Meet Our Budists

The Budist community is led by a diverse group of cannabis experts, or “Budists”, which includes certified Ganjiers, cup judges, journalists, tastemakers, and connoisseurs. Each brings unique perspectives and qualifications to the community, helping to ensure that people from all walks of life find the best cannabis products for their needs and use cases. Our team of Budists write long-form reviews that highlight the intricacies and use cases of each product, touching on attributes such as Aroma, Flavor, Appearance and Effect. They also use a 100-point system to rate each product, which offers a more nuanced approach than the 5-star system, putting cannabis on par with internationally recognized rating systems used for wine, beer, chocolate and coffee.

Alex Scherma

Alex Scherma is a seasoned cannabis consumer, infusion chef, event coordinator, processing specialist, and certified Ganjier. With over 15 years of experience in smokable flower and a decade in concentrates, edibles, and more, he's a true expert. As a Ganjier, Alex crafts menus using local, regenerative, and organic ingredients. He's also an entertainment professional, organizing live events and creating content. A judge in cannabis competitions across states, Alex prioritizes health and wellness in his consumption, favoring live rosin, hash, and daily flower use.

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Amber Senter

Amber E. Senter is a visionary entrepreneur with over 20 years in marketing and project management. As Founder and CEO of MAKR House, she leads fundraising, manages supply chains, navigates government relations, develops strategic plans, creates products, and executes marketing campaigns. Previously, as COO of an Oakland dispensary, she improved sales and profitability, obtaining Oakland's first onsite consumption permit. A US Coast Guard veteran, Amber co-founded Supernova Women in 2015, empowering people of color in the cannabis industry and working to mitigate the impact of the War on Drugs, including aiding in the creation of Oakland's social equity program.

Caleb Chen

Caleb Chen, a cannabis researcher, entrepreneur, and educator, champions cannabis genetic biodiversity and cultural ethnographies. As Editor in Chief of The Highest Critic since 2018, he leads a global team of over 100 reviewers, spotlighting unique cultivars and their stories. A seasoned cannabis cup judge and moderator for major online forums, Caleb became a Certified Ganjier in April 2022. Advocating for sun-grown, soil-nurtured cannabis, he now researches Legacy Genetics at the Cal Poly Humboldt Cannabis Studies Lab. Based in the Emerald Triangle, Caleb's journey reflects his dedication to fostering a deeper understanding of cannabis culture and cultivation.

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Camran Hussain

Camran Hussain, also known as "Yung Slabby” has been a dedicated cannabis enthusiast and activist since the Prop 215 era, to which he managed Terp Town, a delivery service specializing in high-end craft concentrates. Following the legalization of recreational cannabis with Prop 64, he co-founded and curated Cosmic Supper Club, a fine dining and solventless pairing event in San Francisco. After the pandemic, I co-founded Cannabis Culture Club, which expanded the concept with a broader narrative and more collaborators. I pride myself on a refined palate developed through years of hands-on experience.

Christina Cassidy

Christina Cassidy, a San Diego-based sociologist, is an expert cannabis educator, advocate, and "stoner mom" with over 25 years of experience. She is dedicated to demystifying and uplifting the cannabis plant, serving as a reliable source of information and relatable guidance for newcomers and seasoned connoisseurs alike. Christina is passionate about discussing legalization, terpenes, and normalization, particularly advocating for women in the cannabis space.

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Christina Wong

Christina Wong, a multifaceted figure in Los Angeles, is renowned for her expertise in cannabis-infused culinary arts and travel. As founder & CEO of Fruit + Flower Co., she pioneers innovative cannabis creations. Hosting the "Fruit + Flower Unfurled" podcast and newsletter caters to culinary cannabis aficionados. Co-hosting "Mogu Magu" further extends her impact in AAPI culture, food, and cannabis. Her contributions, highlighted in Thrillist, High Times, Cherry Bombe, CannaCurious, and Kitchen Toke magazines, underscore her influential presence in the cannabis community.

Colleen King

Colleen King is a respected sourcing expert, Ganjier, and seasoned competition judge, renowned for her expertise in cannabis and coffee. With a diverse career spanning continents, she brings a unique perspective to her roles. Colleen's journey began in specialty coffee, where she explored micro-regions in Central and South America, managing market trends across 11 countries. Transitioning seamlessly into cannabis, Colleen's sensory-driven approach is informed by her decade-long journey as a medical cannabis patient. Founder of Altered States, she pioneers 420 virtual travel experiences, revolutionizing exploration in the cannabis world with immersive VR.

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Dan Braunstein

Dan Braunstein boasts over 7 years of dedicated connoisseurship. His discerning palate discerns the nuances of artisanal strains, innovative consumption methods, and high-quality edibles, flower, and hash. Founder of Grassfed, a pioneering cannabis hospitality and production venture, Dan champions an enlightened and inclusive cannabis culture. At Niamedic USA, he spearheads groundbreaking research collaborations with UCl, leading a team of experts in cannabis science. Host of a captivating cannabis podcast, Dan demystifies the cannabis experience, hosting industry pioneers and honoring legends.

Dan Wittmers

Dan Wittmers is a Certified Ganjier and branding expert, who brings over 20 years of cannabis consumption and Fortune 500 branding experience. His recent focus has been on introducing cannabis beverages to both regulated and hemp markets. Currently serving as EVP for Rexis Biotech, he co-created Squared, a THC-infused beverage brand leveraging Rexis technology. Prior to cannabis, he dedicated a decade to mobile advertising technology.

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Ernesto Martinez

Ernesto Martinez, aka Extract_Reviewer, embarked on his cannabis journey in 2010, discovering its medicinal potential firsthand as a prop 215 patient in 2011. Fueled by passion, he founded Extract Reviewer on Instagram in 2019, aiming to redefine cannabis descriptions. Joining Phytologie/Molecular Farms' cultivation team in Oakland, his expertise contributed to their Emerald Cup success in 2021. As Extract_Reviewer, he's evaluated over a pound of concentrates and now serves as a judge for prestigious competitions like the Transbay Competition.

Jake Kuczeruk

Jake Kuczeruk has been immersed in cannabis culture for over 20 years, having navigated its evolution from the Midwest to SF, honing expertise in business development, mentoring, and investing. Collaborating with numerous brands, he’s driven market expansion and cultivated a deep product knowledge. Actively involved in industry committees like NCIA's Cannabis Manufacturing, he’s committed to advancing cannabis standards. Passionate about old-school strains and landraces, he embraces innovation and diversity in cannabis.

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Jakki Hernandez

Often referred to as "Happyjakki," I believe we are all sunflowers, blooming best when others shine their light on us. I aim to shine my light on everyone I meet, enjoying watching others bloom. Professionally, I am an Expansion Compliance Specialist at Kiva with over 17 years in the cannabis industry, dating back to the Prop 215 days. Living with Neurofibromatosis type 1 and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, I faced a lifelong struggle with pain and the prospect of a morphine pump. Refusing this fate, I explored cannabis, discovering its profound healing potential. My journey testifies to cannabis's transformative power as a holistic wellness solution.

Jamie Evans

Jamie Evans, founder of The Herb Somm, blends cannabis and culinary arts through her acclaimed blog and lifestyle brand. A four-time author, certified sommelier, and entrepreneur, she specializes in cannabis, infused beverages, and the canna-culinary world. Known for her signature wine and weed experiences, Jamie's literary contributions span POPSUGAR, Wine Enthusiast, and High Times, among others. Recognized as a top tastemaker and innovator, she's been honored by Wine Enthusiast and Green Market Report, solidifying her status as a leader in both cannabis and wine industries.

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Jason Pinsky

Jason Pinsky, a leading figure in the cannabis industry, gained prominence through his extensive expertise and advocacy. Since his debut as a judge at the 1994 High Times Cannabis Cup, he's been deeply engaged in cannabis professionally and personally. Pinsky's journey includes judging competitions, advocating for medicinal use, and hosting "Pinsky and the Brain." Overcoming opioid dependency with cannabis deepened his advocacy. As Chief Cannabis Evangelist at Eaze and producer for VICELAND's "Bong Appétit," he's a pioneer in mainstream marijuana, shaping the dialogue on cannabis acceptance and understanding.

Kelly Valentine

Kelly Valentine is a Certified Ganjier and GM of Embarc, a leading California dispensary chain. From Virginia's mountains to Humboldt County, her journey with cannabis has been one of passion and purpose, evolving from farmer and manufacturer to educator and advocate. Moving to Humboldt in the early '90s ignited her deep connection with the plant, leading to years of cultivating a unique understanding of cannabis products. Her extensive experience in various manufacturing stages and her certification as a Ganjier enrich her role in educating and engaging consumers.

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Kevin Jodrey

Kevin Jodrey is a highly respected cannabis cultivator, educator, and advocate with over 40 years of industry experience. As the founder of Wonderland Nursery in Humboldt County, known for its high-quality genetics, Jodrey merged it with Cookies as their R&D facility, which continues to operate today. He co-founded The Ganjier, an educational and consulting company offering resources and workshops for cannabis cultivators. Jodrey is a pioneer in cannabis cultivation, passionate about preserving and improving genetics. He is a sought-after speaker, global consultant on cultivation practices, and dedicated to sustainable cultivation and industry advancement through education and advocacy.

Lori Hirsch

Lori Hirsch is an experienced cannabis educator specializing in health and wellness. Formerly Head of Education at Papa & Barkley, California’s premier cannabis wellness company, she has produced educational videos, developed training programs, and supported sales teams and retail partners. After a 30-year television career, she transitioned to cannabis in 2018, starting as a budtender at Medmen and later championing Papa & Barkley’s CBD line nationwide. Lori has conducted over 350 demos and educational sessions, impacting over 6,000 attendees. She is now enrolled in the Ganjier program and developing her own cannabis education consulting company, while remaining active in various industry organizations and events.

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Luna Stower

Luna Stower, Chief Impact Officer at Ispire Vape Technology in Los Angeles, boasts a rich background in the cannabis industry, previously serving as VP of Business Development. Renowned for her leadership in high-quality vaporization hardware, Luna's impact spans over two decades in the 'Cannabiz.' Recognized among the "Top 100 Women in Cannabis" and honored as a "Community Cultivator," she played pivotal roles in building California's leading brands like Jetty Extracts and Blue River. Luna's advocacy for drug policy reform and social equity earned her prestigious accolades, solidifying her as a notable leader in the cannabis space.

Matthew Shevach

Matthew Shevach, a Certified Ganjier and lifelong cannabis connoisseur, channels his passion for wellness into education and entrepreneurship. With over six years in the cannabis industry, he's held key roles at companies like Treez and Flowhub, focusing on product, marketing, and operations. As a cannabis critic and member of the Budist startup team, he bridges brands and consumers. Matthew is dedicated to shaping the industry's future, leveraging his expertise to benefit both businesses and consumers. Additionally, his pioneering work in digital advertising spans over two decades, contributing to significant innovations in the field.

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Nick Tanem

Nicholas Joseph Tanem, also known as Nikka T, is a multifaceted figure in the cannabis industry. As a visionary, educator, public speaker, DJ, judge, processor, activist, and Certified Ganjier, he has left an indelible mark. From extraction to cultivation and dispensaries, Nikka T has pioneered numerous fully licensed and compliant businesses in Colorado since the advent of medical legalization. Notably, he founded Essential Extracts, the first tax-paying hash company in the US. With over 15 Cannabis Cups won with his Essential team and another 100+ secured by clients using his techniques, Nikka T's impact is profound.

Rachel Burkons

Rachel Burkons is a cannabis tastemaker, creator, and educator, specializing in culinary cannabis and hospitality. With over a decade of experience in the wine and spirits industry, she co-founded Altered Plates, a cannabis hospitality group, bringing brands to life through culinary and hospitality-led experiences. As founder of Smoke Sip Savor, Rachel bridges traditional hospitality with cannabis through educational content and experiences. Head Judge for the High Spirits Awards, she advocates for sun-grown cannabis and educates on plant medicine's benefits, particularly among fellow mothers.

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Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon, Editor of GreenState.com, is a seasoned cannabis journalist since 2015. Her work spans High Times, CannabisNow, and various niche publications. Splitting her time between Minneapolis and Oakland, she delves into cannabis culture and industry. With a penchant for cultivars like Silver Haze and Tangie, Rachelle brings a nuanced perspective to her writing, exploring the diverse facets of the cannabis world.

Ricky Williams

Ricky Williams is a former professional American football player with a successful career in the NFL, playing for the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and Baltimore Ravens. After retiring from football, he became an advocate for cannabis use, sharing his own experiences with the plant and promoting its benefits for physical and mental wellness. He is a certified Ganjier, as well as astrologer. 

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Roger Sterling

Roger Sterling is a bicoastal Actor, Model, Host, & Farmer dedicated to advocating, educating, and creating for cannabis virtues. With traditional values and a modern mindset, he crafts engaging videos and cultivates partnerships that expand his influence. As the Ganja Guru, Sterling navigates canna spaces, debunking misconceptions and emerging as a persuasive tastemaker. His mission is to destigmatize cannabis while championing its benefits, solidifying his role as a prominent figure in the cannabis world.

Scott Reiman

Scott Reiman is a certified Ganjier and the founder of Fog City Cannabis, offering personalized consulting and events. With a mission to demystify cannabis consumption, he assists new users or those seeking novel experiences. Through tailored video consultations, he guides clients through dispensary menus, ensuring they find the ideal product. With a background in consumer engagement at SPARC and under Lynnette Shaw, he cultivated a deep understanding of cannabis consumer needs. His preferred consumption methods include edibles, beverages, and flower with energetic terpene profiles.

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Wendy Zeng

Chef Wendy Zeng, with her vibrant green hair, brings a fresh perspective to cannabis cuisine from her base in Los Angeles. Her catering company, Drizzle, celebrates cultural diversity through contemporary takes on classic dishes. Wendy's culinary prowess earned her victory on Chopped 420 and a role as co-host of MoguMagu, an AAPI culture, food, and cannabis collective. She also judges at the LA Spirit Awards, focusing on cannabis beverages. Wendy runs a farm-to-table gathering space, fostering connections between chefs, organizers, and cannabis brands. Through pop-up supper clubs, she aims to destigmatize cannabis use, emphasizing quality ingredients and responsible consumption. Featured in High Times Magazine, Thrillist, and notable podcasts.

Yarrow Lee Kubrin

Yarrow Kubrin, founder of Special Teams Consulting, started his cannabis journey over 39 years ago trimming for his family farm in Mendocino County. With legacy, medical, and regulated cannabis experience, he specializes in cannabis real estate and consulting, along with traditional real estate. As a drug war veteran and verified social equity applicant in San Francisco and Sonoma County, Yarrow has held key positions in industry organizations, co-founded associations, and served on committees promoting diversity and inclusion. He also judges for the Emerald Cup and contributes weekly to High At Nine News, the only daily cannabis and hemp news show.

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