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Legal Cannabis states are popping up all over the country, with four more states (California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine) all legalizing the adult use and regulation of cannabis during the 2016 election. Those markets are expected to open in the next 6-18 months, after which more people than ever will have the opportunity to experience legal cannabis.

For new consumers, walking into a dispensary may feel intimidating. With so many new products and different strains to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

To help consumers feel more comfortable the first time, below is a guide for what to expect when you’re buying legal weed for the first time. To note, each state market varies in experience.

Entering The Dispensary

how-to-buy-cannabis-at-a-dispensary(Marie Graham photo/Provided to MassRoots)

 

Walking through the front door will be more like walking into a bar in Washington and a little like walking into a doctor’s appointment in Colorado and California. In Washington, their retail stores (21 years old and up) do not require waiting rooms like other states, making their dispensaries feel much more like a normal retail experience.

In Washington, you’ll walk right in and have your ID checked upon purchase. In Colorado and California, a security guard will be stationed at the first entrance, where you will produce your I.D. for verification. Sometimes you’ll have to take a number and sit, other times you’ll be ushered directly into the showroom, depending on crowd size.

Choosing A Product

how-to-buy-cannabis-at-a-dispensary(Marie Graham photo/Provided to MassRoots)

 

This is the most overwhelming part for everyone during their first trip to a dispensary. You feel like a kid in the candy store – edibles, beverages, tinctures, flower, pre rolls, concentrates, oh my!

The most important thing to remember here is to ask questions. Budtenders are there to help make your experience a great one, making sure you leave knowing exactly what you bought. So don’t be afraid to ask all of your questions, no matter how basic or silly you think they are. A great one to start with is “what’s the difference between an indica and sativa?” or “do you have a good beginner edible?”

how-to-buy-cannabis-at-a-dispensary(Marie Graham photo/Provided to MassRoots)

 

Your experience with products will vary based on the state.

In Colorado, the law requires a dispensary to cultivate almost all of the product sold themselves. The rest of the products offered (about 20%) can be branded products from other processors and cultivators. You will have your fair share of branded products, likely bestsellers such as Dixie Elixirs, Cheeba Chews or Leafs By Snoop, but much of what the dispensary will be offering are their self-grown strains. Ask them about their growing process, lab testing and strain varieties.

You can also ask to look and smell different strains of flower, so don’t be shy. Just don’t touch!

how-to-buy-cannabis-at-a-dispensary(Marie Graham photo/Provided to MassRoots)

 

In contrast, Washington cannabis laws have distinct licensing for dispensaries, cultivators, and processors. Unfortunately, this means you won’t be able to smell or view most product outside of its packaging. Similar to a grocery store, they will have packed products on shelves for you to view but odds are you won’t be able to open them.

When walking into a Washington dispensary, you may ask what brands have products that are great for beginners. Doing a bit of brand research before you go may help you make a more informed choice.

Payment & Safe Storage

how-to-buy-cannabis-at-a-dispensary(Marie Graham photo/Provided to MassRoots)

 

Most dispensaries are cash-only, a major pain point for both business owners and customers. Almost every dispensary has an on-site ATM, but going to your bank’s ATM or getting cash back will prevent you from having to pay an ATM fee, ranging anywhere from $1.50 – $5.

There are some dispensaries who have started to take debit cards, but these are few and far between. Come prepared with cash to make your first visit even easier.

Legal cannabis states require some sort of child-proof packaging for cannabis products. In Colorado, some dispensaries may require an “exit bag” or a child proof bag in order for you to leave the dispensary with edibles. Many dispensaries sell these in store and they are almost always reusable, so hold on to them for your next trip!

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