Final Bell

Is it normal to tip your budtender?

Published Jul 29, 2022 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / lisatop

Perhaps it’s the fact that tipping has become so deeply ingrained in our day-to-day transactions that has made it such a hot topic among dispensary customers because people really want to know whether or not their budtender is expecting them to leave a tip.

We already pay so much even for the most basic flower products, especially after adding the sky-high taxes applied to each purchase, so you know that both dispensaries and the government are getting a significant portion of the sale, but what about those who helped you on this journey? Are budtenders and their many talents worth paying extra, and if you don’t, will they still go home with enough money to make it through each day?

These are questions we aim to answer, with the most simplified explanations possible.

What do budtender jobs entail?

Budtenders are the faces of dispensaries, taking care of face-to-face interactions on a daily basis, and it’s not always easy, especially when some customers have high expectations of what these skilled employees should have to offer. Most are looking for specialized recommendations, or some other worldly advice on how to smoke, vape, roll, or anything else cannabis-related, but the truth is that it takes minimal education to fill this position.

In many cases, budtenders don’t even use these plant products, they just think it might be cool to spend all day selling them, and some employees still hold onto old cannabis myths. None aside from a select few in medical dispensaries have the power to legally offer recommendations based on a particular experience or medical need, and for that reason, it doesn’t take a specialist to do this job.

It is important to note that this particular customer service position is no less challenging than most, but it’s also not a specialized career for most. It’s a hard job some days, and it can take forever to learn all there is to know just about the products they sell. A living wage only seems reasonable but is it up to customers to supplement the income of budtenders or are companies stepping up and taking care of their invaluable employees?

What do budtenders get paid?

All budtenders in varying regions receive different pay, but the general rule of thumb is that most receive just above minimum wage to start. It is important to note that this is not equal to a minimum wage for servers in restaurants, which is significantly less. In Canada for example, most budtender roles come with starting wages of $15.00-$18.00 an hour, with incremental increases over time, while servers make an average of $5.00 or less than that per hour, despite having to conduct multiple interactions with customers.

Cannex

Some might say that this isn’t a living wage, and in many places that is the painful truth, but it’s still a lot more than servers in bars and restaurants receive, so should we really be expected to leave a tip?

Is it customary to leave a tip?

We couldn’t find much reliable data in terms of how many budtenders expect or hope to receive a tip, so instead, we took to the phones to conduct our own research based on what’s happening right now in Ontario. Of course, since it would be a costly endeavour to drive around in person, it’s entirely possible that some dispensary owners/employees weren’t entirely honest. However, the answers we got shocked us a little.

Only 1 in 10 dispensaries (out of 60) said they have a tip jar to be shared among on-shift employees, while just as many said they prohibited employees from taking tips at all. The majority (8 in 10) said they had no problem if their workers received gratuities on a transaction, while a select few, went into detail about the positive difference it made in the lives of employees, many of whom are paying their way through college or university.

Should you leave a tip?

At the end of the day, if you can afford to leave a tip, want to, and receive exemplary service along the way then there’s really no reason not to leave a small gesture of your appreciation (unless of course it is prohibited). However, if you can’t, then there’s no reason to lose sleep over it.

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