Confessions of a Pro Bud Trimmer; Hint: It Sucks

Navigating my self-worth one weed job at a time.

In my never-ending quest for a low-impact day job, I realized I'd been completely ignoring an entire industry: Medical Marijuana. I had assumed jobs in the weed biz were reserved for my friends' cool artist girlfriends and that I, a neurotic midwestern Jew with an aversion toward posting attractive selfies on the Internet, didn't stand a chance. That all changed on one glorious December afternoon.

With the help of my tinctures and the various sites out there catering to the MMJ world, I got down to business.

I wrote one of the most moving cover letters of my life. I explained that I had an actual passion for the product, that I'd seen firsthand the effects of MMJ on chronic illness, and that I live to educate people on marijuana's healing properties. I included an especially impassioned spiel about my desire to get pot into the hands of middle-aged women everywhere, that this stuff can truly change lives!

I applied to a bunch of jobs—as a budtender, a sales rep, and as a social media rockstar or whatever the hell that title is. Most of the job listings required a photo be submitted along with a cover letter and resume.

And thus began my illustrious career in the back as a bud trimmer.

When I told people I got an interview to be a bud trimmer, everyone said the same thing.

Even a Forbes article listed bud trimming as one of the top jobs in the marijuana industry! I was thrilled to be getting in on the action.

Quick explanation for those who don't know what bud-trimming is. The bud is the part of the plant that you break up and smoke, a/k/a flower. When you buy it at the shop, all of the plant's leaves have been trimmed off the flower. Those trimmed bits, leaves and stems, can then be used to make edibles, hash, and tinctures. Trimming is a tedious process.

I studied videos before my trial interview. I blowdried my hair; I wore makeup. I really wanted this job.

When I got to the dispensary, I filled out paperwork to become a member and was then taken out back to meet with my potential boss, let's call her Rachel. I snuck a quick peek at the pretty girl budtenders and sighed, again feeling old and basic. Rachel sat me down in an alley and explained how the gig works. Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. $200 per pound of bud trimmed. On average, most max out at half a pound a day. When I began, I might only be making $20 to $30 a day.

Then, I was taken into a sad, cold room protected by two sets of doors. Two other trimmers were working and understandably did not break to acknowledge the new presence in the room. Rachel gave me gloves, scissors, and sat down to show me the technique. She was meticulous and delicate, nudging leaves away from the flower so they'd fall gently into a tub. Only needing a snip here and there, I imagine she might be the only one in that room capable of trimming a pound of bud in a reasonable amount of time.

When it was my turn, the dried leaves and flower congealed into one scaly green nugget. Rachel had made it look so easy! I held the bud just as she taught me and little by little, made tiny snips.

Rachel really wanted me to join the team. I could've been her new friend and ally. If I worked for her, maybe I wouldn't have had headphones in the whole time like the others. Maybe we'd spend all day chatting about our shared love of Escape Rooms and dogs and I could help her figure out if she really wanted to get married or if she really just wanted to have a wedding.

And then I totally didn't let her know.

A part of me really loved trimming. It was meditative and peaceful, a break from screens, music, and my own mind. I thought real hard on it as I walked to my car. Was I willing to spend eight hours a day in a room with no sunlight, straining my 31-year-old eyes, to potentially only make $30?