Best Buds - Tips from a Legacy Budtender on How to Buy Cannabis
I'm sure you're already a welcome presence in your local pot shop, however with the widespread legalization of cannabis comes the widespread use of it. It's no longer just the "cool kids" looking for cannabis. The Karens have joined the fray, too. So to make sure you're a local legend at your dispensary I've used my years of slinging dope to compile a few tips.
Don't Focus on THC
Take this with a grain of salt. Yes: it is important to know cannabinoid levels. Yes: it will have an effect on where your high goes. However, the most common joke I've seen across the industry is when budtenders affect a mocking tone and ask about THC percentage.
When it comes to judging quality, looking only at the THC percentage on the label is like looking for a car based solely on the paint job. If you're scoffing at this article then at least acknowledge the information you're getting is flawed: THC potency is gauge by what a grower sent in for testing - not what came to you in the jar. On top of this, just because you've presented your body with 200 mg or more of THC doesn't mean its bioavailable or will be absorbed into your endocannibinoid system. I promise, if all you ask for is the highest THC your budtender will roll their eyes and use this opportunity to move something pricey.
There are No Returns
Most cannabis shops will not take back cannabis products simply as a policy. Health Canada regulations (and good taste) prevent cannabis shops from putting a returned pot product on a 20% off rack. While deep down in their heart the person serving you might totally agree there's a serious quality issue, they cannot take it back. Cannabis is final sale. "Well fuck," you might be thinking, "this is bullshit. Someone is responsible for making this right." You're right. The licensed producer (LP) who grew or distilled the product wants to hear your feedback so they can potentially recall the product. Even if they can't do this they will often try to make it right by reimbursing the business (to subsequently issue you that refund) or send you something to win you back.
Don't Ask for Free Shit!
Budtenders used to get a ton of free product to try, test and ultimately recommend. Used to. While legacy market stores and some in legal American states do give out free products, the legal industry in Canada is a different beast entirely. There are rules on discounts and promotions that make rewarding customers ultimately not worth it for a business. While budtenders used to get an eighth to try they now typically only get an assortment of t-shirts, dad hats and cheap rolling papers every so often from the LPs. It's common for friends of budtenders, or even pushy customers, to ask budtenders to "sweeten their cart" with whatever LP swag they can get their hands on for free that day. Your budtender might throw something in to make your day if you're made theirs but if you're demanding freebies don't expect anything good.
Whether you've done no research, some research or think you're above it you'll enter a dispensary with an idea of what you want. Keeping a general idea gives your budtender room to play around, ask question and give you the best bud in the shop. Issues arise when you think "Okay, my bud must be/have ___." Whether it's a certain potency range or where the plant lies on the sativa/indica dichotomy you're pigeonholing yourself by not even entertaining other options. Look, I'm not saying take the cultivar the budtender said got them up and moving when you want a cultivar to relax. Just be open and listen to the knowledge your budtender is paid to amass.
Don't Try to Be The Expert
This is tied to my last point but is it's own entirely due to how big of a pain in the ass it is. I've had many old white men start conversations with "I know more than you," despite their ignorance of the certificates on my resume. While it's happened many times to me, the women I 've worked with have dealt with this daily. Imagine telling your mechanic "I can fix this shit way easier or cheaper than you." Better yet, imagine telling your cannabis dealer this. How would that go? I'll wait.
At the start of legalization in Ottawa we only had three stores. With a population of nearly one million we got three stores. Due to this lack of choice dispensaries would regularly see lines just to get into the store. We may have more stores now but given the social distancing laws only a small number of clients can be in the store at once. I can promise you the budtenders are going as fast as they can. The speed of their interactions depends on how many questions clients like you have. If you need to ask questions be patient with the budtender and they will be patient with you. If this still sounds too unreasonable please remind me how long your plug takes to respond.
Don't Try to get your Dick Wet
Gents, this is for you. Ladies, feel free to skip over. The woman working there is nice because it is literally her job to be nice to you. She does not want to fuck you. She will hand you over to me or a male colleague the second she has a chance. I will bring you the energy you brought her.
Don't Focus on Cultivar Name
Here is where a lot of my seasoned smokers pick up pitchforks. Before I'm led to the guillotine, hear me out. You recently bough a few grams of "OG Kush" from your dealer. When you run out you want the same experience. Perhaps you got a great "couch-lock." You head to the store and see three different options to grab your OG Kush. The legal market vets its genetics. Your dealer didn't. Anywhere in the process of getting to you the name could be changed to meet the demand of the market; sometimes legal companies also choose names that do not reflect the genealogical background of the plant.The conditions of where and how it is grown will also change between your old source and the legal market and these will change the cannabis produced. Large growers do aim for teh typicity consumers covet each cultivar for, but you'll never know if they've hit the mark until you smoke it. If you're an expert and had a reliable source you'll know what makes a certain cultivar amazing. If that's the case, by all means, ask for it. But be ready to find a very different flower in your jar.
Now that you've stuck with me past all of the "don'ts", let me help you shop in a way that'll make you and your budtender the best of buds. While keeping in mind all of the previous rules, especially to "Be Flexible", try shopping by focusing on your intention, price range and freshness of flower. By focusing on your intention without being tied to an outcome you'll allow your budtender to present you a plethora of options that should scratch your itch and may even surprise you. Price range is generally a good indicator of quality but not always. Some of us need to mind the budget so make sure you have a good idea of what you can afford. This will help you and your budtender narrow down your options. Finally, ensure it is fresh. By ensuring your cannabis is fresher, it will be less likely to have terpenes evaporated compare to the flower that's been sitting on the shelf for the past year. The fresher your bud, the more pungent it should be and the higher you should get. Now, make your purchase, socially-distance high-five your new budtender BFF and go get stoned ya filthy animals.