The Budtender Diaries– An Introduction

The Budtender Diaries– An Introduction

by Anna Ervin

It wasn’t until I gained firsthand experience in a dispensary that I realized the weight of the responsibility that the role of a budtender carries. I hear about a lot of people diving into the entry-level position because they see it as the easiest way to get out of their stressful 9-5 situation and into an industry they think they’ll love. However, what I don’t often see are most of those people maintaining a job in the cannabis industry with that kind of mindset. 

Budtenders are the bridge that gaps patients and cultivators, the gatekeepers of a purchasing manager’s attention, and the final set of eyes to fall on the medicine that gets distributed to our friends, family, and neighbors. Tending buds is not for the faint of heart. It requires a certain amount of responsibility, initiative, and passion to fill these shoes, and if you can’t keep up with industry news and standards you’ll quickly find that this field can bring just as much discomfort as whatever position you previously held.

The vast majority of patients who shop for cannabis look to their tenders for advice on product selection, dosage, and consumption methods. In a lot of cases, if you aren’t equipped with the right knowledge (or willingness to learn alongside your patients), those customers will chew you up and spit you out. Put yourself in their shoes. While most of us find ourselves actively engaged in this industry daily, the average consumer isn’t likely to have quite as much access to the wealth of information or networks that we do. When a patient asks about a product, it’s a budtender’s responsibility to be informed about the cultivation, processing, and consumption of that product. And in my opinion, patients are entitled to learn as much as they want to about their medicine. 

Another important role a budtender plays in this industry is holding the keys to their purchasing manager’s gaze. I don’t know if all dispensaries work like this, but in my experience, it is nearly impossible for brokers to get past a good budtender without an appointment with the store’s buyer. We can smell you from a mile away, and it’s not that we don’t care about the product your pushing, it’s just that you’re the 7th person we’ve turned away that day. If you really want to get your foot in the door, consider the first 30 seconds of your presentation walking into the dispensary to be your most crucial for making an impression. We don’t always have time to hear the whole spiel, but managing to pique our interest could potentially get you a lot closer to putting your product on shelves. I’d love to dive into this topic more, but look at it this way: budtenders are the ones that have to move whatever you leave in inventory, so sell it to us the way you’d want it sold in our store. 

Finally, the most important responsibility that falls in a tender’s lap is a final inspection of the product being sold before it lands within the hands of the consumer. This requires a certain amount of knowledge about industry standards and the biochemistry of cannabis. The last thing anyone in our industry wants is to find that a faulty product found its way into the pocket of a patient, and the last thing a patient wants to hear is that they consumed something unsafe or not up to par with industry standards. 

A patient’s individual role in purchasing cannabis is to advocate for their health. It’s important to share as much information as comfortably possible, particularly when asking about dosage and consumption methods. Nobody else knows your body better than you do. Keep a patient journal, report your experiences with each product, and let your budtender know what works for you next time you hit up the dispo. With that being said, a budtender’s responsibility to continuously learn, educate, and inspire healthy choices never truly ends. 

My hope is that this column will help create a safe space for tenders and patients to find common ground, inspiration, and education. I would like to invite both parties to submit any questions, stories, or topics that might come up in the dispensary. Please send your submissions here → cannabanananutbread@gmail.com