Barbara of SBVerde - she knows her cannabis!
This post, we’re trying something new with the KopSun blog – going Q&A style with Barbara Verde of SBVerde.com, an easy-to-use site for those curious about exploring cannabis in Santa Barbara County. Barbara offers insight to the area’s current and future cannabis environments. Read on, we think you’ll learn lots; we did.
Q: Tell us about your inspiration for SB Verde.
A: SBVerde was inspired by my own search to find a local dispensary that I liked.
I had dabbled in cannabis here and there, but I had some paranoid experiences and wasn’t really comfortable revisiting consuming cannabis until Prop 64 passed. I thought, “Hey, now I can go into a shop and have someone guide me!” but when I searched for recreational dispensaries, I ended up on Weedmaps. It felt very impersonal and left me with more questions than answers. I saw menu after menu on the site but had no idea what any of the products would do to me and there were no clues in the listings about what kind of dispensary they were.
I wanted to know what the decor would be like and if it was going to be a place friendly to beginners and friendly to women, etc. etc.
SBVerde.com is a response to that. I wanted to create a place for people like me – professionals, women, and those who don’t identify as a “stoners” – to get information about how to purchase cannabis in our area. We are working on building something local and boutique-feeling that makes it easy to get to know our local dispensaries and cannabis brands and the people behind them.
We are just in the beginning phases and excited to grow in the coming years!
Q: And when did you get up and running?
We launched SBVerde.com in March 2018. Around that same time, my husband and co-creator, Andy, aka Mr. Verde, and I went to Cannabis Camp at Soho to promote the business and get to know others in our local industry. We met a lot of great people at that event who were enthusiastic about the project and that really sparked us to keep going.
Q: Since starting, has the vision for SB Verde changed or gotten bigger?
Yes, the vision has evolved with the business. At first, we were focused on highlighting as many businesses on our site as we could. Now we are more focused on quality over quantity and going deeper in how we highlight dispensaries and brands. By deeper I mean publishing interviews with budtenders, highlighting local dispensary owners, creating videos that give more of a feel of what the dispensary is like inside, etc. Anything we can do to give a sense of the people behind the businesses is what we are after.
There is a lot of stigma surrounding cannabis, yet, we find that many of our local businesses are family-owned businesses (like ours) run by community-minded people. The budtenders really care about the people they are serving and also have families. It’s very different from what people might think, especially if they are associating the legal world of cannabis with the illegal world that has existed for decades and decades.
The bottom line is: There are a lot of really, really good people involved in the local legal cannabis industry who care about this place we call home, who are passionate about the healing powers of cannabis and a recreational alternative, and excited to share it with others. We want to highlight those people and help new and newly returning consumers get to know local cannabis businesses in a more personal way so that they feel really comfortable going in for the first time.
Q: Has the community at large been receptive?
Yes, very much so and we are so thankful for that!
Q: What about the cannabis community?
The local cannabis industry has been really receptive, too. We’ve worked hard to establish relationships with local businesses. One way we’ve done that is to help co-organize some local industry networking events. After Cannabis Camp we couldn’t find any other local industry events to attend, so in November of 2018 we partnered with Delta Leaf Labs to host a pop-up networking event called Bud Brew. It was very successful and well received. That was the start of the 805 Cannabis Society, a local networking group with a focus on social justice and equity in the cannabis industry. We will be hosting our third Canna Quarterly mixer on August 7, 6pm at the Impact Hub on State Street in Santa Barbara.
Our goal is to help strengthen our local industry. We’d love to see people in our local industry get to know each other and do business with each other. So far, a lot of great relationships have come out of these events, and we are excited to see that continue.
Q: Other than having a large cash reserve, what advice would you give a wannabe canna-preneur, excluding cultivators?
I think I would give fellow beginning canna-preneurs the same advice I would give a brand new surfer. There is a pecking order—respect it. Watch and learn … and watch and learn some more. There are people out there in the water who have taken it on the head many many times and earned their place in the line-up. This industry is pretty brutal in terms of the legal hoops you need to jump through to survive and the risk-factors involved. The people who have been around for a while have earned their place in the line-up and have a lot to teach newbies—they deserve respect.
Another aspect of this industry that I think is important for those now jumping in to know and keep in mind is that there are a lot of people who have spent jail time and are still sitting in jail now, who paved the way for the legal industry. Yes, it’s awesome that Prop 64 passed and there is a burgeoning legal industry, but it’s really important to not forget those who are still doing jail time for cannabis-related offenses. Don’t just run to the bank and forget about the people who paved the way for this—especially those who are still doing time or still have offenses on their records.
Go slow and keep yourself grounded about why you are in the industry. Smile, be respectful, have fun—a good vibe goes a long way. :)
Q: What do you see happening in Santa Barbara’s commercial cannabis community over the next 3 to 5 years? And where does SB Verde fit into that vision.
The various cities in Santa Barbara County vary in terms of how they are embracing the new legal market. Some, like Lompoc, a city that has opened the door to cannabis-consumption lounges, are opening their arms a bit wider to the cannabis industry than others. The City of Santa Barbara seems to have taken a more conservative approach and has three recreational dispensaries opening soon. I think as we ease into this new legal paradigm and people feel more comfortable, we will start seeing new and interesting businesses take form. I’ve noticed some already launching, such as the Happy Trees painting class and CannaBus, a tour bus that allows consumption on board.
Some hotels have started to cater to cannabis-enthusiasts. I expect to see Wine and Weed Tours and cannabis-enhanced meditation and yoga appearing in Santa Barbara in the next couple of years. We believe that Santa Barbara will continue to gain recognition for the cannabis it grows and visitors to Santa Barbara will begin to expect to be able to incorporate cannabis into their experience of this area, much like visitors to Denver would expect to be able to find some interesting cannabis experiences in that city.
With that in mind, SBVerde is launching a brochure soon that will be available at local hotels to help guide visitors who want to explore our local dispensaries and get to know some of our locally grown brands. We are excited to be a part of Santa Barbara’s burgeoning canna-tourism sector.
Thank you, Barbara. For readers who want to learn more, visit SBVerde.com here. Follow @sbverde805.