Can I Touch the Buds? (Probably Not)

Dispensary Cannabis Now Magazine

A dispensary etiquette and buying guide for doob noobs.


You probably wouldn’t even notice the storefront if it weren’t for the unobtrusive security guard standing watch at the front door. You watch as the sentinel interacts with people approaching the door, granting access to some and denying it to others.

Is there some password you have to know? Have you stumbled upon the gateway of a secret society? Not exactly, but that’s almost what it seems like for someone who’s never walked through the front door of a cannabis dispensary.

Going to a dispensary to buy cannabis for the first time can be an intimidating experience if you aren’t sure what’s going to happen once you get inside. So don’t worry if you’re a little nervous about what to expect during your first retail reefer purchase — these tips may help ease your newbie jitters.

Do Your Homework

Get an idea of what you’re interested in before you go to a dispensary. Are you going for edibles? Looking for some amazing strains? Interested in trying a topical? Do you think you might prefer tinctures?

Research dispensaries in areas you’re willing to travel to and check out their menus online to see what’s available. But be forewarned: things often change daily according to availability and many shops will have different selections on a day-to-day basis, so don’t expect the same things to be available everywhere.

Know Before You Go

Prepare yourself to interact (however briefly) with a security guard who will be standing near or directly in front of the dispensary. If someone enters before you, try scoping out how things work at the front door by observing their interaction.

The guards will usually say hello and let you in, but sometimes they check IDs before allowing you to enter. Acknowledge them and ask if they need to see anything before breezing by if you’re unsure of how things work at a particular location.

Bring Paperwork and Paper Money

For your first visit to any dispensary, you will need a valid state ID. For medical marijuana dispensaries you will also need the original copy of your signed recommendation from a physician to become a member. Although many places have begun to accept credit cards, it’s best to carry cash in case there are no other options.

Be Real and Ask Questions

Ask as many questions as you need to about the product and the protocol. You likely won’t be able to touch the buds with your hands because of sanitary concerns, but you can always politely request to see the buds up close or ask to smell them.

If you do smell the buds, make sure you try to catch a whiff from above instead of sticking your nose inside of the container. If there’s something you’re unfamiliar with (like the terpene profile of a strain or what the difference is between an indoor and outdoor variety) don’t hesitate to get clarity before you buy something.

This Tipping Business

There’s a bit of controversy over the idea of tipping or donating additional funds to your budtender (the knowledgeable person selling you buds at the register) for their helpful services. It’s actually been declared illegal in Washington by the State Liquor and Cannabis Board, but in other states there is still a grey area around whether or not this should or could become a common practice.

If you feel like you received excellent service, information or assistance you can always throw the budtender some extra cash for their efforts and energy. It’s not mandatory and it remains the choice of the consumer to be any amount they determine — if they feel moved.

Originally published in Issue 25 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, do you have any tips for people visiting a dispensary for the first time?

K. Astre is a California writer with a global appetite for art, music and culture. She fuels her creativity with tea, yoga, meditation and, of course, cannabis.

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