To say Joe Tierney has been in the cannabis game for a while now is an understatement. With over 20-years of experience in several cannabis markets nationwide, Tierney brings a sense of reliability through his local cannabis review site, the Gentleman Toker. As the founder of this expansive directory of legal cannabis products, delivery services, and storefronts, Tierney spread the gospel of the benefits (and stigmas) associated with this plant and reveals some gems about the key things to know about cannabis in D.C.
On April 24 at Echostage, Tierney will bring his expertise to judge the National Cannabis Championship. We had a chance to catch up with him to reflect on his (and weed’s) journey up to this point and what still needs improvement.
District Fray: What made you a believer in your cannabis journey?
Joe Tierney: It really started when legalization happened in Colorado. When Denver legalized cannabis it blew my mind. I wasn’t very optimistic about change happening in my lifetime on this issue. So I started traveling to legalized states to check out the scenes there. Denver, Seattle, and came back home and ran into a bit of an issue.
As a D.C. resident, I joined the medical program and I start seeing that the products are way overpriced and the quality is way under what it’s supposed to be. We’re talking about magnitudes and how these products just were not right. The vape carts had no liquid and were just powdered concentrates sitting on a vape battery. Very low tech, and shouldn’t be costing $80 a gram.
So I started a blog and a website to compare products from the medical folks and to let people know about good products they could find from these I-71 folks. That’s kind of where it all started. I didn’t really expect anyone to pay attention to it. And the fact it grew into what it did was, has always been a surprise to me.
Why the name Gentleman Toker?
Well, I just like to play with words. The gentleman part refers to two things. One, I was trying to establish a sense of relatability that I was just as professional as anybody else in the area. I put in my 40-hours a week. There is a stigma that cannabis users are lazy, and that’s not it. I hope we can move past that one day. It’s definitely not indicative of me and where I ended up. In fact, cannabis helps me be productive. So it was that aspect, as well as “quality” remaining the number one thing I care about [which] led me to the name.
What has been the biggest obstacle in operating the site?
Myself probably. When I started this, I wasn’t trying to start a business or anything. I was just writing a blog to put my crazy thoughts out there on the internet and that’s what it was for me. I remain very discerning about who ends up on the site. With that being said, I should have recognized there were hundreds of people interested in getting involved and they would need to advertise somewhere. So I inadvertently created competition for myself by not adapting sooner and finding a model that would allow me to bring on lots of people while still maintaining the strict quality standards for reviews. That was the biggest oopsie for me.
What has been the biggest win for you?
Honestly, the biggest win is coming up at the National Cannabis Championship. I’m super psyched to be a judge. This is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been creating reviews and waiting all these years for somebody to ask me to be a judge of a weed competition. Now I get to do it.
Favorite strain and way to indulge?
The second question is much easier. I prefer joints because I guess it’s a bit of a holdover for when I had to write more reviews. It is important to make sure you only get one strain [when reviewing] and bowls rapidly develop unwanted resins. So it would just be a pain to clean bowls all the time. With joints, I’m good to go in five minutes.
As to my favorite strain, I found a few samples of perfect cannabis in my quest but that doesn’t stop me from looking for more. I like a lot of old classic strains. A really well-done Jack Herer is great. But my biggest point I’ve tried to make to people is that the strains don’t matter so much from a consumer perspective, it’s how well it’s grown. That’s what matters because you could take two Sour Diesels from two different people and get completely different results depending on how it was grown.
Explain Gentleman Toker in six words or less.
Encouragement to think critically about cannabis.
To learn more about Joe Tierney and Gentleman Toker visit the site here or follow on Instagram at @gentleman.toker. The National Cannabis Championship is on April 24 and is part of the National Cannabis Festival. To learn more and get tickets for the championship, visit here.
The National Cannabis Championship at Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC
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