Budtending Certification Program


Get certified with Oaksterdam University’s Budtending Online Course, the most comprehensive and valued education available for pursuing a Budtending career. This course consists of resources, presentations, and mastery exercises developed by industry leaders.

Course Overview

Much like the bartenders from which we derive the name, budtenders directly serve customers with a myriad of special needs and requests. However, unlike a bartender, a budtender also often serves patients who have specific medical needs. Because cannabis is not simply just an adult-use product, budtenders must understand the powerful medical effects of cannabis products and be able to convey complex information on dosing and safety to their customers.

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 hope to provide you with both the knowledge and the skills you will need to do both, and succeed as a budtender.

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

Module 1 : Cannabis History & Policies

Cannabis has been used for practical, medicinal, spiritual, and social purposes for thousands of years; it was not until the 20th century that the plant developed a reputation as a dangerous and malignant substance that needed to be stamped out through total prohibition. This lesson will explore the history of cannabis and the major role it played in the shaping of the modern world, as well as the many misguided public policies that have arisen as a result of efforts to prohibit it. We will then examine the shift in public attitude toward the plant in the 1990’s as people began to rediscover its therapeutic potential, and how that shift ultimately culminated in the passage of the country’s first state medical cannabis law, California’s Proposition 215. The lesson will conclude with a brief discussion of the ongoing push toward medical and adult use legalization in the U.S. and around the world, and the role you can play as we write the next chapter of cannabis history.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

This course is an overview of state and federal cannabis laws, public policies, rules, and regulations. The class will cover federal laws prohibiting cannabis and the risks of breaking those laws including mandatory minimum prison sentences, asset forfeiture, and collateral consequences. You will gain an understanding of the evolving federal enforcement priorities and tactics. 

In addition to federal law, this class also introduces students to state laws governing cannabis. You will understand how states prohibit or allow medical and adult-use cannabis. It includes an overview of the legal framework for regulating personal use and commercial cannabis. Upon finishing this course, you will have a grasp of the range of state cannabis laws and the licensing framework for commercial cannabis.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

In Module 2, we will delve into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in greater detail, learning about the beneficial compounds found within the plant and how those compounds interact with the human body to produce effects like relaxation or euphoria. We will then explore the multitude of ways in which cannabis can be consumed — from smoking to edibles to topicals and everything in between — and the various methods that have been developed to extract beneficial compounds from the plant material and prepare them for consumption.

In the next two modules of the course, we will define the crucial role of the budtender and develop skills needed to succeed in the job. We will also discuss what day-to-day life inside the dispensary is like, and how it differs from other retail and customer service work environments.

 Lessons in this module:

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

Module 4 : Budtending Foundations

In Module 3, “Budtending Foundations,” we will detail the necessary qualifications required of a budtender, the most important of which is outstanding customer service skills. We will go on to explain how a budtender serves as an ambassador for the entire cannabis industry, and outline some of the unique responsibilities that come along with selling products which have powerful medical and therapeutic benefits. We will then look at some of the specific aspects of working in a dispensary that make it different from other customer service jobs, including special product handling requirements and enhanced on-site security.

 Lessons in this module:

  • 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

In Module 4, “Customer/Patient Relations and Consumer Safety,” we will work on strategies for engaging with customers/patients and encouraging safe consumption. We will walk through the questions you can ask to identify your customers’ goals for consuming cannabis and gauge their level of experience with various methods of ingestion. We will then discuss how you can apply that information to recommend products your customers will love, which is a skill that can help you develop a loyal following as a budtender. We will wrap up this module by covering some key issues related to consumer safety, including an introduction to appropriate dosing, potential side effects of cannabis, and population groups for whom cannabis consumption could pose a higher risk of negative health outcomes.

In the last two modules of the course, we are going to dive deep into the specific knowledge you need to recommend products that meet the needs of your customers and provide guidance on appropriate dosage.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

In Module 5, “Dosing and Effects of Cannabis,” we will present the knowledge you need as a budtender to provide comprehensive, evidence-based answers to your customers’ questions about dosing and effects, and help them select a formulation and dosage which is safe and effective. We will look at how the potency, effects, and duration of effects differs across various methods of ingestion, and introduce the concept of the “therapeutic window” of effective doses. We will also discuss potential interactions between cannabis and other drugs, including opioids, and introduce the concept of selecting specific cultivars to produce specific effects.

 Lessons in this module:

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

Module 7 : Cultivar Selection

In Module 6, “Cultivar Selection,” we will examine one of the most complex — and most contested — topics in cannabis today: the identification and classification of individual cannabis cultivars, which are commonly called “strains.” We will 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.” Then we will learn more about what actually drives the differences in effects among cultivars, and examine the lack of standardization in cannabis cultivar labeling. We will wrap up the module and the course with strategies for helping customers and patients select cultivars that will achieve their desired effect.

 Lessons in this module:

  • 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
We are going to cover a lot of information in this course, some of which will be very technical in nature. We know some of it will be difficult to master, but we consider the knowledge and skills you will gain by doing so essential to success as a budtender. The cannabis industry is changing every day, and it would be impossible for us to cover everything you will ever need to know. Our goal with this certification course is to give you the tools you need to get started and keep learning throughout your career in cannabis. Good luck, and remember, we are here to support you in any way we can!

Certification Program

Students will receive a certificate of completion upon successfully passing the final exam.

This course is only available online. There are no scheduled times. You may complete the modules on your own schedule, and you will have 180 days to complete the course. A certificate of completion can be printed upon successfully passing the final exam.