A Beginners Guide To Budtending

Who wants to be a boring old bartender these days? “Cocktail” was over 25 years ago. It’s passé. Today the cool kids are becoming budtenders in the exciting new world of legalized cannabis! I’m here to tell you how to become a budtender.

“ Like in restaurants, a lot of budtenders I spoke with got their budtender jobs through contacts or friends, or in some cases, their grandmother”
The first requirement is passion. A passion for cannabis, preferably. This is truly a job where you can take those years of experience with your love for marijuana and apply them. Isn’t that what mom used to always say? “If only he would apply himself…” The most in demand skill in the field of budtender jobs is knowledge of the plant, of edibles, of the effects, of the smoking methods, and also, of the laws. So study, buddy! Know your different strains. Your concentrates and extractions. Homework has never been this fun! With the technological advances of recent years, it’s becoming a science. You can get a certification, schools are popping up, most notably Oaksterdam University in California but also in less legalized places like Florida. However, while being certifiable looks good on a resume, employers are more interested in solid skills and a demonstration of commitment to marijuana, either through work or volunteer experience. In fact, in California, many budtenders are volunteers known as caregivers. Because California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, budtenders in the golden state have a particular reverence for this “beautiful” medicine, which truly helps people cure what ails them without resorting to addictive, harmful pharmaceuticals.
One caveat similar to working in a restaurant is that old adage “We’re looking for someone with experience.” Well then, where am I going to get experience? Like in restaurants, a lot of budtenders I spoke with got their budtender jobs through contacts or friends, or in some cases, their grandmother. So it helps to be friendly and get out there on the scene. Visit dispensaries and inhale as much as you can! If you are just breaking in, most staffing agencies are looking for experience in customer service or retail. Hands on experience in growing marijuana or selling it is a plus. But no particular education is required. A GED, 2-year or 4-year education is acceptable, according to staffing agencies. What matters is self-education, catching up and keeping up with the latest strains. There’s plenty of info out there! Some dispensaries in Colorado and Washington are even growing marijuana on site, which I would say qualifies as on the job training! What dispensary managers are looking for are people with knowledge and spunk, who enjoy talking to lots of people.

“What matters is self-education, catching up and keeping up with the latest strains. There’s plenty of info out there! Some dispensaries in Colorado and Washington are even growing marijuana on site”
That is one thing which is like being a bartender. Listening to people’s problems. All day long. Especially if you are in a medical facility, a dispensary as opposed to a recreational store. There are fine lines, but this is where it gets a little hazy, this odd legal distinction. In a medical facility, budtenders have to function as doctors. People come in looking for advice, telling you what they are suffering from, and although they are not medically licensed, budtenders will be expected to know what cures what and dosages and effects just as a pharmacist would. It’s kinda weird and in a legal grey area. Whereas in recreational stores, budtenders lips are tied, and they legally are forbidden from giving medical advice, even though customers are coming in and asking. Budtenders in recreational stores still have plenty to talk about, and must enjoy meeting new people, since there are so many folks just discovering the wide world of cannabis. Who had only swallowed the decades of propaganda and were not properly informed about the complexities of the plant. If you’re going to get a budtender job, know it’s your duty to protect these cannabis consumers from misinformation!
Which brings up another foggy dilemma. You would tip your bartender. Should a budtender expect tips? This is still being decided even within the community. Since recreational budtending jobs have such restrictions, they can’t always give tip-worthy advice. And since they are not actually lighting your bong for you, which would be akin to a bartender mixing drinks, tipping doesn’t always come as a reflex. Medicinal budtenders usually have to spend a lot more time with patients and explain products and effects, but you wouldn’t tip your doctor. So while most budtenders are deserving of tips, because it’s retail this isn’t always obvious. Some places do put out tip jars, and some budtenders can make up to $50 a shift in tips.

“ Look for jobs on sites like Cannajobs, 420Careers, and Sign up with staffing services like Hemptemps or weedhire”
And that brings me to salary. Most budtender jobs are entry level, so they start, depending on the region, at $10 to $13 an hour, which I think is at least more than McDonalds. It can go up to $18 based on experience, but there’s not a lot of room for advancement. You do try the product, but you don’t brag about it and treat the plant with respect and reverence. Tax money will come out. It will be a normal paycheck. The US government may not approve of what you’re doing, but they are pleased to take the money you earn from it. Also, expect a background check, which sadly is not really unique to this industry. A prospective bartender has no reasonable expectation of privacy anymore either in this place we still call America.
But I don’t want to end on a buzz kill. No Debbie Downer here – hey budtenders, what strain would you recommend for her? The most important part of being a budtender is like any other industry, you need to be informed about it. Keep up to date on different types of cannabis, effects, advancements in technology and the field, new products. Look for jobs on sites like Cannajobs420Careers, and Sign up with staffing services like Hemptemps or weedhire. And if you live in one of the lucky states, become a part of the community. Be prepared to spend some money in the REC states as you will need a MED badge and this involves license fees. Remember, how to become a budtender is like how to become anything else. Except you are on the forefront of a new horizon, blazing towards the new frontier. And we will know we’ve reached it when they finally make a “Cocktail” movie for budtenders!
DISCLAIMER: The professionals and companies described are not associated or affiliated with Cash Cow Cannabis, and they may not endorse Cash Cow Cannabis or the information provided. The names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners.

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