Budtenders are Essential

Budtenders Are Essential Front-Line Cannabis Workers

With Cannabis Dispensaries Categorized as Essential, Budtenders are More Important than Ever

Since legalization began, budtenders have played a key role in the cannabis industry’s education, outreach, and community. But with much of the nation on lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, budtenders are now even more of a crucial link between millions of Americans and a much-needed therapeutic plant. They’re working on the frontlines in the middle of a crisis. 

And those frontlines are busy: Though it’s unclear whether this uptick in weed sales is panic purchasing (similar to the rush on toilet paper) or people seeking out products to help pass the time and ease the stress of social distancing, consumers are buying and consuming more cannabis right now. 

Budtenders are largely responsible for maintaining safe practices that enable dispensaries to keep operating while protecting the health and safety of their customers and employees. These practices include handling money and credit cards properly, wearing gloves and masks, doing curbside pickup transactions with buyers, disinfecting high-use surfaces, maintaining and enforcing six feet of social distance whenever possible, and more. Budtenders in some states have even transitioned to delivery, driving orders directly to customers’ homes. 

Got Cannabis Questions? Call First.

Some states are allowing curbside pickup during the COVID-19 crisis. But for newer cannabis customers who aren’t sure what they need, dispensaries still recommend calling to speak live with a budtender who can walk you through your options (and provide some tech support if you need it with the actual online ordering process).

Budtenders are providing valuable education around best pot practices during an epidemic—namely, urging consumers to stop sharing joints and bongs. “Puff, puff, pass” is officially on hiatus until further notice. Sanitize any shared implements (like LucidMood vaporizers) if you must share, but right now budtenders are recommending you have access to your own stash.

They’re also providing guidance on the best formulations for the stress and sleeplessness that’s accompanied this crisis for so many of us.

How to Keep Cannabis Transactions Safe—for You and Your Budtender

Like grocery store clerks, pharmacists and post office workers, many budtenders have been deemed essential by their state officials. Just as you would at Trader Joe’s or Costco, take care of the dispensary staff so they can take care of you.

If you’re calling a dispensary for a consult, help your ‘tender out by making a list of your questions before you dial, or before you make an in-person order. Unlike many of us who are stuck at home right now, budtenders are actually super busy! The crisis only added additional safety steps to their days, so be considerate of their time by being as prepared as possible. 

If you’re doing a curbside pickup, abide by all the safety directives. Wear gloves and a mask, and maintain a safe distance. Again, arrive as prepared as possible. If paying in cash, try to pay with exact change and tip to reduce contact with potentially contaminated bills. 

Another point we can’t stress enough: TIP your budtenders! Tip 30% if you can, 20% at a minimum. The average budtender salary is approximately $13 an hour—these hardworking people need our tips to pay their bills. 

Lastly, try to seek out and patronize dispensaries that take good care of their budtenders. While some dispensaries don’t offer staff members access to employer health insurance plans or paid sick leave, others have stepped up to offer these essential workers new protections and hazard pay.  Andrew DeAngelo, co-founder of famed Oakland dispensary Harborside Health Center, has responded to the COVID-19 crisis by giving Harborside workers paid time off, sick leave and health benefits. As DeAngelo told Green Entrepreneur, “Our budtenders are critical assets, we have to treat them like it and invest in their well being.”

If you’re looking to speak live with a budtender, or find out about possible delivery and curbside pickup information in your area, Leafly has put together an excellent resource, updated twice daily: Is my dispensary open and can they deliver cannabis right now?

RELATED:  With an 8:1 ratio of THC to CBD, our Lullaby pen is formulated with a specific blend of cannabinoids and terpenes designed for calming effects to enhance rest and relaxation—an ideal stress reliever in trying times.

Check out all of our custom formulations here.

Ajoya dispensary

Meet Brittany Krapes, LucidMood’s Budtender of the Month for May 2020

This interview is part of a special Q&A series where we talk to budtenders—who are some of the most fascinating and informative people in our industry—about the weird questions they get, what daily life on the cannabis front lines is like and what they appreciate most about cannabis.

Brittany Krapes, Ajoya, LucidMood Budtender of the Month

Name: Brittany Krapes

Dispensary: Ajoya in Louisville, Colorado

What year did you start working in the cannabis industry?

Who are your favorite customers at the dispensary?
I love the people who come here and are willing to learn! It’s fine serving people who know what they want, but seeing someone who is curious and wanting to learn is something else. People eager for education are always great because they are open to different cannabinoid blends, different terpenes, and maybe even a different medium to consume their cannabis. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your fellow budtenders?
Find a balance in treating customers like they know nothing and everything at the same time! It’s difficult to judge what someone may or may not know without asking them, and we are in a state where we get a lot of tourists. Offering the same quality of help to every person is important in maintaining a positive experience for everyone. 

What’s the craziest question about cannabis you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
The craziest questions come from people who haven’t consumed cannabis, of course. The questions that always amaze me are the ones that come from a perspective of cannabis being similar or the same as an opioid. It surprises me when people ask how I function on cannabis doing basic activities, and they seem confused when I tell them that today is a microdose day or a CBD day—or that cannabis is absolutely not the same as the pain medicine they have gotten from their doctor or heard about from their friends. 

What’s the biggest misconception about cannabis you’d like to fix?
You don’t have to be a stoner, and you don’t have to be high all the time! I see people come in for the same product, but one will use it for medicine and one will use it for recreational purposes. Consuming cannabis or using cannabis products does not have to be good / bad or black / white. It can be for your grandma or your neighbor. It can be once-a-month or whenever. There is something for everyone. 

What’s the most challenging part of your day?
Naturally since I love people who love to learn, those unwilling to learn are my personal struggle. It is hard to be in an industry that is seen as an importance but also has a negative stigma attached to it in so many communities, even our own still! I see many people who just want to “check it out” but they come with decades of fear and misconceptions. It can be hard to convince people that the stigma is there for the extremes, and most users are not that.

Why do you consume cannabis?
Cannabis helps me sleep, relax, and deal with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) pain and anxiety. I use topicals for eczema and psoriasis. I use cannabis to help me with all sorts of things! 

What does consuming cannabis do for you?
Cannabis makes me feel grounded and keeps my mind from racing all day. I am a very anxious person, and cannabis calms me down without knocking me out or making me feel too mentally fuzzy. 

“If I were a LucidMood pen, I would be….”
I would absolutely be Lullaby. When (LucidMood Chief Science Officer) Tristan (Watkins, PhD.) and I were talking about this pen we were excited about how it shuts your brain off. It doesn’t just get you so high you pass out, it really helps unwind. I would be Lullaby because I am all about relaxing and comfort. I love everything that makes people feel calm and collected and homey. 

LoDo Wellness Dispensary - LucidMood's Budtender of the Month Amber Sullivan

Meet Amber Sullivan, LucidMood’s Budtender of the Month for April 2020

This interview is part of a special Q&A series where we talk to budtenders—who are some of the most fascinating and informative people in our industry—about the weird questions they get, what daily life on the cannabis front lines is like, and what they appreciate most about cannabis.

Name: Amber Sullivan

Dispensary: LoDo Wellness Center in Denver, Colorado

Currently, LoDo Wellness has made a very difficult, but responsible decision to shut its doors while COVID-19 causes ripples through society. Keep an eye on their website for updates on reopening – http://lodowellnesscenter.com/ 

What year did you start working in the cannabis industry?
2018. I had been working in the beer industry and wanted a change.

Who are your favorite customers at the dispensary?
We get many seniors coming in who are seeking to ease their physical pain and improve personal wellness and quality of life, and I really enjoy working with them. Their generation often has had extremely negative views about cannabis, but just being able to talk to them one-on-one can completely shift their view. Personal connections make it possible for us to break down those negative stereotypes they were given. 

Groups like bachelorette parties are also some of my favorites. There’s usually a newbie, or at least one person who is super nervous because they had a bad experience with cannabis in the past, and I’m able to talk to them about CBD and different approaches to consuming. Those are the customers who often come back super excited because they gave it another try and actually had a great time! People are hungry for education and guidance, and one of the best parts of my job is being able to offer that to them.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give your fellow budtenders?
Really listen to people. I personally prefer indicas but they don’t work for everyone. Everyone has a vastly different experience with cannabis. When you treat people as individuals and find out about their past experiences, you can help prevent unwanted side effects much more effectively.

Because our location is so close to Denver’s Union Station—a major transportation hub downtown—I’d say around 60% of our clientele are tourists. Many of them don’t live in legal states and often this is their first time in a dispensary.  I could give these customers a ton of information, but I try to follow the advice of the awesome astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (I’m paraphrasing): Even if you know a lot, you can’t overwhelm people with information. That’s counterproductive.

What’s the craziest question about cannabis you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
A woman came in with a huge stack of paperwork from her doctor as well as all of her medications. She wanted something that could help her skin, and she pulled up her shirt to reveal a really intense rash on her torso. She told us she wanted to avoid steroid injections, which her doctor had told her were the best way to treat the rash.

While I know what products could potentially help her, if a doctor is saying injections are the way to relieve her condition, I don’t want to contradict a medical doctor. Yes, cannabis topicals can help with many skin problems, but we are not dermatologists, and these products are not a magic bullet for every chronic condition. Sometimes finding answers for people is difficult, especially when there isn’t a clear-cut yes or no.

What’s the biggest misconception about cannabis you’d like to fix?
That people who consume suffer from a lack of ambition. Thankfully that myth is collapsing as the cannabis industry expands. 

People use this plant for productivity. Cannabis consumers tailor their consumption based on their experience and what they want to do with their time. I use cannabis in different ways, but one of them is that it helps me write for hours at a time. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing on the couch, but that’s only a small part of the cannabis picture!

What’s the most challenging part of your day?
Right now, as we deal with COVID-19, work can be challenging and definitely is more stressful. I’m just trying to take it day by day. We are providing a valuable service to people, and a service to the state with the tax revenue we provide—we just want to be safe and hope we have the support and understanding of both our customers and the regulators. 

What does consuming cannabis do for you?
I consume cannabis to help me write, storyboard and come up with ideas. I also use it to sleep, and to calm down in social situations; CBD in particular is really helpful for me personally. When I take it I feel like it actually helps me to be my own true self and not front.

If I had to choose one word to describe how cannabis makes me feel, it would be “even.” I feel a lot of things, and sometimes I go strongly in one direction or another. Cannabis helps me find that middle ground where I can feel all of my emotions and yet stay balanced.

Which LucidMood product do you use, and why?

I like Lullaby because I use it to help me get to sleep. Normally I need quite a bit of cannabis to be fully relaxed, but with this pen I take a few puffs and I’m out! 

“If I were a LucidMood pen, I would be….”
I want to be Luminous but I’m actually Luscious. I enjoy the hedonistic feeling that the Luscious pen gives me. It makes me want to cook a giant meal for one, find the softest blankets possible and just soak in and enjoy all of life’s sensory pleasures.

Do you see product manufactures reaching out to educate budtenders?
We need more outreach for education. People come in and are told to ask for a product, or they reach for a product they want—without necessarily knowing what that product is or what it will do for them. Budtenders are a great source of the actual questions people need answers to, because we are plugged in on a daily basis to the consumer who’s telling us how they want to feel.

There are so many new products as well as so many people who are new to cannabis, and we need to communicate with consumers about what’s available, the possible side effects and how individuals can react quite differently to the same products.

Introduction to Cannabis

Stop thinking of cannabis as a singular plant that solely produces THC. Instead, think of cannabis as a plant that produces a diverse set of compounds that can produce a full suite of effects and moods. Cannabis produces many more cannabinoids than just THC, some of which we are still discovering. Moreso, hundreds of terpenes are naturally found within cannabis, and these terpenes can impart unique flavors, tastes, and experiences. If you have ever wondered why some products make you super chatty, while others leave you listless, its because of the complex assortment of cannabinoids and terpenes interacting in your body. Although this type amount of variability can seem confusing, it also means that you can find the perfect product to best match your needs — for any moment.

Cannabinoids – THC gets all the fame, but the other cannabinoids are just as important to creating the perfect high for you. If high-THC products are a bit too much to handle, consider finding products that contain other cannabinoids, like CBD, CBG, or CBN. These other cannabinoids can help your high feel a bit less intense, more social, or more spacy.

THC – This is the one everyone knows. THC delivers a strong sense of euphoria, leaving people giggly and oftentimes hungry. If not for THC, the popularity of cannabis would likely be minimal.

CBD – CBD is essentially the mirror image of THC, and produces somewhat opposing effects. CBD does not get you high, and even smooths out some of the more intense effects of THC. These two cannabinoids, THC and CBD, actually work well in unison. In fact, cannabis in the past — decades to centuries past — contained much higher amounts of CBD alongside THC.

CBG – Similar to CBD, CBG does not create the high associated with cannabis. Products containing CBG will likely create a more energetic and sociable experience than without.

CBN – Although CBN does not produce a euphoric high like THC, it can have a very strong sedating effect for many people. Small amounts are said to be great for meditation, while larger amounts can aid people in rest.

Terpenes – Terpenes are the naturally occurring aromatic compounds that give botanicals (including cannabis) their signature smell and taste. Additionally, many of these terpenes can be relaxing, alerting, sociable, connected, centered, and more. Finding the perfect combination of terpenes can be challenging. Some go well together. Some are opposing and clash. Think of terpenes like your spice rack, where some spices naturally group together perfectly, while others should never be found in the same dish.