first time visit to a dispensary
first time visit to a dispensary

First Time Going to a Cannabis Dispensary? A Beginner's Guide to Marijuana Dispensaries in 2023

What is a marijuana dispensary like inside and what will they ask you?

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Saturday May 27, 2023

first time in a dispensary

A Beginner’s Guide To Visiting A Marijuana Dispensary For The First Time

Updated 2023 Edition


With the spread of cannabis legalization, many people are yet about to learn about it for the first time. If legalization just happened in your state, you’ll also be new to the wonderful treat that is visiting a cannabis dispensary.


Cannabis dispensaries are essentially retail shops that sell a variety of marijuana and related products, such as edibles, vape pens, topicals, concentrates, and much more. Depending on the rules where you live, all dispensaries are regulated by the state though the level of such will vary. That’s why dispensaries also vary in terms of how much you can buy or what they can sell to you. That said, it’s important to do some research on the cannabis laws in your state before you visit a dispensary for the first time.


What To Bring


You may need to bring some documentation with you before you visit a dispensary, again, depending on the laws in your state and the type of dispensary you are visiting.


If you are visiting an adult-use or recreational dispensary because you live in a state that allows the sale of such, bring a government issued ID with a photo, such as your driver’s license. This will be needed to verify your age as well as proof of residency – without an ID, visitors won’t be allowed to shop. Each state has their own laws governing how much recreational cannabis can be purchased by residents as well as out-of-state visitors.


On the other hand, if you are visiting a medical cannabis dispensary, you’ll need a medical marijuana card beforehand. Bring it along together with your state-issued ID every time you visit a dispensary. Keep in mind that medical marijuana cards can only be used within the issuing state.


A majority of adult-use and medical marijuana dispensaries around the country operate on a cash-only basis. Bring enough cash with you. There are rare situations when a dispensary may accept a debit or credit card, but most don’t, so arrive prepared with enough cash on hand.


What Are You Looking For Out Of Your Visit?


Before you visit a dispensary for the first time, it would be good to have a think about your objectives when it comes to cannabis. You’ll see that the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming for a first-timer, which is why it greatly helps to understand why you are there in the first place.


The good news is that dispensary staff have already been trained to help people just like you. Budtenders have the training and background to help consumers like you. There are a few things to think about:


Why are you buying cannabis?
Are you trying to obtain relief from an ailment or condition, such as anxiety, insomnia, stress, headaches?

Do you want cannabis that uplifts and energizes, or sedates and relaxes?

What form of cannabis do you want to consume? Smoked, eaten, vaped?

If you enjoy smoking cannabis, what flavors do you like? Flowers come in an array of aromas including citrusy, floral, candy-like, pine-like, and more.


Dispensary employees will be able to give you recommendations based on these questions, but they may even probe more to give them a better idea of the best products for your needs. No matter what your experience level is, whether you have smoked pot in the past or not, there is a product out there for you.


It’s also important to think about the type of experience you are after. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound of marijuana, and it’s what causes the high. Most people are after the intoxicating effects of THC but remember that they come in various intensities; cannabis flower ranges from 15 to 30% THC usually while potent cannabis concentrates may contain up to 90% THC.


Additionally, THC also has its own valuable medicinal benefits, so getting intoxicated is merely part of the experience if you want to treat insomnia, depression, pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of appetite, and many other ailments. Budtenders or physicians can recommend specific THC dosages and products for medicinal marijuana card holders too.


On the other hand, there are people who are only interested in the relaxing, non-psychoactive effects of CBD (cannabidiol). It doesn’t get you high, but CBD products are the perfect choice for those struggling with anxiety, insomnia, and stress.


Over time, you can get more acquainted with different cannabis strains and even learn to distinguish various cultivars based on their terpene and flavonoid content.


Things To Remember During Your Visit


Your first time visiting a cannabis dispensary may be confusing or overwhelming. However, remembering certain etiquette and rules will make your visit memorable:


  • Always be respectful to budtenders and any staff you encounter. They will ask for identification, so be prepared with it beforehand;

  • Research local cannabis laws before your visit so you aren’t taken by surprise;

  • Give other customers privacy and respect them in the same way you would as visiting a hospital or a pharmacy;

  • Feel free to ask budtenders questions courteously and respect their rules – such as not allowing visitors to handle products without prior permission from them.




Arriving at a dispensary prepared and having done your homework will help you feel more confident during your visit. It also helps to approach the whole experience with an open mind; you will likely learn something new with every visit.


Keep in mind that each visit to a cannabis dispensary presents an opportunity to learn much more about this valuable medicinal plant that many of us already consider to be an essential part of our everyday lives. Treat the experience as such, and it will be rewarding each time.





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