What To Expect on Your First Visit to a Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

Recreational marijuana dispensary products on a shelf

There’s a first time for everything, and that includes your first visit to a cannabis dispensary. The different rules and regulations, crazy-big variety of products and laundry list of questions you may have can make the whole experience stressful, but not to worry — we’ve got you covered.

Want to feel comfortable and have a good time on your first visit? Here’s a good idea of what to expect.

Before You Go

The best way to make sure you have a great first experience is to get in the right frame of mind. Even though dispensaries are perfectly legal in many states, it can still feel strange to walk into one because of the stigma that has built up around cannabis use. Just remember that purchasing marijuana is your legal right — and by doing so, you’re also supporting a local business (which is always a plus).

Do some research to find the perfect recreational marijuana dispensary. You can find a ton of great info on a business’ website, and it’s a great way to get an impression of the vibe and tone of the store itself. Online reviews are also super helpful so you can know what to expect when you visit. Some stores are more relaxed and fun, while others are more medicinally focused. Finding the one that feels like a good fit for you will help you enjoy your experience that much more.

Do a Little (Online) Window Shopping

Once you’ve found a store that you want to visit, check out their cannabis menu to get a preview of their products. You don’t have to make any decisions yet, but looking at what’s available can help you feel more confident when it’s time to make a purchase. Take note of strains, effects and brands that look interesting to you. Once you’re at the store, you can reference these pieces of information in your conversation with the budtender.

You’ll get personalized recommendations in the store, but pre-rolls, edibles and vape pens are all great choices for a new user.

It’s also helpful to double check the state requirements for purchasing marijuana at the store before you go. Typically you’ll need:

  • A valid form of identification, like a state-issued driver’s license or ID card
  • Cash or debit card (some shops have a debit reader that allows purchases in $20 increments)

Walking into the Dispensary

Dispensaries tend to operate on a one-to-one basis so the budtender has ample time with customers, ensuring that they get what they’re looking for. That said, don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line for a bit before it’s your turn.

Check the weather so you’re dressed appropriately in case you’re waiting outside. Stopping by during non-rush hours in the early morning or late evening can also cut down on your wait time.

Once you’ve stepped up to the counter, you might feel pressure to rush through your transaction, especially if the line has built up behind you. But we say, don’t stress! Dispensaries are special because the staff is there to help you make a choice in your own time. Ask questions, browse the selection and don’t put pressure on yourself to hurry up; we promise that everyone waiting has been in your shoes.

Let the budtender know it’s your first time at a dispensary so they can explain the products to you. Your first visit will most likely be focused on discussing your goals, lifestyle and preferences, so be prepared for it to take a little longer than you’d think.

Your Friend, the Budtender

Speaking of, the budtender is your best friend at the dispensary. These cannabis experts are passionate, knowledgeable and super friendly. They will help you find the perfect product for your lifestyle. Some questions you might want to ask them include:

  • What do you recommend for a first-time user?
  • I’m looking for something relaxing/invigorating. What do you recommend?
  • Are there any specials or deals?
  • Do you have a rewards program?
  • What’s your favorite product?
  • My main goal is recreation/pain management/sleep. What do you recommend?

Budtenders know everything there is to know about cannabis, and they love talking about it with newbies and experts alike. Don’t worry about sounding uninformed or naive; the staff’s whole mission is to help people just like you to feel confident in their cannabis journey.

Making a Purchase

You’ve got the perfect product and you’re ready to buy. Like we mentioned before, dispensaries are cash-only establishments because of federal banking laws. If you didn’t bring enough money, many dispensaries offer ATMs so you can pull whatever cash is necessary. 

Some also have the aforementioned debit readers, which allows you to buy in increments of $5. This normally includes a fee, and you’ll receive cash back for the remaining balance. The budtender will most likely check your ID one more time before completing the transaction.

Let the staff know you’re a first-time customer, as some shops offer specials or discounts for that first visit. Also ask for any current or upcoming deals. Dispensaries are big into maximizing their customers’ purchases, so they’ll be happy to let you know about anything that can save you some cash. Also, don’t forget to ask about a rewards program. You can earn points on purchases to save even more money in the future.

It’s not a requirement, but it’s always nice to tip your budtender for their great customer service.

Enjoying Your Stash

You might be tempted to peek at your haul in the car, but be careful — most states have rules about where and when you can consume cannabis. Wait until you get home to sample your new stash.

Always store cannabis safely and out of the reach of minors and pets. We recommend starting with the smallest possible dose and then increasing your intake as you become familiar with the effects it has on you. Take note of any strains or experiences you really enjoy so that the budtender can steer you toward similar products.

If you can, leave the dispensary a positive review online. Reviews are one of the best ways dispensaries have for reaching new customers. You’ll help the dispensary grow and provide helpful information for other new consumers looking for the right place to visit.

Become a Repeat Customer

The best part of visiting a dispensary is becoming a regular customer there. Every trip builds up your relationship with the staff. They’ll recognize you and your preferences, which means even better recommendations whenever you go. Soon, you’ll be an old pro, looking back fondly on that first trip to your now favorite recreational dispensary.

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