Whether you’re looking to visit a recreational dispensary while on vacation or you’re just visiting your local dispensary for the first time, there are some things that you need to know. The first time you walk in the door, it may be a bit overwhelming. However, if you take a little time to prepare, you can avoid that and focus on the excitement of your first time. Keep reading to find out more about dispensaries and what you need to know to make the most of your first visit.
What is a Dispensary?
A marijuana dispensary is a business that is set up, often like a retail store, where buyers can go in and purchase various marijuana products and accessories. Dispensaries may sell everything from marijuana flower to oils, edibles, and more. Each one is different, so some research may be required to find the right place that has what you want or need.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that not all dispensaries are set up for all types of marijuana sales. In states where recreational and medical use are legalized, some dispensaries may only provide one service or another. Medical dispensaries require a valid medical marijuana ID card or prescription for entry. Recreational dispensaries are open to the public, but still require visitors to bring identification to prove they are of a legal age (usually 21, depending on the state) to enter the store.
Planning Ahead- Tips for Your First Visit
Although open-source payment services like Square are making it easier for small businesses and alternative companies to take credit and debit card payments, most dispensaries still operate on a cash-only basis. Both medical and recreational marijuana are still entirely illegal on the federal level, so most banks won’t even work with cannabis companies. Plus, each state has different laws regarding the sale of both of these products. Therefore, you can almost guarantee that you need cash for your trip. Fortunately, most have ATMs for first-timers and those who forgot to stop on the way.
A lot of people are worried because they don’t know anything about cannabis or purchasing marijuana legally. It might be your first time, but it isn’t the first time for the dispensary. The people working in these shops understand how confusing it can be for a first-timer, and are always willing to provide assistance and information. Although dispensaries might seem like serious operations because of their specific product line and obvious security, the employees usually help create a welcoming vibe so customers feel comfortable.
One of the common tips offered for first-timers is to research your options ahead of time. This is something you definitely can do, but it isn’t necessary by any means. You can feel free to research strains of marijuana and the types of cannabis products that you can buy in your state, but it isn’t essential. Dispensary employees are well-versed in their products and can help you choose everything from the most delicious brownies to the most effective strain for your fibromyalgia pain.
The biggest tip from today’s dispensary owners and employees: don’t be intimidated. Everyone’s first time is a big deal, but with the experience and assistance of employees, it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience by any means.
What to Expect When You Walk In
Dispensaries are set up as showrooms, for the most part. Regardless of whether you visit a medical dispensary or a recreational dispensary, the entry process is similar. Most states only allow one customer at a time to be with an employee, so your first stop will likely be the waiting room.
The exception to this is a public marijuana store, which is available in states where recreational pot use is legal. These function far more like a regular store, and due to the increased product lines available, employees may not have the time to allocate to customers in a one-on-one setting like they might find in a dispensary. These stores also make it easier for you to research their specific offerings before you come. Due to their larger selection, they usually provide an online menu that you can study before you go.
If you are a first-timer, it is recommended to go to a dispensary first or visit a public store that is less busy so that you can talk to an expert (referred to as a budtender) and get the right cannabis for your needs. In some states, dispensaries are the only place to buy legalized marijuana, whether it is for recreational or medical use.
Your time in the waiting room will vary, depending on how busy the dispensary is and how many budtenders they have on staff. Patience is probably the best thing that you can bring with you on your first trip, and you can trust that it will definitely be worth the wait.
When your turn comes, they will call on you to enter the showroom. Upon entering, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer selection and variety. Don’t let that get the best of you. Talk to the dispensary agent about what you are looking for. Feel free to ask as many questions as you want before making a purchase. The budtender will help you explore your options and can even advise on the best strains or products based on what your needs or personal preferences. Once you have made your selections, the purchase transaction will be completed and you can go on your way.
Medical vs. Recreational Dispensaries
In most states, medical marijuana is available to patients over the age of 18. Recreational marijuana purchases usually require the customer to be 21 or older, though, so keep that in mind. Another big difference in the two types of dispensaries is how much you can purchase. For example, in the state of California, medical card holders can purchase up to 8 ounces in a single visit while recreational users are limited to one ounce per purchase.
Medical dispensaries are actually much looser in their product potency and availability. They have stronger products, more concentrates, and larger quantities readily available for those with a valid prescription. Recreational dispensaries are limited to selling pre-packaged products, and most have legal restrictions on the amount of THC that can be included in those products. Medical dispensaries don’t have this restriction.
Both stores will likely have security or armed guards on duty. After all, a business that consists entirely of drugs and cash is a high-risk target. Don’t be alarmed when you see them; they are there for your protection, too.
The Bottom Line: Just Do It
As long as you have a valid ID, cash, and any necessary medical prescriptions, you are ready for your first trip. Keep the information here in mind, and remember that the employees at the dispensary are waiting to help you. Your first trip will go quicker than you think and in no time, you’ll be ready to go back again.