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Visiting a Dispensary: Do’s & Don’ts

Posted by Tobias Corelli on Apr 11, 2023

Cannabis accessibility has come a long way in the United States. It was grown, sold, and exported in the colonial era and then outlawed in most states by 1931 due to its bigoted association with Mexican immigrants. There were decades when possession or purchase of cannabis products would likely land you in hot water with the law. 

What is a Dispensary?

Since then, cannabis use has gained acceptance and legal recognition to the point that it can be purchased and consumed legally in most states – at least medicinally – by adults that are at least 21 years of age. And in some states, you can now walk over to a local weed shop, called a dispensary, and buy cannabis products, without a medical need for its use.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just waltz into cannabis stores willy-nilly. After all, weed dispensaries are not grocery stores.  Actually, they’re a lot more like banks: heavily surveilled and regulated. And much like when visiting a bank, there is a flow and code of conduct to follow. But don’t let any of this scare you, visiting a dispensary is easy when you know what to do. Here are some things to do (and not do) when visiting dispensaries to buy cannabis.

What to Bring: A Checklist

Before your visit, there are some things you’ll need to prepare when visiting a dispensary. You’ll need to be at least 21 years of age and bring:

·         An ID – You’ll need to bring a government-issued ID, driver’s license, or passport.

·         A Medical Marijuana (MMJ) Card – If you’re visiting a medical dispensary, you’ll need to have an MMJ card, no exceptions. Don’t have one? Check out this post to see how you can save money with MMJ.

·         Cash – Most dispensaries are cash only and cannot accept debit or credit cards as payment. They usually have ATMs on-site, but try to bring your own cash, just in case. Consider the price of the products as well as any applicable taxes when determining how much cash you’ll need.

Will You be Ordering Weed Online?

Most weed dispensaries offer online ordering so you can pre-order what you’d like before arriving at the dispensary. While you usually cannot buy weed online or pay online beforehand, it does allow you to place your order and makes it easier to serve you once you arrive at the dispensary. Sometimes you may also be able to indicate a pickup time during the online checkout process. Pickup orders usually have their own dedicated line to avoid wait time.

If you have questions and would like more help with your order, feel free to visit as a walk-in customer. The staff there will be able to answer your questions and help you place an order at that time.

Are You Visiting a Medical or Recreational Dispensary?

Medical dispensaries will require a medical marijuana card to enter and purchase medical marijuana. At some dispensaries, you can buy recreational marijuana intended for adult use. Recreational dispensaries only require a government-issued ID, driver’s license, or passport for entry. And some dispensaries are licensed to serve both medical and recreational visitors.

Which type of dispensary you are visiting can impact product availability. Some cannabis products are reserved for medical use only while other weed items are geared toward recreational clients. Be sure to check whether the dispensary in question is recreational or medical so you can prepare accordingly.

What Kinds of Cannabis Products Do You Want to Purchase?

While we’re on the subject of product availability: There are many weed products available for purchase other than cannabis flower. At a dispensary, you can buy different strains of cannabis flower, but they have more than just weed for sale. You can also buy edibles, concentrates, tinctures, drinks, vape cartridges, and disposable vape pens, to name a few. These products are all available in sativa, indica, and hybrid combinations. Additionally, cannabis flower and products come in different quantities and THC concentrations.

If this seems like a lot of information, don’t be overwhelmed. You can always ask the friendly and knowledgeable staff, known as budtenders (or Patient Care Specialists at EarthMed), for help if you need help learning more or finding a cannabis product that fits your needs. They can provide more information about a given product or help you choose a product based on the experience you’re looking for. The more information you can provide about the cannabis experience you’re hoping to have, the easier it’ll be for the budtender to guide you to the best product.

When You Arrive at the Dispensary

Once you’ve arrived at a good dispensary, there will likely be a host near the entrance ready to check you in. They’ll ask to see your ID, so it helps to have it ready. If it’s your first time at the dispensary, you may want to let them know. They may be able to offer special guidance and inform you if there are any special promotions or discounts for first-time visitors. If you’re a walk-in customer, they’ll help add you to the queue to help you place your order, and if you’ve placed an online pre-order, they’ll direct you to where you need to go to pick it up.

Once inside a dispensary, after you’ve checked in and are next in the queue, a budtender, or someone who works and fulfills orders at the dispensary,  will help you pick up and pay for your order. They’ll be able to give you your final total with all taxes applied. You can also ask if they currently have any weed discounts or promotions you can take advantage of. While not all dispensaries allow it, it is sometimes possible to offer a tip to your budtender. It’s not required, but nice to do if you can. If you’re not sure, just ask!

After Your Dispensary Visit

And voila! You’ve just successfully visited a dispensary and are ready to enjoy the cannabis products you purchased. You may want to take pictures of your product packaging and labeling in case there is an issue with any of your products, and be sure to keep your receipt. Each dispensary may handle product issues, returns, and exchanges differently, so be sure to check their policy or ask a staff member. But hopefully, no issues will arise, and you can just enjoy your cannabis.

Now you know the basics when it comes to visiting dispensaries, and while all dispensaries are different, the process is likely to be very similar so your next visit will go even smoother. If you had a good experience, be sure to leave a good review, as that can be really helpful to the dispensary. As always, blaze safe!

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