PHOENIX, Ariz. – Being a roofer in Arizona during the summer months could be one of the worst jobs known to man. That’s what brothers Nick and Chris Kriaris did for years before transitioning to the friendlier environment of the cannabis industry and opening Encanto Green Cross in Phoenix.
“The only way Nick could continue in his passion for cultivating was to be a frontrunner in the industry and to help with the legalization of this whole movement,” said Doug Paysse, Encanto’s chief operating officer. “He was the only one able to do it, or I should say the only one with the cojones to do it.”
While working as a roofer, Nick Kriaris had also been moonlighting as a medical marijuana caregiver under Arizona state law. For years, he had dabbled in cultivation before lining up all the requirements to enter the dispensary lottery.
“It was an ongoing interest of his, not just from the business aspect of it, but also from the compassionate and personal aspect of it,” Paysse said. “He’s a guy who likes to help people and we’re people persons here.”
On top of the usual duties of running a dispensary, the Encanto Green Cross team also runs a non-profit organization called Remembering Ruth, named in honor of Chris and Nick’s sister. She was an animal lover who died after a long battle against mental illness. The Kriaris family established the foundation to honor her memory by helping abused animals, donating money to St. Vincent de Paul, providing supplies for food and toy drives, and funds to support centers for the mentally ill.
“The foundation helps abused animals because that’s something that we think she (Ruth) would have liked,” Paysse said. “Remembering Ruth is a big target for how we do things here as a non-profit, to give back to the community where we operate,” Paysse said.
With Arizona’s vertically-integrated medical cannabis system in place, Encanto maintains a 44,000-square-foot indoor operation and a 10,000-square-foot greenhouse, in addition to the dispensary. It makes for a busy schedule, Paysse said. The dispensary itself is wall-to-wall full of art, with only rare sections of wall that can be spotted between the framed pieces.
“We have a lot of art,” Paysse said. “Some facilities are a little too clinical and some facilities are a little too Bob Marley-ish. When people come to our facility we want them to feel like regular people, like they’re at home. I like to say that we’re real people helping real people and there is a very soothing comfort that people have when they walk into my shop.”