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The Insider’s Guide to Going to a Dispensary for the First Time

The Insider’s Guide to Going to a Dispensary for the First Time

Dispensaries can be intimidating if you’ve never shopped at one, especially if you’re new to cannabis. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Weed is supposed to be fun, and shopping for weed should be the next best thing to smoking it. This Insider’s Guide to Going to a Dispensary for the First Time will walk you through everything the first-timer needs to know. So don’t be scared. Instead, make your first time a good time with this insider’s guide!

Going to a Dispensary for the First Time: Pre-Game Checklist

Follow this checklist to keep your dispensary game tight. Like most things, a little preparation can make all the difference. So just read, relax, and chill. We got you.

Know What Cannabis Product(S) You’re Interested In

It’s a good idea to think about this before you’re at the counter and the budtender asks. Of course, you don’t need to know exactly what you want, but a general idea is way better than having no idea.

If you’re brand new and unsure where to start, visit the dispensary’s website and cruise the online menu. Familiarize yourself with the products they carry. Most dispensaries usually include quite a bit of information in the product descriptions, and you can take as much time as you need with zero pressure.

Most dispensaries break their menu down into the following product categories:

  • Pre-rollsJoints that are already rolled and ready to blaze.
  • FlowerBuds that you grind and blaze.
  • EdiblesCannabis-infused foods, drinks, and candy.
  • ConcentratesCannabis extracts like hash, wax, shatter, and live resin.
  • TopicalsCreams or balms applied directly to the skin.
  • Sublinguals: Tinctures you dose under your tongue.

The goal is to narrow it down to a few choices to discuss with your budtender.

Choose The Right Dispensary

Another advantage of surfing a dispensary’s website is that you’ll get a feel for whether it’s the right dispensary for you. But, of course, not all dispensaries are the same. 

Different stores have different personalities. Some dispensaries are wound tight, and some have a chill vibe. Dispensaries also have different strengths and weaknesses. One may have a banging flower menu, while another crushes concentrates, while another kills it with customer service, and the list goes on. 

Pro Tip: Check out a few of your local dispensaries online. Read some reviews on Google. Then, pick the dispensary that calls to you. 

Bring The Right Documents

What documents you need will depend on whether you are a recreational or medical consumer. 

Recreational Consumers

You must be at least 21 years old and present a valid driver’s license, state-issued ID, or passport. This is non-negotiable. If you don’t have a valid form of ID, the store will not even let you in the door.  

Medical Marijuana Patients

A valid ID is still required, but the age limit is 18. Medical patients must also bring their original, stamped recommendation or medical marijuana card to purchase as a patient and enjoy the benefits of higher purchase limits and lower taxes.

The California Department of Public Health offers a state-authorized medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) with a registry database to verify qualified patients and their primary caregivers. Participation by patients and primary caregivers in this MMICP is voluntary. The MMICP web-based registry allows law enforcement and the public to verify the validity of a qualified patient or primary caregiver’s MMICP as authorization to possess, grow, transport, and/or use medical marijuana within California. 

Bring Cash

For some strange reason, cannabis and cannabis products are still federally illegal. As a result, many dispensaries will not process credit card or debit card transactions. Yes, some dispensaries have workarounds, but be prepared to get hit with a steep transaction fee. Many dispensaries also have ATMs on site, but the fee to use them is also hefty. 

For the cost-conscious, bringing cash is the way to go. And always calculate the tax. This is tricky and varies from city to city. Typically, it’s around 30%, but it never hurts to call ahead and ask. 

Dispensary Check In

You can’t just walk into a cannabis store like a liquor store or a 7-11. So be prepared to jump through a few hoops before you shop. The right mindset is everything.

Dispensary Security Is Tight

This is the way dispensaries operate. They’re a cash business with limited banking options and high-value inventory. So, an armed guard will likely be at the door checking IDs and searching bags. Typically, backpacks are no bueno, so just leave them in the car and save yourself the hassle. Above all else, remember that security is there for your safety. Be grateful for it.

Dispensaries Record Your Personal Information 

Even if you showed your ID at the door, expect to provide it again at check-in. If you’re a medical patient, you must also provide your original recommendation. 

Check-in may take a minute. Your personal information must be entered into the dispensary’s Point of Sale (“POS”) system before they can legally sell cannabis to you. It’s the law. They have to do it. A little patience goes a long way.

You will also likely be asked to provide your phone number or email. The dispensary will use these to send you marketing texts or emails. This is not required. You may politely decline to provide them.

Dispensaries Get Busy

There may be a line at check-in. If the dispensary has a waiting room, expect to spend some time there before they let you on the sales floor. Once you’re on the floor, you’ll be assigned a budtender or wait in line for the next available budtender. It’s first come, first served. 

Pro Tip: If you’re short on time or prefer to shop online, you can always place your order on their website for convenient pickup.

How to Shop For Weed

You finally made it. You’re at the dispensary counter. You meet your dedicated budtender — your guide. They ask what you’re looking for, and the conversation begins. Trust them. They’ve likely tried most things on the shelf. 

Be advised that cannabis has its own language. If you want to communicate with your guide, some terms are very helpful to know:

Indica, Sativa, And Hybrid

Forget about the origins of these words or their scientific meaning. When shopping for weed, these words are dispensary slang for the effects you’re looking for. 

  • Indica = A relaxing strain. Used for pain relief, sleep disorders, and anxiety.
  • Sativa = A stimulating strain. Used for creativity, motivation, and focus.
  • Hybrids = A mix of Indica and Sativa effects.

Cannabinoids And Terpenes

Cannabinoids and terpene influence the effects, aroma, and flavor of cannabis.

What are Cannabinoids? 

Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds in cannabis. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are essential oils that give cannabis its smell and flavor. They also play a role in how cannabinoids interact with our bodies.

Top Shelf, Mids, Or Value

Dispensaries use this language to categorize cannabis by quality and price.

  • Top Shelf: The highest quality. Grown indoors.
  • Mids: Middle quality. It may be indoor or greenhouse grown.
  • Value: Value is the bottom shelf. Almost always outdoor grown. 

Weights And Measures

This can be a bit tricky. Cannabis is almost always sold by weight, but the culture mixes the English and Metric systems. So you can buy cannabis by the Metric gram or the English 1/8th.

How much is a gram of weed?

Not much. This is the smallest amount that you buy other than a single pre-roll. It’s enough cannabis for a joint or two. 

How much is an 1/8th of weed?

An 1/8th means 1/8th of an ounce. This equals 3.5 grams. This is the standard size for a jar of cannabis.

How much is a quarter of weed?

A quarter means a quarter ounce. This equals 7 grams.

What’s a Half of weed?

A half means a half ounce. This equals 14 grams. 

How much weed is a Zip?

A zip means an ounce. This equals 28 grams.

If you have an idea of what you want and you know the language, a good budtender will always be able to guide you to the best choice for your needs.

Cannabis Courtesy

It’s always a good idea to treat others as you would like them to treat you. Budtenders have a difficult job. Cannabis is complex, dispensaries are busy, and it’s hard to make everyone happy. While we should all know how to be kind, respectful and patient, some courtesies are dispensary specific.

  • Please Don’t Touch That: Dispensaries do not like it when customers handle the live product. There are just too many ways that can go sideways. So, do not touch any products without asking. Please keep your hands to yourself.
  • Please Don’t Open That: If you have not paid for it, don’t open it. If you break the tamper seal, the dispensary can’t sell it. And even if you did buy it, do not open it in the store or the parking lot. That’s illegal. Wait until you are off-site.
  • Please Don’t Smell That: If you want to smell something, please just ask. Nobody likes it when you just stick your nose in something. I mean, who knows where your nose has been?
  • Please Don’t Ask For Illegal Advice: As friendly as your budtender is, they don’t want to be part of your criminal conspiracy. So don’t ask for illegal advice like how to smuggle cannabis home. That’s what Google is for.
  • Please Don’t Smoke Weed Here: A dispensary can lose its license if its customers are caught using cannabis on the property. 
  • Please Wait Your Turn: We know your mom thinks you’re the best, but you are not better than anyone else. We’re all just people. So, do not cut in line or otherwise disrespect other humans. It’s just not cool. 


What If I Want To Return What I Bought?

The threshold question is why? If it’s just because you changed your mind, that may not be enough. While that might seem harsh, at a dispensary once a product is sold, it cannot go back on the shelf. That said, some stores may allow exchanges. This works best when most of your purchase is still in the packaging. If you have already used most of it, your exchange is questionable. You look like someone who just wants free weed, and they may put a note in your account (this happens a lot.)

A good dispensary will process an exchange in case of a defective product. For example, this often happens with carts that tend to clog or leak.

What If I’m Under 21?

If it’s a recreational dispensary, go home and wait for your birthday. You will not be allowed into the dispensary until you are 21. If the dispensary has a medical license, you must be 18 with a valid doctor’s recommendation. 

How Should I Store My Weed?

Put it in an airtight container and store it in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or drawer. Mason jars are a great option. 

Can I Pay With My Credit Card?

Credit card transactions are illegal. So it’s best to pay with cash. But some dispensaries employ workarounds and accept credit and debit cards…with an added transaction fee.

How Much Cannabis Can I Buy?

Adults in California can purchase up to 28.5 grams of non-concentrated cannabis, 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, and 6 immature cannabis plants per day. In addition, medical marijuana patients can buy 8 ounces of medical cannabis per day.

What If I’m Not A California Resident?

It doesn’t matter if you’re not from California, you can still buy cannabis from a dispensary as long as you are of legal age and have a valid ID. But if you’re from a state where cannabis is illegal, we recommend that you don’t even think about trying to take it home with you.

Join The Crew at King’s Crew

It feels good to be a part of something. That’s what King’s Crew is all about. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been using cannabis for years, King’s Crew will always treat you like you’re part of our crew. That means the best service, the best products, and knowledgeable budtenders who will always listen to your needs and find the perfect thing just for you. So visit Kings Crew today or order online for convenient pickup!

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