Bud Tender's Corner: Budtender 101 Time for Class

Bud Tender Rachel Grimsley

Rachel Grimsley

Rachel Grimsley

Welcome to Budtender 101, here to give you some of the necessary know-how to bring your best to budtending. If you aren’t interested in working in the industry, this information will be helpful to your shopping and consuming experience.

Recreational stores statewide offer a variety of products that range from classic flower to baked edibles and tinctures to highly concentrated hash oil and vaporizers. With such a huge assortment of products, learning about processing techniques, dosages and different options is important.

First things first: flower! Bud is available in cannabis shops statewide, sold in quantities from a single gram to an ounce. Many stores also offer pre-rolled joints for convenience and simplicity. For a higher cannabinoid profile many users opt for hash oil concentrates, sold in smaller quantities starting at a half gram. Concentrates range drastically in price depending on the solvent used to process them. Butane or propane extracted oils will often sell for a lower price point whereas CO2 extracted oils and solventless rosins can be rather expensive. Oil is also available in cartridges for vaporizer pens, simplifying and streamlining the dabbing process. If flower doesn’t provide quite enough of a desirable high and dabs are too intense for you or your customer’s tastes, classic hash or kief add a little extra something to the typical bowl or joint.

If smoking isn’t your cup of tea, then try brewing up a mug and adding a THC- or CBD-infused tincture to the mix.

This is among hundreds of thousands of ways to consume medicated edibles, such as chocolates, candies, drinks and of course, “special” baked goodies. Some very practical and clever edibles are on the market today, from mints and breath sprays to flavorless capsules designed to be easily ingested. Legally (in Washington), they may be sold only in doses of 10 mg, though some people require multiple servings of 10 mg to feel an adequate effect. Some people require as little as five mg to feel a strong high, so always start small and take significant time to allow the cannabinoids in the edibles to break down into your bloodstream before taking more. (Note: some heavier consumers will need over 100 mg to feel the effects.)

If these options don’t appeal to you or don’t combat the pain that many medical patients suffer, topicals are the way to go. Topicals often are used to treat muscle spasms, soreness or joint pain, and to improve overall skin quality —without delivering a psychoactive effect. They tend to be somewhat expensive, but are incredibly useful in helping to cure a variety of aches and ailments. Many customers swear by their effectiveness. Of course, a different high is associated with the different cannabinoids in each product, with alterations created through each step of processing. An edible baked with a heady sativa such as Jack Herer may cause substantial body effects that induce drowsiness, while smoking or vaporizing the bud may cause a very different clear-headed or alert sensation.

So what is the difference between a sativa and an indica? Cannabis sativa plants tends to grow taller and thinner and prosper outdoors. Sativa buds are believed to have a more head-oriented high, commonly associated with positivity and creativity. People commonly use sativa plants medically to treat depression, fatigue and ADD, among others problems.

Cannabis indica generally grows shorter and more bushy than sativa plants, making it a prime option for indoor growing operations. Indica effects tend to fall more on the body-oriented side, often bringing on a more relaxed, fuzzy-headed sensation. Indicas are believed to be particularly helpful for patients who are looking for relief from anxiety, insomnia and muscle pain. Hybrids between the two offer a huge range of effects in between—from a combined head and body high to a whole new, unfamiliar psychoactive experience.

Once you know what kind of high you’re hoping for, it’s easy to determine the kinds of products that are best. For an intense, couch-locking body high many people opt for edibles or indica-based concentrates. For a more functional mind- or body-stimulating experience, sativa-based buds and topicals are a great choice. Some people don’t desire the high, but rather the medicinal effects of marijuana, and therefore benefit more from capsules, tinctures, and topicals, as they are more likely to be offered with higher CBD content.

Certain strains of bud are grown specifically with low THC levels for users who use cannabis medically, rather than for the plant’s psychoactive effects. Frequent smokers of flower who have built up a tolerance over time would be more likely to enjoy the substantially higher THC content offered by BHO, rosin, CO2 hash oil, and live resin than a less-experienced user might. It’s important to ask a lot of questions and get familiar with the needs and boundaries of your customer—or yourself.