James Orpeza co-owns TJ's Organic Provisions and TJ's Organic Gardens with partners Jim Murphy and Travis MacKenzie.
Tell us a little about your personal background.
I was born in the city of Long Beach, CA. and lived in the area until I was about 13. Luckily for me, my parents decided to move us away, because it was a violent and harsh place to live and grow up. Then we moved to Orange County for my teen years, where I met some of my lifelong friends. Around the age of 23 is when my longtime partner/girlfriend Tilly and I decided to move to Oregon for a change of pace, and Eugene seemed to suit us well. We eventually settled in Washington, where we have been for the past couple of years.
I have done a variety of jobs and worked as a document specialist, the owner of cable construction company, the manager of a statewide fire service, a professional poker player, and eventually a cannabis entrepreneur. My parents were key in instilling core values and a strong work ethic from an early age. They reminded me that I could do anything I put my mind to.
When did you first become interested in cannabis?
I became interested in cannabis at a pretty young age, I’d say 14 or 15. It wasn’t until after a trip to Amsterdam (when I was 19) that my passion started to flourish. I’ve been educating and experimenting with growing methods and styles, tweaking my system for many years now. And I’m not stopping here. There are always advancements and I like to stay on top of the game; research and knowledge are key for me.
What do you like most about growing?
What I like most about growing is being around the “girls” (aka the plants). They keep me grounded and have an almost meditative, calming effect on me. I love the energy they give off and the atmosphere they create with the people who care for them.
Even more so, I love that this beautiful plant has so many healing properties. I feel like we are just touching the tip of the iceberg with its medical potential. I am always researching and experimenting to find ways to become better organically in my growing processes and am trying to work towards a “greener” or sustainable way of doing business.
In your opinion, what makes Eugene special?
The quality of people and the vast amount of liberal thinkers. Parts of the city are very community-orientated. I love its location (centrally positioned between the coast and the mountains). The music scene and local eateries are incredible. Eugene has that big small-town feel, and it’s where we chose to live for 15 years.
What’s your favorite TJ’s product? Why?
Our flowers. I enjoy the smell, the taste, the flavor; I just enjoy smoking.
What do you do in your spare time?
You can find me working when I'm not working! Joking. I spend most of my free time with my longtime partner/girlfriend Tilly, our dog Shiro, and our cat Saffy. I'm either going to Jiu-Jitsu classes, hiking/backpacking or exploring the beautiful natural areas where we live. I also enjoy disc golf, poker, snowboarding with friends, exploring the "big" city, seeing live music, relaxing at home, cooking, eating, and watching racing and sports (if I'm lucky).
What excites you most about legalization?
That the industry will finally be treated like any other sort of business. We provide goods, services and jobs.
What’s a common misconception people have about cannabis?
A common misconception people have about cannabis is that it is easy to grow high-quality plants. Yes, it is a weed and it does not take much to help it grow. But to cultivate connoisseur-quality cannabis, it takes knowledge, hard-work, experience, dedication, humility, and of course, true passion for the plant. And a natural green thumb doesn’t hurt.
Anything you’d like to add?
I really enjoy what I do, and I hope that others enjoy and benefit from it too.