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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Most Coveted Job in San Francisco: Tending Bud

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 7:15 AM

You will need to smoke a joint after bud's a stressful job
  • You will need to smoke a joint after bud's a stressful job
You will need to smoke a joint after bud's a stressful job

It may not be the best job in San Francisco: starting pay is $15 an hour, it's part-time, and job security? The federal government could lock you up at any moment.

On the other hand, at most locations it includes health benefits (including dental), 401k -- and employee discount on the store's wares, which just so happen to be medical cannabis.

On second thought, working at one of the city's 26 medical cannabis dispensaries is possibly the best job ever.

This, coupled with the recession -- these are the days when people with PhDs fold khakis at The Gap -- should make it no surprise that there was a healthy response when Shambhala Healing Center, the city's newest dispensary, advertised for a "budtender" job last week on Craigslist.

Just how healthy? As of Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the job ad was posted, Shambhala had received more than 200 applications, according to the dispensary manager, who wishes to be known only as Al.

"I was expecting 30 or 40, at the most," Al told SF Weekly, eyeing a stack of e-mailed resumes warily in the dispensary's office on Friday afternoon. "I'm overwhelmed."

SF Weekly was allowed but a brief perusal, and it appeared that

the budtender hopefuls ran the gamut from young, wide-eyed marijuana

aficionados -- "I love marijuana, and people!" one applicant wrote -- to

veterans of the retail trade who just happened to possess medical recommendations.

It's possible Al already made

a hire, we couldn't reach him Monday -- but whoever it is will join a staff of 10, a

decent-sized crew considering that Shambhala is has only been in business for two months. Older and more-established HopeNet on Ninth Street has six workers.

So is it the recession, or are these bud jobs truly coveted? It's more the latter than the former, according to Catherine Smith, HopeNet's owner.

Budtender jobs in San Francisco open up rarely -- if ever; Smith hasn't hired anyone new in years, and she still receives "at least three" unsolicited resumes a week.

"And every time Oaksterdam University has a graduation, I have a big influx of kids [asking for jobs]," said Smith.

She then added that HopeNet announced it was starting a delivery service, and "about 20 bike messengers" announced they were available for the job (sorry guys, Smith already had a driver in mind).

Certainly, tending bud is easier than growing it or trimming it, as anyone who's spent 14 hours a day with a pair of Fiskars and pound after pound of leafy green stuff can attest (and the safety of a stool behind a bud counter beats running from CAMP helicopters in

Mendocino, right?).

Smith passed along some sound advice to all of those wanna-be bud tenders -- it's no easy gig.

"I think everyone sees us behind the counter, surrounded by medicine, smoking a joint, and they think it's a big party," she said. "But it's work."

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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