One of the more visible results of legal marijuana in Washington State has been the appearance of the cannabis retail store. In the same way we’ve always shopped for tools in a hardware store or bought clothes in a department store, we can now drive down the street and see a business like Bellingham’s 2020 Solutions dedicated to the sale of cannabis and cannabis products, complete with a sign out front and staff working inside.

They’re not dark and dirty dens rife with crime and corruption some people may have feared. Instead, these shops are clean and well-lit, with a relaxed atmosphere, and they also feature security staff and ID checks to make sure everyone is safe and well-behaved.

Fairwinds is proud of their graduates, and maintain a list of shops where they are on hand to assist customers. Photo courtesy: Fairwinds Cannabis

Now 2020 Solutions is improving its guest service even more. After all, while some people may know exactly what they’re after when they enter a cannabis shop, others find themselves standing in a foreign world, surrounded by jargon, charts and brand names they can barely understand. That’s why 2020 Solutions has put an emphasis on staffing its family of stores with a passionate and knowledgeable staff, and why they’ve been working so closely with Fairwinds Cannabis.

Fairwinds is a Washington-based producer of “highly engineered nutraceutical cannabis wellness products,” which means they grow and process high-tech and high-quality marijuana-based products. They clone one type of marijuana plant, then carefully control its growth so that each crop always has the same cannabinoid profile. They then process the flowers carefully, to ensure that the end result is a clean, consistent line of products their customers will enjoy.

They’ve also recently stepped into a new arena: providing education and training for the staff that sell their products to the public. Just as we expect bartenders to know how to properly mix a drink and comply with liquor laws, we can now expect budtenders at 2020 Solutions to know the effects of the cannabis products they sell and how to guide guests to a purchase that will meet their needs, as well as follow the laws that guide their sale.

The Fairwinds logo pin identifies those that have successfully completed the educational program. Photo courtesy: Fairwinds Cannabis

“We often find that budtenders throughout the state are in this business for two reasons: passion for the cannabis plant, and passion for helping others,” says Steve Schechterle, director of marketing at Fairwinds. “The Fairwinds Budtender Empowerment program was created to not only pass along detailed information about cannabis science and Fairwinds products, but to also uplift the budtenders we work with here in Washington State to help them better assist their customers.”

To meet this goal, they created a comprehensive guide to all of Fairwinds’ offerings, as well as the processes that create the specific products. This gives budtenders at 2020 Solutions access to a series of 18 videos that teach them the differences between THC, the chemicals in marijuana that create the “high” a user feels, and CBD, the chemicals that are used to treat issues like anxiety, insomnia and pain, but do not produce a high. They also educate budtenders about the science behind things like terpenes, the essential oils that plants use to create aromas that might scare off pests—or attract the buying public.

Well-trained staff are a valuable tool in the world of cannabis products. Photo courtesy: Fairwinds Cannabis

“Once the budtender completes the video portion of the training, they’re directed to learning modules that present them with a series of questions where they’re provided the answer and sourcing information, whether they get the question right or wrong,” Schechterle explains. The training is not designed to trip up budtenders, but to ensure that they have the knowledge to provide the best quality of customer service.

“Upon completing these modules, the budtender then has to pass one final exam with a score of 84+ to officially become Fairwinds Certified,” Schechterle says. When they pass, they’re awarded a pin they can wear that lets a guest know they’re dealing with an expert.

“We’re also in the process of mailing out framed diplomas to each of our 250 Fairwinds Certified budtenders across Washington. Once a store has more than five Fairwinds Certified budtenders, they are placed on a special list on our website of preferred retail partners.”

The Budtender Empowerment guidebook is the first step in a budtender’s higher education. Photo courtesy: Fairwinds Cannabis

Aaron Nelson, Director of Actualization at 2020 Solutions, is a big believer in this sort of education for budtenders at their three Bellingham stores. “Aaron and his team have gone above and beyond by making sure that every single one of their budtenders is Fairwinds Certified, and prepared to provide the very best support for their guests,” says Schechterle.

Whether you’re a seasoned cannabis veteran looking for some adventure, or a newcomer stepping into this type of shopping experience for the first time, the Fairwinds logo is a good sign that you’re talking to an expert.

Warning: Marijuana products may be purchased or possessed only by persons 21 years of age or older. This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming. Smoking is hazardous to your health. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product and should not be used by women that are pregnant or breastfeeding. For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of reach of children. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.


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