Cannabis dispensary budtenders are oftentimes a valuable resource for medical marijuana patients and recreational consumers who are looking to them for guidance on which products to try. But what exactly makes a good budtender so exceptional and a bad budtender so terrible?

We asked the Leafly audience what they dislike about their local budtenders and the experiences they’ve had with them:

Bad budtender habits asked via Leafly's Twitter account

The budtender often provides one of the first impressions a patient or consumer gets about a cannabis dispensary, and how he or she treats visitors is crucial to the success of the business.

Facebook user Ambrose McGillicuddy paints a clear picture explaining why budtenders are so important to a cannabis business:

“I just like to check out new dispensaries when we are away from home and budtenders can definitely make an amazing impression for a dispensary, or make an otherwise fine dispensary unpleasant.“

After compiling people like Ambrose’s responses to our queries, we’ve put together a list of qualities and business practices unique to bad budtenders. Here are four bad budtender habits that customers notice and hate.

1. They’re Impatient and Rude

Poor customer service

Facebook user Hector Sanchez told us his least favorite budtender habit is:

“When they make you feel stupid when u ask questions about the different strains they have…. When they try to rush you….”

Budtenders constantly repeat effects and characteristics for products, so it’s easy to forget that each customer is a unique and fresh interaction. All customers have distinctive histories with cannabis, so figuring out their level of familiarity is the first step. Avoid coming off lazy to enthusiasts with repetitious call outs, like, “Indica couch locks you” or “Sativa is more energetic.” Go more in-depth and base your recommendations on what the customer needs.

It’s also important to stay away from the snobby stoner mentality of “knowing it all” and thinking “No one has consumed as long as I have.” Rushing newcomers and looking complacent is the last way to grow your business and customer rapport. Working to teach those who are just exploring cannabis while also furthering experts’ understanding of the product sets the best budtenders apart from the mediocre ones. It’s a tough balance, but making people feel dumb or underwhelmed by your service is bad budtender practice.

Other feedback about rude or impatient budtender habits include:

Rushing you or offering you bottom shelf for top shelf prices […]”

“When they try to rush you……”

“When they make you feel stupid when u ask questions about the different strands they have…….”

Condescension (dispensaries- please hire based on interest and experience in the industry, not because they look disenfranchised and cute in skinny jeans, thanks!), disinterest and lack of knowledge.”

2. They Don’t Differentiate Between Medical and Adult-Use Consumers

Not separating medical and recreational needs

In his response to “What budtender habits make you cringe?”, Facebook user Matthew Fairchild said:

“When they treat it like weed and not medicine!”

Differentiating medicine from adult-use cannabis is important for both the patient and general consumer experience. Feedback showed that a fair amount of medical patients dislike budtenders who treat their medicine as “weed,” whereas adult-use consumers tend to be overwhelmed by advanced explanations. Customers vary and are often there for different reasons.

Medical patients can feel a lack of care if budtenders treat the conversation as a smoking circle, and adult-use consumers can feel alienated by too much expertise. They’re different conversations to which budtenders should naturally adjust their conversations and level of depth.

3. They’re Inconsiderate of Basic Hygiene

Bad hygiene and dirty hands

It’s never a good sign when a customer is wary of a budtender’s cleanliness. Facebook user Heather Nicole Shoemaker agrees. When asked what her #1 bad budtender trait is, she contributed this gem:

“Got to say bare, clearly unwashed hands. One place handed me a bud to smell, with bare hands, instead of smelling it out of the jar. Then tried to put it back in the jar. Made me cringe so I bought that bud we touched. I’m a medical patient. I sure hope it’s being better handled where the public can’t see. It’s medicine, it needs to be handled as such. And then my all-time turn off…Finding hair in my bud. Unsure whether it’s cat dog or human. That’s a huge no no for me.”

We received a lot comments surrounding the handling of product – from general hygiene to making sure customers can smell and see the product prior to the purchase. This guideline is simple and similar to purchasing food from a restaurant or food stall. Patrons expect servers and cooks to have clean hands, hair tied back, and attractive culinary displays. The same emphasis on cleanliness applies to dispensaries as well.

Budtenders need to pay attention to the way they handle product — use chopsticks, tongs, or gloves to retrieve buds from a jar instead of your bare hands.

Always go above and beyond when allowing customers to see and interact with the product by offering them a closer peek or the chance to smell the strain’s aromas. Keep in mind that the product is going to be consumed by someone other than yourself, so don’t hog all the sniffs before allowing your customer to partake first.

Lastly, keep hairs and other contaminants out of your customer’s stash as best as possible. Nobody wants a dirty product, especially one they’re going to ingest or inhale later.

Here are some more examples the Leafly community provided regarding gross budtenders:

“When they stink like cigarettes… yuck”

“When they dig in the jars grabbing the flower with their bare hands. Yuk.”

“When they are trying to show me a specific strain and when they take it out, they sniff the hell out of it before letting me see it.”

“dirty hands…”

“touching face…”

“Not wearing gloves when handling the buds.”

4. They Lack Knowledge About the Products They Carry (or They Simply Don’t Care)

Lack of passion and knowledge of product

Lack in product knowledge was our largest “cringe” for working with budtenders, which isn’t surprising. Facebook user Danny Hempster hates when budtenders aren’t knowledgeable about their inventory:

“Mainly the lack of knowledge. When you ask if they have 710 specials, and not one of them even knew what 710 was. Ask about sugar-free edibles and some budtenders give you the dumbest look.”

Budtenders have to learn a lot, from familiarizing oneself with product brands to understanding at the very least the cannabis basics. If you’re a new budtender who isn’t yet up to speed on industry knowledge, be honest with your customer and ask a more experienced coworker for assistance. Exhibit your passion for the cannabis movement and be as helpful as possible and you should be able to win your customer over even if you aren’t the most knowledgeable.

Cannabis information is only just now being shared actively, so it’s okay to not know everything right off the bat. It makes customers feel a part of something beyond the transaction when you care for the cannabis movement and can own up to your lack of expertise in certain areas.

Ultimately, however, budtenders need to get up to speed on their cannabis knowledge in order to do their jobs well and help as many patients and customers as possible. Knowing cannabis holidays, cultural references, and general cannabis 101 is a must for successful budtenders. Be in the know, and learn as you go. It builds trust and makes customers feel like they’re being taken care of.

For cannabis business owners, training budtenders to embody these qualities is essential. It’s hard to teach someone passion though, so selecting budtenders based off their interest and desire to learn is a safe bet.

Here’s a compilation of feedback concerning budtenders’ lack of knowledge (which includes complaints about improper cannabis storage):

“when i know more about marijuana than their employees… which tends to be more frequent than not. If you dont know marijuana you shouldnt be working with it.”

“I hate when people store cannabis in non light and air tight containers. UV light causes cannabinoids to degrade and fresh oxygen causes increased rates of oxidization/degradation of trichomes. Cannabis should also be stored in a cool/cold environment, like fridge/freezer, to slow the rate of trichome/cannabinoid degradation. I also hate when cannabis is stored in anything plastic, especially plastic bags. The plastic has a static charge which steals trichomes from the buds/flowers over time. I only recommend glass or stainless steel to store cannabis in.”

“Storing product in disposable plastic containers instead of glass.”

“Lack of familiarity with basics (indica v. sativa, strain specific, brand comparisons, product qualities/consistency/effects, don’t know difference between kief/wax/hash/shatter or between THC, CBDs and CBNs,). If you don’t use the products, I don’t trust your suggestions and am much less likely to try something new.”

“When they cant get the weight right and they take a bud and crumble it up till it weighs right”

Don’t miss part 2 of this series, where we highlight some traits of good budtenders. In the meantime, what are some other traits of bad budtenders? Share your feedback in the comments!


Learn more ways to be a great cannabis business by learning how Leafly can help you succeed!

Learn how Leafly can grow your business