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Economy & Business

Want To Be A ‘Budtender’? Here's What It Takes To Work In An Illinois Marijuana Dispensary

Shoppers browse products inside a Collinsville recreational marijuana dispensary owned by Ascend Wellness Holdings. The store is at 1014 Eastport Plaza Dr.
Ascend Wellness Holdings
Shoppers browse products inside a Collinsville recreational marijuana dispensary owned by Ascend Wellness Holdings. The store is at 1014 Eastport Plaza Drive.

As dispensaries across the state keep a close eye not only on the supply of their marijuana products but also their workforce to meet the demand from recreational weed customers, they may begin looking for new “budtenders” to apply.

Some dispensaries in the state, including in Chicago and Champaign, had to close for a day this week to give their staff a break because of a shortage of state-approved employees available to handle transactions.

One company, Illinois Supply and Provisions, continues to increase staffing “where it makes sense to help meet the demands of the growing market,” according to Chris McCloud, a company spokesman. It has stores in Springfield and in Collinsville, where it is operating under its old name as a medical marijuana dispensary, HCI Alternatives.

The Collinsville location is the Metro East’s only recreational weed dispensary for now. Up to four will be allowed in the region eventually. Illinois Supply and Provisions, for instance, has said it is planning to open another store in Fairview Heights later this year.

If you want to work in a dispensary, here’s what you need to know.


What's the process for becoming a 'budtender'?

First, prospective employees should submit an application to the dispensary.

If they are hired, they’ll have to undergo a background check. The dispensary will submit an application to get the identification card from the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation employees must have to work in Illinois’ cannabis industry.

The department may not issue an ID card if the person has been convicted of a felony offense, but it is required by law to consider evidence of rehabilitation and mitigating factors in the applicant’s record, such as the amount of time that has passed since their conviction and circumstances of the offense.

Newly hired employees will then go through two sets of training: one from the state and another from the dispensary.

The state training covers the following topics:

  • Health and safety concerns of cannabis use, including the responsible use of cannabis, its physical effects, onset of physiological effects, recognizing signs of impairment and appropriate responses in the event of over-consumption.
  • Laws and regulations on driving while under the influence.
  • Prohibitions on sales to minors.
  • All relevant Illinois laws and rules.
  • Acceptable forms of identification, including how to check identification and common mistakes made in verification.
  • Safe storage of cannabis.
  • Compliance with all inventory tracking regulations.
  • Waste handling, management and disposal.
  • Health and safety standards at the dispensary.
  • Maintenance of records.
  • Security and surveillance requirements.
  • Permitting inspections by state and local licensing and enforcement authorities.
  • Privacy issues.
  • Packaging and labeling requirements.

Illinois requires dispensaries’ training to cover the following, at a minimum:

  • The point-of-sale system and the state’s verification system.
  • Proper inventory handling and tracking.
  • Specific uses of cannabis or cannabis-infused products.
  • Regulatory inspection preparedness and law enforcement interaction.
  • The legal requirements for maintaining status as an employee.

Lexi Cortes is a reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio

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