy. His family started Valley Nut & Bolt in south Tumwater in the late 1960’s. Northwest Collective touts “deep roots in the medical marijuana community” on their website and Conrad speaks with pride about where he works: “All the other guys who work here are local boys – using local farms and gardens – the more local the better.” He pointed out that the business had donated thousands back to the community from its profits before the state started taking a bigger bite.
Conrad has visible passion for giving a lost healing power back to the people through acknowledging the potential that exists naturally within ourselves and the world around us. He believes that, “we are all in tune with the planet and there is something naturally available to us to cure anything.” With the complexity of the natural world and the never-ending discovery of flora and fauna and their hidden qualities this appears a compelling approach to healing even in modern times.
I asked him about the research currently underway into gaining a better understanding of cannabis’ full healing potential after so many years of federal resistance to academic funding. Conrad replied that, “We have learned so much in just the last two years. I’m excited that state universities are taking it upon themselves to begin research without federal support.” He provides for example that the nuances of this particular plant-based medicine are only starting to be fully understood: “Terpenes, the same oils that give plants scent and flavor, are turning out to hold the key to how cannabis can be most effectively used. These oils can affect the way the key essence of cannabis gets to the patient’s problem condition.”
Conrad is still a young man but he has had this passion since he was a kid. Even in a past life as a general contractor building houses Conrad read all he could get his hands about cannabis long before it was viewed as a legal medicine; he continues to do so now that he is in the legitimate trade for the first time. When I asked him if he would ever pursue an advanced degree – a pot PhD or the like – he demurred saying he didn’t approach cannabis that way and was never much of a traditional student, preferring to study a variety of subjects on a self-taught approach based on fascination verses lectures and tests. I mentioned our nearby alternative college already devoid of the trappings of traditional academia as fertile ground for a blossoming new study of plant-based medicine. He did seem to internally consider the idea of professing pot’s wonders in some capacity at The Evergreen State College in the future, but for now, he enjoys helping his community one needy individual at a time.
I asked him what makes this gig so fulfilling, almost already knowing his response: “I have seen people come into this shop barely walking and at a dead end with pharmaceuticals, but doubting whether cannabis will help.” Conrad then gets the satisfaction of seeing the same folks convinced and moving freely without assistance after receiving recommended cannabis care. He’s known relatives afflicted with cancer who have died not from the disease but from the treatment. He believes his work in opening his client’s eyes to the possibilities of addressing their chronic debilitating conditions with plant-based medicines is empowering to people. “I believe I am helping people complete themselves and become more functional which is hugely satisfying. The docs aren’t the only ones who can heal”.
This may all sound like snake oil and woo-woo to those still snickering. You need not be convinced of the notion of curative cannabis to see that Conrad’s heart is in the right place. After only a few moments in this young man’s company you cannot deny his genuine passion for helping local folks and his community through a better understanding of plants’ usefulness as medicine.