BACKGROUND: Most cannabis patients engage with dispensary staff, like budtenders, for medical advice on cannabis. Yet, little is known about these interactions and how the characteristics of budtenders affect these interactions. This study investigated demographics, workplace characteristics, medical decision-making, and online behaviors among a sample of budtenders.
METHODS: Between June and September 2016, a cross-sectional Internet survey was administered to budtenders in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles. A total of 158 budtenders fully responded to the survey. A series of comparisons were conducted to determine differences between trained and untrained budtenders.
RESULTS: Among the 158 budtenders, 56% had received formal training to become a budtender. Several demographic differences were found between trained and untrained budtenders. For workplace characteristics, trained budtenders were more likely to report budtender as their primary job (74% vs 53%), practice more than 5 years (34% vs 11%), and receive sales commission (57% vs 16%). Trained budtenders were significantly less likely to perceive medical decision-making as very important (47% vs 68%) and have a patient-centered philosophy (77% vs 89%). Although trained budtenders had significantly lower Internet usage, they were significantly more likely to exchange information with patients through e-mail (58% vs 39%), text message (46% vs 30%), mobile app (33% vs 11%), video call (26% vs 3%), and social media (51% vs 23%).
CONCLUSIONS: Budtenders who are formally trained exhibit significantly different patterns of interaction with medical cannabis patients. Future studies will use multivariate methods to better determine which factors independently influence interactions and how budtenders operate after the introduction of regulations under the newly passed Proposition 64 that permits recreational cannabis use in California.