Budtending (Self‑Paced)


This virtual course can be done on your own time, from anywhere in the world. Simply log on and take the modules at your own pace. The course consists of the same curriculum as our Live Semesters, developed by our professional faculty, and provides companion material and recommend reading you may follow to take a deeper dive. It also includes a video and resource library complete with lectures recorded during our Live Classroom experience, to appeal to different learning styles. Students have 180 days to complete all the required materials and mastery exercises.


Course Overview

Budtenders must understand the powerful medical effects of cannabis and be able to convey complex information on dosing and safety to customers. Much like the bartenders from which we derived the name, budtenders directly serve customers with a myriad of special needs and requests. However, unlike a bartender, a budtender also often services patients who have specific medical needs.

In fact, the role of a budtender is more like a hybrid of a pharmacist and a bartender. A budtender must not only be well-versed in the potential effects of the products they sell and current scientific literature but also be able to provide a pleasant and entertaining experience for their customers.

In this course, we provide the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as a budtender in a dispensary setting, from a scientific and practical standpoint. We offer an introduction to cannabis cultivation and extraction, with a background in cannabis history, law and advocacy. We examine the breadth of cannabis cultivars and products on the market, along with how they affect the body. We also highlight customer relations, and areas unique to cannabis retail including product handling security and patient safety.


First, we cover foundational knowledge that we believe every professional in the cannabis industry should know — the history of cannabis, laws and regulations relevant to production and sales, and the many ways in which humans use the plant to their benefit.

Then, we delve into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in greater detail, learning about the beneficial compounds found within the plant and how they interact with the human body to produce effects like relaxation or euphoria. We explore the multitude of ways in which cannabis can be consumed — from smoking and edibles to topicals and transdermals — and the various methods that have been developed to extract compounds from the plant and prepare them for consumption.

In the next two modules of the course, we define the crucial role of the budtender and develop skills needed to succeed in the job. We discuss day-to-day life inside the dispensary, and how it differs from other retail and customer service work environments. We explain how a budtender serves as an ambassador for the entire cannabis industry, and outline some of the unique responsibilities that come with selling products which have powerful medical and therapeutic benefits. We then look at some of the specific aspects of working in a dispensary that make it different from other customer service jobs, including product handling requirements and enhanced on-site security.

From there, we work on strategies for encouraging safe consumption. We walk through questions to identify customers’ goals for consuming cannabis and gauge their level of experience with various methods of ingestion. We discuss applying that information to recommend products your customers will love, which will help you develop a loyal following as a budtender. Then, we cover key issues related to consumer safety, including appropriate dosing, potential side effects, and population groups for whom cannabis consumption could pose a higher risk of negative health outcomes.

Finally, we examine one of the most complex and contested topics in cannabis today: the identification and classification of individual cannabis cultivars, commonly called “strains.” We explain why the term “cultivar” is more accurate than “strain” in the context of describing cannabis varieties, and break down the myth of the dichotomy between “indica” and “sativa.” We learn more about what actually drives the differences in effects among cultivars, and examine the lack of standardization in cannabis cultivar labeling. We wrap up with strategies for helping customers and patients select cultivars that will achieve their desired effect.

Module 1 : Cannabis History & Policies

  • Origins of Cannabis
  • Early Prohibition
  • Counterculture
  • Revolution Reaction: Nixon’s War On Drugs
  • Medical Legalization: Shifting Attitudes & State Laws
  • Post-215 Era: Adult Use & Beyond

Module 2 : Federal vs. State Law

  • Overview of U.S. Government & Legal System
  • Federal “Marihuana” Laws and Policies
  • Federal Risks & Penalties
  • Federal Laws and the Business of Cannabis
  • State & Local Cannabis Laws
  • Civics

Module 3 : Products and Methods of Ingestion

  • Basics Of Cannabis Cultivation
  • Scientific Research on Cannabis
  • Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis
  • Introduction to Extractions
  • Methods of Ingestion & Delivery Systems

Module 4 : Budtending Foundations

  • Skills and Qualifications
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Product Handling Protocol
  • Dispensary Models and Methods of Retail
  • Security and Chain of Custody

Module 5 : Customer and Patient Relations

  • Customer Service and Patient Relations
  • Asking the Right Questions
  • Approaches for Common Customer Types
  • Customer and Patient Safety
  • Higher-Risk Populations

Module 6 : Cannabis Dosing

  • Dosing Guidelines
  • Identifying Customer Needs and Expectations
  • Effects and Dosing Considerations
  • Final Considerations

Module 7 : Cultivar Selection

  • Strained – What is a Cannabis Cultivar
  • The Hazy Kaleidoscope of Cannabis Genetics
  • The Sativa-Indica Fallacy
  • Cultivar Labeling Standards – What’s in the Jar
  • Properly Recommend Cannabis Cultivars

Final Exam

  • required for certification

Certification Program

certificate of completion may be printed upon successfully passing the final exam and capstone project.