10 Tips for Your First Trip to the Dispensary
Believe it or not, dispensaries sell a lot more than just pot. With literally hundreds of cannabis products on the shelves, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when walking into a dispensary for the first time. Navigating the dispensary will be significantly easier if you know how to talk with your budtender. A good budtender should ask you as many questions as you ask them. Think of your interaction with a budtender as an inquisitive conversation – just as you would discuss the menu options with your server.
What matters to you as a customer?
First, consider what is innately important to you as a customer. Is it price, convenience, potency, cleanliness, testing data – the list goes on. Only you know what matters to you as a consumer. What’s important to understand is that every option is available to you in the dispensary. Even in legal markets there are extreme variations in price ($20-$55+ an eighth), quality, cultivation practices, etc. This is your opportunity to vote with your dollar, so please consider the overall quality of the dispensary you choose to patron. There are several websites and apps that host user generated dispensary reviews.
"What are you looking for?"
Your budtender will open with this line 9 out of 10 times because budtenders expect you to know already – the same way bartenders kind of assume you know what you like to drink. Your budtender knows the products on the shelf, but they are not mind readers, doctors or therapists; they need your guidance to recommend a good match. The more insight you can give on the experience you desire, the better they can pair you with the perfect product. When you arrive at the dispensary, you will get paired up with a budtender – this person is responsible for walking you through the entire purchasing process, so don’t be shy! After introducing themselves, the first thing they will do is ask you what you’re looking for. Well, this is a tough question when you’re staring at 20+ varieties of flower, concentrates, and edibles. Rather than freezing up when you get to the dispensary counter for the first time, take a moment to think through a few of the following questions.
How do you usually consume?
Smoking cannabis out of a pipe or bong is no longer the only option. Dispensaries carry cannabis products that come in a variety of forms; flower, concentrates, edibles, tinctures, drinks, pills, vaporizer pens, suppositories, topical ointments – even medicated bath bombs. Some of these consumption methods will get you ‘high’ while others are non-psychoactive (but still therapeutic). If you know you like or don’t like a certain method, let your budtender know. If you’re curious about a new product, don’t hesitate to ask!
Do you want to get 'high' in the traditional sense?
Some types of cannabis get you really high, some don’t get you high at all, and others are somewhere in the middle. If it’s your first time consuming in a while, it may be best to let your budtender know so you can start slow. Many older people find that strains containing CBD help them ease back into consuming again. Alternatively, if you’re an experienced user, don’t be afraid to tell your budtender you are looking for a potent high-THC strain.
How do you want to feel?
The answer to this question will vary greatly based on whether you are looking to indulge recreationally for the first time or you are consuming to treat a specific medical condition. You don’t have to know the silly strain names, just how you want to feel. Let the budtender know whether you want to feel energetic and focused, relaxed and sleepy, or something in between. As the options are explained to you, take note as to whether you're being shown an indica, sativa, or a hybrid product.
What do you want to do afterwards?
Regardless of how you want to feel, there is certainly a difference between watching movies on the couch and going trail running. Many of today's most popular strains are hybrids, which means you can find strains that are both muscle relaxants and mental stimulants, or energy boosters that also dull your pain threshold and enhance your creativity. The more descriptive you are, the better chance you have of finding your new favorite strain.
How long do you want to be high?
It’s also important to consider how long you’d like the ‘high’ to last, as consumption method plays the largest roll in duration and intensity. Do you want a mild 60 minute vaporizing experience or an intense 8+ hour edible adventure? Your budtender will be able to explain the duration and intensity of the high (if any) associated with each product.
How can you use cannabis for physical therapy?
Your typical 'street weed' was grown for maximum THC, the specific compound that gets you 'high'. CBD is one of the 85 known cannabis compounds just like THC – except that CBD is non-psychoactive. Strains grown for maximum CBD are great for managing pain, inflammation, nausea, appetite, and muscle spasms. Many people find CBD products to be more effective than NSAID drugs like Ibuprofen and Aleve. Plus, it wont get you high, which makes CBD ideal for treating parents, athletes, children, the elderly, and those who want to remain clear headed.
How is the cannabis cultivated?
Cannabis is a plant that can be grown using many different methods. These cultivation practices dictate the quality and safety of your cannabis so they should not be overlooked. Some cultivators use all organic growing practices, while others utilize toxic pesticides. The healthiest, most natural form of cultivation occurs in soil under the good ol' sun. Indoor cultivation also produces quality cannabis; however, it is important to ensure that the plants were grown with healthy agricultural inputs. Each grower employs a different growing, drying, trimming, and curing method – be sure to ask your budtender for specifics.
Do you wholesale or grow your own material?
This question piggybacks off the off the previous one – not all dispensaries grow their own cannabis! In an effort to offer more variety and manage supply, many dispensaries will buy flower, concentrates, and edibles from other companies. These companies may not grow the quality of cannabis that you associated with your favorite shop. Edibles and concentrates are the easiest products to produce using poor quality cannabis because you don't actually see the green flowers they were made from. Make sure you ask about the quality and type of cannabis being used to make different products. Regardless of the grower, the ingredients must be listed on the label (and many states include the grower information as well) so you can always confirm for yourself.
Don’t feel bad about bombarding your budtender with questions, their sole job is to cater to you. If you have an exceptional budtender, be sure to tip them – they’re service workers just like a bartender or waiter. Keep in mind that not all budtenders are equal. If you get a sub-par budtender, it’s important that you be educated enough to help yourself. Your first trip to the dispensary will be exciting – you'll likely end up purchasing more than you intended. That's the beauty of choice!
Bonus: How to Carry Your Stash
Regardless of what you buy, it's important to carry your stash responsibly. There are still legal restrictions surrounding the transportation of cannabis in legal states. I recommend storing your goodies in a smell proof stash box like the Safety Case. These pocket-sized cases are perfect for holding joints, vaporizers, concentrates, pipes and flower.