We can go ahead and call it: 2016 was the year of the awful budtender. Even Jill Stein couldn’t buy a recount on this one. What was most impressive was the veritable cornucopia of ways they could disappoint you at any point in the process. Among the many lowlights was a budtender responding to a question I had by picking up the display sign and reading it to me like I was an impatient grammar school child sitting through “The Pet Goat.”
We have to turn this around, people, and to that end I’ve created the 10 Budtender Commandments.
1. Thou Shalt Not Be Too High
The industry is full of patients-turned-budtenders doing some of the best work because they’re doling out advice based on personal experience. With all due respect to Biggie, you should be getting high on your own supply — and due to medical necessity, some have to do that on the clock. If you’re having a particularly tough day where only a 500mg edible will beat back your symptoms, treat it like any other job and call in sick. Working at a pace where you look like a poorly fashioned animatronic version of yourself doesn’t help anyone.
2. Thou Shalt Not Ask For Tips
If it were up to me, tip jars would be banned from dispensaries, no matter how cheeky your sign is. You don’t earn a service industry wage (typically under $5), and the idea that passing me a preweighed jar constitutes some Herculean effort on your part makes me wonder who’s on the wrong side of the “karma jar.” Asking me if I need five ones instead of a five-dollar bill implies a tip should be coming, a transaction as gross as it is maddening. Do I still tip? Against every fiber of my being, yes, I do. Do I prefer a shop that pays their employees a fair wage and forgoes the spanging at the end of my purchase? Damn right I do.
3. Thou Shalt Not Touch the Buds
I’m not sure what’s worse: someone who barehands a nug or someone who barehands a nug after dousing their mitts in sanitizer. We don’t need a sterile glove for each transaction or that pretentious pair of chopsticks that you oh-so-deftly wield, but please stop picking up flower. A pair of tongs is simple, sanitary and idiot-proof. It hurts that this is a conversation we’re still having.
4. Thou Shalt Not Lick the Prerolls
No one needs to get “Cup Cough” from whatever it is you have going on with your saliva. Like literally any other industry, none of the products designed for my mouth should have been in your mouth. Buy a six-pack of envelope moisteners and think about what you’ve done.
Elsewhere in the Cannabiz
5. Know Thy Product
It’s perfectly acceptable to not have all the answers and I’ll always prefer someone taking a moment to find something out rather than faking it. That being said, you should know the following about each strain on the shelf before starting your shift: sativa/hybrid/indica, lineage, effects and price. Having 50 jars in the case isn’t an excuse; if the servers at The Cheesecake Factory can pull it off, so can you. What kills me is when people have to consult “the binder” after every question I ask. The information was there the whole time, you just didn’t bother to learn it.
6. Thou Shalt Not Rush Me
I thought budtending would be a lot more fun, too. After you’ve shown someone their twelfth jar, you start to question whether or not you’re capable of murder. Well, this is what you signed up for. For every Snapchat you post with a huge nug to make your friends jealous, you also have the guy who’s always asking for the hookup. Try to remember that people on the other side of that counter deal with serious medical conditions and you could be the only positive part of their day. Or just sigh, roll your eyes and be petulant. I just won’t be coming back.
7. Thou Shalt Not Throw Your Dispensary Under the Bus
Blaming your manager Lindsay for not having the edibles order finished or Jason in the grow for sending wet weed to the store doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation. I have my own petty drama to worry about — primarily in comments sections — and I promise to never ask you to commiserate about it. Great customer service entails empathizing first and offering solutions second, so avoid getting defensive and viewing it as an attack on you. If this turns into a recurring problem, you need to find a new job.
8. Honor the Strength Of Thy Edibles
You’re the last line of defense between someone Dowding out and that’s a grave responsibility. I understand that Subway doesn’t ask someone who purchases a 6-foot party sub if they have some friends who are going to help them out with it. With so many tourists, it’s incumbent upon you to make sure they enjoy Denver and don’t leave perpetuating the “Reefer Madness.” And sorry, adding an informational pamphlet to their exit package doesn’t help a bit if they find it halfway through an edible that could get an elephant stoned.
9. Thou Shalt Not Spout Jargon
It’s super cool that you know the difference between alpha bisabolol and borneol. Can you communicate that to a brand-new consumer in a meaningful way? Why is that even part of an entry-level conversation? The hallmark of a bad budtender is hiding behind the technical side of the plant, including a memorable time a guy kept rambling about “trichromes” [sic] and then told me I was wrong when I tried to help him pronounce it correctly. I wouldn’t trust most of you armchair scientists with a rubber test tube.
10. Thou Shalt Not Break Up a Bud
There are little things you can do to improve the customer experience. For example, in my lifetime I’ve never purchased curly fries without getting at least one massive curly fry. I don’t know how Arby’s does it, and frankly I don’t want to know. If the bag is 0.1 grams over, you don’t need to break off a chunk from something on the scale so you get to even. You’ve given them their curly fry.