Meet Jennifer Burr, Arkansas’s best budtender

Meet Jennifer Burr, Arkansas’s best budtender



Jennifer Burr of Sherwood’s Natural Relief Dispensary has been voted Best Budtender in the Arkansas Times annual Best of Arkansas readers survey. As a wellness consultant, the 30-year-old Burr studies cannabis and its effects so she can give patients the best recommendations. Ultimately, she said, the best advice she can offer any new cannabis consumer is to have patience. 

What drew you to working as a budtender?

For me, it was the compassionate care aspect of it. I have always been understanding of people’s pain, people’s needs. My ultimate goal coming into this was to help people live abundantly and, for some, to help people die peacefully, and in that we have attacked a lot of physical pain, mental pain, PTSD. We’re big on our veterans here. So being a part of that has been truly awesome.

Did you have previous experience in the industry in another state?

This was a new experience for me. I came in having minimal knowledge. Natural Relief really supports its wellness consultants and budtenders by giving us knowledge. They put us through what I would consider like college cannabis courses. We have to pass tests. I’m still testing even though I’ve been here for a year and four months. We test over things as far as terpenes and CBD, CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol). What makes us different, I feel, compared to other dispensaries, is having that knowledge as the backbone. That way we can truly help our patients with whatever they’re needing. 

What makes a good budtender?

I think what makes a good budtender is one who is receptive. They’re open. They listen and they truly comprehend what products need to go to that person in order to help them with whatever they’ve got going on. Another thing for a budtender is, you need to have patience and understand that just because they come in the dispensary, they have a whole life outside of that dispensary and we may not understand it on the inside. So when someone comes in and they’re in a lot of pain, they may be aggravated. Understanding where that aggravation is coming from makes a big difference. Knowing someone’s not coming in, for the most part, trying to be malicious. They are truly trying to feel better.

What questions do you get most often from customers?

A lot of times people ask about the legality at this point, because Arkansas is so new to the cannabis scene, just making sure that they have their legal receipt, that they are covered legally, that we’re responsible, that things are weighed correctly, that every business opportunity that we have, we do it in a professional manner. I think for a lot of people that come to our dispensary, they notice that we’re very professional with what we do and we have our end goal to help our patients feel better, whether it be mentally, physically, spiritually, whatever it is. 

Anecdotally, we’ve heard that customers often gravitate toward marijuana with the highest THC even though that’s not necessarily going to lead to a positive experience for everyone. Do you try to steer customers in other directions, or educate them on other considerations?

We definitely do have some people who are THC chasers and this is what I tell them. They’ll see a strain of 11 or 13% THC and think that it’s not going to be effective. We steer them right back to the terpenes and how essential those are. Those are our essential oils of cannabis. And then I have to prepare them for the future. If you keep getting 28-30% strains, in the future you can have problems getting medicated because that’s all that your system knows is high THC. So 

we go back to focus in on the terpenes. It doesn’t matter if it’s 13% or 11% as far as the THC is involved. 

Are the customers receptive to that? 

Yes, because in the long term I think a lot of people have experience where they keep getting the higher THC, and they can’t get medicated. And it’s very frustrating to not be able to get what you need and have to pay the price that we pay here in Arkansas as far as a cost. You definitely don’t want to ever get down that road. So I think for a lot of people, they’re receptive because they look long-term. 

What strain is especially popular these days?

[Osage Creek Cultivation’s] Eleven Roses, that’s a pure indica. [Osage’s] Durban Poison, a straight sativa. It’s high in THCV, which means it’s an appetite suppressant as well. I think a lot of people don’t want the munchies and they want to feel energized. . . [Osage’s] Cluster Bomb has been a very, very popular. Any of the new Cheech and Chongs [grown in Arkansas by BOLD Cultivation], I feel like they sell very, very quickly and that’s just because people know that name. 

If you had one piece of advice for a new consumer, what would it be? 

Patience. Just like you would go to a doctor and they would write you a prescription and let’s say that prescription didn’t work well for you. You go back to the doctor and you try something else. It’s the same thing we do here. If something doesn’t work or if you have a bad reaction or it doesn’t work well with your body, we come back and we try something else. 

Do you get tips? If so, what’s an average week look like?

We’re all paid very, very well for what we do, considering that we’re coming in not having very much knowledge. And then having the hunger for knowledge is another difference from one budtender to another. I train new people that come in as well, and you have to be passionate about what you do. You have to have that hunger for knowledge. There’s many nights that I would go home and I would study and that’s just to make me a better budtender to help people in the long term. But yes, we do get tips, but we split our tips. They’re going to range anywhere from $160 to $200 a week per budtender. And then we get our hourly on top of that. So we’re paid pretty well here. They take very good care of us.