Cannabis dispensaries are like weed wonderlands for consumers: stocked with all of the best products, ripe with the latest industry knowledge, and full of like-minded individuals you can relate to. If you love cannabis and want to contribute to the industry in a way that allows you to connect with people while constantly learning more about the plant, working at a cannabis dispensary is a great way to get started.
Working At A Dispensary
There are quite a few roles you can take on within a dispensary environment, but the most popular, engaging, and client-facing role is that of a budtender. Working as a budtender will gain you experience working in sales and customer service, quick access to cannabis knowledge, and more often than not, a hefty discount on cannabis products (yay!).
If you aren’t too into the sales aspect, there are still plenty of options to support a dispensary. While most dispensaries are still cash-only, security is needed to protect the money and make sure everything runs smoothly.
You can also work as a receptionist checking patients/customers in, or helping behind the scenes with website design, product placement, community engagement, or social media presence.
However, there are a lot of factors to consider if you’re thinking of working in a dispensary. As exciting as dispensary life might sound, it can also be quite intimidating and complicated.
8 Tips for Success
Here are the top 8 tips for success to live by if you’re interested in working at a dispensary. Keep an open mind as you go through the list – these points will really help you determine whether or not this is the life for you.
- Figure out what type of dispensary you want to work at. Depending on what area of the world you reside in, dispensary culture is going to look very different. For example, if you’re in a state where cannabis is only available medically, and only in the form of oil or tincture, dispensaries are going to be a lot more restrictive and limited.
Beyond that, even within states where recreational cannabis is legal, not all dispensaries are operating with a legal license, so you have to be aware of that risk.
Most dispensaries have a similar laid-back atmosphere, but workplace environment is very important, so consider what you’re comfortable working with/for: chain dispensaries vs. small business, high customer traffic vs. calm atmosphere, etc.
- Be prepared to move around. We mentioned earlier that there are quite a few jobs you can work within a dispensary, but if you’re just starting out, chances are you’ll get to experience several as you gain experience.
Many budtenders rotate from the back to the front desk, doubling as receptionists who check patients and/or customers in. The good thing about rotating positions is you’ll gain knowledge and experience quickly, familiarizing yourself with the dispensary and clientbase from different angles.
- Know your products. If you’re working at a cannabis dispensary, you need to know about the products surrounding you. You should be sampling as many as you can (if not all!) and staying aware of any changes in availability.
This is especially important if you’re a budtender. Consumers and medical patients will be coming to you with questions, and you’ll want to be able to make valuable recommendations for their benefit.
- Know the law. As we mentioned, working at a dispensary requires you to know a lot about cannabis. And beyond that, you have to know a good amount about the legal system as well.
Since cannabis legality varies from state to state and is still considered illegal on a federal level, you always run a level of risk when you work in the cannabis industry. For this reason, you’ll want to ensure the dispensary you’re working for is operating in accordance with local legislation.
- Keep up on cannabis industry trends. Not only do you have to stay up to date on all of the science behind the plant and the products you’re selling – you also have to keep up with the industry in general, and any shifts in trends that may occur.
You can do a good amount of research online before you start working, but a lot of this knowledge will be earned on the spot. Just make sure to stay aware.
- Know the history. Another important aspect of the cannabis industry you should be aware of is its history. Cannabis wasn’t always illegal in America, and the anti-cannabis laws we’ve been trying to undo for the past several decades were largely a result of racism.
Unfortunately, the communities who have been wrongfully targeted by racist anti-cannabis laws have found it difficult to succeed in the legal industry, and existing anti-cannabis laws continue to target Black Americans and other POC.
Many dispensaries and cannabis brands have made equity a priority, aiming to give back to these communities and diversify the industry. If you’re passionate about making a difference in this aspect, that might be something to keep in mind when job hunting.
- Be comfortable with long hours. One of the most commonly-heard complaints about the budtender life is the hours. Many dispensaries will schedule their budtenders for 10-12 hour shifts – more or less depending on the size of your location and staff.
If you like where you work and don’t mind being on your feet all day, this won’t phase you, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
- Think about what might be next for you. A dispensary is a great place to get your foot in the cannabis industry door and learn everything you want to know about the plant. It’s also a great way to understand how the industry works and where you might fit into it.
What could you see yourself pursuing next? Whether you want to become a dispensary manager, owner, grower, or start a cannabis brand of your own, working at a dispensary will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to excel.
Do you work at a dispensary and have some more tips for success you want to share? Drop a comment below – we’d love to hear any extra ideas!