The Ultimate Guide on How to Buy Weed From a Dispensary

Did you know that 44% of Americans have access to recreational cannabis? With the legalization of cannabis becoming more and more commonplace, you might be wondering how to buy weed from a dispensary.

It can be a little bit intimidating if you’ve never been to a dispensary before, so it helps to know what to expect before you go. Read this guide to feel more prepared for when you first visit a dispensary so you can leave with the best weed possible.

Choosing a Dispensary

If there are several dispensaries in your area, start by taking a look at their websites to get an idea of what they’re like and what kinds of products they carry.

Make sure they’re reputable; one thing to look for is information about the products on their website and a lot of variety. Since it will be the first time you’ll purchase weed, you’re likely to have questions about what to try first.

A lot of information on their site is a good sign, and hopefully also means the budtenders, or employees at the weed dispensary, will be knowledgeable and can make recommendations if you’re not sure where to start.

Since you probably have a few options, see what the atmosphere is like at each one. The right environment for you will make it a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Recreational or Medicinal

You’ll also want to pay attention to the type of dispensary: recreational, medical, or both. There are different laws for every state, but only medical patients can purchase medical weed.

If you are a medical patient, you absolutely must bring your medical card with you to the dispensary.

Some dispensaries allow both types of customers, but often medicinal patients don’t have to pay tax on their purchases. Be sure to know the law in your state so you’ll have a better idea of what it will cost and what products you’ll have access to.

What to Know Before You Go

Being in a dispensary for the first time can be a little daunting, and it’s not like going into just any store. You’ll be a lot more comfortable if you have an idea of what the general flow will be.

Think About What You’re Looking for

While you don’t have to know exactly what you want and the budtenders will be more than happy to answer any of your questions, it helps to have a few ideas in mind ahead of time.

Start by asking yourself what end result you’re looking for. Do you need something to help you relax, or help with pain relief? Or maybe you need a creative boost.

No matter what effects you want, your budtender can point you in the right direction based on your preferences.

You should also think about how you like to consume weed. There are a lot of different options, from flowers and edibles to concentrates. This will all depend on what you like or are interested in trying, and it also helps to know what you don’t like.

Finally, be aware of the legal limits. Different states have different legislation, but all dispensaries have a cap on how much weed you can purchase at one time.

Checking In

Purchasing weed from a dispensary includes specific procedures. When you arrive, you’ll notice that there is security personnel; the cannabis industry is still relatively young, so dispensaries need to be careful and protect both their customers and their product.

Security will ask for your ID at several checkpoints: usually just outside or inside the front door, again once you enter the main area, and then your budtender will check your ID one more time at checkout. This may vary from store to store, but you can definitely expect to have your ID looked at more than once, so don’t put it away too quickly.

How to Buy Weed

You’ll notice that all cannabis products in the store will be behind the counter, and not available for you to grab and bring to the register. Everything is prepackaged and sealed.

You won’t be able to purchase weed with your credit card; make sure you have cash or a debit card on hand. Debit cards can only be run as cash transactions, so you’ll likely receive change (protip: put that change right into the tip jar for your budtender).

There are other quirks, too. Most dispensaries require their budtenders to carefully read through and check off each item once or twice. They’ll probably staple your bag shut once all your items are inside to keep it sealed once you leave.

These are all security measures that the dispensary is legally required to take.

What Kind of Weed Should I Buy?

If you’re a true beginner, your budtender can help you decide what to start out with. Otherwise, you might already know that you prefer to smoke joints or from a glass bowl, or you only like edibles. That’s a great place to begin and will help your budtender guide you.


Cannabis flower is the most popular product available at dispensaries, but it comes in different forms for you to choose from.

Most common is buying flower by weight. Containers will be already weighed out and typically come in one-eighth of an ounce. This is cannabis that will need to be broken up before smoking and can be used in a pipe, bong, joint, vaporizer, or any other smokable form.

Pre-rolled joints or blunts are a really easy way to just grab and go; all you have to do is light up and enjoy!

Sometimes you’ll see other types of flower available. “Shake” is essentially just pre-ground or lose bits of cannabis, so there’s no grinding required. It may be a combination of many different strains, and it’s often sold for a cheaper price than larger premium buds.

Popcorn buds are another budget-friendly product. It’s discounted because the buds are much smaller and not quite suitable for sale at full price. However, they’re the same strains from the same growers, so it’s a great deal on quality cannabis.


Edibles aren’t just “special brownies” anymore. You can eat your cannabis in a multitude of ways, from baked goods and chocolates to seasonings and seltzer. Just about anything edible can be infused with cannabis, so it’s easy to find something you’ll enjoy.

Edibles come in many different strengths and dosages, which will allow you to experiment and dial in the perfect amount for you.


Concentrates are exactly what they sound like: concentrated cannabis. They’re great for vaporizing or dabbing, and you only use a small amount at one time.

You can try wax or shatter, but make sure you have a dab rig and torch. Vape pens and cartridges are an easy and very discreet way to smoke that have become very popular.

Different Strains

Each one of the above forms of cannabis will come in various strains. There will probably be a lot of options, so if you have no idea where to begin, ask your budtender about which strains will help you achieve the effect you’re going for.

A well-trained and experienced budtender will have recommendations for you to try out based on your preferences, any health conditions you might have, and anything else you’re curious about.

Other Products to Check Out While You’re There

If you’re brand new to cannabis, don’t leave the dispensary without grabbing a few items first.

For flower, it’s a good idea to start out with a grinder, lighter, pipe, and rolling papers. You can check out the vaporizers they carry and pen batteries for concentrates as well. You don’t need to go crazy, but you do need all the right pieces.

For more seasoned cannabis users, it’s always fun to peruse the different bongs, rigs, and merch sold in your dispensary.

Be a Good Customer

Just like any other retail setting, please be kind to the employees. They work hard and see a lot of customers every day, and treating them well will ensure they do their best to help you find what you’re looking for.

Tips are usually encouraged (but not required). Depending on the time of day there might be a long line, so be patient.

Some dispensaries give you the option to order online before you arrive. If you feel comfortable going off the descriptions on the website, this is a great way to make the experience a little less overwhelming. Feel free to still ask questions once you arrive.

Once you leave, do not immediately take your weed out to use it. This is not legal, so wait until you get home to light up.

Enjoy Your Purchase

Knowing how to buy weed from a dispensary will help make the experience a positive one for you. With expert advice from your budtender, you can enjoy the products you chose and think about what you’re interested in trying out next time.

Now that you know what to expect when you visit a dispensary, go check out everything they have to offer and enjoy!


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