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Whether your local budtender knows you by name, or you have yet to step foot in a dispensary, there are probably some etiquette rules you aren’t aware of. As the dispensaries themselves iron out the kinks in a relatively new system (as one dispensary CEO put it, “We’re trying to overcome a negative propaganda campaign that went on for almost 70 years about cannabis”), here are some basics you should be aware of before your next visit:
Step 1: Know the laws.
Dispensaries either sell only to recreational users or serve both recreational and medical users. For the sake of this piece, we’ll stick with recreational user etiquette. And here’s the number one tip: Prepare to be carded. It’s illegal for stores to serve customers under 21 years of age. It doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 91—you will be carded. There are also purchase limits based on residency, says Tim Cullen, CEO of Colorado Harvest Company. Colorado residents can possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, while non-residents are restricted to purchasing no more than one-quarter ounce (or 7 grams) in a single transaction.
Also make sure your ID is in good condition. “It has to be an almost perfect ID,” says Jamie Perino, part owner of Euflora. “People get angry about this, but it’s just the rules. If your license is expired, ripped, has holes in it or just isn’t in good condition, we can’t accept it.”
Step 2: Bring cash.
Most stores have ATMs available, but almost everywhere deals in cash transactions only. That’s because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, and as such pot shops have had a hard time opening (or keeping open) bank accounts at federally managed financial institutions. Avoid leaving empty-handed, and bring your green.
Step 3: Don’t take photos without permission.
For whatever reason, Perino says many visitors ask if they can take photos. “A lot of stores don’t like it or don’t allow it, and some employees just don’t want their pictures out there,” she says. “In our store we allow photos, as long as no one is taking pictures of people’s faces.”
Step 4: Do engage with the budtenders.
When it comes to buying marijuana, both Perino and Cullen agree that there is no such thing as a dumb question. “Especially for first-time users, we want them to be very well educated before they leave,” she says. “Most dispensaries have at least one budtender per client. In our stores we also have tablets for people to look at that explain what the strain is, what it smells like, negative and positive side effects, and what it should smoke like, as well as floating budtenders on the floor to answer any questions. Don’t assume that what you had when you were younger is what you’ll be getting now.”
This is especially true these days, as there are many options to choose from. “Now you walk into a store and there are edibles and oils and concentrates and 20 different strains,” says Cullen. “Asking questions and learning about it is a big part of the educational process, and it’s totally acceptable. People [in this industry] have taken the time to know a lot about it, and there is not one sales associate who won’t be comfortable answering a lot of questions for people.”
Step 5: Be smart once you’ve made your purchase.
Purchasing marijuana is one thing, but there’s an etiquette to what you do with it afterwards, as well. For example, you can’t consume pot in a dispensary, or anywhere in public, and you can get a DUI for smoking and driving.
Be smart with how you store it, as well. “If you live with minors in your home, take the same precautions you would with alcohol,” says Cullen. “You need to secure it when you get home so no one can get to it. It’s important to us and the reputation of the industry that people maintain a high standard of parenting and remember that when they get home.”
Perino says they always offer up three rules for smoking to their customers before they leave—elevation, hydration, and moderation. “Especially people coming from sea level, they’re now at 5,280 feet, and it’s important to stay hydrated and smoke in moderation. Start at a low dose, and go slow. If nothing happens after an hour or two, take another small dosage. We want to stress safe consumption.”