Value the Budtenders

As a lifelong resident of a prohibitionist state who recently moved to yet another prohibitionist state (brilliant, I know…), I can attest to the value of budtenders.

These empathetic professionals who help patients and adult users select just the right strain of cannabis—in the correct form—are the backbone of a loosely knit international network of thousands of dispensaries throughout North America.

The face of any dispensary is its staff of friendly budtenders, all of whom provide safe access to high-quality herbal medicine and the advice and direction to best consume it. Some budtenders take a holistic approach and advocate cannabis therapy that may involve diet, exercise, meditation, organic food sources, and possibly even yoga.

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Proper advocacy and mentoring involves compassionate, science-based advice that’s available to patients who intelligently eschew the black market and seek safe access to regulated, laboratory-tested cannabis medicine from reputable dispensaries and retail stores.

Budtenders: Educating Patients

Those who follow the cannabis culture on social media may have taken note of dispensary companies and other organizations that sometimes host budtender appreciation events in progressive legal cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, and Denver. Budtenders and other cannabis industry employees are honored by patients, customers, and owners who show their thanks for the important, albeit critical, role played by these hard working retail employees.

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More than 80 years of Reefer Madness (a campaign that began well before the August 1937 debut of U.S. federal prohibition) has created a culture of purposeful misinformation and disinformation in North America and throughout the world. Urban legends and misperceptions abound in terms of cannabis as medicine. Along with abortion and climate change, medicinal cannabis is one of the most controversial and hotly debated topics of the 21st century.

Teaching Patients & Voters

Budtenders are at the forefront of educating patients and adult use consumers, not simply selling flowers and concentrates. They help to abolish the stigma and ignorance that pervades modern society, especially among those actually willing to walk into a dispensary—many of whom are very sick single parents, retirees, teachers, local business owners, and retail employees.

Disinformation: noun dis·in·for·ma·tion: False information that is given to people in order to make them believe something or to hide the truth.

Those who wish to see full cannabis legalization and abundant safe access in their state or province must strive to alleviate the ignorance of society when it comes to this herb. The gains that have been made in this movement-cum-industry have emerged primarily from ballot initiatives involving regular citizens visiting the voting booth and saying yes to medical or adult use of cannabis.

Such voter behavior is the result of knowledge, and it doesn’t precipitate out of thin air. It is sought. Or shared. But someone has to get gutsy. Someone has to have the courage to defy the stereotypes and risk exposure to request—or preach—valuable, life-changing information.

When it comes to cannabis, this education is typically obtained or preached informally, from friends, family members, anonymously via sites like NORMLWhaxy, and Green Flower Media, and from budtenders—whether they are on the job or not.

When a state ballot initiative is passed, we know that myths have been shattered and stigma has been crushed—at least among those brave souls who voted in favor of such legislation. These are citizens who have come to see beyond the decades of propaganda and lies to realize that the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis are real medicine for body, mind, and spirit and truly improve communities, including economically.

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Research studies and anecdotal evidence from patients, their physicians, and caretakers has convinced millions of Americans and Canadians that cannabis is real medicine. They now understand that it is not physically addictive and that it lacks the danger and risk of opiate drugs for the vast majority of patients.

Voter behavior is influenced by solid information and enlightenment. Victory for the cannabis movement lies in, basically, voters recognizing science over scare tactics and believing research more than rumors. A simple dynamic, right?

Not Simple

But it’s not simple. Voters in several states will consider adult use laws in 2016. What percentage of them could use the advice of a seasoned budtender or cannabis advocate? How many desire to control their pain, depression, PTSD, or simple anxiety, but have no clue that the proper strain of cannabis—at the right dose and via the best consumption avenue—is capable of replacing their addictive pharmaceutical drugs?

How many know that the negative side effects of these drugs can be decreased or even eliminated by natural cannabis medicine?

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Educating voters doesn’t end with teaching them enough to vote with intelligence and compassion on state-wide ballot issues. Hundreds of municipalities and counties throughout legal states like California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have banned sales of cannabis in their communities (they can’t ban cannabis possession and consumption because it would defy state law—but many would if possible).

Would They?

If city council members, county commissioners, and those citizens who are easily swayed by fear mongering and the deception of 21st century prohibitionists like Ted Cruz and and Chris Christie had only a very basic knowledge of cannabis (and its history), would they continue to ban sales of the herb in their communities?

Would they continue to deny their municipal coffers and schools the tax revenues being enjoyed by more progressive communities? Would they continue to refuse to improve their local economies with both permanent jobs, as well as ancillary services, like what is being experienced in Seattle and Denver?

Is the current controversy over something as simple as the medical efficacy of a plant merely the result of ignorance?

Is this literally just one big misunderstanding?

Both cannabis patients and lifestyle consumers should leverage the powerful and typically free resource found in their favorite budtenders. The daily exposure of budtenders to patients with a wide variety of conditions, from all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds, ensures their familiarity with most patient needs (even if one is simply suffering a bit too much anxiety and needs a nice indica).

This knowledge should then be spread throughout the community, with powerful conversations, blogs, lectures, seminars, and Meetup groups.

“The savvy and educated consumer needs more than just products. They require knowledgeable employees. They need additional information, resources, and support to truly empower them in utilizing cannabis to self-manage their holistic wellness.”  — Miz D, cannabis industry consultant and consumer advocate, Vancouver, Canada

Having trouble sleeping? Tired of dealing with the negative side effects of pharmaceutical pain killers? For those who live in areas that allow legal access to cannabis medicine, the best solution is speaking with an experienced budtender.

Photo credit: Sensi Magazine


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

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