n. A person who dispenses marijuana in a cannabis shop or medical marijuana clinic.
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Colorado law says cannabis must be sold in rooms that can't be seen from outside, so the real business happens in an interior room. A helpful and knowledgeable "budtender" — a guy in his 20s or 30s, typically, who has submitted to a state background check — guides you through the selections.
—Jeff Ostrowski, “Inside marijuana shops: A picture of our future?,” Palm Beach Post, October 21, 2014
He may be Denver's most famous pothead, but William Breathes isn't his real name. As a registered medical marijuana patient — for a chronic stomach condition — he has to show ID every time he goes into a dispensary, and fears he'd get special treatment if the "budtenders" knew they were serving the influential critic.
—Jenny Kleeman, “Cannabis: Colorado's budding industry,” The Guardian (London), May 17, 2013
1997 (earliest)
Prospective members had to bring doctors' notes, diagnoses and identification. Club organizers called doctors to confirm the documents were legitimate before issuing computer-generated ID cards with photos and a bar-code strip.

The next step was purchasing the pot from "bud tender" Randi Webster, who had six types available, from Mexican-grown to top-quality California "quad."
—Mark Evans, “Months after raid, marijuana club reopens,” Associated Press, January 15, 1997
Bud (1982), just in case you didn't know, is a slang term for marijuana (since the drug's psychoactive compounds are found in the buds formed by the cannabis plant). The nice budtender blend was one of the runners-up in the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year competition. The winner, in case you missed it, was vape, "to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an e-cigarette."
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