Headed to a dispensary for the first time and not sure what to expect? Below we’re covering everything you need to know before your first time at a dispensary, including what to expect, how things work and how to buy weed you’ll actually enjoy smoking.

1. Be open minded about the experience 

For many, the perceived stigma about using weed turns people off of making the trip in the first place, even though there’s nothing to be afraid of. Dispensaries are legal, compliant businesses that help people get a commodity they enjoy, so don’t let perceived judgement or fear of the law turn you off from trying it. Before visiting a dispensary for the first time, make sure to remind yourself that what you’re doing is totally normal, legal, and that nobody is judging you.

2. Have a goal in mind and read reviews 

Before making the trip to a dispensary, its important to do your research. You can use resources like Leafly and Weedmaps to find specific products in your area and see some of the information about the businesses themselves. Think about what kind of products you’d like to try, look them up, and then read some of the reviews from other people who have shopped there to vet things like pricing, quality and product variety. If you don’t know what kind of products you’d be interested in trying before you go, think about what kinds of effects you want to feel and what smells you like or dislike and use that to ask questions at the closest dispensary to you with good reviews.

3. Bring cash and your ID 

Before buying weed from a dispensary, make sure you pack your cash and your photo ID. The law requires people to be at least 21 to purchase cannabis from a dispensary, for one thing. But you’ll also need cash since most of the time you can’t use debit or credit cards to purchase weed. Since cannabis businesses (while state regulated) are operating in an industry deemed illegal in the eyes of the federal government, banks don’t usually work with them. Many dispensaries have an ATM on site to make sure you can still make a purchase, but having the cash on hand before you go can help make the process so much smoother on you and your budtender.

first time dispensary tips
Essential tips for your first time at a dispensary

4. Wait for your budtender to help you 

You will most likely have to check in and wait for a few minutes at the dispensary. In some cases, depending on the size of the dispensary, there may be a line so make sure you’re prepared for cold weather just in case. You can usually avoid lines by visiting the dispensary outside of rush hours, like early in the morning or late in the evening. Either way, you may have to wait a few minutes. Your budtender will get you or call your name when its time for you to begin shopping. Have no fear, either. The lines tend to move pretty fast unless you’re shopping on 420 or 710.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions 

Once you’re inside and being helped, talk to your budtender. They know the products they carry inside and out and have usually tried them so they can tell you honestly what they think of them. Talking to your budtender and asking questions is vitally important in your journey to finding products that you actually enjoy. So don’t be afraid to ask them how to use a certain product, what to expect, how it feels, what it tastes like, and when to use it. They’re there to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask!

6. Don’t rush 

There’s no need to rush when its your turn to shop at the dispensary counter. Even if there is a line of people behind you, you are shopping for something that is going to alter your perceptions. That deserves a little more thought than randomly picking something based on packaging and not really knowing what it is or what it does. Chat with your budtender, talk with them about your budget, how you want to feel, and more. And don’t forget to ask about a first-time customer discount!

7. Taxes are expensive 

The tax on cannabis is pretty steep in every state. Something to be aware of is asking for the prices of products and making sure they’re giving you the after-tax prices instead of the base prices. For example, a $20 cart in might be up to $25 after tax. You’re going to be taxed pretty heavily, so make sure you talk to your budtender about your total budget and get the after-tax prices while you shop so you’re not super surprised at the register. Your budtender will also most likely ask to see your ID again at the register. Both of these are normal occurrences.

first time at dispensary
Essential tips for your first time at a dispensary

8. Tip your budtender 

While budtenders make more money hourly than the average waiter or waitress, tips are still highly encouraged. You don’t have to give them a percentage of the price you paid, but throwing a few bucks in the tip jar at the end of the encounter is encouraged. They gave you one-on-one attention and offered you in-depth product information along with friendly conversation. When considering a tip, consider how long you spent together shopping, the quality of the customer service you received, and how much money you spent. Again, you don’t have to put a 20% tip in the tip jar, but $5-$20 is usually a good place to start.

9. Don’t open your products until you get home 

Once you pay, your budtender will pack your items into an exit bag and send you on your way. Be sure to keep it sealed throughout your ride back home and don’t get so hasty that you start using it in transit. Even if you’re not driving, having an open weed container accessible while driving can get you a ticket. So keep it stored and keep it safe until you get home.

10. Leave feedback and reviews

If everything went well, make sure to let other people know by leaving a review! There are so many people in your shoes going through their first time at a dispensary, so be sure to let them know what you thought and how your experience went. More importantly, a lot of dispensaries offer little incentives for providing feedback, so its a win-win for everyone. Talk about the products you got, whether or not you liked them, how the shopping experience went, what the atmosphere in the dispensary was like, and so on. Your feedback helps other people have a great first time experience, too. 

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Ben Walker writes for Stoner Things, covering the cannabis culture from a unique perspective. He doesn't just offer insights into the world of weed, but also provides hands-on reviews and tutorials for the latest products. With a decade of experience spanning cultivation and market trends, Ben advocates for informed and responsible cannabis use. His work goes beyond navigating the ever-changing cannabis landscape; it's about education and community development done right, coming from a place of knowledge and respect. If you want to stay up-to-date with cannabis trends and learn from an experienced guide, Ben's work is an invaluable resource.


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