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Tuesday February 16, 2021

By Paul Barach

420 Culture

Congratulations! Your local dispensary has hired you as their next budtender. You’ve got it made! A cool job, discount weed, fun coworkers, good music, and plenty of tips. 

Plus, discount weed! What more could you want out of a job? But hang on. It’s still customer service, you never know who might show up at your register. If you thought your last job had some interesting patrons, get ready.

Common Cannabis Consumers 101

Talk with anyone in the budtender community, and you’ll likely to hear about these 10 dispensary customers that you may encounter in your line of duty. 

The Expert

The Expert knows exactly what they want. They’ve perused the menu, they’ve comparison-shopped, and they chose your dispensary. Be honored.

Various strains of cannabis in a display
The Expert may even know more about your cannabis strains than you do! photo credit

Don’t bother with the basics about their requested strain. They already know its THC percentage, its terpene profile, it’s parentage, the full name of the grower, and also somehow the grower’s results. They will use at least three cannabis terms you’ll have to Google later. The Expert is polite and direct, but never rude. 

Budtender’s Note: Tell them something they don’t know and expect a great tip.

The Know-It-All

The Know-It-All is like The Expert, but the opposite. The Know-It-All will ask for an ounce of your stickiest weed. They mean a gram. They will then complain about the price/potency/appearance because “there’s way danker kush at other shops they were just at.” They will then ask to see more. This could go on for a while.   

Budtender’s Note: In the end, they will choose the cheapest gram-sized ounce you have, then claim it’s “the dankest kush” before driving off in their friend’s car they “borrowed.” 

The Cheapskate

The Cheapskate is still in disbelief that legal marijuana costs money to purchase. First, they will try to haggle. When that fails, The Cheapskate will threaten to go back to their old dealer, who sells marijuana for local bus fare and fun-looking rocks. 

A pile of change
Don't be surprised if the Cheapskate pays you in all change. photo credit

Then they will try to haggle again. When that fails, The Cheapskate may then ask whether any loose bud fell onto the floor that they could have for free. They will always pay the full price in the end, mostly in loose change. 

Budtender’s Note: The Cheapskate will always come back to your shop, and somehow your line specifically.  

The Medical Patient

The Medical Patient is the most important customer you will sell to. Treat them as such. They may be a vet suffering from PTSD who needs marijuana to help them sleep, they may have chronic pain but are afraid of opioid addiction, they may need to stimulate their appetite from chemo, they may be debilitated in a wheelchair. Their story will be tragic but their attitude is not. You will hold up the rest of the line to get them whatever they need.

Medical patients may not be why you got into marijuana, but this is the most important part of a budtender’s job.

Budtender’s Note: A little compassion will go a long way; these often wind up being your favorite customers.

The Fun One 

The Fun One plays in a band, or owns their own label. Either one is “really taking off right now,” but they’ll want to know what you’ve been up to. They’ll always remember your name. Usually The Fun One has friends with them, and they are always on their way to a party or a music festival. The Fun One might wear sunglasses indoors, but they somehow pull it off. 

On their way out, they’ll thank you for all your help and then throw down a great tip from a wad of cash.

Budtender’s Note: Man, they’re cool.

The First Timer

The First Timer comes from a non-legal state, usually in the Midwest. Once inside, they will look around your shop with childlike wonder. If it’s quiet, you can hear the strains of “Pure Imagination” playing inside their head.

The First Timer’s first question is always some form of ‘Can this be real?” With a smile, assure them that they have reached the promised land.

The First Timer will want to buy one of everything. Be sure to remind them that edibles take about an hour to kick in. Remind them of this again as they’re leaving. Have them repeat it back to you.

Budtender’s Note: They’re still gonna get way too high.

The Old Timer

The Old Timer will always tell you how little weed cost back in their day. They will also mention at least once how strong it is nowadays. Get ready to learn some fun, old-timey terms like “lid” and “doobie.”

Willie Nelson
The Old Timer is definitely a Willie Nelson fan. photo credit

The Old Timer is one of the nicest customers you’ll serve. Even if they have to pay a little more for weed in a shop, they are just so happy it’s legal now. You wouldn’t believe what they had to go through just for some grass when they were young. 

Budtender’s Note: They will definitely tell you what they had to go through just for a lid of grass, but man it was cheap. It’s much stronger now.

The Tourist

The Tourist acts like visiting a dispensary is like going to a marijuana museum or church. Once inside your shop, they may mention that they went to Amsterdam once. They didn’t leave the airport. The number of questions The Tourist asks about each product will be directly related to how many customers are waiting behind them.

A tourist taking a photo
You will be able to spot The Tourist the moment they step in the dispensary door. photo credit

Once at your counter, they will look around the shop, nod, and compliment how many pieces of glassware you have. You bet they’ll want to examine each piece. No, they’re not going to buy one. When told the price of their selection, The Tourist will always say “I’ll have to think it over.” Please resist the urge to reply “Yeah, big investment. You better get home and crunch some numbers.” They’re gone. Take a deep breath and let it go. You will never see them again.

Budtender’s Tip: Bad news travels fast, so try your best to indulge them, even as they disappear into the mist.

The Cool Parent

The Cool Parent’s spouse doesn’t smoke. Their teenage child probably does but both of them pretend otherwise. They’re usually interested in any strain “That won’t stink up the garage too bad.”

The Cool Parent really liked that strain they got last time, but don’t remember what it was. They trust you to pick out a good strain for them.

Something chill for the end of the day. While you’re picking it out they will talk music with you. The Cool Parent has barely any time to go to concerts anymore but their record collection is on point. They’re always interested in how you’re doing and envious of all your free time but not in a bad way.

Budtender’s Note: The Cool Parent will not adopt you, but they may bring orange slices to your rec league soccer game.

The Regular

The Regular is the king of the dispensary, your friend on the other side of the counter. They know what they want, but are always open to suggestions.

Somehow they manage to both never be in a rush, and still don't hold up the line. They treat you well, tip you even better, and always leave with a smile. 

Budtender’s Note: When you’re in a dispensary, always aspire to be the regular. 

The Wrap Up

While you may or may not encounter these customers, it’s always important to treat everyone that comes into your dispensary with respect. Remember, this is that cool job you wanted, with fun co-workers, interesting people, and all the discount weed you could ask for. It’s up to you to provide whoever shows up in your register line the best experience possible. 

Have fun!

Do you have any fun stories from your budtender days? Share in the comments!

Photo Credit: John Ingold (license)


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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