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Your First Dispensary Visit: What to Expect

Your First Dispensary Visit: What to Expect

Your First Dispensary Visit: What to Expect

If you’re new to the world of medical marijuana, your first dispensary visit can be intimidating and full of the unknown. Here’s all you need to know to put your mind at ease.

Check In

The first person you will meet at any dispensary is a security guard. It’s their job to check that you have a valid California ID before you enter the main dispensary property. Simply present your ID, be nice and smile!

Waiting Room

All dispensaries have waiting rooms that are separate from the sales floor. There will be a check-in desk where you will present your ID again and since you’re new, simply inform them that you’d like membership to their facility. They will ask for your doctor’s recommendation (until 2018) and your valid driver’s license or state ID and give you a form to fill out. They should also provide you with the rules of membership, what’s allowed and not allowed. While you fill out the form, the administrative staff will verify your recommendation. This process can take a little while depending on how busy they are and method of verification, so be prepared for a short wait.

Sales Area

Once your membership has been processed, you’ll be invited into the sales area. Some dispensaries are small, offering limited inventory while others are huge and can offer 70+ strains. Regardless, all dispensaries will have displays of flowers (dried cannabis buds) as well as displays for concentrates and edibles. Most will also carry alternative products like topicals, tinctures, skin products and even pet treats! Take some time to look around. Let the salesperson (budtender) know that it’s your first visit and they will be happy to show you where everything is and answer any questions you may have.

You may ask to smell any of the flowers and feel free to ask for strain recommendations, however keep in mind that some dispensary staff are very knowledgeable and some are not. None of them are medical professionals, so if you are looking to treat a specific issue it’s worth doing preliminary research on which strains other people are having success with. If that dispensary doesn’t carry any of the strains you’re looking for, they can recommend strains with similar genetics or you can shop around at other local dispensaries. Inventory varies greatly from place to place and strains vary in popularity. Some dispensaries grow their own cannabis while others purchase from local growers.

Check Out

Once you’ve decided what to purchase, simply ask the next available budtender to get your items for you. All dispensaries take cash but some also take debit cards or credit cards. If you have questions about payment methods, check out their website or give them a call before you visit. If you’re a new member, you may have been given a first visit coupon for a discount or free product. Be sure to present it before you pay! Once you’ve paid, you’re free to go and enjoy your products!


  • Bring a valid driver’s license and your doctor recommendation.
  • Leave your cell phone in the car or on silent and put away.
  • Friends and family who do not have a doctor’s recommendation should wait outside.
  • Be patient and respectful of other client’s time and privacy.
  • Visit several dispensaries in your area to find the one best suited to you.
  • Do research on strains and products before you go.