So it’s your first time at the medical marijuana dispensary, and you don’t have an experienced friend to go with you.

Most people get the “kid in a candy store” feeling when they first enter a storefront dispensary, what with the shelves overflowing with colorful packages of edibles and humongous glass jars of fragrant flowers.

However, it can all be pretty intimidating for a first timer looking to break into the cannabis lifestyle.

If you’ve ever been shooed out of a smoke shop for saying the word “bong” instead of “water pipe,” then you know that some unspoken rules still apply when discussing cannabis in a storefront setting. Though your local dispensary is typically a safe space, full of amazing products to treat every ailment, here’s a quick guide to ease the culture shock for the first timer.

Dos

  • Remember your Medical Card, ID, and exit bag – Every time you visit a new dispensary, you’ll have to register and have your doctor’s recommendation verified, so always bring your important documents along with you. You cannot leave the dispensary without a child-proof exit bag if you’ve bought any items that do not have child-proof packaging. Some dispensaries charge up to $5 for this bag, so try to hold onto yours after your first visit.
  • Be friendly – Just like any customer service worker, a budtender will be inclined to return a respectful attitude, and may even sneak you an extra small gift if you hit it off. They’re also a wealth of knowledge about the best strains and products in the shop.
  • Ask questions – You’ll be surprised just how much you can learn in one visit to the dispensary. A good budtender will answer all your questions and more, with a smile.
  • Tip! – Though your budtender likely does get paid, there’s also a large volunteer element to what they do. It ain’t easy, so throw your new friend a George Washington or two on the way out.
  • Throw the goods in the trunk – In most states, you’re required to transport sealed packages of medical cannabis in your trunk until you reach your final destination. Do otherwise only at your own risk.

Don’ts

  • Forget cash – Most storefronts are still technically not allowed to accept credit or debit payments, and the ATM machine will definitely charge you a fee (if your local shop even has one).
  • Bring friends who aren’t patients – Typically, only official medical cannabis recommendation holders with ID are allowed to enter a medical dispensary. Bringing a group along to wait for you might make it seem like you intend to redistribute your meds. If you plan to take anyone to a recreational dispensary, make sure they at least 21 years old.
  • Ask for freebies – Dispensaries are usually generous with first-time patient gifts and deals, so trying to get more for free is a bad look. Usually, if you’re a repeat customer, you will be duly rewarded. Until then, donate your dues like everyone else.
  • Light up on your way out – Just don’t be like that, man. Dispensaries do a lot of work to stay compliant, and one misstep on your part could ruin that. Be respectful and keep a low profile until you’ve left the area.

The dispensary might feel a bit like Willy Wonka’s factory at first, but in reality it’s a place where people from all walks of life come for their medicine. So in short, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do at your favorite restaurant or health food store.

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