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The Dispensary: Budtender’s Tips For Your First Visit

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So, you’ve decided to explore the world of cannabis, and you’re planning your very first visit to the dispensary. It’s an exciting step, and we’re here to guide you through the process. From understanding the basics to choosing the right products, this article is your go-to resource for a successful and stress-free visit to the dispensary. Whether you’re a novice or someone looking to enhance their dispensary experience, we’ve got you covered.

Before Your Visit

What Is A Dispensary?

A dispensary is a legal, state-licensed establishment where you can purchase various cannabis products. Think of it as a specialized store that offers a wide range of cannabis items, from flower buds and edibles to vapes and topicals. These places are designed to ensure a safe and informative environment for both experienced users and beginners.

What The Dispensary Is NOT

The dispensary is not a shady, sketchy place where “back-alley” deals are done. On-site consumption of marijuana is almost always a big no-no at the dispensary. Minors are strictly prohibited and security cameras (and usually security staff) will be present. Dispensaries are legit businesses trying to legally make money and serve the community under their state cannabis laws. The best way to think of them is: the “retail stores” of the cannabis industry.

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Why Visit The Dispensary?

Are you wondering why you should visit a dispensary in the first place when you could just buy cannabis from a friend, co-worker, family member, or that random stranger on the street corner? Well, there are several compelling reasons:

  • Variety and Quality: Dispensaries provide a wide variety of products, ensuring you have access to high-quality options. All products sold inside a dispensary are tested for potency, contaminants, molds, and other undesired substances. Products will also be fresh and generally never past expiration.
  • Knowledgeable Staff: Budtenders at dispensaries are very knowledgeable in marijuana. They can guide you in choosing the right products, dosing recommendations, and other cannabis-related questions.
  • Legal Compliance: Buying from a dispensary ensures you are adhering to local and state laws.

Preparing For Your Visit

Before heading to the dispensary, it’s essential to make some preparations:

  • Identification: Always carry a valid government-issued ID, as dispensaries verify your age and identity. Often multiple times per visit.
  • Cash or Debit Card: Check whether the dispensary accepts cash, debit card, or both. Cannabis is federally illegal, so most reputable dispensaries will not accept credit cards. Additionally, the trend in the industry is to adopt a “wallet” app – dispensaries often have their own app which you can preload with funds via your debit card or checking account. When in doubt, bring cash!
  • Research: Spend some time researching the dispensary’s location, hours, and available products by visiting their official site. Do not rely on third-party websites or companies to accurately display the dispensary’s menu. Product moves fast in this industry and inventory can vary quickly in a short amount of time. Also, don’t be afraid to check a dispensary’s google reviews. They are legit businesses, many very active on social media and review platforms such as Leafly and Weedmaps.
  • Medical Consultation: If you’re using cannabis for medical purposes, or, your state is “medical only”, consult your physician for recommendations. You will need to bring your medical marijuana card, or its equivalent, to enter the dispensary. If you need help getting a mmj card, check out our article Step-By-Step Guide: How To Get A Medical Marijuana Card.

At The Dispensary

The Role Of A Budtender

What A Budtender Is: Budtenders are like the experts of the cannabis world. They are there to assist you, answer your questions, and help you find the perfect product. They can provide recommendations on dosages. Feel free to ask them for recommendations, and don’t be shy about your level of experience. They are there to guide you. Seriously, us budtenders have heard it ALL and we are the first to learn about and try new products. Most are lifelong advocates for pot.

What A Budtender Is Not: A medical expert. They are not licensed to, and absolutely should never, provide medical advice. There is no need to give them your full medical report, family history, medical test results, etc. Additionally, budtenders are (in most circumstances) not officially certified in the typical sense. Occasionally you get a bad budtender, but don’t let an isolated experience deter you. The unknowledgeable ones don’t last long in the industry.

Exploring Product Options

Dispensaries offer an array of products, each with its unique characteristics. Here are some common types of products you might encounter:

  • Flower Buds: The classic choice, these are the actual cannabis buds that you can smoke.
  • Edibles: These are cannabis-infused foods like gummies, chocolates, and brownies. Remember to always start low and slow with these. And if you ever need to calculate the dose of your edibles or need help with dosing, we got you with our Edibles Dosage Calculator and Edibles Dosing Guide For Beginners.
  • Concentrates: Vapes and other highly potent extracts, often used in “dabbing”.
  • Tinctures: Liquid extracts that can be consumed sublingually.
  • Topicals: Creams, balms, or lotions infused with cannabis for external use.

Ask Questions And Seek Advice

Don’t hesitate to ask questions! Seriously! Budtenders are there to help you make informed decisions and love when you pick their brains. These are usually the type of people who have been waiting their entire lives for weed to become legal. Whether it’s about the right strain, the onset time of a product, or potential side effects, they have the knowledge to assist you. Rely on their experience to ensure a safe and enjoyable time, or provide the relief you need.

Ask About Discounts!

Yes, you read that right. Discounts. Ask about them, don’t be shy. Many dispensaries offer discounts for first-time visitors, veterans, birthdays, or medical patients. Don’t forget to inquire about any ongoing promotions and loyalty rewards.

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Dispensary Etiquette

As budtenders, we often see folks trying to figure out “how to act”. You don’t need to act any specific way, just be yourself. As with any public place, there are certain etiquettes to follow:

  • Respect Privacy: Don’t peer into others’ conversations with budtenders.
  • No Photography: Most dispensaries have a no-photo policy to protect customers’ privacy. Keep in mind there are usually medical patients here, protected under privacy laws. How would you feel if someone was snapping pics of your medication? Weird.
  • Be Patient: Dispensaries can get busy, so be patient and wait your turn.
  • Don’t Lose Your Cool: Inventory can quickly run out of stock so keep that in mind before you flip on your budtender for not having your favorite strain (yes, this happens way too frequently). Also, if a budtender or staff member gets short with you – asking you to remain behind a certain area, for example- remember that it’s probably some silly state regulation they must enforce. Trust us, we have so many outrageous regulations to follow just to sell pot.
  • Be Cool And Be Yourself: It’s that simple.


Q. Do I need a medical card to visit the dispensary?

A. Not necessarily. While some states require a medical card, many allow recreational use. Check your local laws for clarification. If you need help getting a medical marijuana card, follow the tips in our Step-By-Step Guide: How To Get A Medical Marijuana Card.

Q. How can I tell if a product is of high quality?

A. Ask your budtender about the product’s source, testing, and user reviews. They can provide insights into its quality. However, most products sold at dispensaries are top-shelf, high quality.

Q. What’s the best product for a first-time user?

A. Edibles with low THC content or a mild strain of flower buds are often recommended for beginners. Visit our Edible Dosing Guide for more information.

Q. Are there purchase limits at the dispensary?

A. Yes! All reputable vendors strictly enforce purchase limits. These limits vary greatly from state to state. Check with your local jurisdiction. If you want to get around that, grow your own cannabis.*

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Your first visit to a dispensary should be an exciting and educational experience. It’s all about making informed choices and ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable time. Remember, budtenders are there to assist you, and by following the guidelines and tips outlined in this article, you’re on your way to a successful visit. Welcome to the lifestyle.🌱🏡💚 logo cannabis the dispensary first time visit tips