What it Means to Be a Budtender

budtenders, how to budtend, working with weed,
“4/20 Vancouver 2015” by Jeremiah Vandermeer via Flickr.


This is your first trip to a dispensary and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. So many strains to choose from, how’s a person to know which one is good for what and how each strain will make you feel? What about hash or an oil or an edible? Making heads or tails of it all is enough to make a person’s head spin. But there is help in the way of a person called a Budtender.



A Budtender is the person who tends to the medical needs of a patient who visits a dispensary. This is the ‘front line’ person, the one the customers see first upon going to a marijuana dispensary. How friendly, knowledgeable, and caring the Budtender is will determine if the patient/client feels comfortable at that dispensary and (possibly) if that patient/client will return to that dispensary.

A Budtender’s job is not easy. They deal with people all day and those people expect the Budtender to know everything there is to know about the strains and other products sold; the particular traits of those strains or products and how they will affect a person. And like any customer service type job, the clients who walk through the doors can be nice as pie or as grumpy as an old gator. But no matter what mood the clients may be in, the Budtender should always be polite, courteous, and most of all caring.

A good Budtender will listen to the clients and direct them to the specific cannabis strain which will help them with their particular needs. Whether the person is looking for pain relief, appetite enhancement, or a particular flavor, the person behind the counter needs to be knowledgeable and be able to give good advice. Ideally, the Budtender will have tried all the strains and products sold at the dispensary, giving him/her a better understanding of what to recommend to the client.

But a Budtender’s job is more than just dealing with the customers. They stock the shelves with products – salves, ointments, hash, edibles – and weigh out and stock the cannabis bud. And while this may all sound like fun, Budtending can be hard on a person, physically and emotionally. Working long hours with very few breaks can be common. Befriending a patient that is seen on a regular basis can pull at the heart strings should something happen to that patient.

As more states legalize marijuana for medical use, and even possibly recreational use, there will be a greater need for licensed marijuana employees. This need could lead to a movement to standardize the requirements for marijuana licensing across the nation. The opening of accredited schools to train these new employees will also be seen.

Each state has its own set of rules and regulations for becoming a Budtender.  In the state of Colorado, a person should expect to pay $150 for a two year license as a Support Employee (Budtender), be fingerprinted and pass a background check.  It’s not uncommon for people to be arrested when they apply for a license because of an outstanding arrest warrant which is discovered during the application process. A person should contact their local dispensary or even their state department of revenue office for specific information.


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