When Claire Firestone’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, conventional medications failed to provide much relief. She started researching the benefits of cannabis products and found that it was far more helpful in her mother’s battle, she said.
As a result, Firestone, 29, became a medical cannabis caregiver, and developed an empathetic connection to its power to aid cancer patients.
Last month she and her partner, James Clark, were selected as Petaluma’s first-ever cannabis delivery retailers.
Around the time Firestone was caring for her mom, Clark, 28, had left his job at an elderly care facility in Marin County, and also started seeking out the cannabis industry to identify a career that provided relief to others in pain.
“We were kind of on these two separate paths within the industry and realized that we wanted to build something together that had the vision we both had,” Firestone said.
During her search for products for her mother, Firestone often found staff at dispensaries were ill-equipped to answer a lot of the specialized questions she had with a job in pharmaceutical sales and a background in biology and chemistry.
Firestone put the onus on herself to research cannabis to her own high standards and that became a defining attribute of their delivery service for Petaluma, Farmhouse Artisan Market or FAM.
“We really plan on being a resource for customers and patients to get the right information because one of the biggest issues is false information running around, and stigmas off of that,” Clark said. “We want to help negate that.”
Clark and Firestone, romantic partners that make their home in Petaluma, said FAM will provide a high-end customer experience that allow patients to interact with staff members online as well as over the phone.
The ownership group is targeting vendors that employ ethical growing techniques that focus on their environmental impact, as well as the patient’s experience with their products. FAM wants to create a line directly to farmers, so customers can see who and where their products are coming from.
“We’re paying attention to the ways that they’re farming,” Firestone said. “We want to make sure we’re working with people who care about the planet as well, and are using ethical practices – not using crazy pesticides, not overusing water, and are really trying to protect the people that are consuming as well as the environment.”
The flower will come from “small farmers” throughout the North Coast, including Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties, Clark said.
“We want … people that have been doing it awhile and really have a true connection to the plant,” he said. “We want to support small, artisan growers.”
FAM also wants to create a bridge to local businesses outside the industry, and provide organic opportunities to sell products beyond cannabis that fit into their culture of seeking a better quality of life.
“We want to make sure cannabis becomes part of a larger conversation around shopping local and knowing your farmer and having an active, healthy lifestyle,” Firestone said.
The city submitted a request for cannabis delivery proposals in March and fielded replies from seven companies by the April 3 deadline, according to a staff report from Economic Development Manager Ingrid Alverde. Using a series of specific criteria, including business experience, financial stability and security plans, the city whittled down the competition to four finalists.