Going to a Dispensary for the First Time: What to Expect
How do I know what to buy from a dispensary? How do I choose the right dispensary near me? Do I need a medical card to buy from a dispensary? What is the “right way” to consume cannabis?
If you’re a new cannabis patient or are considering getting your medical cannabis certification, you may have found yourself asking these questions about going to a dispensary for the first time.
Going to a legal dispensary for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to cannabis.
This article is intended to tell you everything you need to know about your first time buying cannabis from a dispensary.
We hope that by the end of this article, you’ll feel confident, and ready, to move forward on your legal cannabis journey that you started with Compassionate Clinics of America, and you now what to expect as a first time visitor.
What is a Cannabis Dispensary?
Even if you live in state with recreational marijuana, a medical dispensary is a different type of entity that focuses on the medicinal benefits of the plant.
Medical cannabis dispensaries recognize that people aren’t necessarily using cannabis to “get high”, unlike a recreational dispensary, but rather to find some relief from a medical condition.
The most common conditions that people come to Compassionate Clinics of America for are anxiety, depression, chronic pain management, and difficulties with sleep.
Thus, when you find a cannabis dispensary near you, you will notice that those working there will have medical qualifications, and will be able to speak to you about the medicinal properties of certain products and recommend cannabis flower for smoking or vaping, or edibles to provide you relief.
When you go to a recreational cannabis retail store or adult use retail store, you will not get this type of medical advice, which is a big benefit of getting your medical cannabis certification in a recreational state.
Get Your Medical Cannabis Certification Here
How Do I Choose the Right Dispensary When Going to a Dispensary for the First Time?
Choosing your dispensary comes down to personal preference.
Some states will only allow a patient to utilize one dispensary. Illinois, for instance, used to have strict laws and only allow patients to use one dispensary, but they recently lifted that regulation, allowing patients to shop where they wish.
A few things you may want to consider when choosing your dispensary include:
- The distance of the dispensary to your home;
- Whether the dispensary offers delivery service;
- Whether your dispensary is a chain or independently owned;
- Whether your dispensary gets a regular, uninterrupted supply of products (many dispensaries may not carry your preferred product at all times);
- If your dispensary offers patient education sessions or advice;
- If your dispensary offers compassionate pricing;
- Whether your dispensary is accessible
Different patients with their medical cannabis certification will have different preferences about the different attributes of their dispensary. However, all dispensaries operate with strict rules and security measures, including using security guards, and keeping products behind glass cases.
When it comes down to it, however, we always want to ensure our patients feel welcome, supported, and as though they have sufficient access to products.
Be aware that because of a higher level of service, medical dispensary lines tend to be a bit longer, which will require some patience; but, the degree of service you will receive is well worth your time in line or in the waiting room outside the shopping area.
If you really don’t like waiting, try to find out what the non rush hours of your favorite dispensaries are to ensure you approach your visit in the right mindset.
Do I Need a Medical Cannabis Card to Shop at a Dispensary and Consume Cannabis?
Any dispensary visit, even in a recreational state, requires that you be registered in the program of your state to hold your medical cannabis card (also called an MMJ card).
When visiting a dispensary, be sure first time visitors have all these items ready for your visit:
- Your medical marijuana card (MMJ card) (it is illegal to sell cannabis to first timers without a card);
- A valid state ID such as a driver’s license;
- A budget in mind
We recommend you go with a cash budget in mind when purchasing cannabis because when visiting a dispensary, it’s very easy to be enticed by all the great cannabis products and cannabis strains that you’ll see.
One Very Important Tip: Most Dispensaries are Cash Operate Cash Only
Most dispensaries do not accept bank cards, debit cards, or credit card as a form of payment for cannabis products due to the continuing issues with cannabis and banking, and because cannabis is not yet legal at the federal level.
When visiting a dispensary, be sure to bring cash with you to purchase cannabis products, as many dispensaries in many states operate cash only.
Cannabis Reciprocity at Out-of-State Dispensaries
If you are traveling to another state as a cannabis patient, you may be able to participate in Cannabis Reciprocity programs and visit dispensaries in your destination state, so you won’t have to be without consuming cannabis while on holiday.
32 states currently offer cannabis reciprocity to cannabis patients, meaning that if you hold a valid and legal medical marijuana card for your state, it will be honored in these states also: Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Arkansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Utah, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Delaware, Minnesota, North Dakota, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington.
Be sure to call ahead to dispensaries in your destination state before your first visit to ensure you understand the legal requirements of being able to purchase cannabis products from out-of-state.
How Do I Know What to Buy When Going to a Dispensary For the First Time?
When going to a dispensary for the first time, it’s always recommended that you go with some intended medical outcomes in mind:
Are you wanting to sleep better? Are you in a lot of pain? Do you feel anxious or depressed?
Depending on your intended medical outcomes, a qualified consultant at a medical dispensary will make some cannabis products recommendations or recommendations for different cannabis strains, and put ease into the shopping process for your first visit. Depending on whether they have used a cannabis product, whether it’s through smoking or edibles, they may be able to tell you what to expect for the first time you use the product or cannabis strain.
For instance, for chronic pain relief, you may be recommended a high-THC product. For anxiety, products higher in CBD than THC may be the best choice for you to keep you in the right frame of mind.
You may be suggested a product high in the terpenes myrcene or linalool, or with higher levels of CBN to help you fall asleep at night.
Be sure to check out our blog and read our helpful articles on how cannabis is helping people with certain qualifying conditions.
We also recommend that you keep a journal or some kind of record of the products you use and the effects that you experience so that you can continue to refine your experience to your outcomes.
This will help you to be prepared for your next visit and make better product choices in the future.
Discover Medical Marijuana with Your MMJ Certification
The rapid rate at which medical marijuana is being legalized across states and that the cannabis industry is growing is indicative of the positive impact that cannabis consumption is having on people’s health and wellness journeys.
Compassionate Clinics of America is proud to have served thousands of Americans with empathetic service, award-winning patient education, and better quality of life through medical marijuana certifications since 2017.
If you or someone you love is interested in exploring medical cannabis, please reach out to us. We serve residents of: Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Georgia & Minnesota. We hope this article has provided you some helpful insights on going to a dispensary for the first time.