Visiting a Cannabis Dispensary for the First Time? Here’s What You Need to Know.

For any cannabis consumer, your first trip to a dispensary can be a major milestone. Gone are the days of texting your dealer and having limited options for flower or edibles, probably no concentrates, and usually no clue what strain or potency you’re getting. Maybe it seemed like they were always out of town, usually at a music festival, when you needed them most. It was truly the worst.

Thankfully, cannabis legalization is finally starting to sweep the nation (slowly, but surely…) and with new laws come more options for shoppers. According to the National Conference of State Legislature, at the time of this post’s writing, there are nine states in the U.S. in which cannabis is fully legal for recreational use with adults aged 21 and up. On top of that, an additional 20 states have legalized medical marijuana. If you’re lucky enough to live in a state with a dispensary, the closest one might be just around the block. But for those of us who live in in states that have yet to join the party, there might be some travel involved. We promise, though, that it will be totally worth the trek.

Why Shop at a Dispensary?

There are so many great things about shopping at a dispensary. You’ll wonder why you waited this long to check one out! One of the best parts of the experience is the knowledgeable budtenders, the employees who are there to help you shop for your cannabis products. While it’s usually easier to shop for the best dry herb vape or oil pen online where you can compare prices and read reviews, the personalized experience you get from chatting with a budtender about what products are right for you makes shopping so much better in-person.

Planning Your Dispensary Trip – What to Bring With You

There are a couple of key things you must remember to bring along when you head to a dispensary for the first time. You can look online to find the dispensary closest to you, or you can spot them outside by the universal green cross signage on their building. Local hospitality folks like bartenders and servers are also great to ask for recommendations, but if they don’t consume cannabis, they might not know where to go. Once you’ve picked out your dispensary of choice, make sure to consult the list below for what to take along with you.

A Valid Form of Photo I.D.

A valid photo I.D. like a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID is always required. Check to make sure that your I.D. isn’t expired; it’s a common reason that a dispensary customer might be turned away. States with legal cannabis tend to follow the same laws and regulations for each state, so dispensaries are always 21+. All parties in your group must be of age, even if they’re not purchasing anything.

If the dispensary has options to enter through recreational or medical doors, choose recreational unless you have a valid medical marijuana card (MMJ card, for short) for the state you’re in.

Use Cash, Not Credit

Most dispensaries use cash only, so come prepared or expect to use their on-site ATM that could have hefty fees. Some shops may take debit cards, but many banks will flag transactions from dispensaries as potential fraud. Depending on your bank, you may not want to risk having your card frozen for the rest of your trip. It would be a major buzzkill!

Practice Patience

This one is key. Especially on weekends and holidays, you should plan to wait in long lines to get into the dispensary, and then sometimes even to get up to the counter, once your ID is checked. The best part of a dispensary trip can chatting with your knowledgeable budtender. Respect that other customers will want to do the same, and then feel free to take your time and ask questions when it’s your turn. It’s all part of the experience.

Playing it Cool – Dispensary Etiquette

Acting chill at a dispensary can be tough, especially if it’s your first time and you’re stoked to get your hands on some legal green. There are a couple key points of etiquette to consider so that you can show respect for the dispensary employees and the other patrons, too.

Social Media Tips

You might be tempted to snap, gram or go live while you’re in the dispensary, especially once you see the counter and the fire selection. Out of respect for the privacy of the other customers, as well as to keep the line moving, it’s polite to keep your phone away while you’re in the dispensary. If you want to show the world your haul and how high you’re about to get, share it on social once you’ve finished your trip.

Interacting with Budtenders

You can feel free to do some research on what strains you’re looking for, but chatting up the budtenders is really the best way to find what you want. Let them know what your plans are for when you’re high such as going on a hike, enjoying a concert, or relaxing by the pool. They’ll help you pick the perfect strain.

Asking the Right Questions

Again, you can come prepared if you know what you want, or ask questions once you get there. Plan to spend as long as you need to at the counter in order to get what’s right for you. This is essential as all dispensaries have a strict no-refund policy. A great question to ask if you’re looking for medicinal effects is this: “What strain is good for the health problem I’m dealing with?” If you’re looking just to have fun with your weed, you can ask questions like “What’s a good option for an extra psychoactive high?” or “What’s the best strain for long-lasting effects?”

After Your Dispensary Visit: Now It’s Time to Get High

Leaving the dispensary and bringing your cannabis out into the world to legally enjoy will be an awesome feeling. Be sure to keep in mind where you can or can’t consume, and start small with edibles if it’s your first time. You might even want to ask your budtender what their favorite places to smoke or be high are in the city that you’re in. They might let you in on an epic sesh spot that can take your trip to the next level.


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