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?