Do You Tip Your Budtender?

budtenderTo tip or not to tip. That’s the question. How much, when, why? Those are just a few more. Because the birth of the burgeoning cannabis industry has brought with it a slew of new service-oriented jobs. The concept of going to a shop to have a human help pick out the right bud for your endocannabinoid system, body, and buzz is completely new. And some of us feel kind of awkward thanking these helpful and beautiful people—especially with cold hard cash. Do you tip your budtend? What I hear from some of my favorite I-502 budtenders is that some of you do and some of you don’t. So I did some diggin’.

Creating tipping criteria
Let’s lay out some criteria for a smart healthy experience at your friendly neighborhood recreational weed shop. That’s how these things happen after all right? Someone sets some standards the majority of us can agree on, and through practice and good old fashioned time, it slowly becomes a social norm. That’s why I’m writing this. This is a brand new industry, and we have a chance to change things for the better, and set some positive social norms.

First things first. Did you feel comfortable in the shop? This isn’t always the fault of the budtender if you don’t, but a good budtender will pick up on your uneasiness and put forth an effort to set your angst at ease. Andrew Tessier, the owner of Growers Outlet says, “I choose my employees based on their knowledge, and their ability to convey that knowledge to the customer.”

Although having a gentle, easy on the eyes appearance is helpful, I definitely can’t base my decision on what weed to buy based on how sexy a budtender looks. Sure, those of us who know what we’re doing when it comes to picking out the weed we need will probably be more apt to be a repeat customer to a shop that has sexy budtenders, just like we do with the coffee shops we frequent. Staring at a ganja goddess or a 420 nurse is always nice, but they might not always have the best information, unless they are actually active in the cannabis industry and community.

budtender tips

But you don’t tip doctors
We had a great discussion about this on my Facebook page. The point came up about recreational versus medical. You don’t tip your doctor right? They are basically recommending you which drugs to take, as a medical marijuana dispensary budtender might recommend certain strains depending on what ails you. Granted doctors make way more than budtenders, and if you see a tip cup at your next doctor visit, you might want to rethink your healthcare plan.

One of my Facebook friends had a slightly different opinion. He says,

“Right now in a recreational capacity I would have to say no. Medical (while it still lives and breathes) is a different story altogether. My reasoning is in the difference between the two tenders and the assistance they can offer. In a recreational capacity the bud tenders hands are tied as to the advice they can give. They are free to sell based on the recreational aspects of the product but are unable to offer any medically viable suggestions due to legal concerns and constraints. In my opinion this limits their advice to a cool dude in the beer isle telling me which Craft Brew to try next.

A medical bud tender, on the other hand, is in many cases, expected to introduce someone completely ignorant to all that is cannabis to the world of choices in front of them. They make recommendations as to what medicine, method of delivery, potency as related to desired effect, and even cost effectiveness will suit the patient best depending on their individual needs. I believe this is a service that warrants gratuity.”

In response to this, another of my Facebook friends said,

“I disagree. I would tip my bartender for advising me on my choices in craft brew and then selling me my choice, whereas I would not tip my doctor for medical advice, though I do agree that the medical budtenders do deserve a tip, but isn’t that breaching the “medical” format it purports to be? And then we get into the secondary issue of if you could smoke in a designated venue, or in the rec store for example, does it then become proper to tip the budtender? A bartender mixes your drink for you.”

All really great points on both sides of the discussion. There’s one more quote I would like to share with you, from my friend Nathan Betts from Canna 4 Life in Clarkston Washington. If you remember, we talked to Nathan about the problems they are having with their city council in episode 158 of the Hot Box podcast.

tip for your budtender
Do you tip your budetender?

Nathan says,

“I worked in a recreational shop for 8 days before it got shut down by our city council recently and the largest tip cut I got to take home was 44 dollars in one day. I dunno the right answer. Do it. Don’t do it. It doesn’t bother me one way or other. But I can tell you after a customer comes in and hammers me with 20 questions and asks me about nearly every product we got and I fire off a decent reply to every question and ultimately they put their enjoyment or health into my hands, it feels really good to see them stuff a buck or 2 into the tip jar. Makes me feel like my “extra mile”‘effort has paid off in that moment. Or it shows they have faith in everything I’ve just said. Make a dude feel special. Idk. That’s just my 2 cents worth. Happy tending. Can’t wait to get back to it someday when our council pulls their collective heads out of their hind quarters.”

Personally, I’ve worked in lots of shitty service industry jobs, and I know what it feels like on both sides of the discussion. I’ve had days where everyone was a bunch of assholes and didn’t tip, or tipped poorly, and honestly, it’s a real shitty feeling. Regardless of whether or not it’s a reflection of the work you do, it still sucks to get stiffed on a tip. But then there’s those days where someone drops you a 20 spot because you smiled at them and it brightened their day or went that extra mile to help them out.

When you can guide someone towards achieving that perfect cannabis comfort they’ve been looking for, you can see it in their eyes, regardless of if they tip or not. They are so grateful to connect with someone on a new level. If that isn’t at least a little part of the reason why you are a budtender, then maybe it’s time to look for a new line of work. I hear they are hiring people to trim weed all over the place.

If a budtender changed your life recently, I hope you did the right thing and gave them a tip. Of course, if there isn’t a tip jar out, it’s probably more awkward than anything to try and slip them a five spot, but if they are openly accepting tips, I say that as an industry, nay, as a society, we should all do our part and pitch in a little to show our appreciation for the beautiful men and women who toil over the subtle nuance this plant has to offer in order to match you up with your best bud.

Everyone is different and every strain is going to affect every individual differently. Countless hours are spent reading and absorbing and learning all this new information we are discovering and pioneering each and every day. If you appreciate that sort of thing, tip your budtender. Trust me, it will make their day, and the next time they come in, they will remember you, and a relationship will start to grow.

Before you know it, the place you used to go to buy weed will become the place you go to have an intellectually stimulating conversation with someone just as passionate as you are about a plant that has created a whole industry to support not only us, but future generations to come. That right there is a beautiful thing, and we should all be so humble and gratified to participate in it.

For Stuff Stoners Like, I’m Mat Lee.

4 Responses to “Do You Tip Your Budtender?”

  1. jet

    I don’t no. Although I do leave a little something in the so called “Karma Jar” once in a blue moon. I feel I should tip the dude who works in the lounge since he cleans my rig before and after i use it.

  2. Birdman

    I tip the delivery guy when they are bringing weed to my door. They are saving me gas, hassle, etc. Why wouldn’t I tip them a few bucks?

  3. mat

    Makes sense, but if they are helpful in a recreational shop, would you tip them? Assuming there was a tip jar out?

  4. Kevin

    For those who may not have seen my previous post I am now a legal seller of cannabis. I wrote this on a friends thread where we were discussing tipping your Budtender.
    As a new Budtender, I don’t expect tips, I’m not working for them like I would when tending bar. I’m recreational in Washington and not allowed to dispense medical advice. I am allowed to explain cannabinoid interactions, and at the same time I’m rec so I can make jokes. Like “Twenty years of experience, four days on the job”. The first line I dropped to test the waters on day one, when asked by a customer “Damn did you go to school for this?” I responded with ” I did sling a lot of herb at UNLV”, this got a “Runnin’ Rebels!” from a customer to my left, we all grinned.
    So go-a-head and tip us, if any of us make your day. Whether we work in a medical or a recreational capacity, we do this because we love the marijuana, and we want you to love it too. No one has to pay me for that. My boss is paying me, to sell you, a variety of products and inform you of their effects. I consider it my duty to know my shit. In fact I bought a pair of 2 grams bags today, one Sour Diesel, One Blackwater, purely to be able to inform my customers about a new grower, and give my honest opinion. I’m a shatter head, not so much flowers anymore, however every bartender has tasted and mastered many a beverage they would never drink.
    The tipping range is an interesting thought to me, firstly because most shops split tips (and we should, just like in a restaurant, those people are working hard in the back, even if the consumer doesn’t know). Personally because I don’t want it to become some lame thing where it’s a fucking percentage. It ain’t supposed to be a mark up. So if I blow your mind with knowledge, or really hone in on the strain you want, make you laugh, or just provided ultra smooth customer service, by all means put something in the tip jar.
    Also acknowledge that you are doing so, treat it a bit like a flair bar, for instance. I had three guys of expensively tattooed, well dressed criminality, who after enjoying my course on shatter 101, and purchasing at least a Grand between the three orders, each dropped a bill of some kind in, they weren’t dollars. Even if it was just a fiver, let alone if they dropped a $20 (and they wouldn’t a missed it), it’s still not much in the scope of the transaction. That tip was at least a buck an employee between the three of them. I want to earn a buck extra for the crew for a ten minute transaction (let alone what the shop made). I hope everyone working is pushing to do the same, and if we do it’s worth something.
    Sorry if this was long winded. I did try the Sour Diesel from Evergreen Gro Pro. It is an energetic high, with a nice “weight” to the smoke, the throat feel I would expect from a diesel.
    Someone should tip me for this post, except the education always comes free.

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