Dispensary Guide for First-Time Visitors
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As more states have legalized cannabis, more and more dispensaries are opening their doors.

For new as well as experienced cannabis consumers, purchasing cannabis products has rapidly become a convenient and routine task. That’s not to say that it can’t be confusing; from being confident that you’re buying from a state-licensed dispensary to understanding the many types of products that you’ll find on the shelves, there’s a lot involved in a dispensary visit. 

Whether it's your first time trying cannabis or simply the first time you'll be obtaining it from a licensed business, there are a few things that you should know before making your first trip to a cannabis dispensary.

How to Choose the Right Dispensary

There are several cannabis dispensaries out there, but how do you determine which one to get your cannabis from?

Cannabis might be legal to buy and consume in certain states, but it's important to obtain cannabis products from a licensed dispensary. Unfortunately, while plenty of legitimate dispensaries exist, so do a number of unlicensed businesses. 

Buying cannabis from an illegitimate entity is not only unlawful, it can even be dangerous. That's because it’s likely that these dispensaries don't follow the same rules that licensed ones do. There are certain laws and regulations in place that are designed to ensure that dispensaries supply high quality, safe and properly-labeled products so consumers can make an informed purchasing decision.

Spotting an unlicensed dispensary involves a little common sense. Legitimate businesses have their licenses in full display. They also sell products that are clearly labeled and even offer third-party lab test results so you know what you're buying is the highest quality. 

These lab test results are important because they tell consumers a number of things about the cannabis product, including the CBD or THC concentrations (or any other cannabinoid) as well as the terpene and cannabinoid profile. If the product has not been tested, you won't have any way of knowing exactly what ingredients are present, or if there are contaminants that would render the product dangerous for consumption. 

Licensed dispensaries will also charge sales taxes, which will be clearly shown on a sales receipt. All commercial marijuana products must be taxed.

You can always check with your state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control to see if a business is licensed or not. 

It's important for consumers to do their due diligence when shopping for cannabis products and purchase only from a licensed dispensary. This will help identify which places are best to buy from, and which ones to steer clear of.

If you know exactly what type of product you need, doing a little research before you seek out that product will help you pinpoint who sells it. 

Read More: 11 High End California Cannabis Dispensaries

What You Need to Know Before Visiting a Dispensary

Prior to making your first visit to a dispensary, there are a couple of things that you should bring with you. For starters, having updated identification is important; just as a reputable grocery or liquor store requires an ID to purchase alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, licensed dispensaries will not sell to minors. Reputable dispensaries also will always have a security guard checking customer IDs before they are permitted to enter. Be sure to heed their instructions before you make your way in.

Dispensaries will only accept cash, due to federal regulations. Many dispensaries have ATMs installed on site to obtain the cash need. If you have any further questions regarding payment options, please contact your local dispensary.

If you are planning to visit a medical marijuana dispensary, then you'll need your medical cannabis card, so don't leave home without it. To obtain a medical cannabis card, you’ll need to speak to a licensed professional. Otherwise, your best bet is to head to a recreational marijuana dispensary that does not require medical verification.

Read More: Do’s and Don'ts for the First Time Cannabis Tourist

Regardless if you're a first time cannabis user or returning to cannabis, visit The Higher Path next time you are in Sherman Oaks, CA. With knowledgeable and supportive staff, your visit is sure to be smooth and rewarding.

Dispensary Rules to Follow

There is a certain type of etiquette that cannabis dispensary visitors should follow. There are also some laws that you'll need to comply with, which may vary from state to state. It may be wise to get familiar with what these rules are before entering one, including the following:

There's a limit to how much you can buy. By law, you are only permitted to purchase one ounce of cannabis flowers per day, or 8 grams of cannabis concentrates, for recreational purposes. For medicinal purposes, your limit is 8 ounces of medical marijuana flowers.

You cannot consume cannabis in public places. While you may use your cannabis products freely in the privacy of your home, you are not allowed to consume it in public places, similar to rules surrounding the consumption of alcohol. That goes for the actual dispensary, too: You're not permitted to use the cannabis you purchase on the dispensary's property. 

You may not be permitted to be on your phone while in the dispensary. Many cannabis dispensaries do not allow any photos to be taken inside, and therefore they may not permit any use of mobile devices at all. 

You cannot drive with an open container of cannabis. Once you leave dispensary location, make sure to place your products in the trunk of your car and wait until you are at home to open and use them. It's unlawful to drive with an unsealed cannabis bag or container within reach, just as it's illegal to drive with an open bottle of alcohol beside you.

What to Do Once You're Inside

What do you do once you've gotten familiar with the proper etiquette and rules and have everything you need to make a purchase?

Ask questions

Make sure to ask the budtenders any questions you may have. Reputable dispensaries employ knowledgeable staff who are well-versed in the realm of cannabis and are on-hand to answer your questions. After all, you want to make sure you're buying the right cannabis product for your specific needs. 

Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • What product will give me the effect I'm looking for?
  • How can I make sure I'm dosing properly and effectively?
  • What are the different flavors and tastes of various edible products?
  • How do I effectively read the label so I know what I'm buying?
  • What's the best product for pain/anxiety/mood, etc.?

That said, try not to take up too much of the budtender's time, as there are likely plenty of other patrons that are seeking answers to their own set of questions.

Understand your limitations

If you're a first-time cannabis consumer, you'll certainly want to start with small doses and work your way up until you've achieved the desired effect. Different types of cannabis products have different effects. They may also differ in the amount of time it takes to feel any effects, as well as how long the effects last. 

For instance, cannabis edibles are notorious for taking longer to take effect compared to smoking or vaping, but once they take effect, the experience is a rather strong one. As such, it's wise to make sure you’re aware of the effects and are consuming the appropriate dosage. Again, ask these types of questions to make sure you're consuming the product appropriately.

Take your time 

As mentioned, take the time to have your questions answered to help you get familiar with cannabis and all the different products out there. Not only do you want to know what you're getting, but you also want to ensure that your experience is an enjoyable one. 

What About Cannabis Delivery?

While you can always pick up your cannabis at a brick and mortar dispensary, you can also order online and have it delivered. But again, it's important to understand the rules and laws in your state surrounding the delivery of cannabis so you're well aware of how things work. 

The laws may vary from one state to another, so be sure to understand the specific rules in your particular location. Cannabis laws are still rather fresh in most states, so they're essentially still being clarified to some degree.

What consumers should know is that cannabis dispensaries need a permit issued by their respective counties in order to deliver cannabis to homes. And not all licensed cannabis dispensaries have these necessary delivery permits. 

Certain factors need to be considered when it comes to lawful delivery of cannabis, including the type and amount, among others. So, you can't have more than a certain volume of cannabis delivered. It must comply with state and local law.

Before your delivery can be accepted, you'll need to verify your age and identification. Further, you'll have to make sure that you are available to accept the delivery, as no one else will be permitted to sign on your behalf. Expect delivery fees to be charged, and be sure to tip your driver! 

Foli fully vets all dispensaries on our website, so you can be certain you’re purchasing cannabis products from reputable sources. 

Make the Most of Your Experience

Visiting a cannabis dispensary is certainly an interesting experience, especially for first-timers. To make the most of your visit and to ensure you walk out of there with the right product in tow, take the time to arm yourself with all the necessary pieces of information before you go — and always make sure you're entering a legitimate, licensed cannabis business.