If you’re lucky enough to live in a legal state, then buying cannabis is as easy as walking into a dispensary and browsing their many offerings. Like any other retail store, some dispensaries offer higher quality products than others. Some offer a nicer environment than others, and the quality of customer service varies from one location to another. If you’re new to the realm of cannabis, we’re here to help you have the best cannabis-buying experience possible by providing you information on what to expect on your first visit.
What’s a Dispensary?
A dispensary is where you go to legally purchase cannabis and cannabis products.
In a perfect world, anyone who wanted to use cannabis for a medical condition would be able to visit their doctor, get a prescription, and fill that prescription at a local pharmacy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so people who have been recommended cannabis by a cannabis doctor have to go to a dispensary to buy their green medicine.
Recreational cannabis dispensaries also exist, and although these establishments don’t require any recommendation or official documentation other than identification showing your age, consumers must register with both medical and recreational dispensaries before being permitted to look at the items for sale. That said, below we discuss what to expect at your first dispensary visit.
Bring Your ID and Any Appropriate Paperwork
Before you walk into a cannabis dispensary for the first time, make sure you’re carrying your driver’s license or another valid form of ID, because you will be carded. Even if you’re 70 years old, keep your ID handy. If you’re visiting a medical dispensary, be prepared to hand over your medical cannabis recommendation — If you’re not carded, that’s a sign you’re in a reputable store. Also, be prepared to wait when you do enter a dispensary. Many states require that dispensaries only serve one consumer at a time, particularly at medical dispensaries, so charge your phone or bring reading material, because you might have to wait your turn.
The most important aspects of a dispensary are its products and staff, but the atmosphere is important, too. You want your shopping experience to be comfortable and unique. The most legitimate dispensaries have fashionable interior design, good lighting, and appropriate mood music. Imagine walking into a dispensary with plain white walls and muzak playing over the intercom. Boring and lame, right?
Dispensaries should have a cool vibe, but they shouldn’t be too flashy. Sometimes all that flashiness is a cover from sub-par cannabis, so if you don’t feel comfortable, there is likely a good reason for that.
Merchandise should be prominently displayed, and the information about each product should be visible or at least readily available. Staff, too, should be visible. You shouldn’t have to wander the dispensary trying to find a knowledgeable person to help you. The cannabis itself should be stored in and sold from large jars. This is a sign that flower is properly stored to maintain its quality, potency, and appearance. There should not be a multitude of hands reaching in and touching the product.
Knowledgeable, Friendly Staff
Speaking of staff, dispensary employees should be friendly and helpful, and understanding of a customer’s nerves or inability to know what to look for. It’s important that the staff are properly educated about every available product. If they don’t know the answer to something, it is perfectly reasonable to expect them to find another employee with greater knowledge and to do so gladly and willingly.
Furthermore, the staff should adhere to dispensary rules. This might seem a little annoying, but if you can’t trust the staff to check ID’s or handle the cannabis correctly, then you can’t trust them to sell you a safe and robust product.
Top-Quality, Tested Cannabis
One of the great things about dispensaries is that, unlike the black market, consumers always know what they’re getting. Or, at least, they should. There shouldn’t be any guesswork involved.
Not all legal states require dispensaries to test their products for quality or for the presence of pesticides and heavy metals, so it’s important to find a dispensary that values the importance of high standards, regardless of the rules.
Reputable dispensaries will rigorously test all their cannabis flowers and extracts for pathogens like mold spores. Their edibles should be appropriately labeled, and all cannabis should be tested for cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles. In other words, a good dispensary will make sure that it sells only clean, top-quality products, and it should be more than willing to prove to you that it takes these issues seriously.
Despite the spread of cannabis legalization across the United States, the black market is still flourishing because the prices of legal cannabis are so high. Dank cannabis won’t be priced low, but with a good dispensary, you expect to find some decent flower. If there is only one cannabis dispensary in your area, then you should expect higher-than-average prices. However, if there are several dispensaries in your area, look for the one that offers the most competitive prices and the occasional sale or discount.
Customer loyalty rewards are a sign that a dispensary values your business and wants you to keep coming back. No matter where you go, doing some comparison shopping before you make a purchase it of the utmost importance if you want to obtain some quality bud.
Location is often a top priority for people in the market for cannabis. In some areas, there isn’t much to choose from. But in areas with multiple dispensaries, it’s important to find a store that is convenient, that is near your home or workplace, and that offers plenty of parking. Of course, if the only dispensary that offers those things has poor reviews or they’ve sold you undesirable products in the past, it may be worth it to drive a bit out of your way.
No Different Than Other Stores
In some ways, shopping at a cannabis dispensary is very different from shopping at the supermarket. On the other hand, there are a lot of similarities. Your expectations for a dispensary should be similar to your expectations of a supermarket. You probably won’t buy from a supermarket that has terrible products and customer service. Your expectations should be the same, if not a bit higher, for dispensaries. Certainly, if you keep these things in mind, your dispensary experience should be a comfortable and pleasant one.