Don’t harsh the vibe, man

SN&R’s guide to dispensary etiquette will have you in and out with high fives from the budtender

When a number of Sacramento cannabis dispensaries received their recreational business licenses, longtime consumers witnessed eager first-time buyers pack waiting rooms during the first weeks of January 2018.

But with more adult users (you must be 21 years or older) visiting dispensaries, there’s something to be said for common courtesy, especially when it comes to better preparing for a trip to pick up some pre-rolls and edibles. The budtenders will thank you, and so will other customers. SN&R turns to the experts behind the counter for some tips on dispensary etiquette to help make the experience a positive one for all involved.

Be mindful

A trip to a dispensary can be a new and exciting experience. For some, it may even feel like entering a 420-version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But it’s also important to be aware that there are medical patients who are there to pick up prescriptions to help treat serious illnesses. Customers buy everything from CBD salves to help relax muscles to cannabis flowers that promote appetite after chemotherapy.

“Everyone is in the dispensary for different reasons,” says Danny Kress, dispensary manager at A Therapeutic Alternative in Midtown. “We might have somebody who is there because they have golf this weekend with friends and then we might have somebody coming in with cancer, and we just want to be really mindful and be sensitive about the people around us.”

Pro tip: Keep the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure-banter to a minimum.

Silence the cellphone

No one wants to be stuck listening to someone’s loud phone conversation. And it’s especially annoying when you’re in a confined space.

“Dispensaries are a no cellphone zone,” says Forrest Heise, dispensary director at Green Solutions. “You can text in the lobby, browse the internet, be on social media—that’s cool. But no phone calls in the building at all.”

Feel free to quietly enjoy your screen time while you wait in the lobby, but in the budroom there’s a different set of rules. “Definitely no cellphones at all in the budroom. If you’ve got your phone out and you’re taking pictures, I think you’re casing the place. I get paranoid,” Heise says. “It’s a courtesy thing.”

Pro tip: Don’t look suspicious. Silence cellphones and keep them in a purse or pocket when in the budroom.

Bring cash

Although cannabis is legal at the state level, it’s still illegal under federal law, cutting dispensaries off from major banks and credit card companies. Therefore, bring cash. Most dispensaries operate on a cash-only basis. For those who forget, some conveniently have ATMs on site. But not all of them do, so hit the bank before you visit.

Pro tip: Avoid the ATM fees and bring Andrew Jackson along for the ride.

Calm and collected

It’s totally normal to feel nervous, especially if you don’t know what to expect from one dispensary to another. But hey, overthinking doesn’t help ease the mind. Head into the dispensary with a positive attitude and an open mind, and your visit is sure to be a more enjoyable one.

“Dispensaries can be intimidating as a thought,” Kress says. “A lot of places it’s very welcoming, very warm. It’s a comfortable environment that should be something that people look forward to coming in to, not something that builds anxiety. This is the place to get away from that.”

Pro tip: Think about all the products made to calm nerves and anxiety such as CBD gummies and massage oils.

Do the research

Heise says that much has changed over the last 20 years—and with that roar of change brings a million questions.

For people who have stayed away from cannabis up until legalization, the spectrum of offerings can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to begin, simply browse a dispensary’s website, which often includes a menu that showcases its latest inventory. There, you can get a pretty good idea of the different types of products and their uses.

“We’ll answer some questions over the phone,” Heise says. “If you’ve got a million questions, come down and talk to us. I don’t mind doing a little phone consultation but for the full experience come in and we’ll answer all your questions.”

Pro tip: Visit a dispensary’s online menu to get familiar with products in stock.

Ask questions

Whether you refer to them as budtenders or cannabis counselors, any professional working behind the counter at a dispensary is an expert in cannabis and is there to tend to your medicinal—or recreational—needs. A lot of dispensaries host workshops on plant care and cultivation, and wellness classes such as reiki and sound therapy.

Budtenders are constantly expanding their knowledge as cannabis culture evolves. But as informed and knowledgeable as they are, you won’t get the answers you’re seeking if you don’t ask questions.

“Come in with questions. There’s no bad questions or stupid questions,” Kress says. “Come in looking for an education. The person that you’re talking to should be able to answer your questions.”

Pro tip: Asking questions is a great way to build a relationship with your budtenders.