Your Budtender, Your Bud, Your Buddy

Skillful budtenders are often individuals most reverent to the plant, treating it with respect and fostering, in kind, a respect for the consumer. It is partially the budtender’s insight that guarantees an exceptional high, but more importantly, it is the consumer’s ability to accurately convey their needs that allows the budtender to produce the desired results.

As a former budtender, I’d like to share some of my insight that should help you get the most out of your budtender the next time you head to the dispensary. But first, let’s define the ideal budtender.

This budtender is kind, attentive, empathetic and more than anything, knowledgeable. A good budtender educates first and sells second, ensuring that the consumer gets the buzz they are looking for. They aim to help consumers understanding and respect the substance they are readily putting in their body.

Simple enough. Be nice, be knowledge. But you, the consumer, are also a factor in this social equation. Consider doing a few things before you belly-up to the bar and blurt out, “What’s the highest THC?” Because truthfully, that is a terrible sentence that doesn’t make you sound like you care about your weed, you just want to get loaded. We get it. There is nothing wrong with having a good time and getting blitzed, but cannabis has so much more to offer and a great budtender takes the time to educate. So slow your roll, put your cell phone away and let’s have a real conversation about how you’d like to feel about how you feel today.

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1) Be nice. We see a whole circus of people every day and the nice ones get more out of us. This might sound like your mother’s dispensary advice, but you should listen to her. We treat your nice mom very well.

2) Cannabis is diverse. On this side of the counter we have weed wunderkinds, dabbing geniuses, 500mg edible juggernauts and flower children who have devoted their lives to understanding the complexity of the plant. Do not underestimate the knowledge they can drop on you. To wit, ask a question or two. Your budtender might not always have the spare time to give you a lecture on Terpenes 101, but again, a good budtender will educate you. Ask questions like:

a) I enjoy fruity (skunky, diesel, floral, etc.) smells. What buds taste/smell like that?

b) I’d like to have a toke and go (insert activity here.) What herb would you recommend?

c) What are you smoking this week or what is the house favorite right now?

The final two questions are especially useful if you’ve been following the first point. A budtender is more likely to hook you up with the dank chronic that the weed snobs are smoking if you are polite. In my experience, the most expensive herb doesn’t always denote the best. There are a lot of talented growers and a lot of diamonds in the rough. Plus, since these marketplaces are localized, many budtenders develop first name basis relationships with growers, and through these industry connections, budtenders get plugged into the hot strains that might otherwise fly under the radar.

3) Step out of your comfort zone from time to time. One of the neat parts about recreational cannabis is its place as an alternative to so many things. Be bold, ask your budtender about cannabis lube or if you’ve never tried CBD—a hangover godsend—give it a go. Edibles can also be intimidating without the proper knowledge, so get informed and drink some weed soda. These experiences will expand your cannabis repertoire, and you might even discover a strain or delivery method that works well with your own endocannabinoid system.

4) Understand that the cannabis industry is constantly changing: rules and regulations, growing methods, strains and hybrid crosses, concentrate extraction methods and so on. Obviously, if this type of knowledge is meaningful to you, ask about it. But if you’d just like to know the best new indica-dominant hybrid and not about new LED growing methods or their effects on trichome production, then just politely decline the insight and get on with it. Good budtenders are good listeners, and when applicable, are absolutely earnest.

5) Know that the perception of recreational cannabis begins at the store with your budtender, but ends with you. Know that when you leave the store and light up in the parking lot, it makes everyone look bad. Be respectful, be discrete. You blatantly flaunting your 1.3g joint isn’t going to suddenly evangelize passing pedestrians into thinking cannabis is cool. In fact, the opposite is likely happening. Budtenders devote themselves to their work because they want to create a better world through cannabis. And undoubtedly, if you are not part of improving the perception of recreational cannabis through your smoking etiquette, you are the unwashed sector of an industry trying to get clean.

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These are just a few suggestions on how to conduct yourself in order to communicate better with your budtender. The dispensary is a forum for sharing a passion and a purpose, even if that purpose is simply to alter your mind. Why not change your way of thinking? Isn’t that also what the cannabis industry is doing? A plant that was once demonized has more social currency than ever before. It’s changing our lives.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” -John Dewey

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