Why Budtenders Matter

Budtenders: More than just Slinging Weed

Written by Jeff Siegel
Posted April 29, 2018 at 8:23AM

A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in Forbes entitled, “Marijuana Industry Needs More Budtenders – Here’s How To Get The Job.”

Contributor Mike Adams did an excellent job on this piece, highlighting some of things future budtenders should focus on. I just hope job-seekers take his advice. Because, quite frankly, over the past six months, I’ve seen a very serious rise in unqualified budtenders hustling weed.

You see, I’m a big believer in the idea that budtenders are not just sales associates, but educators.

This industry is still very young, and dispensaries get first-timers in all the time. A lot of these people don’t know much about what’s available today. They don’t know about the various strains, edibles, oils, tinctures, etc. They need professionalism and proper guidance. And those who don’t provide this do a great disservice to the legalization movement.

Know your Shit!

Whenever I visit a new dispensary, I act like it’s my first time.

I want to see how I’m treated.

I want to see how well these budtenders answer my questions.

I want to know how knowledgeable they are about the products they’re selling.

And I have to be honest …

I have been less than impressed lately.

One of my biggest critiques is lack of knowledge.

At a recent visit to a San Francisco dispensary, I asked the budtender what he would recommend for anxiety. The best he could muster up was showing me that some of the vape cartridges I was looking at contained more THC than others.

He kept telling me how more THC would make me higher.

It’s almost as if this guy had no training at all.

The beautiful thing about cannabis is that it’s so versatile. It does so many great things. Focusing only on THC content trivializes the power of the plant. It’s also just lazy.

Mediocrity is NOT an Option

Although the legal cannabis industry is growing rapidly, there are still a lot of folks who would like nothing more than to see the whole thing taken down.

From the Attorney General of the United States to local politicians who continue to push the lie that cannabis has no medical or social benefits, we are still climbing uphill against the backdrop of nearly a century of prohibitionist propaganda. And rest assured, nothing gives these guys more pleasure than to hear about a first-timer having a bad experience at a dispensary.

The job of a budtender is not just selling and educating, either. It’s also serving on the front lines in the fight against prohibition.

Budtenders not only have a responsibility to their employers, but they have a responsibility to the industry as a whole. Budtenders who understand this are worth their weight in gold, and should be compensated accordingly.

No time for Growing Pains

The most impressive budtenders I’ve ever seen were employed by dispensaries that do two very important things …

1.) Ensure their budtenders are properly educated on every item in the shop. And this includes making sure their budtenders have not only sampled every item, but have had the opportunity to meet with the representatives of the companies that are keeping the shelves fully-stocked. You can’t properly serve your customers if you don’t even know what you’re selling. We don’t accept “lack of knowledge” from the folks who sell us cars and electronics, so certainly we should expect nothing less from the folks who are selling us something we’re putting in our bodies.

2.) Properly compensate their staff. It’s pretty simple, really. You get what you pay for. And if you want quality budtenders, you have to pay them what they’re worth. While some dispensary owners might argue that it costs too much to pay their budtenders a generous salary, I would argue that it’ll cost them a lot more to underpay them. Doing so will result in employees who have no motivation to be the experts we expect them, and need them to be.

Now I realize that some folks are simply chalking all this up to growing pains, saying that we have to be patient, But I maintain that we don’t have the luxury of being patient.

No industry in the world is treated as unfairly as the cannabis industry. From excessive taxation to threats of violence from the government, we endure the types of things that no other industry would ever put up with. Yet we keep plugging away. We have to. Because failure is just not an option. And one of the best ways to avoid failure is to make sure that we never fall into the trap of believing that we are safe enough to slow down and lose the hustle that got us to where we are today.

While some folks might think the job of a budtender is to sling weed and get high all day, the reality is that the job of a budtender is to make sure every customer is treated with the same care and attention as one would treat his or her own family members. This isn’t hyperbole, either. This is a reality that, if we don’t take seriously, will come back to haunt us, and certainly turn back the clock on all the amazing progress we’ve made over the past few decades.

Make no mistake: A quality budtender is one of the most important tools we have in the fight against prohibition. And those who lose sight of this endanger everything we’ve worked so hard for.