Lockdown is in full force once again and cannabis stores are only operating on a pick-up and delivery model across Ontario. While I am all for public safety and recognize the importance of lockdown measures, I also wonder about the impact that this has on how consumers engage with recreational cannabis. How are we serving our greater community, delivering cannabis knowledge and curated experiences when the only interaction they have with us is to check I.d and get handed a bag.
Weed is personal. Everyone who enjoys cannabis knows that there are some cultivars and products they are head over heels in love with, and others they wish they had never tried—and this is different for everyone.
With legalization, so many new people are exploring cannabis, while others are beginning to explore ‘legal’ cannabis. However, without the proper relationships to guide their experiences i.e. budtenders, how can we ensure that we’re adequately supporting consumers throughout their exploratory journey?
Most online ordering systems will give you options to categorize your menu by product format, THC, CBD, and %. While this is useful for people who might already know what they want, it’s not friendly to those wanting to explore cannabis. Furthermore, it’s not representative of the actual plant—cannabis can’t be broken down to a sum of its parts, what makes each plant beautiful is the unique combination of cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes and more. Isolating one aspect of the plant and insinuating a certain experience is misleading and risks harming the longevity of our industry.
In part, this is why budtenders are so important. Budtenders are not only educated in cannabis science, specific brands and products, but they also hold a wealth of personal and collected experiences. When consumers walk into a store and speak with budtenders, they communicate their needs, desires, and preferences and are guided through an assortment of products they can experiment with. More importantly, the ability to go back and share your experience of that product gives budtenders more insights into your particular endocannabinoid system, and future recommendations are even more targeted to your specific desires. This is why so many consumers walk into a store and ask for a particular budtender—cannabis is a relationship one explores with oneself and with a community; it’s not simply selecting a random product from a menu and hoping for the best.
As we adjust to pandemic measures, it’s important to consider the long-term effects of limiting consumer connections. There have already been many shifts to respond to these closers. Consumers are following their favourite budtenders on social media and new technologies to help personalize shopping are gaining momentum. The big question is, are we adapting to grow with these new restrictions, or are we falling behind?