What is a Budtender: The Bartenders of the Cannabis Industry


Despite marijuana still being considered an illegal drug at the federal level in the United States of America (US), more than half of US states have allowed the use of the drug for medical reasons at the local level. Currently, 10 states now allow sales for recreational use.

Before any legalization of Cannabis at all, marijuana was a booming industry for illegal peddlers in the black market. Now that companies can get a license to produce and sell the drug, however, a large number of jobs have been created – some of which have unique job descriptions and titles.

While some of the jobs in the cannabis industry require employees with degrees, others require core ‘product expertise’; that is, no small amount of personal experience with the plant. Of course, the two aforementioned requirements aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. After all, it’s possible to hold your MBA (Masters in Business Administration), for example, and still use cannabis. But most individuals have a unique skill set and Cannabis companies, like other businesses, want to make the most of their staff’s skills.

One such unique position, set to become as useful and trusted as a ‘Genius’ in Apple’s retail stores, is the ‘Budtender.’

What is a budtender?

If you’ve ever walked into a legal cannabis store in North America, chances are you’ve come across a Budtender before. In some ways, they offer the initial public face of the business to their customers, much like a receptionist. However, for a drug which is relatively new to most, especially in a retail setting, Budtenders can be even more important than a traditional receptionist.

In essence, a Budtender is someone who welcomes customers to a Cannabis store and helps them make the best buying decision for them. The nature of the role means the Budtender has to be a people person with extensive knowledge on the various cannabis products and strains provided by the store. This kind of customer hand-holding and reassurance is important for a number of reasons, including, like any other company these days, the importance of digital ratings and reviews. A Budtenders’ smiling and helpful side make it easier to expect better reviews for the store.

How much do Budtenders earn?

Typically, budtenders begins their employment on the same pay scale as most entry level employees.

Depending on their experience in the industry, age, and, critically, ability to sell, an average budtender could earn about $12 – $15 USD (United States Dollars) per hour. Some receive commissions on top of that. Wages in the same region and the ease of finding qualified staff also play a part. Although $15 an hour is not great, it’s also not a terrible way to use a skill you learned watching TV or, quite possibly, while using cannabis.

In total, Budtenders could receive a paycheck of about $40,000 a year. For those prepared to invest the time, Budtending could also be a way to get in on the ground floor of a Cannabis retail business. With the right drive, a budtender could build a career that could see the most accomplished end up as a store manager.

What sort of skills should a good Budtender have?

Contrary to what one might think, budtenders don’t necessarily have to be ‘stoners’ (heavy cannabis users). In fact, if a Budtender has been involved in the illegal distribution and/or use of the plant, some businesses say that background could hurt their chances of landing a legitimate Budtender position.

Many companies would prefer to interview Budtenders, ideally, who come with a skillset, including botany, and a genuine interest in Cannabis. Knowledge does not necessarily result from using the plant, but rather could result from research.

A good candidate, for example, might have been growing Cannabis on a small scale, or as part of a team that used to grow on a large scale as part of another Cannabis business. Most employers agree that most budtenders are hired based on intuition. There is little requirement for a Budtender to have received a formal education on the subject.

Since it’s a relatively new type of job, in cases where it’s hard to find a Budtender, businesses are prepared to look at people from other industries with proven sales skills. Those with strong management, people and relationship skills, experience in sales and/or business development can be brought into the marijuana industry, and taught how things work.

What do Budtenders do?

When you walk into a bar, a bartender is always available to tend to your needs and serve what you want from behind the bar. Budtenders do the same thing, but with cannabis products.

Budtenders’ primary responsibilities include getting you the kind of Cannabis products you want, at the right potency level and, also, in the right quantity. Beyond that, they should also be able to suggest strains and products to you with which you may not be familiar. Budtenders are especially useful in cases where a customer doesn’t exactly know what they want. Such a customer may not be familiar with the now, much broader array of Cannabis-infused products which are available from retailers these days – including oils, unctions, edibles and sprays.

For those who know very clearly what they want, Budtenders can still offer value. When you are sure of what you want, for example, you could still ask a budtender for suggestions to get something better.


Being an entry level position, the job of a Budtender is one of the easiest ways to break into the cannabis industry. And they are key to the success of any Cannabis company. Budtenders increase the proportion of people who buy and they raise the average order value. In time, just as a bartender position has become integral to the sale of alcohol, budtenders will be recognized as critical to sales and success in cannabis stores.

Published by Neil

Neil believes Cannabis has medical benefits and should be prescribed by a Doctor. This site aims to provide accurate information on the science and legality of Cannabis so you can make informed decisions.

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