Male budtender wearing a Verilife t-shirt in front of a green background

What is a Budtender: Responsibilities & How To Become One

Plenty of new marijuana consumers (and some experts too!) have anxiety about going into a dispensary. That’s why we have budtenders! Budtenders are there, much like bartenders at your local bar, to help you enjoy your time in the dispensary and get the marijuana products and tools you need to consume cannabis.

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into the topic of budtenders and answer these questions:

  • What is a Budtender?
  • What Does a Budtender Do?
  • How Can Someone Become a Budtender?
  • How Do Budtenders Become Cannabis Experts?
  • FAQs About Budtenders

What is a Budtender?

Budtenders are cannabis experts that work at licensed marijuana dispensaries. Their job is to help the customers, whether they’re cannabis newbies or experienced connoisseurs. They do this by answering any number of questions about cannabis strains, marijuana products, cannabis tools, and more. Most budtenders will even share their recommendations if you really aren’t sure which direction to go with your purchase.

The term budtender is a relatively new one. Obviously, it hails from the word “bartender”—we just swapped the “bar” with “bud.” It took a little while to catch on, but eventually, it was officially recognized by Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2018.

Budtenders can teach you about ways to consume marijuana, such as vaping. You can also check out our guide “Vaping 101” today. 

What Does A Budtender Do?

Budtenders, whether they’re in a medical marijuana dispensary or a recreational marijuana dispensary (or both), are responsible for helping cannabis customers throughout the entire purchasing process. While most budtenders have their own passion for cannabis and stay knowledgeable about the industry on their own, they are required to stay up to date on products, tools, news, and strains. In addition to their primary budtender responsibility, they will also help:

  • Educate customers
  • Weigh and package products 
  • Ensure customers know how to safely consume cannabis
  • Verify customer information for proper identification
  • Keep the dispensary clean and hygienic 
  • Know medical vs. recreational marijuana laws
  • Follow all legal regulations and requirements  

The job of being a budtender can vary based on state, or even by the dispensary, so if you’re interested in becoming a budtender, it’s important to look at each dispensary’s individual requirements to ensure you qualify.

Questions about products? Check out our guide to edibles or marijuana flower!

How Can Someone Become a Budtender?

Becoming a budtender is very similar to any other job—you look for the role in your area, apply for it, interview, and hopefully, land the gig—with just a couple exceptions. In many states where marijuana is legal in some form, you’re required to have a certification, badge,  or permit to work in a cannabis dispensary. This process varies across the country, and it can be as simple as applying for the appropriate credentials or as complex as taking an exam to get certified. Once you have your necessary credentials, you can officially work. Some dispensaries will help you with this process, while others will expect you to be certified prior to application. It’s important to check the rules in your area. Generally, the job description will list the requirements for your location or specific dispensary. 

How Do Budtenders Become Cannabis Experts?

Many people think that you have to be an expert in marijuana in order to work as a budtender. This is absolutely not true. Like with many other jobs, you can come in with an interest in working in the marijuana industry and get budtender training as you work. You’ll also likely learn the ins and outs of the industry in general, including the science behind cannabis and the different regulations for your state, county, or even city. You may have to be willing to do more cleaning than product recommendations at first, but you’ll likely be exposed to other seasoned dispensary budtenders who can help you expand your knowledge of cannabis. If that’s the case for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s good practice for them and a good lesson for you. 

It’s important to remember that while budtenders can provide information around cultivation and medical cannabis products, they are typically not medically trained. Medical marijuana dispensaries may have more specialized budtenders on staff, but all medical questions should be brought to your practitioner. 

FAQs About Budtenders

Budtenders jobs are becoming more and more common as cannabis legality expands. Here are a few helpful questions and answers about this role.

Do you need a license to be a budtender? 
You may need to obtain a state-specific license or permit to work in a dispensary, depending on local cannabis laws. As you begin interviewing for budtender positions, the dispensaries you’re applying to will let you know what certifications you may need.

Do budtenders work at a dispensary? 
Yes, budtenders work in adult-use or medical cannabis dispensaries. The term comes from a play on “bartender,” swapping the “bar” for “bud.”  

How do budtenders learn all about marijuana? 
If you’re interested in joining the cannabis industry, we recommend learning the basics of cannabis prior to interviewing. However, many dispensaries do not require previous cannabis experience and will likely provide all the training you may need.

Speak with a Budtender

Budtenders provide helpful advice for all levels of cannabis connoisseurs and make going into a dispensary a fun experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Budtenders love to share their recommendations and help you find the perfect products for you. 

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Ohio and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.