David “D.J.” Ladd understands the meaning of service in more ways than one. He brings a customer-first background to his job as Retail Manager at Sol Flower Sun City, where he’s passionate about helping everyone – especially combat veterans – find symptom relief through cannabis. Our conversation with David covers his family’s military background, his vape shop experience, and his belief that humans were meant to live off the land.
You’ve been at Sol Flower Sun City for just over a year. What’s your management style been like in that time?
I’m very hands off with employees when I can be. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue rolling up my sleeves when I need to, but I want to see if my team can handle it first. I like the quote, “when you’re doing everything right, no one can tell you’re doing anything at all.” With my patients, I’m always trying to put them first. I want to be there and do everything I can for whoever it is, whether that’s a cancer patient or someone dealing with anxiety or PTSD.
How did managing a vape shop help prepare you for a career in cannabis?
The main thing about working at the vape shop was the health aspect, getting people off cigarettes and hopefully nicotine altogether. I had a lot of family members and friends that smoked cigarettes, and I saw the negative impact that had on their health. So I kind of got into that to give people a healthy alternative to curb the habit. It’s the same sort of thing with cannabis – giving people something else that’s not going to get them addicted or do further damage to their body. I appreciate and enjoy how many uses this plant has.
How have your career ambitions been shaped by your personal history?
I come from a military family and still have active members of the armed forces on both sides. Growing up my plan was to go into the service, but at some point along the way I realized it wasn’t for me. But with where I’m at in my career now, I want to do all that I can to help those coming back from overseas heal mentally or physically with cannabis. My goal is to make sure everyone who comes through our doors feels more like a complete person and I try to give them a plan that will brighten their lives. This is a plant that only does good for a large amount of people.
What is a memorable patient interaction you’ve had in your time with Sol Flower?
We had a patient who did multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He took 5+ bullets and shrapnel from an RPG, but he’s still walking. I have nothing but respect for this man. While he fights for compensation for what he’s endured for our country, he tells us the only thing that literally keeps him going is cannabis. He needs the plant to give him an appetite, and he says he wouldn’t be alive if not for the anti-anxiety and depression benefits of cannabis. When I hear stories like that it really hits me how important this medicine and this place really are for so many people.
On a personal note, what are some of your favorite ways to consume, and what are your long term goals?
I’m big into extracts. Light resins give you the cleanest and most efficient method of consumption without any chemicals, and I’m into indica-leaning strains specifically like Desert Storm and MK Ultra. As a born and raised Arizonan, I really believe we’re all meant to have our close knit group and live off the land as much as possible and not on top of each other. I’d like to eventually buy acres up north with a small group of friends and be self sufficient with a greenhouse and a farm. So that’s what I’m working towards.