written by Kimberly Harris
1) Where do you work and how long have you worked there?
I work at Chalice, a dispensary in Tigard, Oregon. I’ve worked there since February 2019, so for about 16 months. I’m a senior employee, which means I’ve worked there the longest.
2) Do you have any past budtending experience?
Working at Chalice is my first job as a budtender. I got my OLCC license in the Portland area, but a lot of places want a full year of experience. It was hard for me to break into the industry at first, because how was I supposed to get a year of experience without being hired first? Chalice is pretty good about onboarding people without prior experience.
3) Why did you want to work as a budtender?
I have work experience in retail and customer service, but I wasn’t passionate about working at a clothing or food place. I transferred to budtending to follow my passion for cannabis. Working in customer service gave me the experience I need to work with people and sell products as a budtender.
4) Why are you passionate about cannabis?
I’ve been using cannabis for most of my life. I enjoy the relaxation benefits as well as how it makes me appreciate things in life more. If I’m stuck in a mental rut, cannabis helps me gain a renewed perspective of life and the things I go through in my life. Cannabis also enhances the things I’m already interested in like listening to music and watching films.
5) What are your main responsibilities as a budtender?
I’m there to help people make more informed decisions about the products they want to use. Especially for people who don’t have that much experience or tolerance. It can be overwhelming for a first-time customer to get into cannabis if they don’t have someone to guide them.
6) How do you guide customers?
Asking questions like, “what are you hoping to get out of your cannabis use?” or “what issues do you want cannabis to help with?” is how I guide customers. I try to help them hit their “goldilocks zone” which is the just-right feeling of enjoyment and relief. Whether it’s for medical or rec purposes, I give help guide them to the high that they want to experience.
7) Do you use your personal experience to help guide customers, or has Chalice trained you to help guide them?
I’ve been a certain type of cannabis user throughout my life. As someone who’s been using it for 15 years, for anxiety and psychological relief, or just to feel the pleasure of a high, I have a lot of experience to help gude customers. I can relate to the different reasons that customers want to use cannabis.
8) What’s something you like about working as a budtender?
It’s nice to meet a bunch of new people and get to know what they are all about. I meet a variety of people with a variety of experiences with cannabis. I like to know their knowledge or their tolerance to figure out how to best guide them to a product that they will enjoy. It’s like trying to find the right pieces to fit together in a puzzle – it’s fun.
9) Has cannabis affected your social life or interest in hobbies?
Cannabis creates an instant bond for people. I meet new people everyday and sometimes make friends who like to smoke too. It’s nice to share a passion and hobby with other people. It has introduced me to new things that I never knew I was into, like new types of music, artists and a new appreciation for smoking together to watch movies and chill. I’ve been introduced to card games like Magic: The Gathering. The fantasy aspects to it can be enhanced through cannabis. I’ve also been recommended to Dungeons and Dragons because of the entertainment. Nothing can get you more into the fantasy realm of a game like some nice cannabis.
10) Since working in the COVID-19 pandemic, has your position as a budtender been affected?
With everyone stuck at home, cannabis users are doubling down on their interests by stocking up on products and probably smoking all day since there’s so much extra time on everybody’s hands. People who are recently laid off, and may not have smoked in years are coming in to use cannabis again. It’s been a unique challenge to reintroduce cannabis into people’s lives, especially since cannabis has become more potent, probably, since the last time they smoked. There’s been a huge increase of customer flow as well as an increase of first-time customers.
11) Is it harder to work as an essential worker?
It’s really stressful for everyone involved. My staff and I are working harder than ever before, there are a lot of call outs because people are concerned for their health and everyone is exhausted. It’s a challenging and tough time to work. For me, I have Type 1 Diabetes which puts me at more of risk, so I have anxiety at work about potentially being exposed. On the bright side though, I’m able to connect with people and socially interact with them during a time that everyone is mostly isolated from socializing.
12) How do you lower your risk of being exposed?
At Chalice, we are required to wear face masks, wear and switch out gloves as much as possible and follow social distancing orders. I’ll also squirt hand sanitizers on my gloves if I need to. The store was crazy busy at first because people were panic buying cannabis, then 420 happened. Now, it’s starting to slow down to a normal pace, which helps with my anxiety to exposure.
13) What are some more guidelines Chalice has put in place to prevent exposure?
We are encouraging people to do curb-side pick up and placing orders ahead to minimize the time people spend in the building.
14) Is there something you want to say to customers right now?
I think the biggest thing is for customers to put a mask on. It’s a little step to take to wear a mask when coming in, follow social distancing guidelines and maybe even wear gloves. I hope that people understand it’s a crazy time, so just be nice and pleasant to one another. We are incredibly busy so please be understanding about sold out items and have patients.
15) How do you feel about working around the new guidelines?
I’m happy that they are in place because I’m worried about my own health and risk of exposure, it makes me feel a lot better while at work.
16) What is your favorite strain?
Monkey Tape from TJ’s Garden is one of my favorites. It’s a cross of gorilla glue, a sativa hybrid and checks all the boxes I’m looking to fill when I smoke. The nugs have a nice texture since they’re not too dense, it reminds me of pre-legalization cannabis – sticky, stinky and a nice stoned feeling that isn’t too intense.
17) What’s your favorite type of cannabis product?
I’m a traditional flower guy. I like any cannabis product around, but during the COVID crisis I like to use edibles to help protect my lungs. I like equal parts of THC and CBD to help minimize anxiety. Charlotte’s Web is an oil product that tastes like candy to me, with 6% THC and 55% CBD.
18) What is your favorite way to enjoy flower?
I like all types of water pipes to smoke with. Even though I’ve been smoking for 15 years, I still don’t know how to roll a good joint. I’m a 100% bong guy.