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What it’s Like to Work in a Dispensary

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSC chapter.

When I told my mother that I got a job at a dispensary, she was… let’s just say, less than enthused. She said, “Elise, how can you work at a dispensary? You have asthma and hate the smell of smoke!” To which I replied, “Mom… it’s illegal to smoke on property.” See, she was envisioning that I worked in a near condemned building surrounded by a cloud of smoke. And, ya know, 10 or 20 years ago, she might have been right. But in this modern age of designer cannabis and dispensaries that look more like Apple stores than smoke shops, that idea just isn’t accurate.

I work as a Front Desk Associate, aka a receptionist, at a dispensary after quitting my last job at Starbucks. For me, this was a jarring transition. I’d worked for Starbucks for two years and had fully expected to stay with the company until I graduated. But, of course, life happened and I quit Starbucks. A fun fact about me is that I don’t smoke or really consume cannabis, like at all. I started taking CBD (which is non-psychoactive) to help with my chronic pain, but that’s about it, so the thought of working at a dispensary had never really occurred to me. But when I quit Starbucks and needed a new job, my roommate said hers was hiring. Now I’m three months into the job and it’s both exactly what I thought it would be and nothing like I expected.

Here are some things I’ve learned about working in a dispensary (but I’ve only worked at one so it might be different elsewhere):

  1. One of the reasons my mom was concerned about my working at a dispensary was my having to deal with the “crazies” that she believed would come in. But honestly, most of the customers are okay; I had to deal with ruder and more dangerous customers when I was at Starbucks. I have a security guard, cameras, and the ability to turn someone away if they’re being creepy. A safety concern I was not afforded at Starbucks.
  2. No one cares that I don’t smoke; I wasn’t even asked during my interview or training. If a customer asks what I like at the store, I send them to the Budtender (aka the person who actually sells the weed). I once had a customer ask if I was high and his daughter yelled at him. That was fun.
  3. There is soooo much science behind cannabis. It’s insane. I had to train and take a test (and pass) on how marajuna is grown, it’s different parts, and how cannabis affects the human body. Before I got the job, I had no understanding other than that it’s a plant you can smoke, but cannabis is way more complex and precise than that. If you’re interested, I would definitely recommend doing some research.

For the most part, I like working at the dispensary. Well, at least more than Starbucks. I sit at a computer all day, check in customers, and answer phones, doing homework in between customers. Like most customer service jobs, you get people who refuse to wear masks and others that call asking questions that take 2 seconds to google. Because at the end of the day, that’s all that working in a dispensary is–a customer service job. Sure, we sell products that aren’t federally legal and make you high as a kite, but we still have to sell it to you.

Hi y'all! I'm Elise and I'm a History and Politics double major and Classical Studies minor. When I'm not holed up in the library, I love to hike, journal, make coffee, and wander through museums.