How to Handle Your First Trip to a Legal Dispensary

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Going to a dispensary is a completely different experience to buying weed off the street. There isn’t the awkward conversation with your dealer; there isn’t the fear of being ripped off or having your product cut with something dangerous. Instead, you step into a clean, well-lit shop with knowledgeable retail staff, an assortment of cannabis goods and a familiar, straightforward payment process — why would anyone be nervous about going to a dispensary?

However, if you have never tried weed before, or if you get overwhelmed by choice in a retail setting, visiting a dispensary for the first time can be intensely stressful. To reduce any nascent anxiety you are experiencing, here’s a guide to getting the most out of your first dispensary trip.

Have Your Paperwork in Order

Though there are a few states with legal recreational dispensaries, where adults of a certain age can venture in and buy goods as in any other retail environment, most states only have legal medical dispensaries. If you want to buy marijuana in Arkansas, for example, you need a medical marijuana license before you are allowed to step foot inside a dispensary.

The precise process for acquiring a marijuana card varies from state to state, but generally you will need to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition and apply to a state health board. Once you have your card, you should assemble it, any paperwork from your doctor and any questions you might have for budtenders into a neat pile that you will bring with you to the dispensary.

Bring Plenty of Cash

Because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, few financial institutions want to risk providing financial services to marijuana businesses and potentially incurring the wrath of the federal government. As a result, most dispensaries lack the ability to process card payments, which require a financial network and high-tech tools; instead, they only accept cash payments for marijuana goods.

Some dispensaries do have ATMs on site, but they tend to charge high fees to withdraw cash. It is much more economical for you to visit a bank beforehand and bring cash with you to the pot shop. You might bring a handful of $20 bills, to ensure you have enough cash to buy the supplies you want and need.

Be Ready to Answer Some Questions

Most medical marijuana dispensaries run more like pharmacies than like liquor shops. Instead of allowing patrons to walk around and look at wares at their leisure, medical dispensaries tend to service one patient at a time, getting to know their unique needs and suggesting specific products most likely to provide the greatest relief. Though the budtenders (the dispensary workers) will have different questions at each dispensary, some queries you might want to prepare answers to include:

  • Do you have previous experience with cannabis?
  • What effects are you most interested in taking advantage of?
  • When and how do you like to use cannabis?
  • Do you have preferred flavors or aromas?

And Have Questions Prepared to Ask in Return

Even if you follow every step in this helpful how-to, there are many variables we simply can’t prepare you for. To better understand the dispensary you visit, you should come equipped with a few questions for your budtenders. If you are unfamiliar with marijuana use and want to know more about cannabis categories, methods and the like, you can find all sorts of information for beginners online, on sites like WeedMaps. You should reserve your dispensary time for more personal questions about the specific business, such as:

  • What are the brand-defining values of this dispensary?
  • How do you source your products?
  • Do you have any good deals this week?
  • What are your favorite products and why?

Though you shouldn’t be afraid to ask specific medical questions, you should recognize that budtenders are not doctors and cannot legally or authoritatively give you medical advice. If you do strike on a question the budtender is unable to answer, you should be forgiving of their lack of information.

Be Patient and Friendly

Wait times at medical dispensaries can be quite long, considering most prefer to work with patients one-on-one. In areas where there are few dispensaries, you might try calling ahead to schedule an appointment and avoid hours in line. You should also bring something to do while you wait because appointments can run long — just like in the doctor’s office.

As nervous as you might be to visit a dispensary the first time, you should try to keep calm and stay positive. A friendly attitude will make your experience immeasurably better, putting both you and your budtenders at ease. In fact, if you forget everything else on this list, you should remember to be nice to those around you during your first dispensary trip.

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