9 Tips for Those Going to a Cannabis Dispensary for the First Time

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If you are heading to a recreational or medicinal marijuana dispensary for the first time, count your blessings. This is a time to celebrate! There are some things you should know before visiting a dispensary for the first time. The most important thing on your mind should be having fun. Your first trip to a dispensary will prove indelible in your mind’s eye as time progresses.

There is no reason to be intimidated by the idea of visiting such an establishment. Contrary to what some media outlets would like the masses to believe, marijuana dispensaries are not rife with miscreants.

Every day, hardworking people work and frequent marijuana dispensaries. Prepare ahead of time, follow the tips detailed below and your first trip to a dispensary will be as enjoyable as possible.

1. Do Your Homework on Marijuana Strains Ahead of Time

If you do not know anything about marijuana aside from the fact that it gets people high and relieves pain, it is time to do some studying. At the bare minimum, you should understand the difference between sativa, indica and hybrid marijuana strains. The strain you select depends on your unique desires, needs, and problems.

Sativa strains are uplifting, energizing, and stimulating. Indica strains are more mellow, relaxing, and sleep-inducing. Hybrid strains are a combination of sativa and indica strains. Furthermore, if your aim is to get as high as possible, you should limit your choices to strains with a high THC percentage. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis.

A strain with a particularly high percentage of THC (20 percent or higher) will get you incredibly high after a puff or two. Alternatively, a marijuana strain with a low THC percentage might relieve your pain but it will take at least a couple tokes or more to experience a euphoric psychedelic high.

So don’t show up to the dispensary unaware of the differences between strains and THC percentage! If you need the budtender to explain every last aspect of cannabis to you, the line will likely bottleneck behind you. Though you might not mind if the line builds behind you, it will put that much more pressure on the bartender.

Chewing up an abundance of the budtender’s time asking simple questions will also take the dispensary’s positive vibe down a few notches. When in doubt, it is best to simply tell the budtender what you want in terms of pain relief, stimulation, and so on. Take the budtender’s advice, give the recommended strain a chance at home, and decide whether it suits your tastes to justify a repeat purchase.

2. Consider What You Would Like to do After Getting Blazed

The marijuana strain you select partially hinges on your plans for the day or the evening. If you intend to sit on the couch and watch a movie marathon, it is not a good idea to smoke back-to-back bongs of a powerful Sativa. Rather, you should opt for a relaxing Indica strain that will keep you happily locked to the couch for at least a few hours.

Thankfully, the majority of the most popular weed strains are hybrids so you can enjoy a nice mix of mental stimulation with muscle relaxation or an energy boost that does not make your thoughts cloudy. Tell the budtender exactly what you plan on doing after you indulge and he or she will help you choose the perfect strain for your chosen activity.

3. Find out How the Cannabis is Cultivated

It is a mistake to blindly assume all marijuana dispensaries use safe, clean and green growing methods. Your cannabis should not be laden with harmful pesticides. Ideally, the cannabis you purchase will be grown in an organic manner without the use of pesticides.

Certain cultivators have gone 100 percent organic yet many still use toxic pesticides. When in doubt, opt for a strain grown with water, sunlight, fertilizer, and pesticide-free treatments. This way, you won’t have to worry about burning and inhaling pesticides when enjoying your marijuana.

4. Bring More Cash Than You Plan on Spending

The United States federal government still lists marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Since marijuana is illegal on the federal level, it must be purchased with cash as opposed to credit cards, bitcoin, check or another form of payment.

Leave the plastic at home and take a bundle of cash with you. Plan on spending at least $35 to $70 per eighth of cannabis. Though you can likely get a volume price break for purchasing more than an eighth, the numbers add up surprisingly quickly.

If you are like most cannabis shoppers, something aside from a lovely-looking sativa or indica strain will likely catch your attention. Be sure to have enough money on-hand to add edibles, pre-rolled joints, a pipe/bowl and something fun like a dispensary t-shirt to your order.

Though most dispensaries have an ATM on-site, this machine will likely charge you a fee to withdraw money. Furthermore, there is no guarantee the ATM will be functional at the time you visit. There is no harm in bringing more money than you think you will spend.

5. Be Strategic When Scheduling Your Visit

Your first visit to a marijuana dispensary should be planned out well ahead of time. It is a mistake to arrive at the dispensary during the evening rush hour. The worst possible time for a first-time customer to visit a dispensary is Friday or Saturday evening.

A lengthy line might make you feel as though you have to rush through your interaction with the budtender. If you do not take your time when checking out the many different cannabis strains, you will likely end up with a strain that does not meet your unique desires.

Visit the dispensary in the early morning or early afternoon on a weekday. If you cannot visit on a weekday, hit up the dispensary in the early morning on the weekend. These low-traffic times will provide you with ample opportunity to review the dispensary’s inventory without the worry of a crowd.

6. Anticipate a Strong Security Presence

You will be asked for your driver’s license even if you are old and grey. Bring your state-issued ID with you to the dispensary. The dispensary security guard will likely be armed and standing by the door. There will also be multiple security cameras. The abundance of security is necessary as marijuana is illegal on the federal level so dispensaries are still limited to accepting copious amounts of cash as opposed to simply swiping credit cards.

7. Check out the Cannabis Menu Before Arriving

If you are like most people, you will feel a bit overwhelmed when staring at dozens of cannabis strains and tasked to choose one or two. The weight of this decision feels even heavier for first-time dispensary visitors.

You can do your part to speed up the process by checking out the cannabis menu on the dispensary’s website before visiting the dispensary. Most dispensaries update their cannabis inventory on a daily or weekly basis. Take a close look at the available strains, weigh their merits and whittle down the pack to a select few prior to visiting the dispensary. This way, you can focus your questions for the bartender on a few specific strains that pique your interest.

The alternative is to show up without any knowledge of the dispensary’s inventory and roll the dice on a strain you learn about that day on-the-spot. There is no reason to take a chance with your hard-earned money when most dispensaries regularly update their menus on the web.

8. Carve out at Least a Full Hour for Your First Dispensary Trip

Visiting a marijuana dispensary for the first time is not akin to visiting a newly-opened fast food restaurant. Though some dispensaries operate in a timely manner, most have lines. Expect to spend at least 10 minutes waiting in line unless you visit the dispensary during off-peak hours.

You will also need some time to check out the showroom, consider the merits of the inventory, learn about new offerings, and discuss your options with the budtender. All in all, you can expect your first visit at the dispensary to take about an hour.

9. Ask a ton of Questions

The best and quickest way to obtain important information is to ask someone who already possess that information. There is no sense spending hours sorting through marijuana reading materials and websites when you can speak directly to a budtender in-person,. Do not be afraid to ask questions in order to pinpoint the perfect cannabis strain for your unique taste, needs and desires.

Budtenders can help you make sense of CBD, THC, strain types, terpenes and other industry verbiage. The best part is most budtenders are laid back people who are genuinely interested in providing cannabis to those who need and/or love it. So don’t feel as though you are inconveniencing anyone by asking questions.

If possible, come prepared with a list of a few questions to pose to the budtender. Listen closely, follow the advice of your budtender and you are likely to head home with some truly amazing cannabis.


Ryan Shempton

About Ryan Shempton

Ryan is a full-time freelance writer. He has worked as a paralegal, civil litigation assistant and tutor while living in cities stretching from Columbia, SC to Henderson, NV. Ryan's interests include movies, video games, music, everything cannabis-related and vegan cooking.