Dispensaries and Collectives, Lifestyle

The Top 3 Fears of Dispensary Shoppers

February 24, 2022 08:00 am ET
The Top 3 Fears of Dispensary Shoppers

I was lucky to work at the very first legal cannabis dispensary in my town. When it was announced in 2016 that my small Illinois hometown was opening a medical cannabis dispensary, I hopped on the opportunity to work there and wanted to be one of the very first employees.

My favorite part of the job was helping new clients, and there were plenty of them due to the fact that cannabis had never before been openly sold in the area. I’d often work with people who hadn’t smoked cannabis since the ’70s or had never used it until a doctor recommended it as treatment.

While experience with cannabis varied a bit from customer to customer, they all shared one thing in common: They were all a little afraid of buying legal cannabis.

And I can’t say I blame them. Buying legal weed for the first time was a nerve-wracking experience for me as well, and it seemed like every client I worked with had some sort of similar underlying fear. So what exactly causes hesitation among those new to the legal cannabis industry? Here are the top three fears and some practical tips for alleviating any lingering worries.

What if I Don’t Bring the Right Things?

Many folks are intimidated by shopping at the dispensary, even in 2022. When I talk with people who are new to the shopping experience, many tell me that they’re afraid they’ll show up at the dispensary and feel ill-prepared.

What if I don’t bring the right ID? What if I don’t bring the right amount of cash? What if I can’t get inside? What if they laugh at me for not bringing the right stuff?

I can go ahead and alleviate some of these concerns for you. To get into most dispensaries in the U.S., you’ll just need a valid ID, such as a driver’s license, and some cash. Some dispensaries take credit or debit cards, and some have ATMs on site—but it’s best to bring cash with you just in case. Keep in mind that if you’re planning on purchasing medical-grade cannabis, you will also need your medical marijuana card.

To keep things current for 2022 and the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ll also add that you should probably bring a mask. My local dispensary requires a mask to enter the lobby, and I consistently see people getting flustered and leaving because they didn’t realize they needed one. Every state has its own COVID rules and regulations, so make sure you give the dispensary a call if you want to double-check requirements.

What if I Don’t Know What to Buy?

Another common fear: “What if I am overwhelmed and can’t decide what to buy?” Put this fear to rest; it is literally the budtender’s job to help you with this! You definitely don’t need to have your entire order established ahead of time, but it might be helpful to consider what form of cannabis you want to buy. The most common options include:

  • Flower/bud
  • Pre-rolled joints
  • Tinctures
  • Edibles (gummies, chocolates, etc.)
  • Vape pens/cartridges
  • Concentrates for vaping or dabbing
  • Lotions/topicals


Still not sure? Don’t worry! Your budtender will typically ask you a few questions and point you in the right direction. When I was working with clients in this setting, I’d often ask, “What are you wanting to achieve when you use cannabis? Do you want to relax? Go for a hike? Go to a party?” With just a little bit of info, I could help them pick out a product within their budget.

What if Someone Sees Me or Judges Me?

Gotta love that good old stoner stigma. Even as cannabis has become much more accessible and understood, it’s common for those who partake in it to worry about the judgment of others. When my new clients would raise this concern, I’d be the first to tell them, “I certainly am not judging you, and if anyone else is shopping here, it’s because they’re buying cannabis too!”

Though it may feel very uncomfortable and foreign for you to be buying legal cannabis products in a dispensary, keep in mind that:

  1. You’re an adult of legal age.
  2. It is legal to purchase cannabis.
  3. Cannabis is a natural product with numerous proven benefits.


If you’re in a state that has legalized cannabis, shopping at a dispensary is really no different than buying coffee at Starbucks or picking up food from a restaurant. To the workers, this is just like selling alcohol as a bartender or serving food as a waiter. It only feels scary for you because it’s new. This is how I look at it: If someone is judging me for buying or using cannabis, are they the kind of influence I want to have in my life anyway?

For the more introverted folks who are shy in crowds or don’t like spending time in public, here’s a tip: Some dispensaries allow you to place an online order so that your products are ready as soon as you walk in. This will allow you to take your time picking out the cannabis products online in the comfort of your home, and your time in the dispensary will be very short.

At the end of the day, remember that the dispensary is there to serve you. These establishments aren’t designed to feel like a secret club or an exclusive yacht party. If you have questions or aren’t sure about something, you can always call ahead of time or ask one of the workers when you get there. We’ve all been there and remember our first time buying legal cannabis, so the dispensary workers will help you feel right at home.

Post Your Comments

Christopher says:

February 24, 2022 at 1:15 pm

I was referred to a cannabis dispensary 4 months ago for pain relief options. After being on opioid medications for the past 12 years, I wanted new dosing options for effective pain relief. On my first visit to the dispensary, the budtender spent almost an hour describing the benefits of different dosage forms of cannabis. How to start low and build up on your dosing as your body adapts. I asked many questions along the way. Within a week I stopped using the opioids and now control my pain with cannabis.

Reply
Sandy says:

February 25, 2022 at 8:56 am

I live in South Dakota and we are fighting the governor I’m letting us get Recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana has been approved but they’re putting in so many laws that it will be hard for anyone to get. I have a medical card from the Indian reservation. Now They are arresting people providing medical marijuana there. I’m extremely allergic to opioids so I have no other choice. Medical marijuana helps my pain stop sonazia and the backspasms and the backspasms. I have had Over 30 surgeries. What am I supposed to do where am I supposed to go for help. I even drink for a while trying to deaden the pain but I saw what I was doing to myself and so I stopped. Don’t know what am I supposed to live held the rest of my life because South Dakota is so backwards and still living in the Nixob age.
Please somebody help me tell me what I’m supposed to do. I need this marijuana to help the pain. I stay-at-home I don’t go out and party I don’t drive with it I just want some relief. Can anybody tell me what to do. I think it’s time that our country is a nation made Marijuana legal it’s past time.

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