Welcome to Cannabinist 101
Your guide to growing from a standard Budtender to a fully fledged Cannabinist
How do you engage with clients that come in to your dispensary?
Have you or your fellow employees ever contemplated this seemingly small issue? Do you understand how much you could be missing out on by not understanding and implementing answers to this question throughout your dispensary? Sure, selling weed to people that want to smoke weed is easy. It has been going on for a long time, in a much less regulated environment, but times have changed, have you been keeping up with the changes?
Welcome to Cannabinist 101, your guide to taking your client engagement from just another Pot Shop to one of the most memorable places that a client can go to get cannabis products, given to them by service providers that care, their clients' very own Cannabinist.
A little background..
One of the first questions your should always ask someone trying to give you advice is, 'Why should I listen to you?'
There is a myriad of people who have bad intentions when they give you advice, not just in the Cannabis Industry, but in life in general. They usually will have a two fold approach to giving you advice, telling you how horrendous something is, then showing you their product that can fix it. You can see examples of this all over the world today, especially on the good ol' internet. Unfortunately, people are suckers for things that sound good. When you compound this naivity with something that is generally unknown, like the Cannabis Industry and cannabis products in general, these factors can result in some people following some really bad advice and wasting money on things that should not matter.
This book is not that. I DO have some good advice to give you, I WILL promise you it will help to increase customer retention, profits and throughput for your dispensary, but I am NOT saying it is impossible to run a successful dispensary without this book. There are plenty of successful dispensaries around and they were successful before this book was even a thought. I have a proof of concept challenge for you though. After reading this book, I guarantee if you walk into one of those dispensaries you consider elite, you will see the tactics described herein being used. If you don't agree by the end of this book, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to our discussion!
The 5 Ws about Cannabinist 101
Who is Chris Carter, the author?
I am just a man here on Earth, trying to improve things that I feel like I can improve.
I am 35 now, I have 2 kids, I am working through a tough decade long marriage. I am very human. I also care a lot about the art of Bud Tending and I feel like it is a dying form here in a growing cannabis industry.
When I visit a new dispensary or visit one I have previously gone in to, but with a new Budtender, I love to play a game. I will act like I have very little knowledge about the process to gauge where on the range they fall between Cannabinist and Budtender. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people fall more towards the Budtender title. I don't typically fault the Budtender themselves, but priorities usually roll downhill, so I find fault with management or ownership. This game tends to end in disappointment on my end, because it seems like a lot of employees within the industry have grown apathetic to the seriousness of our work and how much relief and joy we can potentially bring people. I wrote this book to hopefully change some of the trends that I see. If I can reach one Budtender that helps out one client more effectively because they read this book, my time and effort will be worth it.
What is Bud Tending to me?
Bud Tending to me is one of the best positions you can have in the Cannabis Industry. What other position, even outside of the industry, can you have where you can effectively change someone's day and potentially life, hundreds of times a week? Where can you see people who need your help, give them your help and have them leaving happy a hundred times a day? Where can you get to work with cannabis, get to talk about cannabis, get to hold it and smell it and learn about it and pass on your knowledge to people that really care about that knowledge? I have worked as a Budtender in a dispensary, Manager at multiple dispensaries, Operations Manager at a lab, General Manager at a distribution center and plenty of other small jobs, but none of them gave me the satisfaction of helping out so many people a day as a Budtender. I put that same love and passion into this book, hoping someone somewhere can feed off of it and use it to help someone at their dispensary that is in need.
When would this book help me out the most in my Budtending Career?
The information contained in this book will be good to read for anyone, beginner or veteran, in the Cannabis Industry. Beginners can read what it is really like to serve cannabis products to clients. They will get a glimpse into how to walk their client through the products and how to guide their decisions so the client is not overwhelmed and asking questions all day because they are uncomfortable. They will get insight into how to listen to their clients and lessons in why listening is important. They will get situational awareness to provide clarity, passion and love to the clients that come to them in need. They will get a full breakdown of every type of cannabis product including what it is and why it is important.
Veterans can read this book for a refresher course on the small things that add up to big value for your dispensary and the clients that visit you. I have heard a lot of stories about people that have been in the industry for years and have been literally flying by the seat of their pants because there has never been a how-to book and they never really considered Bud Tending to be anything more than asking what the client wanted and then giving it to them. Once I showed these people the power of implementing the Cannabinist strategies, I have not heard one complaint about their clients being unhappy, on the contrary, I hear weekly about how they have improved their client relations, retention and profits.
Where did I get all of this information?
That's easy. The ol' cabasa. I have been working in the legal cannabis game out here in California for over a decade now. I absolutely love Bud Tending (which I hope you can tell by reading this). I also love cannabis. I have been in the cannabis game a lot longer than the legal weed game, but I have always been fascinated by the plant and it's healing properties. At my first job as a lowly Budtender out in Northern California, I took it upon myself to create a pamphlet about the benefits of cannabis for people. This is essentially just an extension of that.
Why did you write this book?
I'll say it before and I'll say it again, as many times as I need to. If this book can help one person give more effective service to a client in need, my time, energy, money and passion will be worth it.
Do you remember the first time you went into a dispensary? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? What about the second dispensary? What about your favorite dispensary? Your least favorite? Think about some answers to these questions to build on what you want to offer to your clients. You are their vessel, you guide them where THEY want to go, while also keeping the direction where YOU need it to go as well.
Know Your Clients
The Dispensary Experience - Your Clients' Needs
Getting a feel for your clients’ needs is key to being a quality Cannabinist. Is your client in a hurry? Do they know what they want? Have they been to your dispensary before? Have they been to ANY dispensary before? These are a few key points to figure out within the first minutes of your interaction with your client. Keep your needs in mind too. Are you guys busy? Do you have time to chat? A good Cannabinist is aware of the situation from all angles.
Everyone will be affected by different cannabis products in different ways. To understand what will work for your patient you have to know what has or hasn’t worked for them in the past. Find a common ground. If someone says a certain strain works for them and you know the genetics of that strain, then you can recommend something that is based on the effects of those genetics. Remember some of your other clients and what worked for them. You will find similarities between tastes in clients. Make mental notes when you find trends (OG kush fans love GSC, etc.) and you will be the star of the scene.
Let your patient lead you to where they want you to take them. If they are in a hurry they will let you know. Go with the flow, let them speak, listen intently and respond accordingly. Some clients will have the air about them that they know everything, let them speak their piece. You are there to guide them to their destination, we are not doctors and therefore should never give people advice on how they should deal with symptoms or ailments, unless they ask for it, and even then your advice should be understood to be a recommendation. Again, remember, we are not doctors. We can recommend certain products based on known information but we cannot diagnose patient’s diseases, or tell them definitively that what you recommend will work for them. That is for their doctor and their own self diagnosis.
Let's look at some examples:
If someone asks for something to help with insomnia, you can definitely recommend a heavy Indica, and let them know that it should only be used in the evening or when there isn't much to do.
If someone asks for help in treating their Crohn's disease, and you know of some products that can help, based on your experience, feel free to recommend those products by saying, "These products have worked for other patients, maybe they can help you too." Using these terms, or a variation thereof, you are clearly stating that it has worked for someone else, and therefore it will probably work for them, but it might not and they will be aware of this. If you do not know any specific product, ask the client if they don't mind letting you know some of the symptoms they are using medical cannabis to treat, because that will help your recommendations. If they do not wish to share, just give general ailment relief advice about each product and let them decide on their own.
You never want to be in a position where a client says that you told them a cannabis product would affect them in a certain way definitively and it turned out that not only did it not do as you said, something horrifically wrong happened.
Let me tell you a story about a client I had the pleasure of dealing with one day:
I was making the rounds at a dispensary I managed and one of my Budtenders came up to me and said "Hey Chris, I have someone on the line that wants to speak with a manager, says she needs some advice."
Sounded like a someone I could help, I was eager to get on the line.
"Hello, this is Chris, how may I help you?"
After introductories, a feminine, elderly voice, stated, "I was in your shop earlier today and someone recommended a chocolate bar to me. I needed something for pain relief and relaxation, and it seemed to be working for my pain relief at least.. well at first it did, but now I seem to have a problem."
Although I was initially intrigued by the way this conversation was going, I felt the first pang of worry spring up at the word 'problem'. I said, "Well I'm sure it isn't anything we can't figure out. What problem are we dealing with?" Immediately trying to defuse. Letting her know I was here to help, not to judge or scold. If there was a problem, I definitely wanted to help her out as much as I could. I felt this as a responsibility, moreso of a duty.
She answered, "Well, I came in and asked," as she described the budtender, I knew who she was talking about immediately. Younger guy, prideful, somewhat irresponsible. She continued, "Asked him for an edible that would help with my insomnia and nerve pain. I am trying to replace my pain pills with something more natural, I can't smoke the stuff anymore, so my doctor recommended something that was edible." This was all fine so far, it sounded like she had discussed the ailment with her doctor and had some guidance. I was still worried about the problem she had initially described so I pressed her to continue.
"Well, the chocolate bar was delicious, let me tell you that, the hint of vanilla was a really nice touch." Oh boy, the Vanilla chocolate was a high dose edible, back when they could contain more than 100 mg in a dose. This particular one usually weighed in around 200 mg per bar. I was already getting an idea of where this was going. She continued, "Well, I ate two squares of the bar and I felt good for a while, but now I am sitting on my kitchen floor.. and my legs don't seem to be working."
Ok, let's hit the pause button and review what we just went through. It sounds like an elderly lady was given a high dose bar with no instructions on how to properly ingest such a bar. She ate way too much at once, and she felt like she couldn't move her legs. It turned out the budtender had thought he had given her a low dose bar, made by the same company with similar packaging, and the instructions to take two squares, should've resulted in about 15-20 mgs of THC, while she had actually ingested about 75 mgs. Luckily she was a good sport about it, she wasn't worried, she just needed advice. She was a long-time cannabis user, but new to edibles and she definitely needed better guidance. You can imagine how bad it could have gone though. Cannabis is a highly psychoactive drug and, while it can't kill you from overdose, it can affect things in different ways if you do not know what you are getting in to. Especially when dealing with clients that are using cannabis medicinally, be sure you are giving all the information you can so you client can use their cannabis products as effectively as possible.
Using the information you acquire in the first minutes of your interaction, you should be able to give your client some options to select from. Let your client see whatever they want to see, but if they have stated their ailments and the category of cannabis product they want, do your best to drive the conversation where it needs to go. There can be a myriad of choices and if you let your client control the conversation completely, you could be perusing for hours. Too many choices can come across as intimidating as well so be aware of what the situation warrants. Your employer will also appreciate your attention to detail when you deal with your clients according to how busy you are, balanced with your client's needs.
Once your patient has made their choice(s) you can input them into the register according to your company SOPs, bag up the products and send your client on their way. Use this time to make sure you answered all of their questions, see if they want to look at any other products, thank them for coming in (don't ever forget that they can go anywhere) and your interaction is complete!
New to the Industry Clients
Clients that have never been into a dispensary will respond very highly to a good dispensary experience. You could potentially get someone coming back to your dispensary forever just from standing out when they first came in. Always follow your company SOPs when it comes to a tour of the facility or an introduction to the services you happen to offer, but when you get them back to your station and they can select some cannabis products, that is YOUR time to shine! Use all the tactics described at the beginning of this chapter and you will have your clients requesting your service the next time they need a recommendation for a new cannabis product
Interacting with Clients Dealing with Serious Illness
This is the heaviest thing you will deal with, typically, in your Cannabinist career. Some clients have extremely heavy loads to bear. You will hear stories of people dealing with the hardest things in their life and you should be compassionate in the role that you have in helping them in their journey. You are bringing the relief that they have sought for a long time in some cases and in others, you are offering comfort for a hardship that is going to be stronger than the client you are dealing with. You must listen to these clients intently, see what they are in need of and respond accordingly. Don't ever offer a diagnosis, you are not a doctor, but you can help to relieve the symptoms your client is dealing with. If they don't know specifically what they are in need of, you can ask what symptoms they are trying to relieve, start the process of getting to know them and then lead them on their journey through the dispensary. Some of these clients will remember your interactions so genuinely that they will continue coming back to see you as many times as possible during your career as a Cannabinist.
Once you have a good grasp on this information you should feel comfortable handling your clients and directing them to what they need in their medicine. You can also be sure they will remember you in their relief and will spread the word and look forward to seeing you in the future!
If you don’t know the products you are working with, you will never be an effective Cannabinist. Sure, you can work on the fly, but if you want to have the ability to find that one product that will change someone’s day, or potentially their life, you need to know what you have to offer. Follow this guide to understand the types of products you will be working with in your Cannabinist career, how they differentiate and tips on how to properly recommend them to your clients.
Know Your Cannabis Products
Indica or Sativa?
These are the two most popular categories that people understand when dealing with cannabis. They know that there is something called Indica and something called Sativa, but few in the general population can tell you what the differences are. To further compound the issue, there are many bodies within the cannabis industry that are moving away from these classifications and moving towards more complex groups that are based on the terpenoid profile of the plant, as opposed to the lineage and cannabinoid profile.
As scientists continue to improve the understanding we have about cannabinoids and terpenes, we will keep our minds open to the new research. For now, it is probably best to stick to what your clients will understand. The vast majority will feel overwhelmed even learning about cannabinoids, so we will keep the knowledge in this book simple enough that you can easily pass on the knowledge, without needing too much science. Be on the lookout for Cannabinist 102 to further your knowledge and to find more ways to improve your client/Cannabinist relationship.
Here is a breakdown of the differences between Indica, Sativa and Hybrid:
FYI: A quick rhyme you can use to remember how a cannabis product will affect you is "Sativa in the head, Indica in the bed", meaning you will feel Sativa more cerebrally and Indica will be felt more throughout the body. A 'hybrid' is a cannabis product that sits somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. One more thing to remember, the classification of a cannabis product has no bearing on the THC:CBD ratio, or the THC content in general. I worked in a cannabis lab for almost 5 years and I saw numbers all over the spectrum. 3 things matter when growing cannabis: Grow Style, Environment, and Genetics. Ok, let's get back to it.
Indica leaning cannabis products are primarily focused in the body. This means that the effects will mainly relax your body and can tend to make you feel sleepy and unmotivated. As most Indica leaning cannabis products are good muscle relaxers and help people sleep, it is recommended to only use these products later in the day or when you do not have things to get done. If you ingest Indica leaning cannabis products in the early hours of the day you might find yourself asleep on the couch before noon or completely putting off things you needed to have done. Interestingly, some people have reversed effects so Indica leaning cannabis products are good for them in the day. Be sure to ask your patient how other Indica leaning cannabis products have affected them in the past. If they have never used Indica leaning cannabis products, be sure to make sure they are looking for a more sedative experience.
Sativa leaning cannabis products are on the other end of the spectrum, when compared to how Indica products affect the body. Sativa products are primarily focused in the head and are generally associated with energetic and motivating experiences for their users. They are also commonly correlated with mood elevators so they are good for a needed attitude adjustment or to help with some of the symptoms of depression. Sativa products are used mostly in the morning and daytime, to give that needed boost to get through a long day or to elevate what could have been a day to forget. As Indica products can put you to sleep before noon, Sativa products can have you cleaning the house at midnight or have the mind racing in bed if taken in the evening time. This can be a positive or negative thing depending on what your client is going for so be sure to let them know the general response so they can make the best informed decision.
As the name suggests, Hybrid cannabis products combine some aspects of both Indica and Sativa. You usually feel hybrid products in the mind as well as in the body but the effects are less intense in one or the other. Let’s look at an example of a wonderful Hybrid flower, Green Ribbon. This flower is a cross between Train Wreck and Afgooey (Afgooey being a cross between Afgoo and Maui Haze). If you know any of your genetics you can see the hybrid qualities immediately. Train Wreck, typically, is your ‘clean the house’ sativa. It will get the mind going with ideas and will have your eyes darting around the house finding things to fix or improve; usually in a euphoric state of mind. Fun, right? Not to someone with anxiety.. but for the most part this is a great strain for the day time. Now Afgoo, on the other hand, is a great body relaxer, and with the Haze cross in there for Afgooey, you will find your mind feeling very hazy and dreamy as well. So you add these two things together and what do you get? Green Ribbon! One of the true 50/50 hybrids you will find out there. You have to be careful when dealing with this type of strain though, it can have a wide range of effects for people. Now, I'll let you in on a little secret, it is darn near impossible to find a true, 100% Indica or Sativa leaning cannabis product. Genetic modification is a truly fun activity to undertake and people have been undertaking it as much as they can since the introduction of growing your own cannabis. This has led to some absolutely amazing strains, but it has also bred out the original genetics that people in the 60's and 70's still had access to. As the old saying goes, "Que Sera, Sera"
Hybrid leaning cannabis products can lean anywhere in the range of 100% Indica to 100% Sativa. For example a 70/30 Indica leaning product would generally hit clients with a heavy feeling in the body, some good pain relief, and will probably be good for sleep, but that 30% Sativa can lead to some mind racing so it might not be as good as a 80/20 or higher for a first timer or someone that has trouble falling asleep. The same idea, but applied oppositely, goes for Sativa leaning cannabis products. A 70/30 Sativa leaning product will definitely give you some euphoric feelings and can be very motivating for some individuals, but that 30% Indica can potentially lead to a more trance like state if someone is prone to sitting on their phone or getting stuck watching YouTube. In worse case scenarios, a 30% Indica can still give someone a heavy head and lead to early afternoon naps. For someone who wants clear-headed, energetic euphoria, recommend them a 80/20 sativa or higher. It can get complicated when dealing with people paranoias and sensitivities so understanding your client by asking questions about what has worked for them in the past is key in winning your clients trust and ensuring that they will take your recommendation the next time, or if there will even be a next time, they come in to your dispensary.
In general, when looking at a menu or list of cannabis products, an "Indica" or "Sativa" will be at least 70% Indica leaning or Sativa leaning, respectively. Anything that falls into 60/40 or 50/50 will generally be labeled as a Hybrid cannabis product.
The categories described here flow through for most cannabis products you'll encounter in your Bud Tending career. Whether it is a Flower, Concentrate, Edible, Infusion, or other new cannabis product, 'Indica in the head and Sativa in the bed' will guide your recommendations.
A 'Flower' is the professional term for the bud of the cannabis plant. These are flowers just like on any other type of plant, but these contain the cannabinoids that set it apart from your everyday rose or lily. Cannabis flowers can come in a variety of types, a variety of colors (mostly green and purples, but you will find some red and blues out there), and a variety of sizes.
Common facts about the big three categories and their relationship to flower types (remember though, the complete opposite is true about some cannabis flowers out there, be aware of the exceptions):
Indica buds are typically denser and more round shaped while Sativa buds are generally more elongated like fingers.
A Kush is always an Indica, but fruity flavors can be either.
People can name their strain whatever they want, so genetics are infinitely more important than a name.
The difference in potency from A grade buds (from the top of the plant) to B Grade Buds can be up to 10%.
The term ‘concentrate’ refers to parts of the cannabis plant that have been concentrated into a higher potency product that has less plant material and more cannabinoids.
Volatile Solvent Concentrate (Wax, Crumble, Honeycomb, Sauce, BHO, Shatter)
Volatile Solvent Concentrates are made by taking natural cannabis products like flowers, leaf, kief or plant material, then introducing volatile solvents, such as Butane, to extract and concentrate the cannabinoids of the plant, while leaving the lipids and other plant matter behind. This forms a high potency, low-plant-matter product that is enjoyed by clients that prefer a higher potency. This type of product is a favorite of most recreational users as the onset is quicker and this form is generally cheaper than most other forms of concentrate. Companies have now begun to introduce synthetic terpenes to further their clients' satisfaction with their concentrated products. Connoisseurs in the industry don't typically prefer this form of concentrate as it generally has a higher count of alarming solvents when compared to rosin or full melt hash; which carry the same amount of potency with better, more natural flavors and no harmful solvents.
Non-volatile or Solventless concentrates are concentrates that are made using Non-Volatile Solvents, such as Co2, or by simply not using anything you would typically consider a solvent at all, such as water. Solventless can also refer to concentrates that were made using no solvents whatsoever, such as Rosin, which is made using only heat and pressure, or hashish, which is made using water and pressure. Non-volatile/Solventless Concentrates do a great job of keeping the potency of concentrates while retaining all the nodes of the flower they are extracted from. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the products on your shelf that contain solvents and which do not to better steer your clients in the direction they prefer to go. Solventless concentrates can be pricier than BHO types of concentrates, but the trade off is worth it to clients that care about the safety of the products they are ingesting.
Hash Oil or Full Extract Oil-
This form of cannabis concentrate will typically be found in a syringe and will generally be administered sublingually, with a strict dosage amount, to medicinal clients who are dealing with a heavy load in terms of their health. The benefits of Whole Plant Full Extract Oil is that it incorporates the full cannabis plant and, therefore, the full cannabinoid spectrum that the cannabis plant provides. Find more about this cannabis product below, under ingestibles, as that is that general way this product is ingested.
Ingestibles, as with most cannabis products, come in a variety of forms. They can be in edible form, tincture, hash oil, capsule, mouth strip, and many others, with more being developed all the time. ‘Ingestible’ refers to something that can be taken orally, without the need for the cannabinoid to be activated by you before being ingested. The activation has already taken place, typically in an external oven or other heating apparatus. Ingestibles are generally referred to as the best medicinal way to ingest cannabis due to there being no need for smoke inhalation and less risk of harmful solvents or pesticides. Ingestibles have different effects than smoking cannabis so it is imperative to understand the difference. You CAN’T OD by smoking cannabis, you CAN OD by ingesting it. Although ‘OD’ in the cannabis world is much different than the medical term for overdosing on drugs. 'OD'ing' on cannabis usually means sleeping for one to three days straight and sometimes experiencing grogginess upon awakening. During these days, some inexperienced users can feel some uncomfortable feelings such as paranoia, up to and including a sensation as if you are dying, and other feelings like overwhelming lack of control and feeling as if all your problems are coming at you all at once. It is not fun for these people, so letting your client know how serious ingestible cannabis products are is crucial in the Cannabinist/Client relationship.
Let's breakdown some of the more common types of ingestibles on the market.
Edibles are the most well known ingestible in the cannabis world.
If you are reading this book I feel like it would be a safe bet that you have been offered a brownie at some point in your life by someone, them saying, “Just try it, it will make you feel good,” then, following your inquiry, "No, I don't know how much is in it. I just threw a quarter in with the recipe and Voila!" Upon ingestion, you experience feelings ranging from- ‘You feel nothing’ to ‘You are completely floored and unable to function for hours or days’. You never felt this way from smoking cannabis though, what happened!? The answer is 11-Hydroxy-THC, (or 11-OH-THC), the metabolic form of THC.
When you ingest cannabis products through inhalation (smoke), the THC-a decarboxylates into Delta-9 THC. When you ingest cannabis through your stomach, liver and intestines, the body metabolizes that same THC-a into 11-Hydroxy-THC which affects your body quite differently that Delta-9. It usually has a similar effect to Indica leaning products, with different magnitudes of intensity for different clients. This commonly results in a sedated feeling, sometimes completely overwhelming to the point of ruining the rest of your day. Picture going through your day like usual, but you are stuck underneath a mound of completely clear and see-through gelatin that moves with you whenever you moved a part of your body. Even doing basic tasks like raising your arm or standing up take an extraordinary amount of effort.
This feeling, like all cannabis products and the way they affect our clients, is both desirable to some and completely undesirable to others. Understanding what your client is in the mood for is the best way to guide them to what they want and keep them coming back for more. Typically people use edibles to relax for the evening or to help sleep, but there are some companies that have attempted to change the game by, for example, combining cannabis infused chocolate with espresso beans to get people the medicine they need during the daytime, while avoiding the need for an afternoon nap. Others have infused caffeinated products that people use everyday like coffee or tea.
Be sure to ask your patient how edibles have affected them in the past to gauge what they should be using for the future. If your client has never tried a cannabis edible, be sure to start them on a low dose; there is no telling how 11-OH-THC can affect someone and not being prepared for what is coming is the best way to have a bad time after eating a cannabis edible. A good starting dose is 5 mg. That may sound small but your client will come back thanking you instead of possibly being driven away from edibles for the time being.. or forever. First impressions mean a lot to people and if the first time is really bad, they won't be back.
Tinctures are the second most common form of ingestible, with numbers growing. For clients who are using cannabis products exclusively for medicinal reasons, the majority of people use either a tincture or Whole Plant Full Extract Oil.
Tinctures are popular for many reasons. They are discreet, they don't have a cannabis odor, they come in an easy to dispense and dose container and they come in a variety of ratios, such as 1:1, 2:1, and so on.
When recommending tinctures to clients, be sure they know the proper ratio they will need to address the symptoms they are dealing with. Remember, we are not doctors and cannot diagnose someone's ailments. It is up to them to make the correct decision about their dose.
For more information about cannabinoid ratios, dosing and helping to recommend dosages, refer here.
One note to remember about tinctures, they can be made with alcohol or with things like Vegetable Glycerin and MCT Oil. Not saying what is the best, but be aware so you don't give someone alcohol when they did not request it.
Edible Whole Plant Full Extract Oil
There are a lot of things that we know about Whole Plant Full Extract Oil, more commonly referred to as FECO, but the true amazement is in what we don't know.
For years, people have used FECO and it has resulted in some amazing results. One of the most popular stories is that of the one and only Tommy Chong, who used FECO suppositories, along with huge diet changes and exercise, to beat Prostate Cancer. Scientists have not agreed on a set conclusion as to why FECO works better than other forms of cannabis when dealing with cancer, but there is just something different about Whole Plant products that sets their medicinal value apart from other products.
You will see FECO delivered in a few different capacities. It is most commonly delivered in a syringe with an extended tip. This device makes it very easy to dose and deliver the oil. You will also see FECO products such as the suppositories we mentioned already or in capsule form.
Infusions are the least known form of cannabis product you will work with. Not saying they are the least effective, quite the contrary. Infusions have been known to help clients deal with a variety of symptoms, but first, let's get one small detail out of the way:
Any brownie, candy, tincture, cream, lip balm or other product that contains cannabis is technically an infusion, by definition. Within the cannabis industry though, Infusion pertains to the group of infused cannabis products that aren't meant to be eaten. This includes your lotions, deodorants, candles. balms, shampoos and any other similar products that have been developed since the publishing of this book.
The most popular infused cannabis products in the industry today are balms or salves. These products bring relief to clients in the form of pain relief, muscle relaxation and skin health. Clients that haven't found relief for their pain previously have been known to try cannabis products and find the relief they have been missing. That is why we refer to infused cannabis products as "Bridge Gapping" products, or products that build a bridge to people outside of the cannabis industry.
Imagine someone that experiences some sort of bodily pain that they have been dealing with for a while, trying every product they can find, but to no avail. Now, imagine if you could relieve that pain via a cream or lotion. Do you think that person would mind if that lotion or cream contained cannabis? As long as it didn't get into their system or show up on a drug test, I'd think it would be safe to say they would be happy for the relief. I have seen this exact story play through many times over my years in the industry and I really think this is the way we bridge the gap to people who think there is no medicinal benefit to cannabis. Show them that it works and no one will doubt it!
There are many other forms of infusions, some of them novelty and perfect for gifts, some of them are uniquely genius, all of them are effective in their own right. Be sure to educate yourself on all the different choices that your dispensary offers and listen to your clients in how they are used and what works!
For more information on recommending dosages to your clients, further explanation about the different cannabinoids and resources to use to expand your knowledge, refer to the next chapter.
After that last chapter, you should have a good handle on how to speak to your clients and a good introduction to most, if not all, of the cannabis products you will see in your Bud Tending career. What's left? The science, baby.
So, you know your cannabis products, you know your clients, but do you really know what you are dealing with? Do you know the molecular structure of the Tetrahydrocannabivarin cannabinoid? Do you know what the genetic precursor of THC is? Do you know if THCa is psychoactive? Do you want to know the answer to these questions and more? Come.. let’s continue.
Throughout Cannabinist 101 you’ve seen places that have referred to knowledge of cannabinoids or genetics of certain strains. To get that knowledge you will have to research genetics and cannabinoids. This section will show you where to look for your answers.
There are a multitude of resources you can find online, free of charge, to educate yourself on what you need to know to become a Cannabinist. Like with everything else online, the problem is finding the reliable information and distinguishing it from the rubble. Let’s go over some verified resources you can use to get the information you need.
If you don’t know what the difference is between a strain of Jack Herer and an OG pheno, someone could call anything whatever they want to and you would be none the wiser. The best way to get to know each strain is to be around it. When that new one comes into your dispensary, check it out! See the characteristics that stand out and make it what it is. In the mean time though, here are a few key sites to check out when referring to genetics of a plant. I’ve provided a link and a summary of each of the sites. Some of good qualities and bad qualities.. like all things internet.
Leafly' Cannabis 101 is an amazing resource for all things cannabis including: genetics, strains, grow styles and a myriad of others. Check them out here
Pot Guide continues to expand their library of strains and genetics, so their information is up to date and quite useful to find basic information on strains including Indica/Sativa leaning.
Oh, did I already say Leafly? Seriously, these guys have completely taken off since their inception around a decade ago. I remember getting boxes of their swag back at the dispensary I was managing and it really made an impact on how our clients and employees thought of them and their mission.
They have a great breakdown of strains by symptom, flavor/terpene and by mood as well as having a list of the most popular strains available! Check out their database here.
And the last piece of the puzzle is the science behind what we do. Check out these links to get the information you need to back up what you say to your patients and really get out there and accurately help some people!
There are 7 cannabinoids that are prolific throughout the cannabis plant as of this writing. If you can understand the relationship of these molecules to each other, and their synergy with the terpenes of the cannabis plant, you will have a leg up on most of your fellow Budtenders. A lot of science is being done to advance the knowledge we have about cannabis, so the information contained in this section could become outdated in the future. Be sure to do your own research and make sure you keep up to date on the science that's happening.
Now, of the 7 main cannabinoids, there are 3 that you will be dealing with the most when tending the buds to your clients. Let's start there:
Total THC- The formula for calculating Total THC is (THCa mg * 0.877 + THC). Total THC is the common formula used to calculate and label the cannabinoid content on cannabis products throughout the industry. Total THC will give you a great idea of the potency of a product. You can combine your knowledge of cannabis products and how they appeal to clients with the potency of the labeled cannabinoid content to really drive home how a product will affect someone. A 70/30 sativa leaning product will definitely have more stimulating affects and the feelings that the product gives you will generally be more cerebrally located.
Total CBD- Similar to Total THC, Total CBD is used to calculate and label CBD content on cannabid products in the industry. Also, just like Total THC, the formula is the same (CBDa mg * 0.877 + CBD) Unlike Total THC, CBD is not psychoactive in the same way, so the similarities stop at the calculation. CBD brings de-stressing components with it as well as a feeling that everything is going to be ok. It can be used to counteract the paranoia feelings caused by THC, can be used for an end of the day de-stresser with no psycho activity, can help people relax and sleep while also being effective in helping clients relieve pain and anxiety from their day to day activities. It truly is a wonderful cannabinoid.
CBN- CBN or Cannabinol, is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. This molecule is the result of a breakdown within the THC molecule, so it is a great gauge to see how well something has been cured and stored. As far as the effect on the body, our experience is that a product that has a high CBN content is very un-motivating and sedative, no matter the S/I leaning. A Sativa leaning cannabis product with a high CBN content (>5%) will typically give you a heavy head instead of the happy and motivated feeling you're used to with your Sativa based products, whereas an Indica with a high CBN content will definitely leave you sedated and ready for bed.
The other four cannabinoids are important because they are the only other cannabinoids that are prolific throughout the cannabis plant, but they are much less cared about than the big three. You can find thorough breakdowns of these cannabinoids anywhere you find good cannabis information, Leafly, Weedmaps, California Cannabis Labs, there's plenty of options out there. Here is a brief breakdown for your knowledge:
THCa- THCa is the acidic form of THC. When a cannabinoid heavy plant is grown, the THCa is what you see in the trichome glands on the buds of the plant. Although completely non-psychoactive on it's own, when this molecule is heated, it decarboxylates into Delta 9 THC, the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant. When a cannabis product is tested, the THCa is measured and added to the THC using the calculation breakdown noted above in the Total THC section.
CBDa- CBDa is the acidic form of CBD. It is used in pretty much the same way the THCa is used, with a different form of psychoactivity.
CBG- CBG (Cannabigerol) is the genetic precursor to THC in the cannabis plant. As a cannabis plant is growing, the CBG will convert in THCa and result in the resin glands that you see when a cannabis plant is growing. While non-psychoactive in it's own right, there are some researchers out there claiming to find some topical benefits when dealing with the CBG molecule.
CBC- CBC (Cannabichromene) is another lesser known cannabinoid on the cannabis plant. It has shown some promise in topical products as it is anti-bacterial and can be used to treat pscoriosis as well as arthritis. You should see CBC products begin to be more known and produced as the cannabis industry continues to grow and receive funding to research these lesser known cannabinoids.
Bonus: The Barbie Cannabinoid
There is one cannabinoid that has really taken off the more people hear about it. This molecule is THCV or Tetrahydrocannabivarin and it is one of the most interesting cannabinoids you can find or research. You see, THCV has a lot of the medicinal components of THC, but it has very little psycho activity, except in very high amounts. There is one quirky thing about this cannabinoid that is the most interesting though, it actually has an anti-appetite effect. When you smoke something that has a good amount of THCV, you will NOT get the munchies. Hence the name, Barbie Cannabinoid, this is a highly sought after cannabinoid, especially for people that want to avoid raiding the fridge because they're watching their waistline. Be on the lookout for more THVC heavy products in the future as they should be more prominent as we learn more about it.
Terpenes and Flavinoids
Terpenes are the hottest topic in the cannabis industry right now. Producers are bent on getting the most terpenoid content into their flowers as well as the concentrates and other products made from those flowers.
We could spend all day covering the research behind terpenes, or you can just check out Leafly and their coverage. Check it out here
Taking all of the information you have learned in the other sections and combining that with the resources in this section should leave you feeling confident with any situation you come across as a Cannabinist. Check out the Q/A section to see if you have retained enough information to help out in various situations you might run in to at the dispensary.
Lingo is very important as well. Using terms like ‘weed’, ‘pot’, or in some cases even ‘marijuana’ is akin to spelling ‘marijuana’ as ‘marihuana'. It just reminds people of a different time with cannabis, and usually the connotation is not positive. Here is a list of alternatives to some popular terms to use in a dispensary situation, use this list to get an idea of other terms you can change to be a more professional Cannabinist.
|Slang Word||Cannabinist Word|
|Weed, Pot, Tree, Chronic||Cannabis or Flower|
|Really Good, Super, The Best||Potent, Intense, Strong|
|Couch Locked, Stoned||Sedative, Un-Motivating|
|Racy, Crazy, Like Meth||Invigorating, Highly Motivated|
|Pot Shop, Marijuana Store||Dispensary|
|Legal Weed||Industry Cannabis|
|Doobie, Joint, Rollie, Hand Roll||Pre-Roll|
The term 'high' can be indicative of a number of things so you should use a term that is more specific to the actual feeling you generally should experience after ingesting the cannabis product in question. Instead of just saying, "This one will get you really high," you should refrain from the generic term and replace it with something that gives the client a clearer understanding of their encounter with the cannabis product. You can substitute any feeling such as lazy, euphoric, unmotivated, de-stressed, slowed down, distanced, introverted, introspective, empathetic or a slew of others. The more efficiently you help translate the cannabis product to your client, the more memorable the experience will be and the chances that you see that client again will be that much more improved.