Sunday May 20, 2018

By Matthew Mongelia


This year, countless people will step into a dispensary for the first time. Cannabis tourism is booming, and each election cycle new states are opening up for recreational and medical sales. Purchasing cannabis has never been safer, easier or more convenient. For shoppers old and new alike, we’ve compiled a simple guide of “Dos and Don’ts” to having an optimal dispensary experience, straight from the other side of the counter.

Dispensary Dos and Don’ts

No matter your experience level with cannabis, everyone should be aware of the proper etiquette for visiting a dispensary. Following the guidelines below will help ensure your experience is nothing but smooth.

If it’s your first time at a dispensary, be sure to check out our helpful article on what to expect.

Do Come Prepared

Just like a club or a bar, entry has stipulations. If you’re shopping recreationally, make sure that you have valid, acceptable ID on hand. Call ahead if you’re unsure. If you’re shopping medically, make sure your paperwork is up to date and accurate.

If it’s your first time shopping at a medical dispensary, there will usually be some onboarding paperwork to be done. Plan extra time accordingly. Also, some (most) dispensaries only take cash, so hit the ATM beforehand if needed.

Do Some Planning

Think a little bit about what you might be looking for, or what you might be open to, before shopping. Most dispensaries have their menu online, and taking some time to familiarize yourself with the products will keep you from feeling overwhelmed, especially for those new to the dispensary experience.

Online Menus
Checking out a dispensary's menu before visiting will save you time and help you find the ideal product for your needs.

If you know what you want and you’re not feeling flexible, call ahead and make sure it’s in stock. Inventory moves fast, and that great deal on live resin is going to be as exciting to everyone else as it is to you.

Don’t be a Potency Snob

Walking in the dispensary and asking for the highest potency is akin to walking into a liquor store and asking for Everclear. You don’t look classy. THC content is just one of the many factors that produces the qualities of a high. Feel free to mention if you’re seeking something potent, but don’t simply assume that numbers are everything. Trust in your budtender. If you’re just looking to get deeply stoned, they will provide the best way possible.

Do Ask Questions

Budtenders are there to help. Whether you’ve been smoking since the 70’s or started lighting up when recreational came along, the weed world changes fast. Whatever you think you might know may have changed, and there’s a lot to know, so don’t be shy. Feel free to make inquiries, even “stupid” ones. It will really help your budtender help you.

Don’t be Rude (or accept rudeness)

The public perception is often that budtenders are dismissive, perma-stoned and half-aware. If that is indeed your dispensary experience, we encourage you to seek another shop. In reality, your budtender should courteously carry in-depth product knowledge on an average of 50 rotating items (sometimes many more) alongside a mountain of laws and regulations. It’s a lot to remember, and understanding should be encouraged on both sides. Rudeness can be a quick ticket to bad suggestions and worse service.

Do Make Yourself Comfortable

We turn to Puff Daddy’s timeless advice for arriving on the scene, “act like you been here before.” It can be unusual and exciting to buy cannabis at a counter, legally, from a vast selection. Still, make some attempt to be cool about it. Look around; tell the budtender a little about what kind of experience you’re looking to have or other smoking preferences. The more comfortable and open you are, the better your resulting experience will be.

Don’t Go Beyond Your Limits

Budtenders truly want their customers to have an enjoyable experience. If you’re cautioned away from something as being too strong, you should probably heed the advice. Cannabis works on its own unique, independent chemical system in the body. Thus, people often base their tolerance assumptions on incorrect factors. Budtenders have experience, and want you to have a good time. Listen to them if you’re unsure about dosing!

Don’t Talk About Plans for Illicit Activity

While most customers are pleasant, law-abiding people, there’s at least a few every single day that walk directly up to a budtender and ask advice on how to circumvent state or federal guidelines, openly, on camera.

No Illegal Talk
Talking about breaking the law in a dispensary is a bad idea, plain and simple!

Every single dispensary in every state is under continual surveillance. It’s part of the regulatory guidelines. So, next time you think about nonchalantly asking for help committing a felony, please pause and reconsider before speaking up, and forcing the budtender to intervene. They can and will refuse a sale; it’s part of the job. And it really ruins their day, so just don’t.

Do Tip

Seriously, it’s standard. A good guide is $1-$2 for small purchases, $5 for bigger buys, and don’t be shy to give more if they really went all out. What exactly is good service? In general, it means being attentive, efficient and offering helpful advice when asked.

Tip Jar
Tipping your budtender is always a good idea, especially if they provided good service. photo credit

If you looked at six different products and wanted to know the effects of each, you certainly should be tipping. However, a good cannabis purchasing experience is also based on what you want it to be. Want the budtender to be fast and quiet? Communicate that. If they gave the service you wanted, show your appreciation in the tip jar.

Don’t Linger

Most dispensaries are not set up in a way to take large volumes of people at once as a security feature. Unfortunately, strict regulation adherence takes priority over customer experience. Budtenders have to be hyper vigilant on the clock, but won’t let it show.

If you’re done with your purchase, it’s a big help to them if you’re on your way in a timely manner. Budtenders enjoy shooting the breeze as much as any other person under regular circumstances, but in the dispensary, it can be stressful.

Happy Shopping!

There you have it, some simple guidelines to be aware of the next time you decide to visit a dispensary. Remember, budtenders are there to help so keeping in mind these simple dos and don’ts will help improve both of your experiences. Finally, if you ever have a particularly pleasant dispensary experience and want to commend your budtender, be sure to leave the dispensary a review on PotGuide to show some love!

Do you have any tips for visiting the dispensary? Share them in the comments below!

Matthew Mongelia Matthew Mongelia

Matthew Mongelia is the Content Manager for He holds an MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA in Creative Writing from CUNY Brooklyn College. He has worked in the industry in numerous roles for over 5 years while covering cannabis content from coast to coast. Like so many in the industry, he first became acquainted with cannabis as a medical patient, and has been a passionate advocate for the plant ever since. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.

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