ˈbəd-ˌten-dər | Noun


A dispensary associate who works at the storefront and represents the dispensary. Budtenders are responsible for educating consumers about the effects, benefits, and overall experience of cannabis products. While they are typically not medically trained, they 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.”


“He knew so much about cannabis, he could be a budtender.”

More about 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.

The Responsibilities of The Budtender

Budtenders have a number of responsibilities in the dispensary. Chief responsibilities include:

  • 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
  • Educating themselves on new products, strains, changes in policy, and industry trends in order to provide the highest level of service to customers
  • Weighing and packaging product as needed
  • Providing recommendations on cannabis products based on customer requests
  • Maintaining patient information and proper records (if at a medical dispensary)
  • Staying abreast of any changes in state and federal law to ensure compliance
  • 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 Budtender Profession

  • As of 2018, the median salary for a budtender in the United States is $32,000 per year
  • Most dispensaries require budtenders to have a clean criminal record
  • 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 budtenders

Budtender Education

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


Currently, there’s no industrywide certification program for budtenders. There are a number of budtender certification courses and certifications available online, but the quality of these programs varies.


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 products commonly used to treat symptoms of various medical conditions.