Budtender Service Survey: Trained vs Untrained

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A hybrid job as a canna-barista / weed sommelier, budtenders do a lot more than just expedite sales and package meds.

Budtenders represent the frontline of customer service and education at dispensaries.

Generally naïve to their many cannabis product options, today’s patients and customers engage with budtenders first – asking for their expert advice. Highly valued for their perceived knowledge, the budtenders’ “demographics, workplace characteristics, medical decision-making, and online behaviors” were put under the microscope for a new study.

Published on August 21, 2017, the study examined a “cross-sectional” service survey administered to budtenders throughout the Bay Area and Southern California. Queried from June through September 2016, a total of 158 budtenders participated in the survey.

Budtender Service Survey: Trained vs Untrained

customer service at the dispensary

Among the 158 budtenders surveyed, the study found: “56% had received formal training to become a budtender. Several demographic differences were found between trained and untrained budtenders. For workplace characteristics, trained budtenders were more likely to report budtender as their primary job (74% vs 53%), practice more than 5 years (34% vs 11%), and receive sales commission (57% vs 16%). Trained budtenders were significantly less likely to perceive medical decision-making as very important (47% vs 68%) and have a patient-centered philosophy (77% vs 89%). Although trained budtenders had significantly lower internet usage, they were significantly more likely to exchange information with patients through email (58% vs 39%), text message (46% vs 30%), mobile app (33% vs 11%), video call (26% vs 3%), and social media (51% vs 23%).”

budtenders and education

Regardless of what you call the person behind the counter at your local dispensary – budtender, canna-pharmacist, weed sommelier, or friend – their expertise with marijuana matters. With pricey meds and fastidious customers, savvy dispensary owners understand the value of educating their budtenders – for their own profitability and protection.

Photos courtesy of Allie Beckett

About Author

Born in Long Beach, raised on the central coast: I surf, dab, burn, and blog – though not necessarily in that order. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I don't drink alcohol or consume any other "drugs." I consider myself to be living proof that weed is not a gateway drug. If it were, I'd be in some serious trouble. Instead, as a 50-year-old ex-realtor that has been smoking weed for nearly 80% of my life (just did the math) ... I can only say, marijuana is safer than prescription pills or alcohol could ever hope to be for calming what stirs the savage beast.

10 Comments

    • Lol, only made it to the 50 sec mark. Although a little extreme in portrayal of customer it does bring up a good point. Most of us HAVE been smoking weed for longer then they have been alive, so of course questions will be asked of the supposed “experts”. It’s important to be able to answer these questions that make sense. Old school, don’t care what it’s called or what the numbers are, does it work? Very simple. These days you have to try them and see for yourself, weed affects everyone differently and the idea that one strain will do it all for this or that ailment is bs. Besides, wet behind the ears kids don’t realize what they missed. And yes it was better and more powerful back in the day regardless of what the kids try and tell you. The store’s need more tenders with real experience, we have a few here with both. Much better experience.

  1. Cannabis is medicine and needs to be treated as such. Medicinal, as well as the rec user, both need the same questions answered to be able to recommend the best item that will help them. Easy questions like: what medications do you take? Do you have any diseases? Are you allergic to anything? What is your method of consumption? Budtenders should know these things. I went into one dispensary in Vegas and was “testing” this “boobtender”, I told her that I had a heart condition, but I like to be alert. She recommended the strongest sativa in the store. If, I had truly had a condition and introduced a sativa, I would probably require a trip to the ER. Really feel that the education should be regulated, Pharmacy techs have to complete courses to be able to work in a pharmacy with patients. Heck, even at Friday’s, the servers have to work their way up to there. Budtenders are dealing with patients, whether medicinal or rec, so a medicinal, as well as a customer service license should be attained,

    • I very much agree. My guy knows all I want is something for sleep. He brought me some Blue Dream, it sounded good but, I looked it up on the leafly site and found out it was good for pain but not sleep. Twice now I bought a pig in a poke.

    • Oh bs. We have smoked this plant for many, many decades and none of us needed anyone’s friggen advice or coaching. Give me a break. Most of these people are kids and don’t know squat anyway. Pretty easy to learn a few facts and figures and sell weed. Easiest job ever. Remember minions, it won’t or can’t really harm you. Comparing these clowns to Pharmacy techs is a non starter and ridiculous. Don’t care what it’s called or what the numbers are, only one thing matters. DOES IT WORK!!!??

  2. After almost 30 years of being clean and sober, and a former pot head, I decided after a lot of research and talking to different people to try medical cannabis. Wow. what a difference it made (i am now in a state that it is not legal :(( I rarely needed to take percocet for chronic pain from fibromyalgia, sjogren’s and Lupus. That is a big deal! The budtenders who knew the ins and outs of the characteristics of the different cannabis, were the only ones I would talk with. I did not go to any shop where they were just dumb about what they were selling!

  3. Weed affects EVERYONE differently Einstein, try different strains and see how they affect YOU and don’t go by solely what these well meaning clowns tell you. Stupidest advice I have heard in a while. And if you’re worried about a shop being dumb about product, then you best stay away from the kids. They don’t have much of a clue, unfortunately the stores pretty much only hire kids. It will sell regardless, maybe they figure there is no need for anyone with decades of experience because as long as the bud is nice it will sell. Overthinking all of this.

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