Budtender, cannabarista, weed sommelier, whatever you call the guy or gal behind the counter, you need their help when shopping at a medical marijuana dispensary or cannabis store.
Good budtenders do more than serve and package your goods. Considering the price of cannabis products and some risk in consumption, you want to develop a relationship with your provider who can explain product, direct you to best choices, and advise you on use.
What your budtender does for you
A great deal of the expected bonanza in the cannabis economy depends on moving purchasing from the black market to the legalized market. If that’s to happen, providers must enhance the shopping experience.
Customers willing to pay the higher prices and business providers wanting to make legalization work, they both want to step back from the stoner stigma. Bartenders are the face of this marketing effort.
You can expect at least five characteristics from a budtender:
- Image: Budtenders are the face and voice of medical dispensaries and cannabis shops. They set the standard of professionalism and customer service. That image requires good grooming, personality, and warmth. You have the right to expect them to be good listeners and congenial conversationalists.
- Expert: Customers need expert information on product and informed advice on use. While some of that knowledge comes from experience with the products, the best budtenders can demonstrate proof of formal training and individual studies.
- Responsible: Regulations require formal lessons and certifications on compliance issues like checking for identification, maintaining location safety and security, and protecting consumer interests.
- Inventory: Customers have a variety of interests, and budtenders must have a grasp on inventory including vaping, edibles, concentrates, lotions, and more. They must know the brands and how they differ. They must understand the weight standards, potency, and preferred usage. And, of course, they must have extensive knowledge of cannabis strains, seeds, and flowers.
- Licensed: Colorado licenses budtenders. They need an MED Occupational License as a Support Employee. They complete paperwork, and appear before the Marijuana Enforcement Division to be photographed, fingerprinted, and pay a $75 fee. (Fees are higher for more responsible positions.) And, it’s likely that other states will follow or modify the Colorado model.
What you do for your budtender
Budtenders are not highly paid although competition for the best talent will increase the compensation range.
Their work begins before the business opens. They labor at removing product from vaults and setting it up in display. They handle repeated customer relations, some of them difficult. And, they manage point-of-sale systems and process the revenue. But, they have customer expectations, too:
- Respect: They appreciate your attention and respect. Trained and licensed, they are always willing to learn, but they expect you to value their product history and advice. They don’t see themselves as slackers, stoners, or scaley, so they don’t want to be treated that way.
- Consumption needs: You can help your budtender serve you better by providing key information. You save time when you start with what you are looking for, from smoking and edibles to beverages and tinctures. If you are forthcoming, your budtender is also prepared to advise on discrete consumption methods like suppositories, topicals, transdermals, and sublinguals. Or, you can begin with a repertoire of questions on consumption.
- Experience: It’s in your interest and the budtenders’ to share your experience. You’ll find them patient and understanding if you fill them in on your experience with different forms of consumption, different strains, and the respective psychoactive effects. You help the budtender if you explain the pain relief you had and the relief you need, the tastes you had and the ones you prefer, the length and quality of the high you experienced and the one you want.
- Relationship: Medical or recreational marijuana use brings you back to the business regularly even though it is not addictive. In most situations, you deal with a budtender one-on-one, and that presents an opportunity for building a strong relationship. Customers who are open to relationship-building will come to trust their budtender on advice on product and usage.
- Tips: Leaving a tip for your budtender will strengthen a relationship, but tipping is up to the customer. Tipping is not yet common in medical marijuana dispensaries. They have generally been clinical in atmosphere and people don’t tend to tip their medical providers. But, buyers will tip retail budtenders a percentage of their purchase price based on their overall shopping experience or a standard $5 minimum.
Buddy up with your budtender
Building and sustaining a relationship with your local budtender will improve your experience with cannabis and marijuana. If you know what you want with no questions asked, you can hit and run your retail cannabis shop. But, if the experience is new to you and you need help on what to buy and why in a marketplace with more diversified and prime product, you need professional help you can trust.