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Sunday October 4, 2020

By Paul Barach

420 Culture

You’re not alone if you find your pockets a little light on cash every now and then. It happens to everyone. Maybe an unexpected repair bill came up just after payday. Maybe you’re paying down some debt, or saving up for a big purchase. Maybe a global pandemic led to an unprecedented unemployment crisis in your country. Who knows the reason? 

The point is that making a budget and sticking to it means paying a little closer attention to where your dollars go on shopping trips. That includes visits to your local dispensary. The good news is that there’s still plenty of options on what you can buy at your local pot shop with a couple of stretched dollars. You aren’t necessarily going to be limited to dry leftovers or bottom-shelf weed. All it takes is a little forethought, a little research, and a little budgetary imagination. 

Luckily, PotGuide is here with a couple of tips that can help you choose the best options for your budget to buy at a dispensary.

Know Your Limit

Before you begin, know exactly how much you have to spend. If you only have $50 to supply you with THC, then you’re riding into battle with Ulysses S. Grant and nobody else. Keep to the plan of attack. Whatever your budgetary restriction, know the exact number and stick to that number. 

Don’t Shop Hungry

Don’t wait until you’re scraping resin out of your bowl before your next visit to the dispensary. If you come into the dispensary hungry for a fresh bowl or a heady dab, your mouth might start watering for some top-shelf, high-quality, full-spectrum product rather than looking for a more fiscally-reasonable option. You may have an amazing heady toke or two afterwards, but that one purchase isn’t going to last to next payday. Then you’re stuck reaching for your glass piece and an unwound paper clip for round two.

Let your Fingers (and the Internet) Do the Walking

Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can check multiple dispensary menus in your local area without ever leaving your house. This saves you on gas if you’re driving, fares if you’re using public transportation, and time, regardless of how you get to the dispensary. While Google maps might give you an idea of the dispensaries close by, a website like PotGuide (!) gives you all the dispensaries in your area as well as providing reviews, menus, contact information, and more. 

Once you’re online, peruse the menus of the dispensaries. A good technique is to open multiple tabs to make your comparison-shopping even easier. Keep an eye out for discounts and deals (special events like holidays often have extra-steep discounts).

PotGuide Deals Page
PotGuide's deal page is great way to find deals going on at the dispensaries in your area.

Many dispensaries will offer a nice discount for first time shoppers to draw them in. Also, be on the lookout for BOGO deals on products the dispensary may have overstocked, or on new products they’re looking to get the word out about. Who could say no to a promotional penny joint deal? There’s always something. 

As you’re comparison-shopping, use the online shopping tool offered by most dispensaries to fill a shopping cart to your set budget. Then, then click through your windows to see which dispensary gives you the best bang for your buck and hit purchase. 

The Bargain Menu

If you’re not looking to put the effort into comparison-shopping, there are always a couple of go-to budget items available at most dispensaries. Check out some options below:

Popcorn Buds

It’s nearly impossible for any grower to produce those showcase-ready, top-shelf buds on their plant’s colas without creating some smaller, less nourished popcorn buds near the bottom of the plant. While no one will tell you that popcorn buds hit the exact same as those A+ buds getting sold at a premium, popcorn buds aren’t bottom shelf either.

Popcorn Nugs
Popcorn nugs are a great option if you're looking for good quality at a low price.

If you’re looking for quality, popcorn buds from the best growers can still offer a B+ experience despite being sold at solid C prices. Because the popcorn buds came from the same plant as their heftier brethren, they also contain the same cannabinoid and terpene ratios and taste just as good. Their small size makes them great for crumbling up into joints. And if you’re grinding them into bowls anyway then who cares if they looked a little small in the bag? 


Joints are a great way to stretch your cannabis budget. While they may not be the main course of your purchase, their low price makes them a great side option to round out an order. As a bonus, you can buy several brands of them to give yourself some variety until it’s time to head back to the dispensary. A lot of dispensaries offer penny joint deals on purchases, and, remember it’s not like you have to smoke the entire joint in a day.

an assortment of joints
Buying an assortment of joints allows you to try several strains, while also saving some money.

Stub it out and store it in its tube for later. You can also empty it out into a container and smoke it in a couple of bowls. Lower cost joints are always going to be shake and loose trim rather than ground up from top shelf nugs, but your budtender should be able to direct you to which pre-rolls are the most fire on the budget end. 


Depending on what you’re looking for, edibles can be a financially better option than flower. They’ll last longer in terms of shelf life, and you’ll get more bang for your buck when you ingest them. Whether you’re interested in a half dose or a full dose, edibles last for up to six hours and sometimes longer, while inhaling weed is going to last maybe half that time. 


Be sure to ask if your dispensary sells shake. Usually, shake comes from any dispensary with a medical section, since it collects at the bottom of the jars of nugs. The good news on the shake is that you’ll be receiving medical quality weed for discount prices.

Shake may not be as good looking as your standard nugs, but it gets the job done.

If you’re smoking weed out of a joint or a dry herb vape, shake is already in the best shape for your uses. It can be a little dry, but the price is worth it. You can also use the shake to make cannabutter or infused oil, which can stretch out the longevity of your weed. 

Ask your Budtender

It’s a budtender’s job to make sure you have the best experience possible at the dispensary and that you walk out satisfied with your purchase. Most budtenders are doing it for the love (and the discount products), since it’s certainly not about the salary. Tell your budtender what your situation and your budget is. Everyone’s been there. They’ll usually have some solution for you - a bag of shake or mix, a penny joint, a product that’s gotta move, or some discount - especially if you’re a regular at the shop. Just save a dollar or two if you can spare it for a tip, especially if they’re hooking you up.

By doing a little planning beforehand and keeping your eye on the ball, walking into a dispensary with your pockets a little light doesn’t have to mean walking out with a light exit bag. Just remember these helpful tips on your next pot shop run until your luck turns around.   

Do you have any special budgetary tricks when hitting the dispensary? Share your success in the comments!

Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon (license)


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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