Sanctuary Spotlight: Corey Pineiro

  • By Jake May
  • Nov 15, 2021

How did you first break into the cannabis industry?

I finished up school at the University of Florida and ended up getting into leasing/property management. I’d always been interested in cannabis, and my mother has a medical condition she helps treat with medical cannabis. That was my first introduction to the legal industry here in Florida, and I got super excited. I started doing more research on cannabis and, within a month, I applied to FLUENT Cannabis Care as a budtender. I fell in love; I had never been so excited to go to work and not care so much about tracking my time. I’m just thinking, ‘What can I learn?’

I had great general managers, great trainers and really passionate coworkers. I had a little bit of spark and that just lit it into a flame. Once I got into the industry, it definitely helped me feel more comfortable talking about my work with my family. We all learned to view cannabis as a medicine rather than a recreational drug.

I was able to move up into a management position in Gainesville. I moved to St. Petersburg for a little bit to be an assistant manager, which is what drew me to this position when it opened up. St. Pete is honestly my home; I moved up to Miramar Beach for a little bit to open up my first store as a general manager. I did that for about eight months before I realized that wasn’t my favorite place to live. When I had the opportunity to come back here to St. Petersburg and work for a company that’s so passionate about cannabis with a more mom-and-pop type of feel, I jumped on it. 

What were some of your early lessons learned in this field?

I had one realization early on when I saw how many people are actually addicted to prescription drugs and trying to move off of it. I had no idea; there were so many negative side effects from taking the drugs they were taking. They weren’t comfortable with the medication and it made them feel unlike themselves. The realization was that cannabis can provide relief to a lot of these issues. My first week on the job, I had people come in with countless different medical conditions. I was able to–with the help of my general manager–create plans to assist people in moving off these prescription drugs that they were not happy taking. My mind was completely blown–I didn’t know that cannabis could be used like that. It was just crazy to see how multi-functional this medicine is and how, if I did my research, I can help all of these different people with all these different issues. 

The next big mind-blower for me was terpenes; I was completely oblivious to how amazing and complex they were. I was surprised to find out that terpenes were actually what provided the feelings and effects we describe when talking about cannabis, and that THC was not the only thing to look at. If you would’ve told me that before I had my first budtender job, I would have called you a liar.

What is challenging, exciting or unique about the Florida cannabis market?

We have the patient base that other larger states have, but we’re working under this medical framework. When we do turn rec, I just feel like it’s going to flood the market; it’s going to be very well received. What is challenging is how quickly things change here. For example, curbside pickup was canceled and then reintroduced not even a month or two later. We added a drive-thru to my previous store location in Miramar Beach; it took three months to get the Department of Health out there. It is a challenge being so regulated. 

However, it keeps you on your toes and definitely challenges you as a general manager to constantly be training, be on the same page with your employees, be on the same page with the company and make sure you’re keeping up to date with regulations. I feel like I always have to make sure I’m a step ahead to keep up with how quickly things change. That could be a bad thing to some people, but I think we’re going to be just fine. 

What drew you to this role and, by extension, Sanctuary?

Every person that I’ve met or spoken to through Sanctuary has given me a genuine experience. Even from my first call with Marisa [Jupiter GM], she got me so excited for Sanctuary just because of her welcoming attitude. That was something new to me; usually the etiquette is a little bit different. You don’t feel as comfortable just immediately walking up and speaking to people, whereas Sanctuary lets you be yourself. I definitely was impressed that Sanctuary had experience in recreational states, which I think is going to be valuable when it does happen here in the Sunshine State. I wanted to get my foot in the door with a company that was trying to expand. I was also looking to grow here in Florida because I do think [legalization] is coming around the corner.

We also have amazing products. Every person will say that about whatever company they work for, but I have tried a lot of dispensaries in the state of Florida and the quality of our flower is unmatched.

As a young person in cannabis, how has this industry molded your professional development so far?

Industries that I’ve worked in before have felt very stagnant and less open to change or new ideas. The cannabis industry is always looking to improve, move forward and expand because we are still young. We are one of the newest major industries in the U.S., and every state that you look at is always looking to push the boundaries, grow the industry and promote a better understanding of cannabis compared to how it was 10 or 20 years ago. We are truly trying to break the mold here.

Everybody that’s in this industry is super passionate about what we’re doing, whereas with other industries, you might only be in it for the money. This industry has shown me you can be in a career that you’re passionate about that is also expanding. You can be yourself in the cannabis industry, and I just think that was a breath of fresh air coming from food, retail and property management industries. I’ve stepped through a couple of different doors and this is the only one that I felt comfortable being myself in. As a young person, that’s very cool to see. 

The cannabis industry has allowed me to really grow as a professional and improve as a leader and trainer. I have been challenged every step of the way as a younger person always trying to move up the ladder. I’m excited that I jumped in at a time where I can actually help move cannabis forward. All of these employees that we’re hiring, they are going to hopefully become major players in the cannabis industry in the future. I’d love to say, “Yeah, I was their general manager once and helped them grow. Now look at what they’re doing!” 

What are you most looking forward to, either in the short-term or long-term?

I am hoping that we can make a huge dent in the St. Pete market. As we keep growing, I’m looking forward to seeing how much business Sanctuary takes in this area. I grew up here, so it would mean a lot to me to work for one of the most popular dispensaries in the area. I think that’s something we can grow into. 

For myself, I am currently looking to get into an online graduate program for business. I am hoping that the employees I’m currently working with and training move into positions of management in all these other store locations as we continue expanding. I just want all of my employees to get to where they want to get to; that’s something I’ve really been trying to focus on as a general manager. 

Any favorite Sanctuary products?

My absolute favorite strain that we produce is Banana Bread. I believe that is our crème de la crème; it is the most delicious strain I have ever tried. I also love it because it’s available in every form. We have it in shatter, Liquid Shatter carts, pre-rolls and flower. If I had to give a number two, I would say that Wasabi would be next on my list. That was the first product I had ever tried from Sanctuary in the Liquid Shatter cart. The Wasabi drew me in and the Banana Bread kept me!