Cannabis dispensary basics for first timers

Published Feb 19, 2019 03:36 p.m. ET

 It’s a fresh new year and what a time to be alive. 2019 appears to be gearing up towards another stellar year as far as marijuana laws and regulations are concerned. Legal marijuana dispensaries will be opening their doors and serving the general public for the first time. While many Canadians have been lucky enough to reside in regions where a dispensary visit was an option before now, the majority are still patiently waiting and looking forward to going to a dispensary for the very first time. Legal cannabis retail stores in Canada have been slowly popping up across the country while those in Ontario have yet to experience a single legal dispensary in their area and won’t get to until April of 2019. With so many people going to a dispensary for the first time, many are left to speculate on how to get weed at a dispensary including what they might need to know about the experience itself.

Going to a dispensary for the first time tips

  1. Bring Your Identification- Every province has its legal age requirement for purchasing cannabis. The majority are currently set at 19 years old. (If you don’t know the legal age in your region than check out our article covering the legal ages and other regulation specifics listed by province.) Just like with alcohol you will be expected to prove you exceed the age of majority in your region.

  2. Make Sure Your Source Is Legal- No one wants to go in search of a high just to get charged or possibly arrested. Most provinces have strict laws and regulations surrounding what a dispensary requires to be properly authorized for the legal sale of cannabis. If your local dispensary is not listed as accredited or licensed by the government, you may not want to visit. Black market dispensaries are not licensed, regulated or legal and can be shut down at any time. If you happen to be inside of one while that takes place, you could potentially face charges and in the very least, risk your herb being confiscated.

  3. Ask Questions- If you don’t know then ask! With prohibition still being so fresh in the minds of Canadians, many are still left feeling uneasy at the idea of openly asking a stranger questions about a product that was not so long ago something you could get in serious trouble for possessing. Knowledge is one of the amazing things many hope that legalization will make more accessible. Chances are, a dispensary salesperson has a good idea of what many of the strains they have on hand feel like, and a good one will even be able to guide you in the right direction of a type for specific purposes. To have the best experience you need to feel confident in what to expect. The best way to do that is to ask any concerns you may have away.

  4. Third Party Testing- To know for sure that the products you end up with are going to be high quality and not contaminated or misrepresented in any way you can and should investigate whether or not an establishment does third-party testing for both purity and possible contaminants. If your dispensary doesn’t participate in third-party testing, then chances are they are slightly misrepresenting their products. This does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t buy from them, it just shows that you should be cautious and assume that many of their labels for THC or CBD content are likely at least a little inflated.

Buying marijuana tips

Now that you know how to get weed at a dispensary it is essential to know a few tips and tricks when it comes to purchasing any dispensary visit.

  1. Research- Before going to a dispensary for the first time, you will want to do a little research on both the offered menu at your dispensary and on the strains that you find appealing. Researching some of the most common strains available can give you an idea of what attributes can be expected from each marijuana strain and make an informed purchase that will provide you with the experience you are hoping for.

  2. Set A Budget- This one is important and can help you save money and time. Knowing how much money you have to work with right off the hop can give you and the dispensary salesperson a better idea of what products might suit your needs. There is no point in browsing $80 quarters if you can only afford something $60 or less.

  3. Bulk Deals- During a dispensary visit, you will likely see huge displays of glass jars full of bright buds on display. What many don’t realize is that there does tend to be a price difference depending on how much you buy. One gram is generally more expensive on its own than buying 7 grams or more at a time. With the legal limit set at 30 grams, most dispensaries have pricing that goes up to 1 ounce which is 4 quarters or 28 grams. Buying a more substantial amount can save you up to 30% so it might be worth looking into if you can afford it.

  4. Compassionate Pricing- While compassion pricing isn’t something that is a standard across dispensaries, many will offer a compassion price for those who can demonstrate both a financial and medical need for cannabis. If you have a license for medical use, then this kind of sliding price scale could save you as much as 20%.

  5. Sales/Coupons/Points- Another sales point that many dispensaries seem to be adopting is loyalty programs and daily price drops. This can include points cards which track your purchases to obtain a discounted purchase in the future or regular sales that can save you anywhere from 10%-50% depending on the promotion. If you aren’t sure what they offer then give them a call or check out their website before you go.

  6. Recommendations- While it’s great to know that a particular strain has an eye-popping 28% of THC one of its competitors may have a slightly lower amount and feel more powerful. THC is merely a guideline, and the overall experience one will obtain from using cannabis is very heavily defined by many other cannabinoids that are present. If someone be it staff or a customer recommends you try one that doesn’t appear to have the best score numbers it’s likely worth a shot to try it. Chances are it will be better than some of the higher priced herb you were tempted to get.

Types of Weed at Dispensaries

Now that you are armed with a bunch of helpful information that can help you through your first dispensary visit there is one last thing to cover, and that is the most common types of weed at dispensaries. The strains you find from one location to another will vary but in general tend, to be broken down and separated with these five labels, and it is essential you know what they mean.

  1. THC- THC is the psychoactive component responsible for producing the euphoric effect when marijuana is ingested.

  2. CBD- CBD will not get you high on its own and is mainly used for its medicinal qualities which are mostly based on its anti-inflammatory properties.

  3. Sativa- This is one type of cannabis plant. The effects of Sativa are often considered lighter, and the plants themselves are often taller with smaller tight buds.

  4. Indica- Another type of marijuana strain which is generally thought to have the most potent relaxing effects. The plants themselves are busier and produce wider and larger colas.

  5. Hybrid- A hybrid is just a mixture of both Sativa and Indica strains. They are generally bred to obtain the best qualities of both strains. A hybrid can be either even which is 50% of each genetics, Sativa dominant which means over 50% Sativa DNA or Indica dominant which is over 50% Indica genes.

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