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What Is A Budtender And How To Become One

In 2018, the word “budtender” was officially recognized by Merriam Webster, but it’s been part of cannabis culture for some time. According to the renowned dictionary publisher, the first appearance of the word budtender was in a 1997 San Jose Mercury News article—more than a quarter-century ago.

What is A Budtender?

Budtender is a combination of two words: bud the flower part of the cannabis plant, and bartender, a person who mixes and serves drinks. While budtender is a fun play on words, the position itself is perhaps better likened to a sommelier, a person who serves and gives advice about wine.

What Does a Budtender Do? 

The best budtenders are extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of cannabis and use the role to share their expertise to help create better-informed customers. Although there is no industry-standard licensure or certification program to become a budtender, these critical employees serve as a guide to customers, educating them about the effects, benefits, and overall experience of cannabis products while also pairing products to the needs and desires of individuals.

Key Skills of a Budtender 

A budtender is a customer-facing position and requires many of the same skills that are needed for success in other service industry jobs. However, unlike running a register at a big-box store, budtenders must also possess a large amount of industry-specific knowledge. 

Product Knowledge

Budtenders need to have at least basic knowledge about the cannabis industry and popular products. In general, budtenders will want familiarity with common cannabis products like flower, edibles, vapes, concentrates, and topicals. They’ll need an understanding of how products are grown and created, their effects, how long those effects take to kick in, and how long they last. Budtenders also must know about: 

  • The three main types of cannabis: sativa, indica, and hybrids (a combination of sativa and indica)
  • The different strains of cannabis 
  • The difference between THC and CBD (the two primary psychoactive compounds found in cannabis)
  • Common terpenes—like myrcene, limonene, and caryophyllene—and their qualities  
  • Dosing >

The more in tune a budtender is with what’s happening in cannabis—everything from industry news to culture—the better they’re able to serve their customers. 

Up-to-Date on Industry Trends 

Successful budtenders are eternal students, as there is always something new to learn. Because budtenders interact with customers, they’re often the link between what’s happening in the industry and the end-user. Great budtenders stay current about emerging trends, new products, events, and happenings in cannabis culture and use that information to create better-informed customers and a richer dispensary experience. They also stay up to date on federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding marijuana to ensure the business and its customers remain in compliance.

Customer Service 

Budtenders are the face of dispensaries—after all, they’re the people who primarily work with customers. Like other customer-facing positions, budtenders need strong interpersonal skills, a friendly demeanor, and an outgoing personality. The best budtenders create an inviting environment where new cannabis users feel welcome to ask questions and regular/more seasoned customers are kept informed of new products and specials that may interest them. 

Make Connections 

The most sought-after budtenders combine their cannabis knowledge, customer service skills, and an understanding of their customers’ preferences, concerns, and desired outcomes to forge connections. Budtenders serve as advocates for cannabis and their dispensary. They have a passion for pot, use that passion to grow trust and relationships, and create repeat customers. 

Why Become a Budtender?

Budtenders are in demand and a great way to break into the cannabis industry, the fastest-growing industry in the nation (it added 107,059 new cannabis jobs in 2021, a 33% increase over the year before). Many dispensaries are small and operate with start-up mentalities, providing ambitious budtenders the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities, get hands-on experience in a variety of aspects of the business, and get facetime with management—all of which is great for growing a career in cannabis.  

Some other reasons to become a budtender include:

Lowkey Dispensary

Interested in becoming a budtender? Contact Lowkey Dispensary! We’re on the lookout for passionate, knowledgeable, and talented individuals to staff our dispensaries. We have three coming to the Boston area—Dorchester, West Roxbury, and Downtown. Lowkey is also beginning cultivation. 

Lowkey is committed to the neighborhoods we operate in and see our operations as adding jobs and driving economic interest in our communities. We intend to work within communities disproportionately harmed by the past criminalization of cannabis and provide residents with good-paying jobs and educational opportunities in the cannabis industry, while helping to increase diversity that is primarily white. 

Contact Lowkey today to begin your journey to a career in cannabis.

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