Purchasing cannabis for medical purposes is permitted in 36 states as of August 2021. Visiting a dispensary for the first time, especially if you’re new to cannabis, can be scary if you reside in a state where medical cannabis is allowed. We asked our patient coordinators for some advice for rookies because they have a lot of experience with patients of diverse ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering visiting a cannabis shop for the first time.
You’ll need your identification.
To buy cannabis, you must be 21 years old, whether you live in a medical or recreational market. Cannabis dispensaries operate under extremely rigorous regulations, and you’ll need to present a legitimate government-issued ID to even enter one. You’ll also need your medical cannabis card if you visit CULTA or any other cannabis dispensary in Maryland (or a dispensary in another state where cannabis is legalized for therapeutic use exclusively). If you live in Maryland and haven’t applied for your MMCC card yet, this blog will walk you through the process.
Remember to bring cash with you.
Although some cannabis stores take credit cards, they are in the minority, as the mail order marijuana industry is mostly a cash-based enterprise. Some dispensaries may feature ATM machines, but carry cash to avoid the hassle (and convenience costs). Prices for cannabis items vary, so expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $200 on your first visit. Remember that because you’re buying in a legal market, you’ll have to pay state, local, and excise taxes on the base price of all cannabis items. Some cannabis dispensaries make their menus available online so you can get a sense of price before you go.
The majority of products will be locked up.
When you first walk into a cannabis dispensary, you may be startled to discover that most, if not all, of the products are hidden behind glass cases. Cannabis shops must follow highly rigorous restrictions, regardless of the state, and some of those laws stipulate that products for sale must be pre-packaged. You will be able to touch the packaging and read the labels, but you will not be able to smell the product or open it. Contrary to common assumption, cannabis shops in the United States are not the same as cannabis cafes in Amsterdam; on-site consumption is strictly prohibited!
Expect to be surrounded by security.
The presence of security guards, cameras, and restricted areas within a cannabis shop is another factor that typically throws first-time visitors off. This kind of protection is commonplace in the industry and has nothing to do with the dispensary you’re about to visit. Security measures are in place to protect you, the employees, and other guests, so treat the security officers with respect and know that your safety is their main priority.
There are no refunds available.
The same logic applies to cannabis, just as it does to pharmaceutical medications. Once you leave the dispensary, you won’t be able to return, swap, or get a refund on any cannabis items. As a result, after you’ve found a product you like, our patient coordinators advocate starting small and gradually increasing the size of your order. Most dispensaries sell single cookies or pre-rolls so you may try different strains without breaking the bank.
You could also feel compelled to buy something, but don’t be; it’s totally normal to visit a cannabis store and leave empty-handed.
You may have to wait in a waiting room before being assisted by a budtender, depending on the dispensary you visit. Each state has its own set of laws; some allow you to browse like you would in a typical store, while others limit budtenders to just helping one patient at a time. Lines at dispensaries usually go quickly, but if you must wait outside, check the weather forecast and be prepared to wait. Visit during non-rush hours (early in the morning or later in the evening) to avoid lines, or call your dispensary directly to inquire about their busy hours. Some dispensaries even allow you to order ahead of time through their websites.
Make some inquiries.
Our patient coordinators are here to assist you, but conducting your own research before visiting a dispensary is always a good idea. Before you go, think about what you want to get out of the visit, what you want from the things you buy, and what your budget is. Our blog has a lot of useful information, but here are some fantastic sites for new patients and cannabis users:
Tips about manners in general
Last but not least, treat a trip to a cannabis dispensary like a trip to the pharmacy: respect the privacy of the patient in line ahead of you, don’t chat on the phone while in a dispensary because it might be distracting to other patients, and make sure to observe all of the dispensary’s guidelines. Many dispensaries, for example, do not allow photographs. Respect the rules, no matter what they are.
Visiting a dispensary for the first time doesn’t have to be intimidating, and the more prepared you are, the better. If you have any questions, please contact us before your first visit! Also, don’t forget to bring your MMCC card!