To the uninitiated, visiting a dispensary for the first time can be overwhelming. Whether you’re visiting Colorado from a state that doesn’t yet have legal weed, or you’ve been given a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana, the basic protocol is generally the same. So as not to be confused when you first walk through dispensary doors, here are a few things you might be able to expect.
Many dispensaries are very discreet
Oftentimes if you’re walking down the street, you may not even realize you’re passing a dispensary. Only more recently in places like Los Angeles, for instance, have pot shops come to be more obvious. However, generally, they’re usually located in unmarked buildings with no windows and only a singular door that leads to a waiting room.
There’s usually a waiting room
In some dispensaries you can walk right in and see what’s on display. In others, you’re required to wait, as if you’re in a doctor’s office, where you sign some paperwork, join the collective, show them your ID, and (if applicable) your medical marijuana doctor’s recommendation. While you’re waiting, check out the dispensary menu, if they have one, or browse strains online to get a feel for what you want.
Be sure to have cash
Most dispensaries are cash only. Check to see if there’s an ATM on-site, unless they have a cashless debit system or accept credit cards. Because the cannabis industry is still federally illegal, the majority of dispensaries are barred from using federally funded banks — hence why the industry as a whole operates mainly in hard cash.
Your budtender might be very knowledgeable, or they might not be
Most higher-end dispensaries will have accommodating budtenders who know a great deal about different strains, products, modes of ingestion, and what’s right for different customers depending on their medical condition or what they’re looking for. Don’t feel intimidated or be afraid to ask too many questions, even if they’re as basic as asking the difference between an Indica and a Sativa. Your budtender should be patient and helpful. If they’re not stick to the basics. Try a well-known strain like Banana Kush or Sour Diesel and go from there, or try a different dispensary next time.
Rely on your sense of smell
It’s okay to not know Girl Scout Cookies from Granddaddy Purple from Purple Haze, or whether you’ll like one better than the other. Cannabis sommeliers will often tell you to rely on your sense of smell: If a strain’s aroma is pleasing to you, there’s a higher chance you might like its effects.
Try to have a sense of how you want to consume your cannabis
If you buy flowers, make sure you know how to roll a joint or have a pipe or bong handy. Otherwise, opt for pre-rolled joints. If you’d rather not smoke at all, explore vape pen options, and keep in mind some are totally disposable, while others are part battery (which you keep) and an oil cartridge (which you use up and throw away). If you opt for edibles or concentrates, be sure to know just how strong they’ll be — both dabbing and eating your cannabis can get you way higher than you were trying to get. And if you don’t want to get high at all, try a topical to soothe your muscles, or a CBD-only product.
Don’t smoke outside the dispensary
While a few dispensaries are coming to have on-site consumption lounges, wait till you’re far from the dispensary to spark up. Not only could you get cited by law enforcement, but it’s controversial for dispensaries, too, to have customers getting high in the immediate neighborhood.