Cannabis Etiquette: Get What You Need Without Feeling Weird in Your Dispensary

Prior to your first dispensary visit, you might be asking yourself any number of questions: Which cannabis products are right for me? How do I know the dosage that works for me? Do I have to use specific terminology? Will someone guide me? What should I bring with me? How much can I buy? The questions you are asking yourself all relate to the cannabis etiquette of the dispensary.

Cannabis etiquette is the code of behavior expected among dispensary patrons and employees. It is a set of often unspoken rules that are expected to be followed. If it is your first visit, no one expects you to get it all right. Be patient with yourself and the budtenders (dispensary employees who will guide you through your visit).

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Many people feel nervous about going into a cannabis dispensary for the first time. Even the most experienced of cannabis users should expect to learn a thing or two about cannabis etiquette from their first visit to the dispensary. Follow the guidelines below to ensure an effective and efficient visit:

  • Is cannabis legal in your state? Is it legal for recreational use or medical use? Before you head to the dispensary, research the legality of cannabis in your state. U.S. News and World Report provides more information about where cannabis is legal. Each state has different processes for licensing of dispensaries. Check your state’s procedures to learn more about the legality of cannabis and any restrictions imposed by your state. 
  • What should I bring with me to the dispensary? The answer to this cannabis etiquette question varies depending on whether your state has legalized cannabis for recreational or medical use. Either way, bring your ID with you. If you are visiting a medical dispensary, you will need additional identification, such as your medical marijuana card. Some dispensaries have rules against bringing bags into the dispensary. Check the dispensary’s website prior to your first visit to know exactly what to bring.
  • Will the dispensary be a cannabis mecca with weed and paraphernalia everywhere? Remember the head shops of the past with black lights, groovy posters, the smell of cannabis wafting in the air?!? The dispensaries of today bare little resemblance to head shops of yesteryear. Especially if you are entering a medical cannabis facility, the environment will appear sterile. Be prepared to enter a professional-looking environment. There is a check-in in front and you will most likely have a brief waiting time.
  • How long will my dispensary visit last? The cannabis etiquette for wait time is that patients or customers will need to be patient. A dispensary must follow state guidelines regarding identification, quantities, etc. Be kind as your guide (budtender) gets you started.
  • Should I go to the dispensary with a purpose? YES! Even if this is your first visit, set your intentions. Are you hoping to learn more about which products are right for you? You can absolutely ask questions to find the right cannabis products. However, prior to your visit, you should think about purpose. For example, I am looking for something to help me sleep better and I do not like to smoke. Or, I need something to help with pain that will not make me drowsy. Budtenders are experienced and knowledgeable in all things cannabis. Feel free to ask for help, recommendations, and advice. Moreover, there are usually deal and specials. Ask about sales.
  • Can I take pictures? NO! Particularly if you are visiting a medical dispensary, keep your camera off. Medical facilities must operate under very specific privacy laws according to HIPAA. For the benefit of all, no video recording, and no pictures. In fact, the cannabis etiquette here is to stay present and off of your phone while in the dispensary.
  • Is there any terminology I should know? The term cannabis is how the product is often referred to in a dispensary. However, it also known as marijuana or weed. Do not worry if you say the wrong thing, your budtender can help you use the proper terms. If you want to be prepared with the cannabis etiquette for terminology, check the dispensary website prior to your visit. Most dispensaries list the menu which will provide you with all the necessary terminology. Additionally, the dispensary website will provide pricing, so there are no surprises. Here are a few popular cannabis etiquette terms:
    • Cannabis – a psychoactive drug that comes from the cannabis plant
    • CBD – cannabidiol; the second most active ingredient in cannabis; derived from the hemp plant; does not contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis
    • Flower – how dispensaries will refer to the smokeable part of the plant; what you are picturing as weed
    • Strains – the type or breed of cannabis grown to have a specific effect on the user
      • Indica – cannabis strain known for its relaxing effect both physically and mentally; good for nighttime use
      • Sativa – cannabis strain known for anti-anxiety effects; often used to help with chronic pain; great for daytime use
      • Hybrid – cannabis strains that are a cross between indica and sativa; your budtender can tell you what to expect with different hybrid strains
    • Edibles – cannabis products that are meant to be ingested, rather than smoked; for example, gummies or chocolates infused with either THC or CBD
    • Tinctures – cannabis products created from the extracts of a cannabis plant; often consumed using a dropper
    • Topicals – THC or CBD products that can be applied directly to the skin; for example, lotions, creams, etc.

The above-mentioned cannabis etiquette guidelines will help you feel more comfortable on your first visit to the dispensary. Remember to do your research prior to your visit in order to get the most out of your experience. Above all, know that there are people at the dispensary who are ready to help make your experience a positive one.