Cannabis Lifestyle with Mieko Perez welcomes Budtender, Makala Rhodes

August 28, 2021   |   By Mieko Hester-Perez

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All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.

As more healthcare institutions in California seem to be faced with a consumer that could benefit from walking into a dispensary, they are looking to dispensary staff members as their personal guides behind the counter.

These guides are typically very well versed in adult use but I’m starting to see a “shift trend” in dispensaries hiring adults over 35 years and young adults who empower consumers through their own stories.

At Cannabis Capitol via Digital Infused we call them “Patient Chronicles”.

Today’s blog takes us to 420 Central dispensary in Santa Ana, California to meet budtender, Makala Rhodes.

What is your personal story and mission that motivated you to work with cannabis?

After dealing with months of pain and years of mental health issues, I decided to try cannabis to see how its’ effects would work on me. I had always been active doing yoga and swim to keep myself fit, but noticed my wrists and joints were in pain almost every day.

I was gifted with a topical (from Papa & Barkley) that changed my life. All of a sudden, I could live normally again. It was a complete 180 that sold me on the healing benefits of THC and more specifically cannabis in general.

I learned how to microdose, add in other cannabinoids for a better effect, and how to manage health issues over years of research and trials. Now, my dream is to incorporate cannabis into everybody’s lifestyle and I want to further my cannabis education.

What are 420 Central’s Top 5 products for medical patients in each category?

Edibles: Camino Gummies by Kiva. Great range for every effect you are searching for, and delicious.

Topical Products: Papa & Barkley. It just works! Great line of products across the board.

Vape Cartridges: Care by Design. One of our only CBD cartridges with ratios for most needs.

Tincture: Fiddler’s Green. Another product that offers a range of cannabinoids with results that speak volumes.

Flower / Bud: Autumn Brands. Most medical patients don’t go directly to flower, but this is one of our top brands for patients that use THC for anxiety, sleep, and pain issues.

Mieko: 420 Central is not your typical dispensary; I usually go to 420 Central to research brands I don’t see in most dispensaries.

In the world of California cannabis brands, I’ve noticed they have given new brands a spot on their shelves and consumers are organically providing feedback through their re-orders.

Why do you think consumers come back to 420 Central dispensary?

Our customer service is excellent, in all humility. We really love to help people here, and you can hear it in our everyday conversations. I think cannabis and dispensaries in general can be very intimidating, and customers just want to feel safe in somewhere they aren’t familiar.

I have customers come back every day wanting to see their past budtender whom they have formed great rapport with, and even (sometimes) they become friends along the way. The customers make me happy to be at my job and they can feel that warmth we provide in every transaction.

Mieko: I can tell you why they’re coming back, when I enter the lobby of 420 Central – its apparent that there’s a sense of social responsibility to the community.

420 Central is surrounded by prominent hospitals in Orange County California, does your staff feel like they have a responsibility to: Have a devoted product wellness section, educational periodicals for consumers and In-house training to accommodate consumers sent in by reliable professionals?

We try, to the best of our abilities to offer that experience, but honestly it is a very hard line to walk between personal anecdotes and professional medical recommendations. We train our employees for months with staff educations, brochures/budtender training materials, and personal use and research.

I think it truly is in our training to provide the best service we can, always. It is hard though, because there is always some new claim about cannabis that we can’t keep up with.

When there isn’t any factual research to go off of most of the time, we go off of other medical users’ testimonials. We want to offer the best experience possible, but realistically in-person is the best way to get the most information and provide the best medicinal products for patients.

Most dispensaries have a high turnover in employees, what is 420 Central’s secret to keeping their staff happy?

We all get along really great and love to be around each other. It is cheesy to say, but we are a family here. The atmosphere is one for personal and employment growth with nice flexibility.

There are no repercussions for trying to do better in and outside of 420 Central and that’s what keeps people here for so long. The reliability of our jobs here has made all the difference in staying in and loving the cannabis industry in general.

Mieko : Thank you Makala for making a difference at 420 Central!

As a healthcare ambassador and medical cannabis liaison for medical professionals for over 8 years, there is a science to building “consumer trust” and it starts with the owners and the result is employees like Makala who truly are a product of why we are “all” in this industry – We choose to have a better quality of life.

Working in a dispensary is one of the most rewarding respectable jobs that a young adult could have. If, you don’t believe me, drive to 420 Central and ask for Makala.

About 420 Central Dispensary

420 Central Dispensary is located at 420 W Central Avenue Santa Ana, CA 92707 with delivery service in Orange County, CA.

Mieko Hester-Perez specifically invokes the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press without prejudice. The products discussed are not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any disease but are proven useful for health and life extension. Mieko Hester-Perez will always recommend when and whomever possible that licensed local healthcare professionals be consulted.

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About Mieko Hester-Perez

Mieko Hester-Perez, International Autism & Cannabis Healthcare Advocate


In 2009, Mieko Hester-Perez decided to go public with her son's success with medical cannabis and since that day in 2009, she has become a source of inspiration and information for families looking to explore unconventional and holistic treatment options within the autism spectrum.


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