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As cannabis legalization rolled out across Canada, a new employment sector was also created, with trimmers, growers and quality assurance specialists finding work coast to coast. But the average Canadian public consumer will be chatting more often with the cannabis employee on the front lines: the budtender.

The budtender is the first point-of-contact for cannabis enthusiasts visiting a cannabis retail outlet. Sitting behind a desk in front of various cannabis goods, they have training about various in-house products, their pricing tiers, etiquette within the store, and much more.

Hygiene and customer safety is an integral aspect of the budtender's role, as this CannabisAtWork article1 points out. “When handling products budtenders should use the same guidelines as the food industry - wear gloves or use tongs when touching product and tie back hair to prevent it from ending up in the customer's purchase.”

Some Canadian consulting firms in the cannabis space have set up programs to educate retail budtenders. “We focus on store operations and customer service with an emphasis on regulations, the role of a budtender, as well as assisting consumers with selecting the cannabis product that will work for them,” says Shannon Kloet, Director of Training Services at Cannabis Compliance Inc.

Kloet adds that cannabis legalization changes how budtenders can work with customers. In grey-area dispensaries in B.C., for example, some dispensary workers gave medical advice along with strain suggestions. “Now we are dealing with a strictly regulated recreational market.  It will be imperative that budtenders understand their role and their limitations as to what advice they can give,” she says, stressing how medical advice from budtenders is no longer permissible.

“But staff working in recreational retail stores should be able to discuss the different potency levels of different strains,” Kloet says.

Expanding the budtender position could be possible if new policies open the door to more public events involving cannabis usage. For example, U.S. states that legalized recreational cannabis have seen a rise of budtenders acting as tour 2 Colorado has welcomed event planners taking a green slant to their public dinner parties, for example. The Cannabist3 described one such event with florid detail: “A grassy, sun-kissed meadow for a mingling happy hour with passed apps transitions into an elegant, candlelit dinner setting with attentive table service and a floating budtender packing fresh bowls for seated guests. Each of the meal courses are paired with a different strain or type of marijuana — and an alcoholic beverage, as well — explained naturally by servers and staff who are more like sommeliers than catering part-timers.”

Then there are cannabis weddings. Elizabeth Sheils of Oregon’s Bridal Bliss first planned a cannabis-themed wedding in 2015, and the company has spearheaded four more where cannabis was available with or in lieu of an open bar.

When launching a cannabis wedding, Sheils says Bridal Bliss typically talks with clients about not making the cannabis bar very visible or apparent to all the wedding guests. “We considered it a huge success when we hear from a guest after one of our weddings that they did not even know the weed tent was at the wedding. We feel that making it a little more discrete but not hidden made all guests at the wedding feel welcomed, even if they did not want to smoke.”

What’s available at these weddings will vary, as Sheils notes, “one wedding for around 100 guests had 10 pre-rolled joints and four ounces of loose cannabis - with lots left over.”

Sheils expects to see this trend cross over to Canada, but she stresses a critical step to take before an engaged couple commits to a cannabis wedding: “We always recommend talking with the couple about the restrictions, rules and regulations [in their region],” she says. “It's important to know the local laws and how it might impact planning a cannabis friendly wedding.”

  1. https://www.cannabisatwork.com/articles/bud-tender-job-explained-what-is-a-budtender
  2. https://www.yelp.ca/search?cflt=cannabistours&find_loc=Los+Angeles%2C+CA
  3. https://www.thecannabist.co/2016/01/11/kendal-norris-cannabis-party-marijuana-mason-jar/46320/

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