A budtender is an employee who works at a cannabis retail 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 cannabis dispensary employees serve as important guides to using cannabis products, and tailor their customer and patient service to all levels of experience.
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.
Do I need a special form of identification to work at a Vermont dispensary?
- Many states require budtenders to obtain special authorization to work in the cannabis industry, such as a cannabis worker permit (like in Oregon) or a license (like in Colorado)
- In Vermont, you must have an identification card issued before you may begin working at a cannabis retailer.
- Identification cards will now be translatable throughout the cannabis industry in Vermont, meaning they aren’t tied to a single employer, following the signing of S.188/ Act 158 back in June of 2022 which implemented a number of industry wide changes.
Typical requirements and responsibilities of a budtender
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
- As of 2018, the median salary for a budtender in the United States is $32,000 per year
- Most dispensaries require staff members to have a clean criminal record. In Vermont, the Control Board may deny issuance of an identification card for a number of reasons.
The Vermont Cannabis Control Board Board may deny an individual an identification card if an applicant has a record of any of the following:
What do you need to know to be 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 cannabis products commonly used to treat symptoms of various medical conditions.
Do you have to be 21 to be a budtender?
In order to work in the cannabis industry in Vermont, you must be 21 years old, pursuant to VSA § 861 and the Vermont Cannabis Control Board’s Rule 1.16.4 which states: No individual under 21 years of age will be issued an identification card.
Are there certifications available?
Currently, there’s no industrywide certification program for budtenders. There are a number of certification courses and certifications available online, but the quality of these programs varies.
Are there state requirements in Vermont for training as a cannabis employee?
Here’s what Vermont Cannabis Control Board’s Rule 2 says:
General Employee Training
within 60 days of hire and annually after that, employees of Cannabis Establishments must complete trainings regarding the following topics, except that employees of retail establishments may not sell Cannabis or Cannabis Products to consumers without first completing trainings regarding the first 5 topics of the following list:
- i. the Cannabis Establishment’s operating, security, health, safety, and sanitary procedures;
- ii. compliance, enforcement, inspection, incident reporting, and record-keeping;
- iii. acceptable forms of identification for staff and visitors, if permitted by this rule;
- iv. inventory control and appropriate tracking systems; v. cash handling;
- vi. human trafficking and domestic violence awareness;
- vii. diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- viii. racism and bias;
- and ix. sexual harassment and discrimination.
Retail Employee Training
customer-facing employees of retail Cannabis Establishments must complete trainings regarding the following topics, and may not sell Cannabis or Cannabis Products to consumers until they do so:
- i. the health effects of Cannabis and Cannabis Products;
- ii. preventing the sale of Cannabis to minors;
- and iii. signs of overconsumption and signs of mental health or substance abuse disorder.