Time to meet your local budtender

The rise of medical marijuana over the past 21 years in California has created a new job title: budtender.

The person behind the counter at your local dispensary must be part clerk, part herbalist, part therapist and all weed aficionado.

Usually trained on the job, budtenders come in many different ages and ethnicities, and from all walks of life. They’re artists, sound engineers, former managers of coffee shops or nonprofits, or college students. What unites them is a capacity for compassion and patience, and, unlike most service industry work, a sense of purpose.

We fanned out across the Bay Area to capture portraits of the public face of the industry, letting them tell their stories.