By Michael Kinney
Trying to pin Andrew Martin down on a simple answer can seem like trying to drink water out of a thimble. The co-founder of Sherweed Forest admits it is a problem, especially when trying to explain what his company is.
Martin sees what Sherweed Forest is, but also what it can become. “We are not a traditional mechanism. I would say Sherweed Forest is an idea,” Martin said. “I don’t mean that in a cheesy, branding way. We didn’t start as a formal organization. We began this process as two guys from the town of Mannford (Okla.) and essentially identified a problem in the market that we saw was unfolding. We saw it as a fateful problem. If it wasn’t solved, it could be the fate of access to cannabis.”
Yet, it all started as a simple project. He and Branden Chaney were looking to find some cannabis.
While that may seem easy these days with a dispensary being on almost every corner around Oklahoma, the two friends were actually looking for a special kind of cannabis.
Chaney, who is a plumber by trade, suffers from severe pain in his back. His doctors had prescribed pain blockers as far back as 10 years ago in the middle of the opioid epidemic. Yet, they did not solve his problem.
But then in 2019, the two friends started to look into medical marijuana.
“We were trying to find the right, discreet dosing item for him that would actually be consistent and get him where he needs to be,” Martin said. “We weren’t able to find it at first. That kind of set us off on this particular angle.”
If somebody was new to cannabis and its effects and how to use it and they wanted to use it for a specific reason, they would use something like weed maps. But according to Martin, those are based on a broken system.
They would also use strain names, which Martin says are completely made up by the seller and can change the name when it’s not selling well. That makes finding the right product difficult. Martin and Chaney saw a problem and decided to fix it themselves. They created Sherweed Forest with the idea of educating those who use medical marijuana on what is the right product for them and why.
Sherweed Forest now also includes Brook Miller, Kayvon Taghizadeh, and Tarra Quin.
Andrew added, “I realized instantly after I first introduced the Bazaar and partnered with Brook as the lead events coordinator that he was the second half that would make the entire thing possible.”
Andrew then informed me that Kayvon keeps all of them on their toes. They do not want to become an inspiration for his stand up comedy. “He is a technology repair specialist by day. It is that level of attention to detail that he brings to to team that we couldn’t live without.”
Tarra Quinn, Advertising Director for Herbage Magazine, is an amazing asset to the Sherweed team. “Personally, my son is a pediatric patient and this event allows me to medicate him monthly.” Tarra expressed her gratitude. “I also gain more knowledge by meeting the makers of his medicine.”
“We created Sherweed Forest to try and meet people and create an environment of the community,” Martin said. “We are just a collection of like-minded people who have a common cause. We create goals and try to accomplish them. There are opportunities for patients to find a product that almost feels made specifically for them. “What we are trying to do is make it easy for patients and for vendors to do this process, to be able to come together into a room and exchange information and education, and be able to try those products.”
From that concept, the Sherweed Forest’s Throw Down Bazaar sprung to life.
With the bazaar, Sherweed Forest partners with a local dispensary and holds a massive sale for low-cost cannabis and other products.
“We want to be able to give you a guide that can help you find that precision,” Martin said. “Whether you understand what that means or not.”
The first Bazaar was held in November of 2021. Since then there’ve been three iterations of Sherweed Forest Throwdown Bazar. The most recent took place in January. The event raised more than $23,000, which is by far the most product the Throwdown has sold in their short run. However, while Martin said the Throwdown was a success, they also had to deal with a few hitches that kept it from being a total success to some involved. A big part of that was not anticipating the large swell in attendance.
“So, I take the blame for it, but I also own it. I wanted it to work like that. It just grew too fast. This was only the fourth one,” Martin said. “And we’ve been doing them about every 30 days. And their only complaint is that it was just a pressure system at the dispensary level and a bottleneck. And that’s just due to the insane amount of response.”
One of the reasons for the Bazaar’s quick growth was due to the generosity of Randy Luck, formerly General Manager of Kind Love and now GM of Bodega Boyz. According to Martin, Luve attended the second Throwdown event and really liked the concept, but also saw the low number of sales being made.
“So then he offered us a 0% markup, and that’s actually what made it blow up and get to the $23,000,” Martin said. “And made it what it is to this day. We just accepted that offer. But we only really had contact with him when it comes to Kind Love. So, it’s a lesson we learned in regards to, we don’t know how much the owner is necessarily on the same page or if they were or weren’t. And just a lesson we learned is to dig and be thorough in regards to getting our hands on the owner of collaboration, to make sure everybody’s on the same page.”
One of the factors they will have to consider going forward is the size of the dispensary. When they first started, they could hold the Bazaar at smaller stores because they weren’t getting a ton of people coming through the door. But now, the Sherweed Forest group has grown so fast in a short amount of time, that a larger facility may be needed in the future.
“So that event went great. It just felt like we had a hard time knowing what was going on on the dispensary side,” Martin said. “And so we chose the small one because they would let us get behind the counter, in a metaphorical way. They let us work with them up to the point of the delivery of the product. And I was hoping that with my admin team, that would be helpful enough that a small shop would then be able to do the event.”
Sherweed Forest has learned from the mistakes they have made and hopes to make future events run more streamlined, or as Martin says, like Disney. “The simplest answer is the process to be pristine from the moment that a vendor, and I’ll talk in dual terms here, the moment that a vendor or a patient enters the experience, whether that’s walking into the bazaar as a patient, whether that’s beginning their correspondence with us as a vendor, our dream is for that to be like a Disney process,” Martin said. “You know how Disney runs like an oiled machine. They’re all about that experience and everything is dialed in. My dream and goal for the next one, what I’m working hard on right now to ensure it happens, is that every patient who attends the event feels welcome and able to meet the makers of their medicine.”
At the end of the day, it all goes back to the basic idea of educating people on the best cannabis and getting it at a lower cost. That has been the foundation of Sherweed Forest and Martin wants to make sure that is never forgotten.
“I want to be able to reach people where they’re at and with what they’re going through and where they are in life at this moment, and be able to come to their level,” Martin said. “I want this event to be able to find people where they are. It’s a free event. It always will be as long as I’m running it.”
Martin added, “We could not do this without the community. I myself am really just an artist who knows how to create expression and to generate awareness. I am here in cannabis because I am a lover of the plant.