Leading the Way in Cannabis Education: A Brief Review of Leafly’s Budtender Training

If you’ve been on Leafly in the last month, you are likely aware that they have launched a new, cutting edge approach to understanding cannabis as a consumer. Well, not surprisingly, they are doing an amazing job developing a comprehensive approach to training budtenders on the available science of cannabis as well.

I’m proud to say that I’ve completed Leafly’s budtender training curriculum, and I am now certified as a Budtender. As someone who’s been a training director in my past and has a history of training adult learners, I thought I’d take a few minutes and review my experience with the training. Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive review of the training materials, and I’m trying to complete a review of the materials from memory, so I may accidentally have left some things out!

The training is broken down in to three major categories for budtenders as core knowledge; these include an understanding of the science of cannabis, an understanding of how to discuss the feelings and experiences the consumer wants to have (or has had) in order to make informed suggestions and how to help the consumer understand what may be an appropriate dose for that person.

The Science

Know your shape, Know your color!

Leafly has provided a brilliant “flower shaped” model to provide a visual representation of various cannabis flower strain components. As many people know, the two most common cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are THC and CBD and those are represented on the flower by diamonds (THC) and circles (CBD); thus, strains are described as either THC dominant, CBD dominant, or balanced based on the size of shapes. Further, elongated diamonds mean high THC content just as large circles represents high CBD content—know your shape!

The colors represent the most commonly found terpenes among strains—there are 8 on which they focus. Blue represents Myrcene which is the most common terpene among cannabis plant strains and is said to be calming. Pine Green represents Pinene which is the most common terpene in the plant kingdom and is great for inflammation, pain and anxiety. Orange represents Terpinolene which is suggested to have uplifting effects. Linalool is represented by the color purple and is a terpene common to the lavender plant which promotes relaxation in humans. Ocimene is represented by pink and is a terpene common to perfumes. Caryophyllene is a terpene with special characteristics and is the only terpene to also function like a CBD molecule with our CB2 receptors—it is represented by the color Red. Limonene, a terpene believed to help with stress relief and anxiety is represented by the color yellow. Finally, Humulene is a hoppy terpene represented by lime green. Know your color!

Endocannabinoid System

Leafly touches on the endocannabinoid system as part of their budtender training as well. The training touches on the most common receptors for THC and CBD, CB1 and CB2 respectively. Just like a key fitting in to a lock, the CBD and THC molecules act like a key unlocking, or activating our CB2 receptors in the case of CBD and CB1 and CB2 receptors in the case of THC. It is clear that we have receptors throughout our bodies that allow us to benefit from the wonderful medicine in the cannabis plant. It is also clear that we wouldn’t be able to benefit from the plant medicine if we didn’t have an Endocannabinoid System, so thank God for that!

The Science of Feelings

In the training they have budtenders consider the idea that there is a science behind human feelings and experiences. In this section, they discuss how the physical environment can affect how a person experiences cannabis, so it’s important for a budtender to know in what type of environment they plan to consume their cannabis. They discuss the fact that stimuli in the environment can elicit certain emotional and/or behavioral responses in people and consumers should consider that too when consuming cannabis.

Further, they discuss how the individual terpenes can impact a person’s experience with cannabis, so getting as much clarity from the consumer as possible on how cannabis strains they’ve tried in the past has made them feel.  Learning how budtenders can effectively discuss these feelings and effects with the consumer in order to make informed suggestions, is the main focus of this section.


This section discusses the various routes by which cannabis can be consumed. These included inhalation, gastro-intestinal ingestion, topical and oral uptake.  Inhalation would obviously include dabbing, vaping concentrate and vaping, or smoking flower. Gastro-intestinal ingestion, refers to taking capsules, edibles and the like. Topical refers to putting CBD and THC oil, creams and salves on your skin. And oral uptake refers to consuming tinctures.

They make sure that budtenders are aware of a person’s current history with cannabis use before recommending products too. They recommend that folks new to edibles take it slow and consumer about 2.5-5mg of THC max and wait a couple hours before trying more to see the effect that batch of edibles will have on the consumer.


Leafly continues to impress me with their dedication to the cannabis community. From starting as a strain database many years ago to educate people, all the way to becoming a leader in the industry; they are doing it for all the right reasons in my opinion. If you are a consumer, download the app immediately and start learning your shape and color to find out what kind of cannabis products will work the best for you. If you are a business owner with frontline budtenders, strongly consider partnering with them to access these educational materials and other wonderful services! Visit www.leafly.com for more information.

Michael Saunders