10 Things Your Budtender Wants You To Know
With newfound regulations upon us, the patient-budtender dynamic seems to be evolving at an overwhelming pace. TheHerbCures presents ten points your budtender wants you to know but might be unable to tell you while on the clock.
Customer Service In The Cannabis Industry
It comes as no surprise that customer service often differentiates the givers from the takers. The cannabis industry is no different but with a slew of ever-changing regulations, it can often be hard to identify where to spend your money. With rampant reviews focused on pricing and inventory (both subject to tax structures and distribution factors) and a customer base that lacks substantial education (a direct result of the War on Drugs), consumers have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. More importantly, the state of California was the first to welcome the legalization of Medical Marijuana in 1996, which means that the patient-budtender relationship that was solidified prior to the adult-use regulated market must now reshape itself to adapt to the rise in recreational sales. We explored 10 pertinent points that California budtenders want their customers and patients to keep in mind during their next dispensary visit.
1) We Do Not Know It All But We Know A Lot More Now Than Before.
Prior to the integration of the recreational adult-use market, relevant cannabis research was slim to none. If we are being honest with ourselves, the lack of government oversight allowed for a fairly laid-back dispensary experience, one where budtenders were often able to accept product from patients, hand out free samples, and openly discuss various topics without fear of repercussions. With the onset of adult-use regulations, a more professional business model has been adopted by many dispensaries with achieving excellent customer service as the number one priority amongst countless retailers. In the past, budtenders obtained relevant cannabis information from websites such as HighTimes and Leafly or through first-hand experience cultivating and testing various strains. While these influences are still in practice, the cannabis industry has welcomed into the ranks reputable training programs for cannabis consultants, growers, and managers. Noteworthy certification programs include The Medical Cannabis Institute, Oaksterdam University, and Sativa Science Club. A growing number of American Universities are even offering accredited courses and degrees relevant to cannabis. Forbes reports that UC Davis offers an undergraduate course on the Physiology of Cannabis, Ohio State University Law School offers a Marijuana Law, Policy, & Reform Seminar, and the University of Washinton offers a class on “Medicinal Cannabis and Chronic Pain” for healthcare professionals. While the growing acceptance of cannabis and relevant research and education insights hope, we urge community members to voice their opinion during the FDA’s public comment period on the rescheduling of cannabis on the international level. The comment period is open until October 31st.
2) We Have Experienced & Survived Your Worst-Case Cannabis Scenario.
Whether it be over-consuming cannabis, getting pulled over while possessing cannabis, or “coming out” to loved ones regarding our cannabis consumption – we’ve been there. Depending on the region you are in, cannabis consumption may or may not have been accepted socially prior to the adult-use market (and may still not be). Regardless of its past or present status, we can empathize with the anxious feelings and paranoia that often come with cannabis consumption. Thankfully with the rise in research and lab testing for products, we have gained a more precise understanding of how the body might respond to various degrees of THC. As a result, the cannabis industry has been able to ascertain a safe “micro-dosing” level for novice patients. As it relates to the legal components of cannabis consumption, any licensed retailer should be able to provide you with a list of do’s and do not’s for your particular county or city as it relates to transporting, consuming, and sharing cannabis. Remember, there are no stupid questions. After all, a law that is in effect today may be redacted tomorrow.
3) No, We Are Not Stoned When We Help You.
A medicated individual is not always a “stoned” individual. It is 100% possible to be under the influence of cannabis (whether THC, CBD, or various other cannabinoids) and still be able to maintain functionality. For many budtenders and consumers alike, cannabis provides a natural alternative to pharmaceutical approaches for day-to-day issues such as headaches, digestive issues, and anxiety. The concept of “high functioning” is a great way to understand individuals who may be suffering from chronic pain and consequently relying on cannabis to medicate. Under Chapter 4, § 5500 of the BCC proposed regulations, a licensed microbusiness may perform all cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail activities on the same licensed premises, however, no specifics were provided allowing onsight consumption. Chapter 3, § 5419 states that delivery employees shall not consume cannabis goods while delivering cannabis goods to customers. Clearly, the state of California is encouraging employees to avoid cannabis consumption while on the clock in order to ensure both quality control and safety.
4) We Do More Than Just Recommend Strains.
Dispensaries operating on the regulated adult-use market experience a wide range of customer demands. Inventory is often ever-changing as manufacturers struggle to produce sufficient products in a timely manner, resulting in a rapid influx of new products. Budtenders must maintain sufficient knowledge of current inventory while also being able to recommend comparable products for items not currently in stock. These could range from edibles, sublingual tinctures, cultivars, and various other products. In order to support the various questions and demands of consumers, successful managers will ensure that their staff is sufficiently trained and well versed in cannabis topics. This may mean hiring budtenders with specialized education in particular sectors related to cannabis. Prime examples include the expertise of a master grower, an herbalist, and offering the services of a Nurse Practitioner to consumers. These additional offerings often distinguish community-oriented retailers from those merely seeking a profit. When investigating new dispensaries to visit, inquire within about any employees who may be certified in aforementioned programs and investigate the training program utilized for their cannabis consultants.
5) Our Lives Do Not All Revolve Around Weed.
We are daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, and friends first and foremost. For many of us, our relationship to cannabis is sacred and prized but for countless others, it may be non-existent. A growing number of budtenders on the regulated market have not or do not consume cannabis. They rely on the feedback of co-workers and go above in beyond in pursuing relevant cannabis education. Nonetheless, many of us maintain a relationship to the herb similar to that of novice consumers. We may even celebrate micro-dosing and encourage tolerance breaks. For many budtenders, attending cannabis events isn’t even on the radar. After all, when you are surrounded by a particular substance every day, it tends to detract from the allure. Regardless of our own personal relationship with cannabis, we will do our best to be open and honest in helping you achieve a healthy relationship with the herb.
A medicated individual is not always a “stoned” individual.
6) We Know You May Not Want To Get High But There Is A Reason We Are Recommending A Product Containing THC.
As it relates to cannabis as a medicine, research supports the concept of an entourage effect. It is true that certain states have adopted CBD only legislation, maintaining THC’s illicit status, thereby forcing patients to seek out the medicinal components of CBD as it is derived from hemp rather than cannabis. Not to take away from the therapeutic value of CBD-only derivatives, the fact remains that varying levels (or ratios) of THC and CBD (and various other cannabinoids) amplify the medicinal value derived from the cannabis plant. This can be contributed to “Whole Plant Medicine” or “Full-Spectrum Cannabis”. When you smoke or inhale cannabis vapor, you are taking in “Whole Plant Medicine”. The aforementioned CBD-only products (and similarly THC-only products) can be found in the form of isolated concentrates or synthetic compounds. Project CBD reports that “synthetic, single-molecule CBD has a very narrow therapeutic window and requires precise, high doses for efficacy, whereas lower dose, whole-plant, CBD-rich treatment regimens are already showing efficacy for many conditions among patients in medical marijuana states”. With all of this in mind, the products we are proposing, which contain minimal amounts of THC, are not designed to get you high. Rather, the trace amount of THC works synergistically with the various other non-psychoactive cannabinoids in order to achieve a positive response from your endocannabinoid system. For more information on how “Whole Plant Medicine” is differentiated from single cannabinoid derivatives, check out Project CBD.
7) THC Does Not Eliminate Your pain, It Masks It.
CBD has shown repeated success in minimizing the epileptic episodes for patients suffering from diseases where seizures are a symptom. Cannabidiol has also proven to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Clearly, the ability for this cannabinoid to antagonize our CB1 and CB2 receptors and repair damage in our body is evident. However, for its close relative THC, the debate is still in question. An Israeli study on Medical Cannabis Treatment For Chronic Combat PTSD investigated participants (all male, combat veterans) who were each “given no more than 100 g of cannabis per month and instructed to smoke the cannabis daily at frequencies and amounts of their own choosing. Patients were reassessed three times throughout one year by their psychiatrists. At each reassessment, the study found that the average total Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) score was reduced relative to previously assessed and baseline scores. However, all patients still met the criteria for moderate-to-severe PTSD”. A second study utilizing MRI technology researched the dissociative effect of cannabis on pain perception. In a note to the editor, Dr. Michael Lee states that “cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine… Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates. Instead, cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way”. He notes that “it is impossible to recommend one single treatment, especially when there are so few therapies for intractable pain. It needs a combined approach that can involve painkillers, exercise, and physiotherapy, counseling, even surgery”. Though the research is limited, it remains evident that the utilization of THC as management for chronic pain and PTSD, should not be the sole means of medicating an ailment. A holistic approach is required to ensure patients can achieve the best quality of life and perhaps address their injury or illness head-on.
8) We Agree! These New Regulations Are Absurd.
Ok. Can we just let out a collective scream? One, two, three, GO! Okay, we feel better now, do you? California’s ever-evolving laws regulating the sale of cannabis has us chasing our tails in circles and we couldn’t be more eager to spark a joint and take our mind off the nonsense. The fact of the matter is, we are elated that cannabis convictions are being expunged throughout the state and that Californians will be able to reap the benefits of regulated tax revenue. However, we cannot dismiss the absurdity that is the lack of inventory, increased prices, and a dramatic shift away from medical applications. The adult-use market is flooding the medical market and forcing manufacturers to shift their product lines to meet consumer demands. This has resulted in an expansive amount of concentrates hitting the dispensary shelves with high THC percentages lacking any noticeable CBD content. The edible restrictions implemented in July alongside new packaging requirements created a market where companies were making limited batches of product and meeting minimal product orders, resulting in fast sell-out rates and an inability for medical patients to access medicine. Needless to say, we are over it but we promise to stay strong for you. This is only the beginning but it is the beginning of something huge. As budtenders, we promise to do our best to show you the highest quality and relevant products for your needs while providing education on how to traverse the changes and achieve a cannabis marketplace we can all support.
9) We Value Education.
Depending on the dispensary you visit, your budtender may have been officially trained in relevant cannabis education (refer to Point #1). Regardless of whether they hold a certification, a degree, or extensive industry experience, ensuring your budtender can answer certain questions is vital. Every budtender should be educated on cannabinoid therapy and relevant dosing, the endocannabinoid system, strain identification, and the relevant inventory of their applicable dispensary. The cannabis industry is constantly learning as the legal status of cannabis evolves nationwide. For this reason, your budtender ought to be thoughtful in the information they seek out and pass along. Due diligence when choosing a dispensary can be the difference between an enjoyable experience that starts your cannabis journey or one that amplifies the stigma against cannabis consumption.
10) We Care About You!
A common misconception about customer service is that the individual on the receiving end of the cash is incentivized to push product. First and foremost dispensaries are a retail business, which means they must be designed to produce a return on investment. So yes, there may be certain products that we are bringing to your attention but it is never with the forethought that not purchasing said product would deter from our service to you. For many budtenders, we have had the ability to navigate the medical market prior to the introduction of adult-use consumers. This has given us the chance to build a compassionate understanding of the patient’s circumstances, their medical needs, and the proper products that work for them. This has had to be adapted in order to facilitate the increase in foot-traffic many dispensaries are seeing as well as the lack of products that are available due to both licensing, testing, and distribution. It can be a very frustrating time for both patients, customers, and budtenders alike but one thing we want you to remember is that we will never stop caring about you. Yes, our workload has increased and yes, we have far more restrictions on what we can and cannot due as a result of regulation. Nonetheless, patient care and respect will always come first.
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