How To Become a Budtender: One Man’s Struggle to Break Into the Industry


For those of us who’ve visited a dispensary, whether a medical or recreational one, they all have one thing in common, pretty girls who seem to be encyclopedias on all thing ganja. That’s not to say those are the only people who make up the budtending community, but it’s a fair assessment to assume that demographic fills most of the positions. Without a friend in the industry, legal marijuana can be a hard industry to break into for your average Joe Schmo, even if he had florescent green thumbs.

RELATED: 4 Things to Ask Your Budtender

While there are certain requirements for each state, the least of which being possession of a valid state ID from the state in which you’re working, along with your medical recommendation from that state. Even with all the proper documentation though, getting a job behind the counter at your local weed shop can be difficult.

For me, breaking into the industry required making contacts inside of dispensaries. I did this by offering to promote for various dispensaries around southern California. I didn’t want anything in return, which made convincing them to let me do this a lot easier, and luckily for me this was 2007, a time when pot shops where popping up around Los Angeles and the surrounding cities like wildfire… many of them looking for inexpensive ways of advertising their new establishments.

Slowly but surely I brought more new patients, developed relationships, and built trust.

Eventually this lead to solidifying a paid position as a “promoter”, starting at first with commission based incentives, and slowly becoming per Diem with commissions. These eventually paid enough for me to leave my job at a small restaurant and still cover my bills, I wasn’t making as much, but I was able to get by. Luckily my employers were generous and professional, and essentially allowed me to work as a freelance employee.

For a while I worked every day, building bridges with the doctors that wrote recommendations for medical marijuana. This increased the number of patients that flowed into the dispensaries I promoted for, and after about a year one dispensary had become so popular it expanded it’s operations to include a delivery service. Not to say I had a huge impact on the amount of business we were experiencing, but I did use this as my way inside the dispensary.

No more leaving pamphlets at doctors offices, or hanging out around popular hot spots known to attract marijuana tourists.

I spent the next couple months learning the technicalities of transporting medical marijuana within California, and delivering to patients who otherwise had a hard time accessing their medication. Before long, an opening for a budtending position came around, and after over a year of beating the pavement, I was offered the position.

Now-a-days it’s still not the simplest career to get into, but with more and more states reforming their marijuana laws the demand for knowledgeable budtenders is increasing. A friend behind the scenes doesn’t hurt, but it’s still much easier than it was 10 years ago, and with the proper documentation it can be as simple as securing any other job. Obviously some basic knowledge of the industry, and presenting yourself in a kind courteous way is essential, but if you can work with people and know a thing or two about ganj, a simple search on Craigslist will generally come up with dispensaries looking to fill budtender positions.


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