An employee who works at the storefront and represents the cannabis dispensary. Budtenders are responsible for educating consumers about the effects, benefits, and overall experience of cannabis products. While they are typically not medically trained, these marijuana dispensary employees serve as important guides to using cannabis products, and tailor their customer and patient service to all levels of experience.

She asked the budtender for product recommendations for her headache.

Dispensary budtender Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

What is a budtender?

The term “budtender” is a blending of the word “bud” (the flower of the cannabis plant) and “bartender.” The term originated because a budtender's role in a dispensary is similar to the bartender's role in a bar.

As of March 2018, the term “budtender” is officially recognized by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which recognized first use of the word in 1997.

What is the job description of a budtender?

Typical requirements and responsibilities

The job description for budtenders usually entails a number of responsibilities in the dispensary. The role typically includes:

  • Acting as the face of the dispensary, greeting customers
  • Facilitating the sale
  • Educating customers about a variety of cannabis products, including flower, edibles, and concentrates
  • Staying abreast of new products, strains, changes in laws, and industry trends in order to provide the highest level of service to customers
  • Weighing and packaging products as needed
  • Providing recommendations on cannabis products based on customer requests
  • Maintaining medical cannabis patient information and proper records (if at a medical dispensary)
  • Advising customers on proper safety measures to follow when consuming cannabis
  • Verifying proper identification and paperwork from customers
  • Assisting in various dispensary operations, including operating the cash register and maintaining hygienic conditions

Facts about the profession

Do you need a medical card to work at a dispensary?

  • Many states require budtenders to obtain special authorization to work in the cannabis industry, such as a marijuana worker permit (like in Oregon) or a license (like in Colorado)
  • Cities in states where cannabis is legal — including Los Angeles and Detroit — have reported an increase in demand for qualified dispensary employees.

How do you become a budtender?

While a budtender is considered an entry-level position and offers plenty of opportunities to learn on the job, most dispensaries seek to employ staff members with a substantial amount of product knowledge.

Budtenders should have a thorough understanding of the types of cannabis cultivars and products on the market, how different types of products are properly used, different consumption methods and the proper use of each, the various chemical compounds found in the cannabis products they sell, and information about responsible dosing.

Budtenders well-versed in the cannabis industry may also be able to provide cultivation advice, information about local and state regulations, as well as medical marijuana products commonly used to treat symptoms of various medical conditions.

Do you have to be 21 to be a budtender?

Currently, there's no industrywide certification program for budtenders. Minimum age requirements in local areas range from 18 to 21 years old. There are a number of certification courses and certifications available online, but the quality of these programs varies.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on June 9, 2021.