A Beginner’s Guide to Dispensaries

Your first visit to the dispensary can be intimidating, exciting, or just a bit surreal.  Like any first, how it turns out, can be determined by preparation.  Did you ever practice kissing your hand in anticipation of kissing your crush?  Or practice a speech in front of the mirror you were required to give at school or work until you felt like you didn’t look like you were going to pass out?  While we don’t anticipate you’ll pass out from fear outside the dispensary, we thought it would be helpful to give you some pointers when going to purchase marijuana for the first time.


Research to find the Best Dispensary Near You


If you are getting ready to visit a dispensary for the first time, you are in luck.  There are a plethora of resources online that will tell you everything you need to know about the different types of marijuana strains, the different ways to use it, how much it costs, and even where to find it.  Figure out what you are wanting to get out of your experience, set aside a budget, and pick a dispensary based on reviews you find online.  We recommend checking out Leafly or Weedmaps.  Keep in mind, because marijuana is primarily an uplifting product, it is sometimes difficult to find negative reviews.  Although, as more dispensaries set themselves apart from others by offering enhanced customer experiences, the reviews are starting to normalize.


You’re most likely going to have to check in with someone at the front before you’re able to shop.  If you don’t have a valid I.D. with you, that’s as far as you’ll get.  Bring your I.D. every time, it’s required in the State of Oregon as it is in all states where you can purchase marijuana.  You can avoid paying whatever fees your bank charges to use ATM’s other than their own by bringing cash with you.  Until marijuana deregulation happens at a federal level, the industry will continue to primarily be a cash business.  Some dispensaries do offer card payments although the fees associated with those purchases are typically on par with ATM fees.  Do yourself a favor and bring cash for your first time.

Be Patient and Give Patients Space

Dispensaries get busy, really busy.  And just like you, there are many people excited to be there, trying to navigate the proper etiquette when visiting a dispensary.  Bud tenders, the people behind the counter, are there to answer questions and provide information so the consumer can make an educated purchase.  Due to dispensaries now servicing recreational customers, it’s important for those new customers to remember that cannabis is used as a medicine for a lot of people.  The information being shared with the budtender may be sensitive; give the person the same space you would at the pharmacy.

Respect the Budtender

On average, you will not meet a friendlier, upbeat, more helpful staff than you will find at a dispensary.  That being said, there are some that are more knowledgeable and attentive and doing research ahead of time might save you the trouble of visiting a dispensary with subpar customer service.  It is important to remember that a good majority of budtenders have been working in cannabis for some time and have the benefit of being surrounded by are a great source of information about strains and intake methods.  If you do a bit of work ahead of time thinking about what you would like your cannabis experience to be, it will pay in dividends when it’s your turn with the budtender.  I asked Brady, a budtender at Breeze Botanicals here in Ashland, Oregon what advice he would give to new visitors.  “Be patient and have an idea of what you want.  The more information the better.”  He did stress not to go overboard with questions though that can be easily found online.  Again, because the industry is still new and we are all figuring out the best way to be cultivators, processors, retailers, consumers, the right way is still be figured out and some folks will require more attention than others.   The budtender will extend the same respect to you, that you show them and the other customers in the store.

Trust Your Nose

If you enjoy wine, think about all the varietals that exist and how each one has its own distinct flavor profiles, aromas, look.  Even amongst the individual varietals, differences between vineyards contribute to the uniqueness of the grape.  Cannabis is no different, each strain has its own profile, and each strain’s profile will be unique to the cultivator.  While visiting dispensaries in Southern Oregon, I was told by a cultivator to trust my nose when selecting cannabis.  If it doesn’t smell right to you, your body probably won’t agree with the effects; regardless of what the label tells you it will do.  This has held true for me since.  The smell of cannabis is directly related to organic compounds called “terpenes.”  The compounds are what carry all the aromatics, as well as the taste.  If it doesn’t smell good, move on to the next strain.

Say Thank You

The amount people leaving the dispensary with smile on their face makes me happy.  If you had a fantastic experience at the dispensary, leave a review with one of the above mentioned sites.  It’s a great way to thank the dispensary as they rely on user reviews to bring in new customers like yourself.