HOW TO BECOME A BUDTENDER IN EVERY CANADIAN PROVINCE & TERRITORY

With the legalization of recreational cannabis on October 17, 2018 came the almost immediate opening of cannabis retail stores in almost all provinces and territories. Within these brick and mortar cannabis retail establishments, cannabis connoisseurs were given the opportunity to work as budtenders in the legal Canadian recreational market.

The Budtender’s Critical Role

Budtenders are a critical part of a cannabis retail store operations. A budtender guides the cannabis consumer through their retail experience at a cannabis retail store. A budtender is the face and the voice of the store that employs them.  Budtenders need to be educated in strains, consumption methods, product knowledge, dosage, and accessories, and need to be able to answer consumer questions in a way that is compliant by Health Canada’s standards.

Becoming a budtender is more than knowing about cannabis and requires certifications and security checks before you can work, with these requirements differing across the country. Many Canadian provinces have developed requirements that include a training certification, or security clearance, that must be completed before being officially hired by a cannabis retail store (CRS).  

Below is a brief guide outlining the requirements and certifications needed to become a budtender in every Canadian province and territory.

British Columbia 

Requirements & Certifications

  • Be at least 19 years of age
  • As of June 17, 2021, a worker security verification is no longer required for people who work in private non-medical cannabis retail stores. If you have submitted an application and it is in progress, a $100 refund will be processed automatically.-11.
  • BC has a unique retail cannabis retail hybrid system with both private and public operations.  The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is responsible for the wholesale distribution of non-medical cannabis and oversees the government-run retail stores.  Online sales are exclusively government ran. 
  • The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) oversees the operation and licensing of private cannabis retailers. 

https://www.responsibleservicebc.gov.bc.ca/selling-it-right-course

Alberta

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 18+ 
  • Complete and submit a QCW (Qualified Cannabis Worker) application
  • A current criminal record check
  • Completion of SellSafe, an online certification program. It is required if you are the following: premise owner, manager, supervisor, cashier, or retailer. (Budtenders cannot submit your QCW application till you successfully complete the SellSafe program)

https://sellsafe.aglc.ca

Saskatchewan 

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 19+
  • CannaSell SK Responsible Cannabis Sales online training
  • Must be completed with a passing grade of 80% before hiring

https://business.tourismsaskatchewan.com/en/courses-and-workshops/cannasell-sk-responsible-cannabis-sales

Manitoba 

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 19+
  • Complete the “Smart Choices Cannabis Retail Certification” prior to being hired, a program designed by the LGCA (Liquor, Gaming, & Cannabis Authority of Manitoba) 
  • This program is taught by a qualified instructor and and budtenders are required to past a final standard 20 question test online. 

https://cannabisretail.smartchoicesmb.ca/register.asp

Ontario

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 19+
  • All employees and retail managers must successfully complete the CannSell program. This program was designed by the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario). This can be completed online.
  • This course takes 4 hours approximately to complete and is designed to educate on selling cannabis along with the legal and regulatory responsibilities that come with it. 

https://learn.cannsell.ca/

Quebec

Requirements & Certifications

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Submit a security clearance before even being considered for hire. 
  • Successfully complete the SQDC (Société Québécoise du Cannabis) training. 
  • Be authorized to work in Canada.
  • Must possess a secondary school diploma or recognized diploma.
  • Have at least one year of experience in customer service or retail. A combination of at least two years in a relevant field can be considered also. 
  • Demonstrate an interest in the cannabis field and show an understanding of how cannabis is marketed. 
  • Be able to fluently speak French.
  • Be available to work days, evenings, and weekends. 

https://www.sqdc.ca/en-CA/about-the-sqdc/careers

New Brunswick

Requirements & Certifications Needed

  • Must be 19+ 
  • Bilingualism is an asset. New Brunswick is Canada’s only officially bilingual province with the languages being French and English. 
  • NB has one of the most comprehensive and intensive cannabis training programs. NB liquor and Canopy growth partnered together to develop this program. It is the first of its kind in Canada. 
  • This program is compiled of 3 weeks of in-class training, along with an online component and individual learning. 

Prince Edward Island

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 19 + 
  • The PEICMC (Prince Edward Island Cannabis Management Corporation) under the branded name “PEI Cannabis” is responsible for the selling and distribution of legal cannabis products. 
  • Cannabis retail staff receive in-store training in conjunction with Lift & Co Cannabis Retail Training (CannSell).

Nova Scotia

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 19+ 
  • The cannabis information company, Lift & Co has developed a 5-day Cannabis retail training Certification that all potential employees must complete, in accordance with the NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) 

Newfoundland & Labrador 

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 19+
  • Must pass a Criminal Background Check 
  • Must possess High School Diploma or Equivalency
  • Stores are privately owned and cannabis is supplied by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation
  • According to the NLLC, the budtender’s role is to provide prompt, personalized, and courteous customer service in order to  promote the brand’s image of quality and professionalism 

Yukon

Requirements & Certifications Needed

  • Must be 19+ 
  • Complete the Be A Responsible Server- Cannabis (BARS-C) program. This is an online training course that takes 3 to 6 hours to complete with a final exam at the end.  

https://yukon.ca/en/get-training-training-be-able-sell-cannabis-bars-c

Northwest Territories 

Requirements & Certifications

  • Must be 19+ 
  • The Government of the Northwest Territories sells cannabis in conjunction with its liquor stores.
  • Employees are trained to ensure they are knowledgeable about the cannabis products for sale. 
  • Cannabis products are locked at all times and are available by request only.

https://www.ntlcc.ca/en

Nunavut 

Requirements & Certifications

Is a Certification Enough for Success?

This brief overview of the requirements needed to become a budtender only scratches the surface of what it takes to be successful in the budtender role. First and foremost, a budtender must have the passion to learn and help people with their cannabis needs, a friendly persona, and a desire to help improve the recreational cannabis industry within Canada. 

Having an outgoing personality and a passion for cannabis will be a strong asset for any budtender. To be a successful budtender, one must have the gift of communicating, but also be able to carefully and actively listen to the consumer and be able to meet their cannabis needs. Having exceptional customer service will be a strong asset. The modern cannabis store is not your stereotypical headshop and they cater to people from all walks of life. 

A good budtender will be able to steer their customers in the right direction of what experience they’re looking to get out of their cannabis. However, it’s important to always remember that budtenders are not a trained medical professionals and cannot speak on how a product can affect any medical ailments consumers are looking to treat. 

It is important to be educated on how everybody processes cannabinoids differently and budtenders can recommend products but not prescribe them. This is why many provinces have gone on to develop extensive online training programs that will teach their employees the cannabis fundamentals before you can even sell cannabis to a customer.

Go Forth and Budtend!

With cannabis being designated an essential service across most Canadian provinces and territories, this is a strong indication that budtenders will always be needed. Stay tuned as we launch Kantoka Pro, an all-inclusive, highly-functional recruitment platform that connects cannabis retail stores with their future budtending staff.

Do what you can now to prepare yourself and get your certifications, so that when the right opportunity comes up for you, you can jump on it immediately.

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