Chem Tales: Know Your Budtender, Yazzy Davis

This young Apothecarium pro wrote her own prescription for a career in the cannabis industry. 

Yazzy Davis has always wanted to work with people.

After graduating high school, the San Francisco native took a job at Whole Foods, although her focus was on obtaining a position in the medical industry. When an offer to work at a doctor’s office came her way, Davis arrived at the interview only to learn that the position was with MMJ Doctor — a clinic for prospective medical marijuana patients to obtain their doctor’s recommendation — looking to make a hire.

“Prior to my interview,” Davis recalls, “I asked the doctor, ‘Am I supposed to know the difference between indica and sativa? Because I don’t.’ Growing up in San Francisco, cannabis was always around. It just wasn’t something that I ever thought I would do as a job.”

She got the position. She was 19.

While working for MMJ Doctor, Davis noticed that one of the physicians there would always suggest that recently approved patients take their card down the block to The Apothecarium dispensary at 2029 Market St. At the same time, Davis watched as freshly minted 18-year-olds — the minimum legal age to receive a medical marijuana card — swung by the office.

“They would come to get their cards because that was the coolest thing to do at the time,” Davis explains. “They just wanted to get high, but for the people who were older, who were looking to actually get help, we would always send those people to The Apothecarium.”

A few months later, Davis decided to apply. For the past two-and-a-half years, she’s been a budtender at The Apothecarium — first at its Castro location and now at the SoMa dispensary (Apothecarium also has a third location in the Marina). As others in her position have similarly noted, Davis says one of the biggest challenges for her remains how best to deal with seriously ill patients hoping that cannabis will offer them some relief.

“These people are sick,” she emphasizes, “and they’re going to dispensaries that aren’t really giving them enough information or education on the products they’re getting.”

During her tenure at The Apothecarium, Davis has also engaged with customers who initiate the conversation by letting her know that they don’t intend to buy anything. While the dispensary line remains a for-profit institution, Davis still considers it her duty to be a font of information for the canna-curious when possible.

“A lot of people will come in and they will just be mad at the world,” she says. “People will come in just for information. They come in just to talk and learn about cannabis so that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll know what they want. We’re being a helping hand by just talking to people. We’re not just here to sell cannabis. We’re also here to help you.”

With so many products entering the market, it has also proven necessary for Davis to develop a close rapport with her colleagues so that they can borrow each other’s expertise when called upon. In Davis’s case, the issue is low-potency products. Her tolerance is such that accurately gauging the effect of things like microdose edibles or “daytime” vape pens is difficult. Instead, she asks the other budtenders at The Apothecarium for their input and offers her own suggestions in kind.

“Honestly,” Davis says, “every day you’re at work, you’re learning something new. People also have their own way of consulting. People use different lingos and different terms and I’ll sometimes piggyback off of that if it’s an easier way of saying something or describing it in a different way!”

Now 23, Davis is proud of what she’s accomplished, personally and professionally, since starting with MMJ Doctor four years ago.

“I was the youngest employee at Apothecarium,” she notes. “When we were getting ready for [recreational sales], I wasn’t 21 yet. It was like, ‘Am I going to be able to work here this summer?’ Being really young discouraged me a lot because I would get people that are three times my age coming in to ask me questions because they were sick and dying.”

Though Davis used to always double-check with someone else before offering advice to customers, she now feels confident that she’s prepared to help whomever may next step through The Apothecarium’s doors.

“I’m 23,” she says, “but I’ve been doing this for a while now. I have a lot of experience.”

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