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Shopping at a Dispensary for the First Time? Here Are 3 Tips

Haley Hansen

by Haley Hansen

September 28, 2021 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Shopping at a Dispensary for the First Time? Here Are 3 Tips

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. 

Come Prepared 

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.  

Don’t Stress

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!

Post Your Comments

John Calkins says:

September 28, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Hi Haley, I think you should talk about pricing and product as well. A lot of first timers can’t tell what is and isn’t good cannabis. It’s easy to spend a lot, and not get much. I think if you include some discussion of that, it would make this article more complete and universal.

Lo says:

September 28, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Hi John! Please check out this article that is aimed to help those new to cannabis. Cannabis consumption is one of those things that are unique to the individual because dispensary inventory, prices, available products, and overall quality differ greatly across the country. So, unfortunately, it’s hard to dole advice on those specific points efficiently, however, we do have articles that touch on them.

Fred says:

September 28, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Best recommendation for tincture product for helping with stress levels.

Eddie melendez says:

September 28, 2021 at 6:48 pm

Didn’t wana do this but I have to,let’s see who gona step up to the plate from veriheal an help out cause I talked to people from veriheal an thr state quiet a few times in a Year an 2 months an I still have nt head any thing positive about my weed lic I paid in full an have to proof I did pay 259 Bucks by Debit card on JULY 8 OF 20 20 AN STILL HAVE NT GOTIN SHIT FR MY MONEY NO CALLS NO NOTHING FROM STATE OR VERIHEAL, SO THE ONLY THING I COULD THINK OF IS I JUST GT ROBBEB FR 259 BUCKS,SO WAT DA FUCK DO I DO.AN YEA I SHOULD BE PISSED AN I AM, EDDIE M CALL IF U GIVE A SHIT,😔

Cesar Gallegos says:

September 29, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Hey Eddie!,

I’m sorry to hear about the delay that you have been having with our services. Could you please provide me with the email that you used to sign up for our service so that we can start looking into what happened?

Terrie McCane says:

September 30, 2021 at 11:30 am

You will only get an email. I got mine the next day – then you print the card and you are on your way – so check your email or go to the Ohio Medical Pharmacy on line

Lita says:

May 18, 2023 at 8:34 pm

I have a question you say it comes on an email I have gotten every email but still no card I was approved on the 16th of this month.. will the email just be my card?

Sandi Thulin says:

May 21, 2023 at 7:06 pm

In NY this week, the way I got it was in email and on the dashboard of account. When doc approved it, he has to enter it into their database on his side. Then we used to have to go in and fill out form there too – but now he gets a bar code which is printed in the downloadable pdf there. When printed I have to take that to dispensary. No more plastic cards in NY.

Julie says:

May 25, 2023 at 2:21 pm

Mine was not in my email. It was in my Dashboard

Lita says:

May 18, 2023 at 8:35 pm

Did you receive your card yet?

Mary Shiring says:

September 28, 2021 at 11:51 pm

I am fairly new to the dispensery experience.I will say this much everyone where i went were very helpful.I enjoy the flower bud to smoke but i have a few questions.How the heck do you chose the right bud to smoke( there are so many to chose from)

Terrie McCane says:

September 30, 2021 at 11:28 am

That is my question also! I have tried a variety of flower and vaping and I get nothing from it – am I picking the correct ones – also I did try the edibles too – nothing – didn’t even take the pain from my arms. How do you know what to get –

Laura says:

September 29, 2021 at 3:40 pm

I’ll read others then comment

Richard Schlegel says:

October 2, 2021 at 2:57 am

True it’s a bit pricey for the value of grams. Thc. %

Rachel says:

October 6, 2021 at 3:55 am

Cannabis has helped so much with my ocd symptoms!

Tony C says:

October 29, 2021 at 12:22 am

This Article was definitly for me. I am going to a dispensary tomorrow for the first time. I dont feel nervous. Anxious maybe. When i get there it will be a whole new story. This did help. I will bring more cash with me, ID and give myself enough time and enjoy the day. Thanks

Karen alleman says:

November 5, 2021 at 1:58 pm

I am looking for appetite suppressant.
Was told to try rso, but that didn’t suppress at all
Can u suggest the strongest appetite suppressant please. Thank you

Lo says:

November 5, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Hi Karen, you will want to look for products that are high in the appetite-surpressing cannabinoid THCV. You can learn more about it here.

Cory Smeallie says:

December 7, 2022 at 3:33 pm

How am I supposed to know what my prescription is for and how much? Nothing was explained.

Burton Young says:

November 22, 2021 at 7:17 pm

Veriheal did an excellent job it was so easily to follow the direction,,they answered all my questions and i thank you

linwood giles says:

November 25, 2021 at 5:40 pm

why can i not by a half ounce or and ounce so i dont half to go back and fourth

Marty says:

March 28, 2022 at 7:28 pm

I would imagine the main reason that you can’t buy any large quanities of weed is that it might tempt you to
sell smaller bits to your friends. In other words- you would be a DRUG DEALER!

Eric Sampson says:

December 13, 2021 at 3:02 pm

If I get approved for card do I need a prescription paper to buy the flower or is card enough?

Kimberly kramer says:

January 23, 2022 at 7:47 am

Hello, I suffer from chronic Lymes. Hand stiffness, arthritis, body pain, mood, anxiety, can’t calm well or sleep well, terrible pms, healing from a Tummy tuck muscle repair a year this Feb. what would you recommend for me. I enjoy it all and need the best strength and combo. Thank you.

William says:

March 27, 2022 at 3:16 pm

What are all available avenue to find discounts and other deals ??

Linda says:

August 8, 2022 at 11:05 am

How long will it take to receive something from the state?

Steve Noe says:

April 21, 2022 at 6:15 pm

I am a new Marijuana user. I have had 5 major lumbar area back surgeries with fusions from T-12 thru L-5. I have rods and screws in place, resulting in limited mobility and severe spasms, which are very, very painful.
While I am a first time Marijuana user I am very used to long term opioids. I want off those as much as possible and thus my looking for a powerful THC cannabis. Please recommend some as I will be shopping for the first time Monday April 25.

Richard Foutch says:

April 25, 2022 at 12:16 am

I had a painless experience. Not without error,but a second photo of my ID wasn’t as blurry as the 1st. Got the state email on a Saturday. The process was done in 2days. Thank you to everyone at Veriheal for all the help.

marksaphire says:

May 1, 2022 at 8:48 am

Also Haley what do you think about edibles , gummys , compared to putting smoke back in my body – although i have actually found it almost therapeutic to handle , play with ,clean and roll cannabis

C. Sue Parson says:

June 11, 2022 at 10:26 am

I applied and was approved by you folks but not by the state of Ohio yet. How long does it normally take?

Lorna Brown says:

October 27, 2022 at 11:50 am

Thank you for this information. I am a caregiver for for my son and was apprehensive about this upcoming experience.

Michael says:

January 30, 2023 at 11:20 am

This is the very first article that I have read that DOES NOT even suggest a consult whith a staff pharmacist at the dispensary

Robert says:

March 16, 2023 at 12:43 pm

Do I have to wait to my card come to go to the dispensary

Mia says:

March 24, 2023 at 5:45 pm

Can you use your medical card in other states? I have a card in GA but there are no dispenser here but they have the shops in Fl.

Maxx maver says:

May 17, 2023 at 5:01 pm

Will they send me a hard copy of my card?
Where can I get ANY copy of card?


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