A Life Enhanced by Cannabis: Feature on Matthew Carruthers of The Bakeréé
I recently interviewed Matthew Carruthers, the friendly, energetic, and enterprising budtender at Seattle cannabis dispensary, The Bakeréé. Like so many others who are passionate about the cannabis industry, Matthew has first-hand experience with the benefits of cannabis use. He also believes cannabis to be a substance that can improve the lives of so many others.
In this article, I will highlight what Matthew shared about his first foray into cannabis use, why he has decided to work in the cannabis industry, and his personal dedication to making sure that cannabis becomes freely available to everyone who seeks it. Many thanks to Matthew for sharing his personal truth about cannabis!
Discovering Medicinal Benefits Through Recreational Use
Matthew, who grew up in the Bay Area, first smoked cannabis when he visited his older sister at UC Santa Cruz during her freshman year there. Anyone who has visited Santa Cruz knows that this hazy, lackadaisical city provides a beautiful setting for all sorts of recreation, particularly enjoying some weed. Matthew made sure that his first foray into cannabis was with his sister by his side. In fact, always his role model, his sister had even threatened to “tell Mom and Dad” if he had his first cannabis experience without her!
And so it was. After his parents dropped him off at the college for his weekend stay, his sister whisked him off to a party. Among the chaos and cacophony that is the typical college party, Matthew’s sister created an inviting environment in which Matthew could enjoy his first hit of weed. She gathered her friends and Matthew into a smoke circle and then pulled out a pre-rolled joint. Prior to lighting up, she gave a small but heartfelt speech to the group to commemorate Matthew’s first weed experience. Matthew remembers his sister’s speech and the subsequent smoke session as an excellent introduction into the cannabis community. His interest in cannabis had officially been sparked.
After smoking with his sister that first time, Matthew continued to use recreationally on occasion throughout highschool. And what was amazing was that he realized that cannabis was actually helping to improve his life. Suddenly, he had come across something that was fostering growth and positivity in his life. When he smoked weed, he felt “whole”.
As a young teen, Matthew had been diagnosed with ADHD and, similar to many others who have dealt with this disorder, the ADHD impacted his behavior, his mood, and his grades. In an attempt to help him, his doctors prescribed the standard cocktail of pharmaceuticals that were so commonly offered to teens with ADHD during the late 90s/early 2000s. These pharmaceuticals, including Ritalin and Adderall, unfortunately left him living with negative side effects and didn’t address the root of his issue. Matthew remembers back to that time as a difficult one and highlights that neither he nor his parents knew how to help him move forward.
Per Matthew, it was not until he tried cannabis that he felt real relief from his ADHD. With cannabis, he was able to be drawn back into his reality and improve his focus. Occasional consumption resulted in an improvement to his grades and he suddenly become an avid reader. After consuming cannabis, he experienced a notable increase in his attention span and he was now able to spend 4-5 hours reading at a time.
Today, cannabis continues to do a lot for Matthew and his lifestyle. He has always been high energy and in his words, “high-strung”. Boy, this is so relatable to those of us who are go, go, go! Matthew appreciates the fact that cannabis use can bring him back down to earth and bring him a sense of calm and serenity. And yet cannabis hasn’t turned off Matthew’s inherent strength of being energetic and friendly, no; rather, cannabis just helps him to feel better despite his high-strung default demeanor.
This is one of the facets that is so amazing about cannabis. Cannabis use does not “turn off” certain aspects about us, but rather it just allows us to feel our best and shed the tension and anxieties that can get in our way and impact productivity, relationships, and ultimately our happiness.
A Professional Career in Cannabis
For years, Matthew simply saw cannabis as something that was intertwined with his health. Pre-legalization, he certainly used cannabis for its medicinal properties, but he never considered that he would be able to formally work within the cannabis industry.
After finishing college, Matthew worked in real estate. His work involved closing deals and helping customers, both of which are in alignment with his natural talents because, as he puts it, he loves to create smiles. One of his most memorable moments in real estate was when a client told him, “Matthew, your deals last generations, don’t they?”.
However, once cannabis was legalized, Matthew saw an opportunity to combine his personal passion for cannabis with his ability to leave a lasting impact on customers and clients. The more he thought about it, he realized that promoting cannabis could create a legacy that lasts longer than a generation; by being a part of the cannabis revolution, he could be a part of something that changes our society forever.
So, in 2018, he packed up his belongings and drove to Seattle to stake his claim in the local cannabis community. He has always appreciated the Washington cannabis market, which, as he puts it, has “perfected cannabis for the masses”. To Seattle, Matthew brought his upbeat attitude, a passion for cannabis, and a strong desire to make a difference in his new industry.
Budtending for The Bakeréé
Matthew currently works at The Bakeréé, a premier cannabis dispensary with two locations in Seattle’s Aurora and Georgetown neighborhoods. The company is run by mother-son duo, Anna and Alex Shreve. Along with budtending, Matthew serves a few other roles at The Bakeréé: he contributes to the planning of the dispensary’s local events and utilizes his past real estate experience to help the business look into potential future store expansions plans.
Matthew knew he wanted to join The Bakeréé’s ranks shortly after arriving in Seattle. Through networking and creating close relationships with others in the local cannabis scene, he heard great things about The Bakeréé’s reputation for quality sourcing, superior customer satisfaction, and business integrity. At The Bakeréé, he says, customers can be certain they are always purchasing a quality product, because The Bakeréé team only sells products that they use and love themselves. At The Bakeréé, the team wants to be an extension of every customer’s cannabis community and they aspire to make their shops feel like a 2nd home.
Matthew was able to secure a position at The Bakeréé through his ability to forge real connections within the cannabis industry. Aspiring budtenders, take note! Matthew says that for him, landing the right budtending position wasn’t about simply hitting a “submit” on his job application and waiting for a company to call him back. Instead, Matthew got the job he wanted by being out there on the ground, shaking hands with the business owners he wanted to work for, and fostering real conversation about a mutual passion for cannabis.
At The Bakeréé, Matthew loves that he still gets to create smiles, just like he had done in real estate. In fact, as a budtender, which he sees as essentially the “middle-man” of the cannabis transaction, he loves that he gets to create smiles on both sides of the cannabis supply chain. Because he understands the intricacies of the cannabis products sold at The Bakeréé, he is able to pass value on to both their suppliers and their customers.
A New Business Paradigm
One of the main reasons that Matthew loves working for The Bakeréé is that the company’s outlook is in alignment with his overall world view. At The Bakeréé, he says, the pure pursuit of money does not outweigh the company’s passion for serving customers with premium cannabis products. In fact, their commitment to serving suppliers and customers and demonstrating respect for the cannabis plant is more important than simply hitting a litany of strict sales metrics.
And as other cannabis businesses mature (really, American business at large), Matthew hopes to see a change to the current definition of business success. “Our definition of success”, he says, “unfortunately right now in today’s world, is money... power. Metrics that the new generation, to be frank, doesn’t give a fuck about. And I get it… a lot of us do like money and power. But a lot of us love happiness more… and a lot of us love time more. So to be with a group who sees life the way that I see life… and they carry that over to their business, I just think that is beautiful.”
Matthew, like many individuals who are shaping the cannabis industry, is sick of the same, tired definition of success in business and is pushing for a change. Within cannabis networking circles, for instance, you will often hear people bucking the typical business obsession with higher profit margins that dominates most other industries. However, cannabis insiders are also aware that “big business” is going to become ever more present in cannabis, a reality that presents risk and uncertainty for the individuals who have been building the cannabis industry since it was just a fledgling market. In this environment, it is right and just for cannabis associates like Matthew, cannabis producers, ancillary companies, and dispensaries to prioritize respect for people and plant above sheer profit.
Conceptualizing Cannabis Tourism
Aside from his full-time duties at The Bakeréé, Matthew is conceptualizing and working to execute on other business endeavors in the cannabis industry. Matthew sees a great deal of potential in the market for cannabis tourism. In fact, once federal and international laws fully allow for it, he would like to see the implementation of international tourism destinations that give travelers the opportunity to experience the full-extent of the benefits of the cannabis lifestyle.
This would be a place where people could get what most people need out of their vacation: an opportunity to simply kick back and rejuvenate. However, these destinations could also offer visitors various forms of cannabis education, including a celebration of existing cannabis culture. Matthew has several colleagues in the cannabis community that also have a similar vision for creating cannabis destinations across the globe, and so Matthew is currently working with these partners to strategize how to move this vision forward.
Matthew and his colleagues want to contribute to the creation of cannabis communities that will offer cannabis lovers the same transcendent and indulgent feeling that wine lovers experience as they drive into Napa Valley. They also aspire to foster a community where people know they are always welcome and safe to enjoy cannabis freely, without the risk of stigma or persecution. I look forward to following along with the evolution of this concept, as I think that this type of safe cannabis haven would contribute to the health and happiness of our society.
Invested in Medical Marijuana
Matthew is happy to be working in the cannabis industry because he knows that open-access to cannabis provides lasting change in the lives of patients who use cannabis as medicine. At The Bakeréé, Matthew has been able to gain a deeper understanding of why open access to cannabis medicine is so critical. The Bakeréé has a long history of supporting the medical marijuana community, so he has the opportunity to frequently meet cannabis customers who have been using cannabis as medicine for years.
Matthew has also forged relationships with individuals from other organizations who are furthering the plight of medical marijuana patients. He explained how he has learned a lot from the owners of Seattle’s own CPC (the Center of People Care), Ben Reagan and Jeremy Kaufman. The Center of People Care is a Seattle-based organization that provides cannabis consultations and sells healthful cannabis products to customers seeking to improve their own health and wellness through cannabis medicine. The organization also provides advocacy in the medical marijuana space and works to create awareness around the benefits of the cannabis plant, including posting helpful cannabis wellness resources on their website. For more insight into what the CPC is doing to promote medical marijuana, see this short clip here. Thanks to Matthew for introducing me to the work of CPC - I am so pleased to come across local companies who are focused on patients and well-being above profit.
In fact, the guys at CPC helped Matthew source a cannabis product that helped him with more than just his ADHD. Now, on recommendation by the team at CPC, Matthew relieves his back pain, knee pain, and depression by taking a 4:1 ratio of 20 mg CBD/5 mg THC every day in a capsule form. Matthew has also worked with Ben and Jeremy to find medicinal solutions for Matthew’s parents’ physical aches and pains.
Activism to Expand MMJ Rights
Matthew takes pride in being able to recommend cannabis medicine to his dispensary customers in Washington. However, recent events in his family life have highlighted that, across the globe, not everyone who needs cannabis medicine has access to it. Matthew shared this insight with me to call attention to this disparity and advocate for the expansion of medical marijuana access.
Matthew’s sister, who moved to Australia after graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a linguistics major, was recently diagnosed with oral cancer. To Matthew, this news was devastating; why, he wondered, was someone so gifted with language and communication suffering from the type of cancer that could most impede her passions? Since her diagnosis, Matthew’s sister has undergone two tongue surgeries in Australia. While she is recovering and doctors are pleased with her progress, the medical team will need to continue to monitor the situation to make sure that the cancer does not return.
For Matthew, it was difficult to be over 3,000 miles away from his sister while she battled cancer and underwent medical treatment. His sister, who he describes as a “lovely, bubbly figure in his life” has always been there for him, and so he felt the need to do something to improve his sister’s situation.
As someone who understands the healing benefits of cannabis, Matthew immediately thought about the potential to provide his sister some relief through cannabis medicine.
However, after some research, Matthew realized that he would not be able to recommend cannabis treatment to his sister to help her find relief while struggling with cancer. The reason behind this is that Australian medical marijuana laws are lacking, particularly when compared to the United States. As a result, unlike many American cancer patients who have been granted access to medical marijuana, Australian cancer patients are not able to indulge in cannabis therapy due to Australian federal laws.
Matthew shared his frustration upon learning that his sister could not use cannabis, saying, “The fact that the industry I love and am so highly invested in is nowhere to be found in her country... it is simply frustrating.” To Matthew, it’s unimaginable that politics and bureaucracy are getting in the way of someone he loves getting the care she requires.
Matthew has leveraged his frustration to get more empowered and active about promoting the global acceptance of the cannabis plant. He has devoted a lot of his time and energy into researching the cannabis climate within Australia and plans to continue to raise awareness for the sake of patients that do not have medical marijuana access abroad.
Societal Benefits of Cannabis
Matthew is proud to work within the cannabis industry because he sees individuals within the community working hard to identify ways that the cannabis plant can actually benefit our entire society. In fact, the cannabis industry is providing valuable information that can influence the way we conduct business moving forward.
For instance, Matthew pointed out that the gene-splicing technology that is coming out of cannabis research has the potential to inform food science moving forward. Additionally, the customer-first approach that exists within the cannabis retail sector can inform best practices for other retail industries, as well.
Beyond informing other industries, Matthew sees the cannabis market as something that can foster peace and harmony within the current political climate. Matthew brought this home, saying, “America is at its tensest time right now. As cliche as it sounds, a little cannabis could go a long way.” Cannabis, Matthew points out, is a substance that can both encourage a greater sense of community and also calm people down to the point of seeing past their differences. As he puts it, “cannabis was the original peace pipe”.
In order to further the plight of cannabis and remove existing stigma, Matthew thinks that all cannabis proponents can help by being open-minded and transparent with people who are less familiar with cannabis. Within the cannabis industry, what we don’t want to do is maintain the shroud of mystery around smoking weed. Instead, cannabis proponents should work to highlight that cannabis should be accessible to everyone. It’s not about maintaining an exclusive club; rather, if we empower anyone to find out how cannabis can benefit their lifestyle, then we will be more successful removing the cobwebs around cannabis and the existing stigma that is left over from cannabis prohibition. Through connection and conversation, Matthew points out, we can reduce the hesitation that prevents so many from experiencing the undeniable benefits of this medicine.
Many thanks to Matthew for taking the time to discuss his personal experience with cannabis. I agree with Matthew… when people can come together and honestly share their positive experiences that have resulted from consuming the cannabis plant, we come one step closer toward a greater societal understanding of how cannabis helps us. Matthew’s story outlines what I know to be true: when we find healing and relief through intentional cannabis use, we can become our best selves and better advocate for the rights of others.
You can follow Matthew’s cannabis journey on Instagram at @thismateo. Additionally, if you are in the Seattle area, stop by The Bakeréé to say hello to Matthew and benefit from his first-rate cannabis knowledge!