Your First Visit to a Cannabis Dispensary - 10 Things to Know

Your First Visit to a Cannabis Dispensary - 10 Things to Know

You may be anxious about your first visit to a cannabis dispensary but rest assured that it will become second nature very quickly. Hitting up the dispensary will be no more of a task than going to the grocery store after just a visit or two. In the grand scheme of things, dispensaries are still a relatively new concept for most, taking into account almost a century of prohibition and a failed “war on drugs”. The beauty of dispensaries outside of the wide selection of canna-products, is that they offer a professional, clean, and safe environment to purchase your goods. 


How to Choose Your Dispensary


What you will find to be probably the most important aspect of finding a dispensary that meets your needs and expectations is research. Most dispensaries will have a professionally designed website and social media accounts, that publicize their products and services and allows customers to share their reviews. Browsing through a couple websites such as a Leafly and Weedmaps can arm you with invaluable information about marijuana dispensaries overall reputation in your community through customer reviews.


Depending on what your medical or recreational requirements are, having a vague idea of what you want out of your first visit is a better idea than arriving with no information at all. You may have decided to go to a marijuana dispensary to seek treatment for a medical condition. If this is the case and you haven’t done so already, always get advice from your doctor, therapist, or licensed healthcare provider first. 


10 Things to Remember Before Walking into a Cannabis Dispensary 


It may sound ominous, but it is really a painless process and one that has quickly become normalized. These tips aren’t some commandments list written in stone and posted at the door of every dispensary, but instead they’re more of a best practices and recommendations for best dispensary etiquette. 


1. Know the rules and regulations ahead of time


…or at least have somewhat of an idea of them. With well over half the country having implemented medical and/or recreational cannabis programs, it is best to understand the laws either in the state you’re residing in or visiting. The takeaway here is that each state’s regulations vary slightly (or in some cases, there can be a wide variation). For example, one state may permit non-residents to purchase only a certain amount of cannabis while another state may not have any such rule in place. 


This isn’t to say that you’ve got to memorize every regulation, that’s what the budtenders are there to help with. It is more of a recommendation to do a quick parking lot Google sesh before walking in and not getting combative when a budtender tells you there’s a cap on how much you can purchase. Remember, they’re just doing their job and as they’re told, they don’t make the rules. Just because your home state might let you buy a couple ounces at a time, doesn’t mean all states will have similar standards. 


2. Have a valid ID and/or medical cannabis card readily available


You’re going to be carded in a dispensary. No question about it. Again, don’t take offense or be put off by someone who is doing their job by asking for some ID. Additionally, if you’re a medical cannabis patient, having your valid MMJ registration credentials ready for inspection by a budtender will make everything much smoother, including your experience. 


3. Don’t rely on credit cards or checks to pay


Banks and payment processors still aren’t exactly on-board with processing transactions on an item that is still technically illegal at the federal level. Again, don’t blame the dispensary for this inconvenience. Believe us, if they could process credit cards like every other normal business in the world, they would. Hopefully we will get some regulation sooner than later like the SAFE Banking Act, which will open the floodgates for banks and payment processors to jump aboard the canna-train. Until then, you’re likely stuck paying with cash. If you’re in a bind, a lot of dispensaries have in-house ATMs, but watch out for those fees! Better to come prepared. 


4. Treat customers and Budtenders with respect


A lot of people are purchasing cannabis for medical reasons. Make sure you give people personal space to talk to budtenders about their personal requirements. Most dispensary budtenders are well-trained when it comes to their products, try to learn as much as possible from these team members. Tips are never expected, but always welcome (where permitted). Getting on the good side of your local budtender will also help score inside info on new strains and top-shelf bud.




It is second nature these days to pull out your phone when you see something cool, but you should add cannabis dispensaries to your “no go zone” when it comes to snapping photos. Dispensaries tend to be pretty strict about this as well and breaking this rule is a good way to get yourself banned. 


6. On the subject of cell phones…


Do everyone a favor and put your phone on vibrate or silent before going inside. Dispensaries like to maintain a chill vibe for the most part and an obnoxious ringtone is a surefire way to get labeled as that person. Besides, doesn’t it annoy the hell out of you when you’re deep in thought or trying to absorb information around you? 


7. Don’t expect to be able to handle the product

At least not the flower. You wouldn’t like it if you were at a restaurant and someone at the table beside you handled your food before you ate it, right? So why would your flower be any different? Even from a technical standpoint, handling flower without gloves or tools (you’ll see a lot of dispensaries actually use chopsticks for this) can also knock off those lovely trichomes from your bud. All things we want to avoid!


8. Don’t get ripped in the dispensary parking lot


Don’t be Mr. or Mrs. amateur hour. Not only does this paint you out to be a noob, but most dispensaries have a pretty strict set of rules about consuming the cannabis that you just purchased in their parking lot. Not to mention, assuming you drove yourself there, that’s going to leave you driving back home while under the influence. Not cool and something that can land you in hot water if you’re pulled over or worse, cause an accident. 


9. Know the required age for entry


In most states you have to be at least 21 years old to head to a cannabis dispensary. Unless you’re in a very specific situation with approved medical stipulations, no dispensary or budtender can bend the rules here and you shouldn’t get upset that they won’t. Don’t be that entitled person, it isn’t a good look. 


10. Relax, enjoy the experience, and don’t be afraid to ask questions


The nuances and specialized vocabulary in the world of weed can be confusing and intimidating. Fortunately, budtenders recognize that a lot of customers don’t have a grasp on the intricacies of the cannabis world. If you don’t know what something means or how something is supposed to be used, just ask! Nobody is going to poke fun at you or look at you weird like they did the person who didn’t bring their ID or left their cellphone ringer on max volume. 


Overall…Don’t Fall Victim to Anxiety


Like anything, a new experience can cause anxiety to rear its ugly head. Like most people, you’ll at some point you’ll probably ask a goofy question or mispronounce something. The worst case is that a budtender gets a chuckle and provides you with the correct information. Visiting a dispensary is really no different in practice as pumping gas, getting groceries, or going to the pharmacy. Chances are, you don’t think twice before doing these things and if you walk into a dispensary for the first time with an open mind and chill vibe, you’ll not only fit right in, but you’ll be welcomed to the family of canna-lovers with open arms.  

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