What’s a “Budtender”?

Hillside Natural Wellness cannabis store interior Alaska

As more and more states legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis, there’s a new sort of customer-facing job being created in dispensaries: the budtender.

Although the name “budtender” sounds a lot like “bartender,” think of budtenders more as your favorite knowledgeable employee at a nice local wine shop.

Whether you’re just looking for some basic information (i.e. what’s the difference between a white wine and red wine?) or you’re a wine connoisseur looking for something new to try and would like a specific recommendation, that wine store team member is there to help answer questions, guide you through the selection process, or just have a knowledgeable conversation about vineyards.

By definition, the budtender’s role is very similar, but instead of wine, their specialty is cannabis. If you’re a first-time cannabis user or if you’ve never been in a dispensary before, it might feel intimidating or overwhelming to walk into a marijuana dispensary for the first time. That’s where your local friendly budtender is there to help.

Budtenders are open-minded marijuana experts whose main job is simply to help customers. Sometimes that means helping new customers find a certain product. Other times their role in the customer experience is simply to have a non-judgemental, educational conversation. They have in-depth knowledge on cannabis, from the plant itself to the wide variety of marijuana-based products that are sold in their store (from pre-rolled joints to high end concentrates and everything inbetween).

Just like any other store, each dispensary will have different products available for purchase. If you visit our Anchorage dispensary, Hillside Natural Wellness will have a different product assortment than what each other Alaska dispensary may stock. If you know you enjoy sativas with specific terpene profiles, a budtender can help you find what you’re looking for and make educated recommendations. Or if it’s your very first experience with cannabis, a friendly budtender can help you find something suitable for first-time users based on what kind of experience you’re looking to have.

If you’ve never had alcohol before and walk into a liquor store to pick out something at random, you may or may not have a good experience. It’s the same principle for marijuana.

The more you understand about what you’re consuming, the more you’re able to make a good decision for your body and your unique needs and preferences.

Ultimately, the budtender’s job is to make cannabis use an enjoyable experience, whether that means offering general information or very specific recommendations. And it’s the budtender’s role to help you along that path in a friendly, non-threatening environment, regardless of whether you’re a first-time user or a daily dabber.