Dispensary Etiquette – The Do’s & Don’ts
Respect consumer privacy and the needs of medical patients.
How To Traverse The Adult-Use Cannabis Market
As you hesitantly walk towards the facility, you are greeted by an armed guard. You glance up, desperately seeking out the classic neon green cross, but are met with words like “Patient Center” and “Caregivers”. You ask the guard, “Is there weed inside?”. He chuckles and asks to see your ID. Confused as to why your grey hairs don’t get you a free-pass into the store, you hesitantly hand him your identification. A quick glance and you are directed down a hallway into what looks to be the Willy Wonka Factory for adults. Welcome to your first dispensary visit.
The legal adult-use cannabis market is relatively new to the state of California. So much so, that our laws have yet to be set in stone. The ever-changing legal structure of cannabis dispensaries can be quite overwhelming, even more so for a first-time consumer. While no two dispensaries operate the same, there are some general guidelines on how to conduct oneself once entering this sacred space. Join us as we tackle the nitty-gritty of dispensary etiquette.
- Check The Laws
- As stated above, the laws governing dispensary operations are constantly changing. In addition, counties maintain the right to implement regulations on dispensaries. These include but are not limited to, dispensary zoning, operating hours, and restrictions on how many cannabis retailers can be in a certain city (number of permits available). The most important laws to be informed of are the ones dictating who can purchase adult-use cannabis and how much they can buy.
- Adult-Use consumers can purchase, possess, gift (to individuals 21 or older), and transport up to One Ounce (28.8 grams) of cannabis flower and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. Individuals can cultivate and possess 6 live cannabis plants. Edibles are subject to a cap of 100mg (milligrams) per package (Medical and Adult-Use).
- Have Your ID Handy
- Individuals 21 years of age or older can enter a retail space with a VALID government issued ID (passport, drivers license, identification card). The reason you are being pestered for your identification is to ensure that all consumers entering the facility have a valid and non-expired form of identification. At dispensaries facilitating both medical and adult-use sales, this rule has proven controversial. It can be overwhelming for patients (medical users) to remember this rule, especially when we take into account the personal relationships many patients have with their budtenders. However, these budtenders are now held personally liable if they mistakenly allow an individual not cleared to purchase cannabis into the facility with fines and jail-time as potential consequences.
- Be Patient
- More often than not, the dispensary you chose to visit will have a line (the best ones often do). Remember, those currently being served had to wait just like you did. Take this time to explore any reading material offered by your dispensary, interact with employees who may be available to answer brief questions, or simply take in the sights and smells of being in a legal facility. Respect consumer privacy and the needs of medical patients. Once you make it to the front, it’s your time to shine, so take your time! No budtender should ever rush the experience of a customer, especially a first-time visitor. Utilizing the tools provided by cannabis companies such as Leafly and Weedmaps can help save you time by directing you to reputable retailers in your area. We have taken the liberty to include some of our favorite California Dispensaries below.
- Ask Questions
- This may be the most important component in visiting a dispensary for the first time. There is no denying the overwhelming feeling of walking into a retail space only to be greeted by foreign products, a plethora of ratios, and jargon such as cannabinoids. TheHerbCures attempts to ease the discomfort of researching cannabis products so that you can enter a dispensary fully prepared. However, your budtender is trained to assist you in finding the right products for both your medical and recreational needs. They do this most effectively by utilizing the information you share with them, so don’t feel compelled to hold back. Reputable dispensaries should invest in the proper training of their front-house staff to ensure patient confidentiality, medical cannabis applications, and proper first-time user recommendations.
- Make A List Of Desired Products
- Utilize TheHerbCures product reviews to find sustainable and reputable cannabis products to fit your needs. Be prepared that you may not be able to find the exact product you researched, but in doing so, your budtender will be able to direct you to a comparable product. This list will eventually come in handy as you begin to experiment with different products and brands. You will be able to hone in on the components your prioritize (i.e. non-psychoactive products) and ween out ingredients or ratios that are irrelevant to your needs.
- Don’t Forget To Tip
- I know, the uncomfortable moment where we discuss money. It was bound to happen, but I apologize nonetheless. Most budtenders employed by permitted retailers are paid minimum wage. Like many customer service positions, tips are often accepted at dispensaries. However, the price of cannabis has risen astronomically since the legalization of the adult-use market. This has led to an uncomfortable position for many budtenders, as the job description and responsibilities have increased but wages have not. In dispensary locations operating as both medical and adult-use, the structure can be even more complex as employees are required to be up-to-date on all applicable laws and highly vigilant of the variances in legality as they pertain to medical patients. Unlike the food service industry, there is no pre-determined rate at which to tip your budtender. A general rule of thumb is for every $100 spent, you tip $10. Most dispensaries operate like kitchens, splitting the tips amongst the entire facility (packagers, budtenders, farmers (if applicable), and inventory staff. However, many budtenders find themselves engaged in customer interactions that can take an average of thirty minutes. For this reason, I urge you to contemplate the value you receive when interacting with your budtender. Similarly to bartending, budtenders often carry the additional job description of emotional support and they ought to be rightfully respected.
- Find A Safe Place To Consume Your Cannabis
- So you made your first legal cannabis purchase. Congratulations! Now, it’s time to pack up your products in the trunk of your car and head to a private residence. Remember, in the state of California it is illegal to consume cannabis in public (this includes state parks, beaches, and forests) as well as while operating a vehicle. Stop by the grocery store and grab yourself your favorite snack (even CBD products make food taste better, despite not inducing “the munchies”). Once you get safely home, unpack your products and create a cozy and safe space where you can test out your purchase. The effects of cannabis can last up to 6 hours depending on the method of consumption (so do not operate heavy machinery – you will be subject to a DUI). Keep your products in a safe place, away from children and animals.
- Return As A Pro
- You are now a seasoned pro! You should be proud of the steps you have taken to get to this point. If you enjoyed the experience at your chosen dispensary, do not be surprised if they remember your name once you return. Good dispensaries are like family; you feel safe when you arrive and might not want to leave when you’re down. So enjoy your experiences as an adult-use cannabis consumer, and remember, consume responsibly.
“Your budtender is trained to assist you in finding the right products for both your medical and recreational needs.”
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