September 28, 2021 08:00 am ETEstimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Shopping at a cannabis dispensary is truly an experience unlike any other! If you’ve never been to one before, it can feel even more intimidating than visiting a Starbucks or Apple store for the first time. What do I need to bring? Are there any specific rules I need to follow? How will I know what to pick out?
If you’ve found yourself asking these questions, then this article is for you. I’ve worked with thousands of folks who are new to cannabis shopping, and these three tips will help you feel prepared and enjoy your trip to the dispensary.
Remember: We’re all somewhat new to this!The legal cannabis industry hasn’t been around for very long, so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about if you feel like you’re falling behind. Here are three tips to know before you head over to the dispensary.
Whether a dispensary opened up in your town or you’re going out-of-town to shop, make sure to come prepared. Here are a few of the basics for shopping in the United States:
Bring a Valid ID
Dispensaries in the United States require you to present a valid driver’s license or state ID in order to shop for cannabis. This is a MUST—you won’t be able to get inside most dispensaries without an unexpired ID. If you’re not sure about your specific form of ID, you can call ahead of time and talk with someone at the front desk. If you’re planning on buying medical-grade cannabis, make sure to also bring your medical marijuana (MMJ) card.
Bring Cash With You
Since cannabis isn’t federally legal in the United States, many dispensaries are not able to bank like other businesses and have to use a cash-only system. I always recommend that folks bring $50 to $100 in cash for their first cannabis shopping trip (or ensure that the dispensary has an ATM on-site). Cannabis can get expensive, and in some states, it’s hard to find items under $25. If you’re shopping for the first time and want to explore some different products, I recommend bringing $100 so you can shop comfortably.
Call Ahead of Time
If you have questions about anything from COVID-19 restrictions to accessibility for wheelchairs, give the dispensary a call. It’s the dispensary’s responsibility to provide you a space where you feel comfortable and safe to shop, so don’t be afraid to consult the employees on anything you’re confused about. Most dispensaries in 2021 have an online presence too, and their website will typically tell you their working hours, show their menu, and let you know about any specific policies.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
I always recommend going to the dispensary on a day when you’re not in a hurry and can enjoy the shopping experience. Think of it like getting a hand-crafted drink from a bar or ordering a customized latte at a local coffee shop; these things take time and are worth the wait. Shopping at a dispensary for the first time is very similar.
When I worked at our town’s first dispensary, it was WILDLY busy when it first opened. It would be normal for folks to wait one to two hours just to get inside. We’d often get people who were frustrated because they came to shop for cannabis on their lunch break or in between meetings, and it took longer than they expected. Avoid stopping by the dispensary when you’re crunched for time, as it typically takes at least 15 to 20 minutes for a visit, and it could be as long as an hour if there’s a line.
When you arrive, someone will look at your ID and guide you into the shopping area, where you’ll generally work one-on-one with a budtender to secure your goods. If you’re not provided a menu, the budtender will walk you through all the cannabis products and specials for the day, from edibles to flower to concentrates. To speed things up, it can help to think about what method of ingestion meets your needs ahead of time.
You’ve looked into the rules, explored the range of products, and set a good time to go. Now comes the fun part: Don’t forget to enjoy your first dispensary trip! Remember that we all had to start somewhere, and no one just wakes up as a dispensary expert. It might seem daunting, but we’ve all been there—even your budtender was probably nervous the first time they shopped at a dispensary!
Understanding the ins and outs of the cannabis industry is not a requirement for dispensary shopping. Due to the stringent laws surrounding cannabis sales, every dispensary has a solid structure in place to guide shoppers through each step of cannabis shopping properly. Additionally, budtenders are trained to educate shoppers on all the products, so don’t feel like you need to inundate Google with cannabis queries the night before.
Many people are surprised at how friendly the dispensary employees are and how stress-free the visit goes. I’ve had folks say to me, “Everyone here has been so helpful and kind!” and “Wow, I didn’t expect this experience to be so easy!” Over time, you might bond with a favorite budtender or even help other folks shopping for the first time—dispensaries are great places to connect with other cannabis users and learn tips and tricks along the way. Before you know it, you’ll be shopping for cannabis like a pro!
Cannabis Coach Haley is a YouTuber and cannabis advisor from Illinois. She has a degree in Clinical Psychology and a background counseling medical cannabis patients. Haley recently launched a 420 Running Club and loves dabbing outdoors.
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