Helping someone find their right strain as a budtender is both an art and a science
No person’s cannabis experience is the same as another. While we have tons of information about cannabis strains through sites like Leafly and Leaf Guru, there is really no “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing your cannabis strain. It’s a budtender’s role to help the cannabis consumer understand the very basics of strains: the differences between a sativa, indica, and hybrid; THC and CBD content; terpene content; and other various attributes that sets strains apart from one another.
Helping someone find their right strain as a budtender is both an art and a science. It requires extensive strain knowledge, medical knowledge, customer service, and the art of conversation.
The Art and Science of Cannabis Strain Choice
When helping a customer find their perfect strain, here are a few creative questions you can ask to get the dialogue going to narrow down some perfect suggestions:
Are you looking for a strong psychoactive effect?
Many people who are using cannabis have caught on to the high CBD flowers, and may not be in the dispensary chasing a psychoactive high. If someone indicates that they don’t want a strong psychoactive effect, you may opt for a strain with a low percentage of THC and high CBD content. If this is the case, you may want to steer them in the direction of popular CBD-rich strains like Harlequin and Charlotte’s Web.
What are the activities you like to do when using cannabis?
Asking this question will help you nail down whether an indica or sativa is appropriate for someone. If they indicate they would like to use cannabis for relaxation and to de-stress, they may be a candidate for an indica. If someone indicates that they would like to use cannabis for focus and productivity, a sativa or a sativa-dominant hybrid may work well.
Will you be using cannabis in social contexts?
Many indica or indica-dominant strains can cause over-relaxation or that feeling of “couch lock”. If your customer indicates that they like to use cannabis on a night out or within social situations, there are some heady, heavy-hitting sativas that are excellent for party time. Suggest something like Durban Poison (for energy), Sour Lemon OG (for a calm energetic feeling), and Tangie, a sativa, sweet-smelling crowd pleaser.
Is flavor important to you in your cannabis?
Terpenes are the building blocks of plant science, and are what gives cannabis its aroma and flavor. When looking into terpene science, you’ll notice that certain terpenes give off certain aromas. Limonene is responsible for that sweet citrus smell (i.e. Super Lemon Haze, Tangie); while pinene gives a piney, woodsy aroma and flavor (i.e. Jack Herer, Blue Dream, Island Sweet Skunk)
What time of day do you find cannabis to be most helpful?
Many people choose to use cannabis throughout the day, but at different periods. Some choose to microdose cannabis as well to get small levels of elevation through trace amounts of THC. Some prefer only to use cannabis at night to help them relax and sleep. Revealing the time of day that your customer prefers to use cannabis will help target some strain families. For instance, if they like to stay focused for a while and then have time to chill after some brain power has been expelled, a focused-inducing indica dominant strain may be a good choice. For sleep, a heavy indica, or for wakefulness, a strong sativa.
What concerns do you have about certain strains?
Those who aren’t “up” on the science of cannabis may be able to best describe their questions, and concerns, through the feeling or state of mind they’re seeking or trying to avoid. Some may demonstrate a fear of being “too high”, which may lead you to a lower THC strain. Some may worry that they’ll get too lethargic, which may lead to recommending a sativa or sativa-dominant hybrid.
Are there any medical conditions or symptoms you are hoping to use cannabis to relieve?
If someone indicates interest in the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, ask them questions about the symptoms they are interested to ease, and what they have heard about medical cannabis. With the discourse being so lively on CBD, you may find yourself again recommending CBD-rich strains that have demonstrated benefits on health and wellness.
What is your experience with cannabis?
Simply put, new users should ease into THC so as to prevent a bad experience if they use a cannabis product that is too potent. Great strains for beginners include Harlequin, Harle-Tsu, Pennywise, ACDC, and Cannatonic. Most of these strains provide a relaxed and uplifting effect, without too much of a powerful THC punch.
Be the Strain Guide
It’s as simple as this: the more you educate yourself as a budtender on the strains available in your cannabis retail store, the more benefit you are to your customer and the cannabis community. Don’t be a passive budtender; get into the psyche of your customer to provide them with the best product, and best customer experience, they can have within a legal cannabis store.