The Role of a Cannabis Budtender

February 10, 2022

Cannabis “budtenders” work in dispensaries or provisioning centers and are responsible for many of the same things anyone who works in retail is familiar with. Budtenders greet customers, assess their needs and preferences, make recommendations, and ring up sales. They must have knowledge of the wide range of products in their store, how they compare, and what’s in stock at any given time.

When not serving customers, budtenders are often tasked with restocking shelves, making sure products are displayed in an attractive manner, and notifying management when things are running low. 

However, there are many layers on top of these general retail responsibilities that are unique to budtending, such as product handling protocols, seed-to-sale tracking, and advanced security measures. Most importantly, budtenders must serve not only customers but patients with sensitive health conditions. They are routinely asked for specific recommendations about what products their patients and customers should use to treat their symptoms or achieve the desired effect. 

Because of this, the job requires special duties not seen in other retail environments. Here’s a look at just a few:

Patient/Customer Check-In:

The process for welcoming patients and customers into a dispensary and checking their eligibility to enter varies widely across jurisdictions and often depends on the retail model in place at the state level. For example, in states that have only an adult-use market, often the only credentials a customer needs to present is a government-issued ID showing they are of legal age. In states that have only a medical market, there are often stricter rules in place for verifying patients’ identification and their medical authorization. 

Patient/Customer Consultation: 

Budtenders fulfill a critical role at the dispensary. Without your expertise, no products will get sold, which is the core function of a dispensary. You are the key customer-facing ambassador of the dispensary and in fact, the whole industry, and the customers and patients you help will judge the quality of their experience by their interactions with you. You should be able to intelligently speak to them about all products on your menu and walk them through the selection process. So while new budtenders may be inclined to feel the job is like any other sales position, it actually is largely an educational role, where you are expected to pass on bits of your cannabis knowledge to everyone you assist. 

Understanding Labels:

Virtually all states in the U.S. require some type of product testing for cannabis. The types of tests required can broadly be lumped into two categories: testing for potency and testing for contaminants. Some states only require testing for cannabinoid potency. Some states also call for potency testing for terpenes, but usually, this is an optional test that is required if product claims are made about the terpene content. Other states also require testing for contaminants like pesticides, residual solvents, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and foreign materials. As a budtender, it is helpful to be familiar with the lab testing requirements in your state so that if you are asked about what products have been tested for you can answer honestly. It is important to be able to read labels on the products in your store so you can make sense of them for your customers and patients. 

Controlling Product:

Cannabis is tightly regulated, and dispensaries must adhere to strict standards when it comes to handling, transporting, and monitoring products. Budtenders play a crucial role in helping dispensaries manage their inventory. This means being watchful of customers in the store, mindful of securing products from theft, and knowledgeable about operating the point of sale system that is crucial to tracking your dispensaries’ cannabis. 

Oaksterdam University’s Budtending Certification Program offers everything you need to know to become a budtending professional. Earn your Oaksterdam credentials at your own pace, or in our new Budtending LIVE course. Learn more or speak to an advisor now.  

If you like this blog, check out 6 Skills to Be a Great Budtender.

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