Toward a More Perfect Pot Union


Following the November 2022 elections, 21 U.S. states have legalized cannabis for recreational use, many of them now entrenched with a full-blown cannabis commerce. This rapidly expanding industry is populated with thousands of productive and ambitious workers, many of whom actively seek to organize or have already created union partnerships in their workplace. 

Anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 cannabis industry employees are estimated to be unionized across America. 


Some California cannabis employees are part of UFCW—United Food and Commercial Workers—the largest cannabis workers union in the country, representing over 10,000 employees nationwide. 

UFCW Local 5—which presently represents over 500 weed workers across the famed “Bay Area” of Northern California—is branching out beyond representing dispensary workers, as in June 2021, when UFCW brokered a historic first-ever agreement to unionize workers at both a California-based cannabis manufacturer, CannaCraft Manufacturing, and at a cannabis lab, Sonoma Lab Works. 

We were fortunate to speak in-depth with Jim Araby, Director of Strategic Campaigns for UFCW 5. When asked about what both the individual weed worker and the collective cannabis industry gain from unionization, Araby elaborated:

“The worker benefits are very clear, such as the difference between union and non-union wages in the companies we’ve organized in the Bay Area. DIspensary workers and delivery drivers are making $3-to-$4 more per hour than their non-union equivalents.

“Also union workers are not subjected to ‘at-will’ hiring-and-firing, instead, they have to go through an actual process for ‘just cause’ so if they get fired for some reason, there’s a procedure in place, whereas non-union workers just get fired immediately under the ‘at-will’ law.

“The other big thing is; with the way the cannabis industry is now, in terms of there being a lot of large mergers and acquisitions happening, I think workers are protected in such spaces if they organize. When the High Times (retail sector), Have a Heart and Harvest merger occurred a couple years ago (2020), we were able to protect workers and keep their jobs. 

“In terms of labor-management partnerships, we can lobby with legislators in order to create a more streamlined regulatory process so that businesses can expand and thrive, and workers can get a piece of that. And we’re focused on labor management partnerships and fighting companies that don’t recognize labor’s right to organize.”

Araby discussed the significance of cannabis unionization: “Because there’s going to be tens of thousands of people who work in the industry, and if workers don’t have rights, if they don’t have a voice, it’s going to end up the same way that every non-union industry is, where big corporations are going to control the wages and benefits of workers in this industry.

“But with the unions having a foothold as this industry grows, it at least gives workers and the communities a much more sustainable industry both in terms of what the community can expect, and ultimately, what workers can expect.

“We organized CannaCraft—a cannabis manufacturer based in Santa Rosa, CA—last year and that was pretty significant because, at the time, that company was going to unilaterally issue 20 to 30 percent pay-cuts for everybody and we were able to stop that. We were also able to use a smoother approach and bargain in good faith with the company to maintain most jobs at the plant as well as being on the pathway to create Cal OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—standards.” 


Workers at Tikun Olam, a cannabis cultivation facility based in the California city of Adelanto, gave themselves an early Christmas gift on December 22, 2021 when they voted unanimously to ratify a labor agreement with Teamsters Local 1932. This act gave Tikun the distinction of being the first unionized cannabis facility in the Inland Empire, the massive metropolitan region adjacent to coastal Southern California. The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was approved after Tikun workers voted in the majority to unionize. Beyond the contract, the company and Teamsters 1932 agreed to partner to provide training opportunities through apprenticeships with Tikun and the industry as a whole. 

Regarding this development, High Times was able to reach out to not only Abraham Gallegos, Business Agent Organizer for Teamsters Local 1932, but also Kenneth P. Ocean, Cultivation Technician at Tikun Olam, who graciously provided the workers perspective for this article. 

Mr. Ocean explained the process that led to his company joining Teamsters: “I was with the company for about six months before we voted to unionize about a year ago. It won unanimously; one hundred percent of us wanted to go this way. Being unionized gives us job security to not getting fired instantly, as well as giving us an opportunity to have a career in this business.

“The management here was having struggles and miscommunicating as far as procedures, so we felt a union could help us a lot more in every direction, including obtaining safety equipment that we needed to have on hand to do our job properly. We also get benefits from the union. Plus, the products we produce are ten times better now that we’re with the union.”

Abe Gallegos of Teamsters confirmed this: 

“Tikun Olam went for months without generating revenue. It had huge turnover with constant firings and crop failures. But since unionization this team has been producing great cannabis here in Adelanto. It’s been a complete 180 degree turnaround at that cultivation facility.

“Fortunately, here in California we have a Labor Peace Agreement (LPA) law, which means any company with ten or more employees has to sign an LPA to get their business licensing in California, which prevents them from engaging in union-busting.”  

In the legal city of Chicago, in March 2022, Windy City weed workers at not one but two cannabis retail store locations—in the Logan Square and River North neighborhoods—both voted unanimously to enter into a CBA with Teamsters Local 777. This was particularly significant because it was the first two Teamster contracts in the cannabis industry in the state of Illinois. 

Concerning this unionization, High Times was fortunate to extensively interview Jim Glimco, President of Teamsters 777, and he shared: “We negotiated a fantastic agreement at Modern Cannabis (MoCa) that covers two locations. What’s exciting about this industry is that we have momentum on our side; cannabis workers throughout Illinois are hearing about what’s happening and asking how they can sign up. The level of enthusiasm I’ve seen from workers in this industry is really exciting.”

Glimco discussed the importance of unions:

“For workers, the benefits are obvious; a union gives them better wages, better benefits, greater job security, a safer workplace, a voice on the job and so much more. For employers, there are also a number of benefits; a CBA implements a very clear set of guidelines into a workplace, which creates a certain level of operational stability for management. Union shops have lower turnover, so those employers are able to expend less resources on recruiting talent. 

“For cannabis specifically, given the ugly and tragic history of its criminalization, I think it’s important to consumers that employers demonstrate a commitment to social justice. When employers allow the process of unionization to play out fairly and bargain in good faith, it demonstrates that they’re serious about this, and their customers appreciate it.”

In June 2022, drivers and fleet maintenance workers at the Los Angeles-based cannabis distribution company Nabis Cannabis voted in the majority to enter into a CBA with Teamsters Local 630. Similar to the CBA at Tikun Olam, this particular labor agreement carries extra weight because it is a sign that unionization is moving beyond merely representing retail companies.

Matt McQuaid, Communications Project Manager with the Teamsters’ Dept. of Strategic Initiatives, told us: “Teamsters represent around 500 members working in cannabis nationwide in legal states like Illinois, California and Massachusetts.”

Further, McQuaid confirmed that it was “exciting” that the Teamsters were representing Nabis, a distribution company, adding: “That was cool because unfortunately a lot of agricultural workers don’t have collective bargaining rights in some parts of the country. But in California, they do.”


In September 2021, Washington D.C.-based nonprofit think tank the Economic Policy Institute issued a report entitled “Ensuring the high road in cannabis” that argued for strong unionization within the rapidly expanding legal-use industry. 

The report posits a “low road” scenario, in which employees in the cannabis industry endure the same inequities that non-union workers face in similarly aligned industries like agriculture. These detrimental practices and policies plague workers with low wages, minimal benefits, such as access to adequate health insurance. As well as the aforementioned ‘at will’ restrictions that threaten a worker with unemployment at a moment’s notice, often unfairly.  

By way of contrast, the “high road” paradigm utilizes unionization to ensure that the workers are protected from arbitrary firings, and earn a fair wage.  The report suggests cannabis workers could earn anywhere from over $2,800 to nearly $8,700 more per year working under a union contract.

UFCW’s Jim Araby weighed in on the EPI report: “Obviously I agree with their findings because fundamentally unions provide certain things to workers that they don’t have when they’re not in a union. Number one, it provides a pathway to better wages and benefits. Number two, it provides a fair process to be in place for any sort of discipline and as it relates to working conditions. And third, it provides a career pathway so that workers can advance throughout the industry, gain knowledge and skills and get paid for it as they grow, such as through an apprenticeship program.” 


Certain law firms offer union avoidance services that actually assist companies in preventing workers from unionizing utilizing various methods including using pressure and fear tactics on workers considering unionization.  While this sub-industry may be one largely clandestine among the general public it wields great influence nonetheless in the various industries infected by their undermining of worker gains and workplace rights. 

Araby is all too aware: “Union avoidance firms are a growing presence in the cannabis industry; the big union-busting law firms like Morgan Lewis and Littler Mendelson, as well as others, see [union avoidance] as a growth industry for them. 

“We know that some cannabis companies have these law firms on retainer (fees paid in advance to law firms to utilize their services when needed).  These union-busting firms as we call them will even create fake unions in order to avoid the labor peace agreement requirements. So we know this is around, and the best way to deal with that is to make sure we engage workers and we get some enforcement on the regulatory side from the state, as well as have the federal government go after law firms that knowingly break labor laws.”

Glimco agreed union avoidance firms pose a threat to unionization in the industry: “Unfortunately, their scare tactics and lies can have an effect on people. In cannabis, though, what I have seen is that there is so much solidarity and enthusiasm from these workers. For that reason, union-busting in cannabis hasn’t been as effective as it might be at some other businesses.”

Glimco suggested how workers may oppose union avoidance firm intrusion: “The best way to combat these firms is to have a united, educated group of workers, and a strong organizing committee prepared for an anti-union campaign ahead of time. The more workers know that the anti-union propaganda is coming, the less likely it is to be effective. 

“There’s also a number of union avoidance consultants who used to be employed by a union, but then got fired for wrong-doing or incompetence. When workers find that out, they tend to doubt the credibility of the union busters.”


In April 2022 UFCW 7 held a protest that saw union members, lead by organizer Jimena Peterson, demonstrate outside of the Denver cultivation facilities of the cannabis company Green Dragon, a weed franchise based in Florida as well as Colorado. 

The protest took issue with the union-busting tactics of Green Dragon co-owner and head cultivator Ryan Milligan after Milligan and the company fired a trio of growhouse workers for supporting efforts to unionize the workforce. 

And it’s far from mere material gains that would-be unionizers want to see changed; Green Dragon staff reported a facility full of mold and insects. The company has ignored employees’ requests for adequate ventilation. 

Araby was understandably critical: “Union busting is disgusting as it goes, and as the [Green Dragon] case proves, the company was at fault, so they had to rerun that election and the workers won their union in June 2022 and they now have a contract there.

“When employers spend resources on preventing workers from organizing and having rights at work, they’re basically spending resources against the democratic process. We at UFCW think that money should be better spent on allowing the workers to decide if they want a union or not.” 

Teamsters Glimco added: “Union busting is very prevalent. Most of the employers we organized had hired outside union busters and engaged in all sorts of dirty tricks once we filed for an election. They have fired people to scare them out of organizing, they lie to their staff. There have been many unfair labor practice charges filed against companies for bad behavior, and we’ve won almost all of them.”


Although unions are highly advantageous to workers and companies alike, they are not perfect nor immune from criticism. Complaints include excessive dues that don’t justify the benefits as well as unions functioning as little more than another division of the corporation, intended to keep potentially more excessive worker demands under control.  

Glimco addressed such concerns: “Workers don’t pay dues until after they have ratified their first contract. Take a look at any collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated by Teamsters Local 777, in cannabis or any other industry. If you do the math, you’ll see that the wages and benefits our members receive is exponentially more than the cost of dues. Dues are a tiny fraction of the economic benefits you derive from your union membership.

“This union’s direction is guided by the rank-and-file. Shop stewards, contract ratifications, the leadership at the national level, my position as President of Local 777 as well as that of the executive board; these are all decided by direct vote of our members. Furthermore, our union is structurally a bottom-up organization. Local affiliates are autonomous and have most of the power within the Teamsters.”

As referenced by Glimco, a “rank-and-file committee” refers to a center of workplace democracy created by the actual workers of a company as opposed to a traditional union hierarchy. 

UFCW’s Jim Araby fully supports the rank-and-file system: “The core value of any union is worker democracy, so the more workers want to take ownership of the union, the better. We 110 percent support that. This is important because fundamentally, you don’t win a strong contract if workers aren’t involved. If the union believes workers are nothing more than dues-paying memes and they don’t actually deserve rights in the union, then shame on the union for doing that. UFCW fundamentally believes in workplace democracy, which means workers organizing and engaging themselves in the organizing effort.

“In every single cannabis company I’ve organized there has been a rank-and-file worker committee at the bargaining table, with me bargaining that contract.” 

When asked what workers should do regarding their complaints or issues with the union, Araby strongly suggested: “When workers feel that way, they should move up the chain to get to the union leaders so that they can understand why workers are feeling that way. The union is only as strong as the worker’s participation in it. You only get out of it what you put into it. 

“But I do think if workers feel the union is not responsive to their issues, they should show up to the union hall and demand a response from the union, because they are the union, and they invest in this organization and they deserve everything they expect from it.

“We have to keep fiercely advocating for worker’s rights in the workplace, fighting for union recognition, and bargaining for strong contracts. At the local state and federal level we have to fiercely advocate for the decriminalization of cannabis as well as the legalization of cannabis, and assert the workers’ voice to be an essential part of these state and local laws.”

The Teamsters’ Glimco reiterated his reverence for rank-and-file: “Rank-and-file committees are the backbone of our entire organization, from the shop floor all the way to international level, so we are certainly supportive of them. The workers on these committees are the driving force behind winning elections and securing collective bargaining agreements. They are the ones who make the decisions about what the priorities are when it comes to collective bargaining, what issues need to be addressed in the workplace, and what actions need to be taken during an organizing or contract campaign. 

“We even have rank-and-file members on the negotiating committees for our national contracts, some of which cover tens of thousands of members. The union is not a third party where workers hire a representative to advocate on their behalf while they sit back and take a passive role. Rank-and-file Teamster members organize and bargain on behalf of themselves, and the local union is here to facilitate that process.” 


Araby was ambivalent when asked about the future of cannabis unionization: “It’s yet to be seen if the industry itself believes in the union model; I would say some companies we work with value such partnerships and others who are sitting on the sidelines or even aggressively fighting us.”

Yet he still offered optimism: “If unions don’t give up when it gets hard, workers are going to get more and more organized. We have to struggle and fight because as it becomes legal across the country, you’re going to see more and more larger companies getting involved that are not necessarily friendly to unions, and we’re already seeing this. So we have to harness the strength of the existing workers we represent and have to continue to fight for workers’ space in the center of all these legalization efforts. 

“The challenge is: how do we get skilled and trained workers into that field so the companies can retain their workers?  So we’re trying to figure something out with local community colleges to see if there are any federal or state grants we can pull down to do workforce training and development training so internal candidates can grow in that job. The future of the cannabis industry, and union workers within it, is positive, but I can’t tell you it’s going to be one hundred percent going our way. But I know as long as I’m in the union, we’re fighting for this and the union is fighting for this, and we’re moving in a positive direction.”

The Teamsters’ Matt McQuaid opined: “I definitely see unionization increasing. I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm among people in this industry for unions and you’re only going to see it grow.

“It’s really important that in these companies that are making so much money, that cannabis workers feel like this can be a career. It’s important that they can stay in this industry for their entire lives, if they want to. And when you have a union, you have wage increases and benefits and all sorts of other things that make (a lifelong career) a possibility for workers. If somebody wants to work in this industry for 23 years, they should be able to do that and the union makes that possible.” 

His fellow Teamsters brother Jim Glimco was equally infused with optimism: “I think the track record of organized labor in the cannabis industry shows that we’re doing the right things to ensure that this is a successful endeavor. Ten years ago, there were hardly any unionized cannabis workers, now there are thousands. Over the long-term, I’d like to see some of the larger players in the industry negotiate national master agreements with our union. 

“As far as benefiting the whole industry, right now, a lot of people want to stay in the cannabis business, but they can’t because they need better wages and benefits. A union fixes that problem. The more unions there are in cannabis, the more we will have the right people in the right positions.”

Glimco “absolutely” expects cannabis unionization to increase. He elaborated: “Of the 21 states where recreational cannabis is currently legal, only five of them are right-to-work (which enables companies to suppress unionization efforts).”

“However, even in the right-to-work states, the Teamsters Union is strong. It was just legalized in Maryland and Missouri, two states where we have a strong labor movement. Recreational dispensaries just started opening in New York, the state with the greatest concentration of union members in the entire country. 

“Many of these states and municipalities are very smartly requiring labor peace agreements from employers as a condition of securing licenses. This means that employers have to agree that they won’t engage in union busting if the workers seek union representation. All of this portends well for cannabis unionization.”

Tikun Olam grow tech Kenneth Ocean was asked about what advice he would give to workers at a cannabis company with less than ideal conditions and management who were seeking to unionize: “I’d tell them to try to reach out to someone with your local Teamsters and find out the information you need to unionize. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. We got involved when our union steward—and cannabis cultivation lead—Doug Herring contacted the Teamsters and filed the paperwork with them and got in touch with Abe Gallegos. Teamsters 1932 made the unionization process happen pretty quick.”

When asked the same question, Abe Gallegos built upon Ken Ocean’s advice: “This industry is filled with brand new cannabis workers, the younger generation, so it’s up to them to set their expectations for a career going forward. Talking to workers in this industry, you find a lot still don’t understand their basic rights. Some of these people work at companies that don’t pay them until the company makes sales, so you have workers who aren’t being paid timely, which isn’t legal. 

“Unionization is a process that everyone is entitled to, and they can reach out to whatever union they want to talk to, and then put together their own voices to unionize. Teamsters represent the workforce, but at the end of the day, the workers are the union. They’re the ones who will push the industry to the next level. The steps to unionize are easy; contact a local union rep, then from that point we empower the worker so they can take ownership of their workplace experience.”

We let Teamsters 777 President Jim Glimco have the last word as he looked to a potentially dazzling future: “I think as legalization spreads you’re going to see unionization expand into the entire cannabis supply chain. On the west coast, we’re already winning elections at distribution companies and growers, and I think that’s an exciting indicator of what’s on the horizon. There’s no reason we can’t live in a world where one day every hand that touches the plant, from harvest to retail, belongs to a union member.”

The post Toward a More Perfect Pot Union appeared first on High Times.

Headset Report Analyzes Turnover Rates for Budtenders in the U.S. and Canada

The cannabis data collection company Headset released its latest report on July 13, which covers budtender/employee turnover rates in cannabis dispensaries.

Headset calls cannabis budtenders the “heart and soul of the industry,” because they are essentially ambassadors for the plant and the industry. “Because of their extreme importance, budtender hiring, onboarding, and management is one of the most crucial tasks in any cannabis retail operation,” Headset writes in its introduction. “One of the great challenges of managing budtenders, or staff in any business, is employee turnover. Turnover is often unavoidable and always costly, so it’s essential to optimize the employee hiring and managing process wherever possible. In this report, we explore budtender turnover in the US and Canada to get an understanding of what is and isn’t normal when it comes to budtender turnover.”

The report analyzes information collected between June 2021 through May 2022, with a search in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

For both the U.S. and Canada, the split between senior employees and new employees is nearly the same. In the U.S., 40.6% are employees that were hired more than 12 months ago, with 59.4% being considered as new hires. In Canada, the split between 12 month employees and new hires is 40.1% and 59.9% respectively.

The percentages begin to differ when reviewing the percentages of employees who stay at cannabis dispensaries versus those who leave before the 12-month mark. In the U.S., 45.4% continued working after one year, but 54.6% left, and in Canada, 43.6% stay on while 56.4% quit.

Further data shows that ~16% of employees in both the U.S. and Canada continued to work at their job, but only ~24% chose to leave. The percentage in relation to new hires choosing to stay or leave is much higher—29.3% and 30.1% in the U.S. 27.3% and 32.5% in Canada.

There are many reasons that could influence budtenders to leave their jobs, and in most cases the data is similar in the markets used for analysis. “Retailers in Illinois, for example, seem to be better than average at retaining more experienced staff members for more than one year with 55% of employees hired more than one year ago,” the report states. “Conversely, retailers in Colorado and Oregon tend to have far lower retention, both with more than a third of budtenders starting and ending their employment in the past 12 months. In Canada, Alberta is a bit of an enigma with retailers tending to have slightly better retention among new employees but having lost a larger amount of more tenured employees than in other Canadian provinces.”

The report also shares that 23% of new hires in the U.S. and 24% in Canada leave before the first 30 days of their employment, which is likely attributed to an “efficient and effect new hire onboarding process.”

However, those who perform well in sales are more likely to continue working. “The better performing the budtender is, the more likely they are to continue working,” Headset concludes. “This could be simply because it feels good to do well at a job and so it’s natural to want to continue. However, budtending is still a tip-driven position in many markets and being a top performer could also mean an employee might be bringing home more total income than his or her coworkers.”

The post Headset Report Analyzes Turnover Rates for Budtenders in the U.S. and Canada appeared first on High Times.

Employee Turnover in Cannabis Retail

High employee turnover is always a problem for retail managers, but what about employee turnover in cannabis retail? Also known as “budtenders,” cannabis retail employees are the frontline of the cannabis industry. They are the people customers most interact with. A good budtender can tell you what strains are suitable for what, which are the […]

The post Employee Turnover in Cannabis Retail appeared first on Cannabis News, Lifestyle – Headlines, Videos & Cooking.

Don’t Miss G4 Live Presented by Budtender Awards in Las Vegas

The G4 Live presented by Budtender Awards is taking place at the Las Vegas Convention Center May 12-14, 2022. This event not only honors nominated budtenders but also connects the entire cannabis community with a jam-packed schedule of education, parties, music and brand awareness opportunities.

Budtenders, with their knowledge, passion and customer service skills, are at the heart of the legal cannabis industry. As more and more states become legal in some form, it’s imperative that budtenders are recognized and rewarded for their part in setting a higher standard in the regulated industry. So, you grab your ticket, nominate your favorite budtender and head to Las Vegas next month! 

G4 Live Event Highlights

The annual Budtender Awards event has evolved from its inaugural 2019 event into G4 Live—a multi-day expo that’s designed for exhibitors to take their business to the next level and help remove the negative stigmas associated with the cannabis industry. This is the ultimate event to have your brands and business seen by the people who sell your products. 

Held over three days at the Las Vegas Convention Center, G4 Live brings together world-class brands from around the globe to meet and connect, while helping to elevate the entire cannabis industry. Here are some notable highlights of this high-energy event:

Budtender Awards

The Budtender Awards recognize budtenders who go above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service and cannabis knowledge with the annual awards event, Budtender of the Week announcements, and year-long educational opportunities. Show your favorite budtender some love now and nominate them now for the awards at Every nomination counts as a vote, and every nominee receives a complimentary ticket to G4 Live valued at $389.

Brand Certification Opportunities

Brands are invited to host an hour-long session to teach registered budtenders about their products, brand, ethos and other topics so that they may better assist their customers and patients. At the end of the training, budtenders will take a brief quiz, and if they pass, they will receive their brand certificate that can be displayed in their dispensary or on their resume, verifying them as an expert on that specific brand’s unique value proposition.

Community Advocacy Award Sponsored by Oaksterdam University

Despite archaic stereotypes, budtenders take their jobs, and more importantly, the needs of their patients and customers seriously. Many budtenders have fought hard, and continue to fight, for access to legal cannabis and to help end prohibition. 

The Oaksterdam Community Advocacy Award recognizes the efforts of a budtender who is knowledgeable about the history of prohibition and works to ensure that everyone has access to safe and legal medical and adult-use cannabis. This budtender goes above and beyond to educate and advocate for patients, consumers and the community through words and actions.

One grand prize winner will be awarded a full scholarship to Oaksterdam’s Budtending LIVE Certification Program (valued at $995), or a certificate of equal value to apply to any of the live virtual courses. Two runners-up will receive full tuition to Oaksterdam’s Self-Paced Budtending Certification Program (valued at $695 each), or a certificate of equal value toward any self-paced course. 

Live Music and Parties

Don’t forget the parties! The Budtender Awards is the final event on May 14 and will be closed out with a never-before-seen 75-minute performance by DJ Snoopadelic (Snoop Dogg) and Travis Barker. The show will also include performances by WowAshWow, The Aquadolls and Hunter Moualleum.

The Experience

Tickets for the G4 Live presented by Budtender Awards are $389 which includes access to the three-day G4 Live expo; comped food and open bar happy hours during the expo; Budtender Awards; transportation to the expo via the Tesla Tunnel; after parties; brand certification; first access to limited-edition items; concerts and much more.

Booking accommodations is a breeze, too, as Resorts World is offering discounted hotel rooms to G4 Live attendees through this link: Make your reservations now, as tickets and rooms are almost sold out. Once booked, you will receive updated information about the event in real-time. 

With an estimated 70–80% of sales influenced by budtender recommendations, customers and patients alike look to their local budtenders to elevate their dispensary experience by offering information about the freshest products and the stories behind the strains. Make sure your brand is seen by the right people and become an exhibitor or sponsor of this innovative event.

The post Don’t Miss G4 Live Presented by Budtender Awards in Las Vegas appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Budtenders Are Holding Back Cannabis—but It’s Not Their Fault

Some pregnant and breastfeeding women aren’t listening. Despite health professionals’ warnings, the number of pregnant women using cannabis at least once a month doubled over the last decade to seven percent of women surveyed, according to one recent study. Though this upwards trend is partially a result of healthcare professionals’ reluctance to talk about weed with their patients, researchers from Washington State University’s College of Nursing identified another culprit: budtenders.

In interviews with ten healthcare professionals, the researchers noted universal opposition to using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding—the same advice given about drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco, though the issue isn’t as black-and-white as one would think. But when the researchers asked ten people who worked the sales counter at the local dispensary, they discovered “much more positive” attitudes around cannabis. In fact, a cannabis study revealed states where marijuana is legal had a higher birth rate when compared to other states.

PHOTO Lightfield Studios

Though the budtenders tended to recommend products lower in THC and identified (correctly) that tobacco and alcohol were much more harmful than weed, this was still problematic. According to one budtender, most advice given at the dispensary counter amounted to anecdotal and unverified “stoner science” or quickly Googled tidbits. One takeaway, as the researchers wrote in a recent study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, is that America needs better budtenders.

Workers at the counter ought to trained “on cannabis products” and “how to best serve perinatal customers” before dispensing medical advice, they said.

For an understanding of why they aren’t—and why, under current circumstances, this is a reasonable expectation—you could take a quick trip to Denver, where Andrew Mieure broke into the cannabis industry as a budtender during Colorado’s medical-cannabis era.

Better off flipping burgers than selling buds

Driving around the city during a visit in early 2020, Mieure noticed a sign outside a fast-food shop looking for workers: Now Hiring, $15 an hour, the sign said. He then compared that to job listings for budtender positions. The average pay for an entry-level counter worker at a cannabis dispensary was $13 to $14 an hour, he recalled.

“You can literally flip burgers for better pay than selling an intoxicating drug that’s still federally illegal,” said Mieure, who became co-founder of Top Shelf Budtending, an organization that curates sommelier-level cannabis experiences, but is still incredulous at the memory.

For Mieure, complaints about budtending boil down to the simple cruelty of cold economic logic. “I believe that when you’re not paid properly, you’re only going to do the work you’re paid for,” he said. And neither increased demand for cannabis during the COVID-19 pandemic nor budtenders’ classification as “essential workers” has done anything to change this disparity.

Though advanced certification and worker training courses do exist, there’s little economic incentive, since the skills learned during a weeklong, $3,000 intensive training course don’t translate into higher hourly wages. At some high-volume dispensaries with strict sales quotas, answering questions from a curious patron may actually be discouraged in favor of quickly ringing up a sale and moving onto the next customer. 

Low pay coupled with a lack of health and retirement benefits—one former dispensary worker recalls being offered “medical weed” when she inquired about her employers’ healthcare plan—ensures worker turnover is high. Thus, experienced workers—and knowledgeable budtenders—are a rarity. And so, after a cordial greeting and a recitation of whatever’s on sale or on special, comes the same warmed-over “stoner science” passing for medical advice, followed by critiques from researchers complaining that budtenders are contributing to the delinquency of pregnant women.

PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

How to break this troubling cycle? A good start would be better-paid budtenders and a re-evaluation of the role of the counter help at dispensaries, which today is understood as little more sophisticated than a mere retail clerk. But demanding medical advice from an underpaid retail clerk may require an evolution in the dispensary model itself. Instead of convenience stores, liquor stores or even Apple stores, dispensaries should act more like lounges or clinics. And that will require a reevaluation of the entire dispensary retail model, starting with government regulations.

Budtender, reimagined

Budtender jobs pay poorly in part because—like driving for Uber or Lyft or waiting tables at the local Applebee’s—it’s a job almost anyone can get. Still viewed as a “cool” job, dispensaries report being flooded with applications for every opening. In this market—and in a tough environment where every dispensary owner is trying to find efficiencies wherever possible—dispensaries can afford to skimp on the labor (or so they believe).

Few states require much in the way of qualifications (aside from, counterintuitively, a criminal record free of certain drug-related crimes). Just 56 percent of budtenders surveyed during a 2016 review received training of any kind before taking the job. What training there is doesn’t have to meet any “vetted or certified” standards,” said Mieure, who observed that other job sectors are held to much higher standards that the supposedly tightly regulated cannabis industry.

“I always like to say that the people who do your nails or your hair go through more training,” he said, when budtenders are far “beyond retail. We’re part pharmacist, part psychologist, in some cases.”

A state-certified minimum training course might help. So would worker rights won by labor unions, which have notched wins against employers who have tried to walk back certain basic rights. But so would a re-imagining of the dispensary experience. Instead of a five-minute “in-and-out,” what if a dispensary was a social gathering space—what if, instead of like a corner liquor store, it operated more like a bar?

Some cannabis aficionados bristle at comparisons to the alcohol industry. After all, Colorado legalized cannabis in 2012 on the strength of an advertising campaign that juxtaposed cannabis as a safer alternative. But with its tasting notes hinging on the finer points of climate and terroir, high-end cannabis begs comparisons to nothing more so much as fine wine.

That said, it’s wishful thinking to expect a sommelier to appear at your corner liquor store to help you choose between a jug of Gallo or a box of Franzia. However, the time and space for a discriminating selection and an in-depth conversation is a perfect fit for dispensaries that are social-consumption lounges—a concept seen during the medical-cannabis era that hasn’t quite transitioned to adult-use. “I think we’re going to see the specialty budtender come into play with consumption lounges,” Mieure predicted. Fair pay for a position like that could command as much as  $55,000 a year, with management scraping the six-figure mark. And in an industry supposedly worth tens of billions, why not? The cost of not doing so, as the Washington State researchers found, is bad advice that carries an even steeper bill.

The post Budtenders Are Holding Back Cannabis—but It’s Not Their Fault appeared first on Cannabis Now.

From Food & Beverage to Cannabis: Interview with Richard

This October marked the three-year anniversary of cannabis legalization in Canada. As I write this, I am staggered by the realization of how this industry is so new, so young. So much has happened in the world, it’s easy to forget that truly it has only been three years. To celebrate this anniversary that is […]

The post From Food & Beverage to Cannabis: Interview with Richard appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Cannabis Career: Job Stability and Market Growth Paves Way for Certified Budtenders

Despite the pandemic, the demand for cannabis continues to climb year-over-year and more markets are expected to open or expand business in the coming year.

Many industries experienced massive drops in sales during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic—including local restaurants and bars, movie theaters, and airlines. But that was not the case for the cannabis market, where legal sales surpassed $17.5 billion in 2020, a 46 percent jump year-over-year.

That’s according to a report that also projects that the cannabis industry is again poised for major job growth. In the report, Karson Humiston, founder and CEO of cannabis recruiting firm Vangst, predicted that “2021 is where we’re going to see tremendous job growth, and we think it’s going to be the biggest job creation year the cannabis industry has ever seen.” So far, industry growth is trending in that direction.

Curtesy of Cannabis Career

New Demand Means More Jobs

As evidence of steady job growth in 2020, the U.S. cannabis industry added more than twice as many jobs as it did in 2019, and the trend for more jobs is predicted to continue through 2021 and beyond. This is good news for those interested in preparing for a career at a cannabis dispensary.

Jobs aren’t the only numbers trending higher. Analysts see rising numbers in the growing state cannabis markets as well.

A recent forecast predicts that with new markets coming online and existing markets trending upward, that legal cannabis sales in the U.S. could surpass $30 billion in 2022. This takes into account new markets expected to open for both medical and recreational use.

States Plan to Expand Use

As more states legalize cannabis use for medical and/or recreational use, the job opportunities in those states continue to grow to keep pace. New Mexico, Connecticut, and Alabama are just a few states where legalized cannabis legislation is pending.

Available jobs in the marijuana industry include roles such as medical associates, extraction technicians, warehouse inventory specialists, retail inventory specialists, cultivation technicians, and others. Yet, one of the universal demands remains certified dispensary technicians—also known as budtenders.

A budtender’s job description can vary based on the state they work in and the company they work for. In general, a budtender is a multifaceted sales professional with expert knowledge of cannabis and cannabis products who works in a retail setting. 

See our previous article to read more about some of the responsibilities expected of a budtender, as well as average salaries.

The Budtender Certification Program at

Cannabis Career is an online education provider that prepares its students to become highly sought-after dispensary technicians in the emerging cannabis industry. is wholly owned by Legacy Education, a leader in education that operates several nationally accredited colleges. It inspires confidence knowing their program is backed by a national leader in career education.

Cannabis Career is helping the future cannabis workforce to acquire a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of the industry—and that’s exactly what dispensary owners seek when hiring new budtenders.

Their popular budtender certification program covers all the essential elements of the job, such as the medicinal properties of cannabis, risk prevention, and effective customer communications.

To get certified, Cannabis Career students must apply their knowledge to pass an exam at the end of the program. This can help future employers validate their knowledge and expertise as they prepare to fill the expected demand for dispensary technicians.

Why Become a Certified Budtender?

Job seekers sometimes ask if cannabis training is necessary and why the Cannabis Career budtender training program is beneficial. 

A formal training program will help you be successful. Even if you are familiar with the basic properties of cannabis, there remains a wealth of information regarding its history, benefits, and risks, as well as the legal and ethical issues surrounding its use and distribution.

It’s important to realize that not all budtender courses deliver a comprehensive curriculum or a wide breadth of topics—and not all training programs offer certification. Cannabis Career provides both. 

Becoming a certified budtender offers additional advantages that will help you quickly launch your career in the cannabis industry in the state of your choice.

Cannabis Career
Courtesy of Cannabis Career

Certification Includes the Safety and the Science

Safety is an important consideration for cannabis uses. The Mayo Clinic states that medical marijuana use is generally considered safe. It acknowledges that many states have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes and that research shows it can be effective for many conditions. Cannabis Career stresses the need for those working in the industry to be trained to understand specific safety issues regarding cannabis use.

Then there’s the science of cannabis. Learning about the physical, psychological and medicinally beneficial effects that different forms of cannabis can present in customers is essential for a successful career as a budtender. 

When you enroll in the comprehensive program at Cannabis Career, you’ll learn about safety protocols as well as the science behind cannabis use in the body (see our previous article to review all 11 cannabis-related subjects included in our full curriculum.) This includes:

Cannabis Career
Courtesy of Cannabis Career

Basic Infection Control and Safety in the Cannabis Dispensary

This course provides you the essential knowledge and practices to ensure the safety of you and your customers while working in a cannabis dispensary.(Learn more)

The Endocannabinoid System

Students gain a deep understanding of the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis produces its physical, psychological and medicinally beneficial effects on users. (Learn more)


Phytocannabinoids are plant-based cannabinoids from marijuana. Students of this course learn about how these chemicals can impact the human body. (Learn more)

Pharmaceuticals (synthetic cannabinoids)

This course teaches you the origin of synthetic cannabinoids and how these man-made chemicals interact with the same cell receptors in the brain as THC. (Learn more)

The Human Body and Responsive Conditions to Medical Cannabis

This medical marijuana course takes a big-picture look at the human body and the various medicinal effects of cannabis on the different body systems. (Learn more)

Cannabis Career
Courtesy of Cannabis Career

Why Choose this Program?

Cannabis Career is one of the leading online cannabis schools helping to meet the growing demand for certified budtenders. As evidence of the program’s value, they offer the only cannabis dispensary technician program nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council on Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and licensed by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). 

Another reason to select this leading program is because it’s offered at an affordable price, with 100 percent of learning online.

Start Your Budtender Certification at Today

Are you interested in meeting the growing demands of medical and recreational cannabis use by exploring a career as a certified budtender? Find out why this online program continues to impress employers as the industry continues to expand. 

If you’re looking for an online program that continually prepares new students for a fulfilling job in the rapidly expanding marijuana industry (with certification in hand), begin your journey today at

The post Cannabis Career: Job Stability and Market Growth Paves Way for Certified Budtenders appeared first on High Times.

Friday, May 1, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily New

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, May 1, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Montana judge won’t allow e-signatures for legalization initiative (Leafly)

// Illinois delays awarding 75 recreational marijuana licenses (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Nevada allows marijuana stores to offer curbside pickup (Marijuana Business Daily)

These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.

// Over 9,000 Californians Just Got Their Marijuana Convictions Erased Forever (Merry Jane)

// Cannabis retailer Fire & Flower closing 3 Alberta stores reports CA$22.3M loss (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Companies, groups, churches push for lower California cannabis taxes (Marijuana Business Daily)

// ‘Friends In Weed’ Looks To Help Budtenders And Local Restaurants Amid COVID-19 (Benzinga)

// Cory Booker Calls For Federal Marijuana Legalization Amid Coronavirus (Marijuana Moment)

// Criminals Using Food Delivery Services to Transport Drugs During Lockdown – Interpol (New York Times)

// Willie Nelson Turns 87 This Week, and His Love for Weed Is Stronger Than Ever (Merry Jane)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Cannabis Urlaub/Flickr

Friday, May 1, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily New

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, May 1, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Montana judge won’t allow e-signatures for legalization initiative (Leafly)

// Illinois delays awarding 75 recreational marijuana licenses (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Nevada allows marijuana stores to offer curbside pickup (Marijuana Business Daily)

These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.

// Over 9,000 Californians Just Got Their Marijuana Convictions Erased Forever (Merry Jane)

// Cannabis retailer Fire & Flower closing 3 Alberta stores reports CA$22.3M loss (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Companies, groups, churches push for lower California cannabis taxes (Marijuana Business Daily)

// ‘Friends In Weed’ Looks To Help Budtenders And Local Restaurants Amid COVID-19 (Benzinga)

// Cory Booker Calls For Federal Marijuana Legalization Amid Coronavirus (Marijuana Moment)

// Criminals Using Food Delivery Services to Transport Drugs During Lockdown – Interpol (New York Times)

// Willie Nelson Turns 87 This Week, and His Love for Weed Is Stronger Than Ever (Merry Jane)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Cannabis Urlaub/Flickr

Cannabis Restaurants Are Coming to California, With ‘Budtenders’ and ‘Flower’ Service

Like any good chef about to open a restaurant, Andrea Drummer wants to get her pairings just right. But her lamb chops with plantain-mango salsa won’t be matched with wine or beer. Instead, a “budtender” — some in the industry call them ganjiers, as in ganja sommeliers — will help guests at the soon-to-open Lowell Farms cannabis cafe pair their farm-to-table meal with the perfect strain of farm-to-table marijuana. “A kush is a little more…