Canndigenous Bud Bar serving up CBD at events near you

The new mobile bar is allowing the Wisconsin-grown CBD startup to educate eventgoers on the merits of cannabis.

Hemp-loving event planners in Wisconsin have a new nonalcoholic bar option for their events: Canndigenous’ Bud Bar.

Canndigenous is the first Native American-owned CBD hemp company in Wisconsin and offers locally grown, organic CBD produced with a commitment to natural, transparent, and sustainable practices.

Founded by Rob Pero, a serial entrepreneur and member of the Bad River Tribe, the vertically integrated company based in and around Cambridge includes an organic hemp farm, consumer wellness products, and its Ripley Green retail apothecary location.

Pero and the Canndigenous team are committed to honoring Indigenous heritage and Pero’s Ojibwe roots, particularly to doing everything, as the Ojibwe say, “in a good way.”

“At Canndigenous, this commitment to do things ‘in a good way’ is not just an affirmation of our Ojibwe roots,” says Pero. “It’s a daily mandate and a driving force in everything we do. It’s a spiritual stance with tangible actions that lead us to produce health-focused CBD products.”

A mobile bar serving CBD-only cannabis strains, the Bud Bar offers a unique experience for event guests and can be customized to fit the needs of every event. Headed up by a cannabis expert — or budtender — the Bud Bar is fully equipped to share the fun of cannabis with all event attendees regardless of experience level.

As an all-in-one solution setting the stage for any get-together, Canndigenous’ Bud Bar provides an elevated experience that is perfect for weed lovers and for event planners looking for nonalcoholic open bar options for sober-curious parties.

Lindsay Wehmeyer, who heads up the Bud Bar, notes Canndigenous is blazing trails in Wisconsin. “There is no precedent in our state and all ideas are fair game at Canndigenous. The birth of the Bud Bar came from that sentiment: anything is possible in a new industry, and we are setting the standard. A lot of my time is spent dreaming up ways to connect people with CBD and make it approachable, educational, and enjoyable. Building the Bud Bar was a natural way for me to be able to meet people where they are and engage them in CBD while celebrating the best days of their lives. We’ve been humbled by the reception to the Bud Bar by venues and guests alike.”

According to Wehmeyer, the stigma surrounding cannabis has eroded as legalization and decriminalization slowly spreads state to state; however, she says there’s still a lot of work to do in Wisconsin.

“Our mission with the Bud Bar is to offer a cool, unique way for guests to engage socially with CBD, enjoy the benefits of each strain, and ask lots of questions,” Wehmeyer explains. “We are challenging the idea that cannabis is used only as a tool to escape, get high, and be lazy. We have found that people are interested in CBD but often don’t know where to start in a saturated market. It’s been a joy watching people have meaningful interaction with quality CBD that they might never have had.”

Unlike a typical bar serving alcohol during an event, where the bartender simply pours drinks, the budtenders at the Bud Bar act more like a sommelier, guiding guests through their experience.

Wehmeyer says the Bud Bar is mobile so it can be as hidden or prominent as the host desires. It currently has six CBD strains available at the bar for guests to choose from, including indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. Each strain has a terpene profile that gives the flower a unique flavor and smell as well as aiding in strain-specific relief. For example, Superwoman is a smooth but strong strain high in the terpene Myrcene, which is a natural sedative and can generate a relaxing, Zen-like state.

“Everyone comes to the Bud Bar with a story, and our job as budtenders and experts in CBD is to be a matchmaker and connect our guests with their best strain,” explains Wehmeyer. “It’s important to mention that although the CBD flower looks like its THC-rich counterpart marijuana, there are only trace amounts of THC in CBD flower. Guests can enjoy the benefits of CBD a few minutes after smoking without any anxiety or paranoia that can be associated with marijuana.”

Once a guest chooses a strain, the Bud Bar budtender will pack a hemp cone with 1.5 grams of flower to be consumed on site or packaged in an airtight tube for multiple uses without the smell.

A pre-roll is $8 from the Bud Bar and includes 1.5 grams of flower, an airtight Doob Tube, and a strain card for reference. Matches and lighters are available for guests to use, and the Bud Bar offers custom cone colors to coordinate with the theme of the event. “We’re all about the details, from terpenes to spouse-specific strains [for weddings],” says Wehmeyer. “Just as a bride could choose a custom cocktail at her wedding’s booze bar, each party has the opportunity to choose their strain and make the Bud Bar personal to their event and their guests.”

Because Canndigenous is licensed to grow and sell hemp, if a venue has an outdoor area for the Bud Bar to set up, no additional licensing is required for the event host. Wehmeyer notes the Bud Bar staff also bring each strain’s certificate of analysis from third-party testing to be able to prove that Canndigenous is selling legally grown hemp, per the 2018 Farm Bill.

Home grown

Pero started Canndigenous in Cambridge a couple years ago in consultation with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, which provided mentorship in developing the Canndigenous business plan and funding strategy, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Association. The company had a successful grow the first year and aims to be an influencer in Native country showing that a Native-owned business can find support, financing, and opportunity to grow a brand in a space that is wide open and full of potential.

Now, Canndigenous is working on maintaining its operating procedures as the industry continues to evolve and moves toward the USDA being its regulatory body.

“We had zero revenue last year, our first year in business,” notes Pero. “This year we’re expecting a loss because of the expenses from our grow and continued investments in products. We have contractors as partners and employees, which has allowed us to be flexible and ramp up or slow down production as needed.

“We [have] a new site in development for 2022,” Pero adds. “We’re excited for the opportunities ahead even though they are complicated and a bit daunting since we’re in the early stages of cannabis development as a product. We’re excited to be in the space and share what the plant can do for people. We’re all about doing things in a good way and doing things that are good for people.”

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