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First Visit to a Cannabis Dispensary? A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Written by Alexandra Hicks

Recreational cannabis is legal in 18 states and medical is legal in 39 states, and we can expect those numbers to grow to 50 across the board within the next couple of years, most likely. Every time a new legal market opens up, hundreds of thousands of people gain access to cannabis for the first time. They’re exposed to a whole new world of flower shopping which includes sleek storefronts, innovative technology, delivery and pickup options, different products they’ve never heard of, and so on. It’s a completely different ball game, and as expected, people new to the industry may have some questions.

As someone lucky enough to have grown up in California (the world’s largest cannabis market), plus having traveled to a handful of other legal cannabis states, I’ve had the opportunity to shop at many different dispensaries in my lifetime. In taking numerous friends and out-of-state relatives weed shopping for their first times, I have noticed a few things that are important to keep in mind if you want to make that first visit to a pot dispensary as smooth as possible.

Weed is the best; and what’s particularly fun about today’s industry is the sheer variety of products you can find online or in most dispensaries. In-fact many of the top cannabis dispensary products could be found online, if you know where to look for them. If you would like to learn more about how to find them online, or try out different products make sure to Subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter to learn more and for exclusive deals on Delta 8Delta 10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC. And April 20th is just around the corner, so check out our fun 4/20 deals as well!

Familiarize yourself with the local market

First things first, get to know the legal cannabis market in your area. What you can buy, how you can buy it, and how much of it you can buy, largely depends on where you live. For example, I’m from a small community in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. Although cannabis is completely legal in the state, walk-in/storefront dispensaries still were NOT permitted in my area. As a matter of fact, numerous CA cities have laws prohibiting dispensaries from operating within their limits.

All this to say, if I wanted to buy weed, whether it was THC (marijuana) or CBD (hemp) dominant, I would have needed to place an order for it to be delivered to my home, or I could have driven to another location to get it (and this is what I usually opted for). Then we take a look at other states – some only have medical cannabis, other states ban certain products (concentrates, for example), some places have a daily cap on how much you can buy, some have different pricing for medical versus recreational; and the different caveats go on and on. You don’t have to go very much in-depth, but a minimal level of research will certainly be to your advantage.

Also note that CBD/Hemp Flowers infused with other cannabinoids like delta 8 THC are technically, federally legal, so you can order those online no matter where you live. If you need help finding a reputable online retailer, subscribe to our newsletter above or below for helpful tips, product deals, reviews, and relevant news articles.

2. Prepare to be amazed

If you’re like me and love weed, that first time setting foot in a legal cannabis shop really is one of those kid-in-a-candy-store moments. For me, it was on my 18th birthday (and technically it was a Prop 215 medical dispensary, but tomato/tomahto) – back when the selection was scarce and the storefronts were shady, but it was still amazing no less. The freedom of being able to legally buy whatever product I wanted was, and still is, a great feeling (one that I realize I took for granted after moving to Indiana, one of the strictest prohibition states in the nation). Trust me, you will be wowed at the sheer number of options and the quality of the products. Everything will be on another level – from the product itself, to the hardware you consume it with, to the packaging it comes in. Stepping into a truly high-end dispensary for the first time is sure to blow your mind.

Take one of my current favorite shops, Fire & Flower in Palm Springs. As far as building design and decor goes, they’re no frills, but inside you will find hundreds of products to choose from including premium buds, edibles, vape carts, concentrates, topicals, prerolls, disposables, oils, and so much more. The business is technologically adept with interactive digital SKUs on each product so customers can learn (in detail) about what they’re buying, they offer online ordering options, curbside and delivery, and close to every other retail convenience you can imagine. For anyone that remembers cannabis prohibition, or is still living in an area that is currently going through it, the modern day, legal pot shopping experience is game changing. Some of these shops will seriously have you feeling like you’re in an Apple store for weed.

3. Go in with an open mind, and wallet

Contrary to common belief, you don’t have to know what you want before you get there. A lot of people are completely unfamiliar with anything relating to cannabis, and that is totally fine. After all, it is a big part of the budtender’s job to educate customers and help them choose products. Of course, the process is quicker and easier if you do go in with a general idea of what you’re looking for, but don’t feel bad if you’re a novice user, we were all beginners at one point in time.

Not to mention, going from black-market shopping to a legal recreational market is an exciting transition. You go from buying whatever your dealer has on hand, to a myriad of product options. Someone who has been strictly buying flower on the street might be unfamiliar with real edibles, or legal and safely made concentrates, so these customers might be seeking guidance when shopping for said items.

Also worth noting is that high-quality legal products that have been lab-tested for safety and transparency, typically carry a higher price tag than what many people anticipate (there is often an expectation that dispensary products will be cheaper because they’re legal, but that’s not always the case). Plus, when you’re bombarded with so many new and interesting things to choose from, it can be easy to spend a bit more than you originally planned.

4. Be prepared

Cannabis is a controlled substance, and as such, certain documentation is required when purchasing weed products. Most dispensaries require a current form of identification, nothing too personal, and you will often need to fill out a short document with some additional information upon arrival. Some places are only open to locals, so you will need a state-issued ID. If you’re shopping at a medical dispensary, you will also need a doctor’s recommendation.

Another thing you’ll want to have with you is cash. Several locations these days let you pay with a card and most shops will have an ATM on site as an alternative option, but there is a possibility that you may end up in a store that only accepts cash and has no way for you to get it. So, if this is your first visit to any dispensary, remember that cash is king.

As far as hemp and CBD products go, companies generally won’t sell to anyone under 18 years old. Hemp is federally legal, but there are still some rules as far as who can sell what and to whom. For instance, in California, dispensaries that are licensed to sell THC products, usually cannot sell hemp or CBD. Not sure why that is, but it’s something to prepare for when organizing your shopping trip.

Final Thoughts

While it’s not a complete run-down of how your initial visit to a dispensary might go (because, let’s face it, everyone’s experience will be different – even if shopping at the same store), it’s good to remember these few basic things that will help you get the best out of your first adventure to a legal cannabis store. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re a stoner among stoners, so have fun and enjoy the incredible world of legal weed.

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.