If you are lucky enough to live in one of the 15 states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, then the chances are you’ve visited or seen a pot shop, or several!
After all, it’s the 21st century, and cannabis dispensaries are the one-stop-shop for all your cannabis needs. For seasoned smokers, this is a dream come true.
Pot Shop 101: Everything to Know Before Your First Visit
The wide variety of choices available for different strains, accessories and new inventive ways to get high were a figment of most recreational users’ imaginations just a few years ago.
Changes in the law have led to marijuana being seen in a new light. Public perception is shifting, and a new social acceptance of marijuana use is beginning to emerge.
As a result many people are taking an interest in cannabis for the first time, and they surely have curiosities surrounding cannabis dispensaries.
For first-timers, the thought of walking into a pot shop for the first time can be intimidating – but it doesn’t have to be!
The Dispensary Jitters
It’s a well-worn cliche – you walk into a boutique, hipster-run coffee shop or microbrewery. You glance at the menu, and nothing makes any sense. Everything is written in German or Italian and everyone else around is so much cooler than you, enjoying overcomplicated beverages.
You don’t want to highlight your lack of knowledge, so you quickly point at something that looks good, and you end up walking out with something you don’t like.
For many people, even the more experienced smokers, the idea of visiting a dispensary plays out precisely the same way in their mind.
To save your blushes and prevent you from panic buying enough edibles to sedate a small country, we’ve put together a “pot shop 101” guide to tell you everything you need to know before visiting a marijuna dispensary.
Visiting a dispensary, for example a Seattle dispensary, can be quite different and far more welcoming than a visit paid to a posh coffee shop or wine bar. This is mainly due to budtenders!
Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask your budtender questions regarding the effects of certain strains and what effects can be expected with different products. A great budtender and dispensary crew will always be willing to help.
Budtenders will be your point of contact in the cannabis retail space. Usually, they are highly knowledgeable about their products and take pride in steering newcomers in the right direction.
It’s okay to be nervous, but remember that all good budtenders are friendly and knowledgeable. Cannabis culture has been stomped on for many years now, and most people in the scene are over the moon with their newfound acceptance. The general vibe is to welcome newcomers into the community with open arms.
An experienced budtender will act as a consultant. Rather than trying to make a quick sale, they will ask you questions about your desired experience with marijuana and what you want to achieve with your high.
Through your answers, they should be able to guide you to the perfect choice, naturally.
What Kind of Questions Will My Budtender Ask?
Before you head to your local Seattle dispensary and return your budtenders questions with a blank stare – it’s good to have an idea of what they’re going to ask you.
The first question is likely to be about your experience with cannabis. This question is crucial for the budtender to work out what level of potency is suitable for you, so for first-timers, it’s important to answer honestly.
Not to worry – the best budtenders and disepnsaries will never pass judgement on anyone for their desired usage level. Whether you enjoy only a couple of hits before bed every night, or if you prefer to stay high all the days long – your budtender will know how to best accommodate your needs.
Next up, they will want to know why you would like to partake. Do you want to feel more relaxed, or more energized? Perhaps you’d like a cannabis-induced burst of creativity or some inspired thinking. Or, you may just want to be glued to the couch for hours binging the newest season of Stranger Things.
Different types of high will either aid or inhibit various activities, so knowing what exactly you plan to do once you’re baked will help the budtenders pick what is right for you.
Next, Determine How You Would Like to Consume.
Relaxed laws around cannabis have opened the door to a whole range of new ways to get THC and CBD into your bloodstream. Cannabis connoisseurs and entrepreneurs are always busy concocting new strains, extracts, and smoking accessories to enjoy.
This wide array of products can be daunting when visiting your pot shop – but it shouldn’t be. It just means that there is a method to suit everyone’s tastes. To give you a heads up before your first visit, we’ll run through a few of the most common ways to partake:
- Flower – This is cannabis in its purest form. This is the fluffy bud of the plant, cut, cured and dried. You’ll have to have your own gear ready for this choice – papers, a pipe, or other cannabis gear.
- Vape pen/weed pen – These are e-cigarettes, but for cannabis. The extract or “vape oil” is typically very high in THC content. The difference here is that the weed is vaporized rather than combusted with a lighter – producing fewer toxins.
Vaping also creates a smoother pull with less odour, and effects can be felt very fast. Vape pens are more discreet and more manageable than a pre-roll or dabbing rig.
- Extract – Shatter/Wax – These are concentrated forms of cannabis produced by various extraction methods. Differing processes create different textures – hard shatter or soft wax and lots in between. To smoke these you need a specialized dab rig and various other pieces of gear, so bear this in mind before purchasing any extract.
- Edibles/Beverages – Edibles are often the most gentle entry point for people new to cannabis. There’s no smoke, so it’s generally seen as a healthier way to get high. There are many ways to transfer THC and CBD from marijuana into food, and there is an extensive range of food and drink, all with their own levels of potency.
It seems there are always new ways to get high being invented and coming out of the woodwork! However the basics above should give you a good idea of the lay of the land before you head to your local pot shop.
A Few Awesome Recommendations
Just in case you’re looking to arm yourself with a few more specific details, we’ve picked a few in-house recommendations that are bound to please.
Sinners & Saints Blue Raspberry Hard Candy
We’ve chosen these edibles as a great starting point for anyone new to cannabis. These raspberry flavoured candies deliver a long-lasting, slow-release high. They pack 10mg of CBD and THC per sweet, making them ideal for those with a low tolerance rate. Great for sharing with friends, they will deliver a smooth high for the head and body.
Sinners & Saints Fruit Punch Canna Shots
From edibles to beverages, this time with a little bit more “oomph”. Sinners & Saints produce consistent, high quality and great tasting products. Their packaging is colourful and eye-catching, but most importantly, the amount of active ingredient is clearly labelled to avoid any dosing mixups.
This mixed fruit flavoured cannabis drink is ideal for those who want a discreet high on the go. The 60ml bottles are easy to transport, and you can drink them without arousing too much suspicion. What’s more, Sinners & Saints have crammed 100mg of THC into each bottle.
Expect a clean, mellow high that melts away all your stress – and definitely helps you to appreciate a good bag of chips!
Pineapple Goldfinger Pre-Rolled Joints
“Flavors of sweet tropical fruit and pungent earthiness.” If these words aren’t enough to prick the ears of cannabis connoisseurs, then they’re probably baked enough already.
These bad boys are super potent and recommended only for seasoned smokers with high tolerance levels.
If you’re not satisfied with flower-only joints, these pre-rolled j’s have been enhanced with cannabis extract as well. They have been painted in honey oil and finished off with a dusting of kief.
These are amongst some of the most potent pre-rolls on the market and induce a purely cerebral effect. Expect introspection and deep thoughts – ideal for creativity and inspiration.
Pro Tips: Finding Your Ideal Dosage
Now that you’ve got some ideas from the menu, finding your ideal dosage is critical when it comes to dispensary marijuana. Bad experiences are often due to people not knowing their limits or merely ignoring them. Dispensaries are very well-known for carrying very high potency items as well, so it’s best to come prepared.
This is especially true with first-time smokers and edible takers. People who are regular weed consumers build up tolerance levels, so what is right for someone else might not be right for you. Here, you should also consider bodyweight and any health issues you may have.
This is where a good budtender is invaluable. Let them know exactly your experience, and they will point you in the direction of something mild and perhaps lower in potency.
Edibles are often the way to go here, as you can get a precise measure of exactly how much of the active ingredient is in each portion. This can be much more difficult to do with extracts and flower.
Finding What Works Best for You
Once your budtender has recommended a dosage, be sure to stick to it. Depending on how you consume cannabis, the effects can take longer to kick in. Inhaling gets the THC directly into your bloodstream via the lungs, whereas when you eat an edible, it has to be broken down first and enters your system much slower.
This delay prompts many people to impatiently tuck into a second brownie or gummy, only to be hit with a strong double dose that may be too much a little while later.
Stick to your dosage and your budtender’s suggestions. Ride it out for a few hours and see what happens. If you want to increase your high, doing so in small steps over an extended period is the best advice anyone can give you.
What Do I Need to Bring to the Shop?
There are just a few things you should bring with you in order to complete your purchase. If placing a preorder online, you may need to bring your phone to the dispensary as proof of your order.
Most dispensaries have very specific guidelines displayed on their website regarding the preorder process, so be sure to read them carefully before placing your order and visiting the shop. You’ll also want to bring:
Enough cash to cover your order (plus extra for sales tax).
Limited payment options is another complication brought about by the difference in federal and state law. Because cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, many banks refuse to deal with any businesses related to cannabis.
This is one of the biggest issues giving legal sales a hard time, and many dispensaries will only accept cash. A quick check on Google will tell you if the shop you’re planning to visit takes card or not.
Many locations that don’t take cash have an ATM on-site, so this isn’t too much of an issue – but it is essential to be aware of before your first visit.
Also, marijuana sales tax is very high for legal establishments, in most states where recreational use is legal. Be sure to bring an extra $15-$25 to cover the tax on your order.
Lasty, Bring Your ID!
In states where marijuana is “legal”, cannabis is only legal to buy and consume for adults. Anyone under 21 will not be allowed in or even near a dispensary. Due to the nature of the product, many dispensaries will have security checking IDs at the door. Be prepared to show it inside as well.
This item is very significant to cannabis tourists. If you’re about to embark on a cross country road trip to sample the finest weed Seattle dispensaries have to offer, leaving your ID at home is really going to ruin your weekend! Per state regulations, no marijuana sale can be completed without an ID – no matter how young or old you are.
Before You Partake, Be Aware of Local Consumption Laws
You’ve got the right product and asked all the right questions – and now you can leave the shop feeling liberated! But now – where to smoke?
Though a state might have legalized recreational marijuana, federally it is still very much illegal. In the eyes of the national government, cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug.
On top of this, there are many regulations in place about buying and smoking cannabis. Many cannabis tourists coming from out of state think they can hit up a Seattle dispensary, step out of the door and blaze up on the sidewalk. This is likely to end up in a fine, citation, or worse.
So where can you smoke?
Smoking on private property, away from the eyes (and noses) of the general public is well within the law, especially in Washington. Lawmakers are currently reviewing the decision to allow private smoking clubs in Washington, but don’t get your hopes up!
One good rule of thumb is to not consume cannabis anywhere it is illegal to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol.
Smoking in public, and in view of the public is very much illegal. This rules out a lot of places that many would like to kick back and chill out. Areas where you cannot smoke marijuana (according to the state of Washington) include:
- Inside the dispensary where you bought the product
- On the street
- Bars, restaurants, private clubs
- Sports stadium
- Federal Land
The last entry is one to keep an eye on. Many national parks, monuments, wildlife sanctuaries and even ski slopes are federally owned. If you get caught consuming marijuana by federal agents in these areas, then the punishment could be severe.
Smoking cannabis and driving is most definitely against the law as well, even for a passenger. Smoking in a parked car is also a risk, as law enforcement officers will often assume that you have been or intend to drive the vehicle whilst under the influence.
Hopefully, you are now more prepared for your first dispensary visit!
Now you can enter into the ganja arena with base knowledge to build on as you experiment your way to the ideal high. Be confident, and ask as many questions as you can. Though it may sound silly in your head, it’s nearly guaranteed the budtender has heard the same question before.
Be confident, be safe, and enjoy!