With countless locations, products, and terms to become familiar with, a trip to the dispensary can be overwhelming. We’re here to help make it fun. Whether you’re preparing to visit a dispensary for the first or tenth time, here are a few suggestions to make your trip more efficient and enjoyable.

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Research The Dispensary You Plan To Visit 

Not having a website doesn’t fly for the best pot shops anymore. If there’s a dispensary you’ve seen or heard of, drop its website a visit. If there isn’t a website, that might be a sign that the store owners aren’t doing everything they can to cater to the customer.

Thanks to dispensary price comparison tools like ours, figuring out which locations are nearest to you, and which dispensaries are offering prices that fit your budget is a matter of telling the app your location. Wikileaf will help you find the best products in your area. You’ll also be able to figure out the average price for dry flower, peruse our extensive strain database, and read real customer reviews. Since shopping for pot at a dispensary can be a lengthy process (especially if this is your first visit), don’t waste your time at a store that isn’t what you need it to be. 

Review Different Product Types

When you get to the dispensary, there will be ample opportunity to ask questions. However, having some foundational knowledge of the most common products available will help you generate more specific questions. Cannabis dispensaries sell products that fall into these categories: flower, concentrates, edibles, and topicals.

Flower is just that—the dried plant material containing the cannabis plant’s greatest concentration of cannabinoids. Each cannabis strain is bred to yield different results. Most strains are specifically cultivated to have a lot of THC. A smaller variety have either a relatively lower THC content or much more CBD than one might find in nature. Cannabis flower can be smoked, vaporized, or infused with edibles.

Concentrates (also known as extracts) are extracted cannabinoids that have been stripped of almost all plant matter. A hit from a concentrate is far more potent than one from flower because the cannabinoid content is much higher. Concentrates come in a variety of textures and flavors. Some are almost all THC while others are almost entirely CBD. You can smoke, vaporize, or dab concentrates. Concentrates are also far easier to infuse with edibles than flower since their high viscosity allows them to distribute evenly in whatever they are being mixed with. If this is your first-time consuming pot, go low and slow when dosing out your concentrate. That means start with a small amount and take your time adding hits during your smoke session. While it isn’t possible to have a fatal overdose from pot,  it is very possible to have an extremely uncomfortable experience (green out).

Macro detail of cannabis concentrate live resin (extracted from medical marijuana) isolated over white on a dabbing tool iStock / rgbspace

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Edibles are ingestible products that have been infused with cannabis. Out of all the ways to get high, this the most unpredictable. Unlike inhalable cannabis, which sends cannabinoids almost directly into the bloodstream, Edibles disburse cannabis through the gastrointestinal tract, so the effects go at digestion’s pace. It takes a while for the high to emerge, so the go-low and slow mantra is just as relevant here as it is with concentrates.

Topicals are cannabis products that are applied to the skin. These balms, lotions, patches, soaps, etc. are popular options for people experiencing localized pain, or for those who want a more indirect high. CBD-rich topicals are most common because of their soothing but non-psychoactive effects.

Know The Effects Of THC Versus CBD

The recreational and medicinal effects of cannabis are caused by the plant’s cannabinoids, chemical compounds that interact with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). The most abundant of these cannabinoids is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the second most abundant is cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the high-inducing agent cannabis is best known for. The psychoactive response to THC can be described as euphoric and mood-elevating. It makes cannabis a social drug because it tends to create optimism and a unique appreciation of people, especially those smoking with you. When THC goes wrong, though, it can cause paranoia and anxiety. The positive and negative effects are temporary, and the adverse psychological reactions to THC can be tempered by CBD.

CBD is the therapeutic powerhouse of the cannabis plant. While THC is also medicinal, CBD has been identified as an efficacious anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, analgesic, and an anti-proliferative agent that produces no psychoactive effect. This makes it a wonderful choice for pediatric patients, athletes, and anyone who wants to remain sober while enjoying cannabis’ therapeutic profile.     

Ask Questions

Dispensaries are staffed by cannabis experts colloquially referred to as budtenders. The best dispensaries employ budtenders who care deeply about their customers and have extensive knowledge of the product their stores have on the shelves.

Before forming your questions, interview yourself to figure out what you want out of cannabis. Are you looking for medical or recreational fulfillment? What exactly is ailing you? How do you want to consume your product?  Do you want to smoke, vape, dab, ingest, or apply it to your skin? What’s your THC tolerance? Do you want to smoke and lounge on your couch, or do you want something that will energize you enough to allow you to socialize, work out, or simply carry on with your normal routine?

If you’re not sure about what you want, that’s totally normal, too. A good budtender will have a conversation with you to help both of you figure out the best product for your situation. Don’t be embarrassed about asking any pot-related question. Whether you want to know if there really is a difference between sativas and indicas or what the difference is between smoking and vaping, budtenders are there to help. 

Make Sure You Bring These Essentials With You

Coventry, UK - NOVEMBER 26, 2016: Young Adult Woman withdrew cash from ATM machine iStock / nrqemi

Don’t leave home without your ID and cash. If you don’t bring your ID, you will be returning home empty-handed. If you forget to bring cash, chances are the dispensary has an atm on site, but that isn't a guarantee. Because cannabis remains federally legal despite being legalized in your state, banks are wary of working with cannabis companies.

One more thing—bring patience. Most states only allow budtenders to work with one customer at a time, so be prepared to familiarize yourself with the dispensary’s waiting room. Check out the dispensary menu, read up on different strains, or take some time to unplug. If you’ve prepared for this trip the right way, the wait will be worth it.