Kiesha Thompson

Hail to the Queen!
Portland’s Kings of Canna

WORDS Tarrick Donovan | PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Sugden

Nestled into a quaint neighborhood on the NE side of Portland, you may happen to come across the Kings of Canna, a neighborhood dispensary of unusual distinction. Portland is known for having a dispensary on every corner, something most out of towners don’t have the benefit of in their own town. But this dispensary does things a little differently. It’s designed based on an experience.The human experience.

Creating a friendly space where people feel comfortable in an uncommon place was a big deal. The team of creative thinkers behind this idea includes local owners, Kip Rowels, brothers Kent and Jerrod Thompson, and Kent’s wife Kiesha Thompson. In an industry dominated by men, Kiesha is just a girl from Alabama, representing women entrepreneurs in this burgeoning industry.

Kiesha was raised in the Deep South. She lived down a dirt country road surrounded by cotton fields. It’s exactly the one horse town you may envision. Her mother was a grassroots, salt of the earth type of woman. “My mom Faith was one of eleven siblings,” said Thompson. “I’m the youngest of four raised by a fierce sisterhood.”

The small village she lived in on the banks of the Alabama River helped nourish the deep roots connecting her to the natural world. “Our family was eating farm to fork before it was cool. We played in the woods, and went skinny dipping in the creeks. That’s how we rolled. It was a very simple way of life.”

PI: How did you end up part of the cannabis industry?
KT: I’m a different breed. Mom was a bit of a hippie – she never wore a bra. She encouraged us to think for ourselves and help others. The nearest hospital was 30 miles away from our house so we didn’t go there much. Mom depended on farm food, natural remedies and herbs. She instilled in us a love for food and community. Our world was small so she encouraged us to live outside the box. So I’m not totally surprised to be participating in the cannabis industry.

PI: What turns did the road take to get you here?
KT: A growing business, marriage, and two kids later…I don’t remember! Kent and I drove to Portland seven years ago and we never looked back. We started with a small grow and progressed from there. Every step of the way just felt right. We are doing what we love and are passionate about cannabis. I’m a true testament to the good works of this plant. I use it to decrease stress, balance hormones, and alleviate pain and insomnia.

PI: What’s the vibe at KOC?
KT: It’s inviting. It takes you back to a different place and time. Like walking into an old friend’s house. Dark wood, warm colors, arched door, and antiques. It hugs you and you wanna stay awhile. You may hear The Blind Boys from Alabama or Teddy Pendergrass in the background. The music is always something “feel-good” and easy. You can get lost in it. We want you to leave feeling lighter than when you came in. Our location offers a neighborly environment; a community where you can eat dinner, grab a bottle of wine or coffee, treats from the bakery, and cannabis all in one stop.

PI: Can you please describe your brand?
KT: We only sell flower we would smoke ourselves. New product is rotated in frequently to keep things fresh. It’s important for us to keep 20 – 30 strains available. We do our best to carry something for everyone, so even our budget flower is a great smoke. Our focus is keeping a variety of products available. A lot of people love the benefits of CBD because they don’t want to get high. So we offer a great selection of flower and sorts that are high in CBD only. You will find edibles that satisfy your sweet tooth, and products that commit to organic, gluten free and sugar free to complement diet restrictions. Plus, our display of “bud diamonds” gets people excited.

PI: What are the people who work here like?
KT: Our staff organically fits our business model.They are trail blazers in the industry. Darren has been in the business a long time. He and Billie are the heart of the store operations; they stay on top of the ever-changing rules and regulations. They run a tight ship! Our budtenders are connoisseurs, they grow their flower, and they make tinctures and edibles. They know the product inside and out. They keep their finger on the pulse of what’s new in the industry. Also, it doesn’t hurt that they’re funny, engaging, and good listeners. They honestly love what they do!

PI: What’s in the future for Kings of Canna?
KT:We won’t be the Starbucks of the industry, but we desire multiple locations. I’m hoping some place tropical….very tropical!