If you’re new to the world of legal cannabis, preparing for your first dispensary visit may be a little intimidating. The best way to approach this before you make the trip is to read up on what to expect, so you walk in the door feeling prepared and walk out feeling confident, knowing you got exactly what you wanted.
How to Prepare for Your Visit
Your pre-visit to-do list:
- Research the dispensaries you’re considering beforehand. As you would for any other business, reading their reviews is a great place to start, and dispensaries are no different. Make sure to check Leafly, Weedmaps, Google, Facebook, to read what others are saying about them.
- Check the dispensary’s website. Is it easy to navigate and find information? Does it have information on lab testing, cultivation practices or other news to give you an idea of their quality? Are there educational articles for all types of cannabis consumers? Is there online ordering or other features that lend themselves to convenience?
- Once you’ve found a dispensary, see if their menu is available online. Many dispensaries advertise their products online for the convenience of customers and patients, which is especially helpful if there’s something specific you’ve been wanting to try (perhaps an edible brand or a cultivar you’ve heard about). Viewing the dispensary menu and ability to order ahead to avoid waiting in line is a big plus.
- Find out which forms of payment are accepted. Some cannabis dispensaries only accept cash, while others accept debit cards or other cashless pay options. If a dispensary is cash-only, there may be an ATM onsite, but that’s not guaranteed so you may want to stop by an ATM on your way there to avoid any inconvenience.
- Make sure you have valid state-issued identification with you. Whether you’ve just turned 21 or you’re a young 75, you need to have an ID with you to enter a dispensary. This goes for both Adult Use and Medical Use. If you’re purchasing for Medical Use, you’ll also need to provide a valid Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Authorization card.
- Be prepared to wait. This isn’t always the case, but as you’d expect in a restaurant or grocery store, the dispensary could be busier than normal if you arrive at a peak time. If you’re in a hurry, place your order online for a quick pick-up without the wait.
Note: Be sure to check whether the dispensary is co-located, meaning whether they serve medical patients and adult use or just adult use, prior to your visit. If you don’t have a medical marijuana card and accidentally go to a medical-only dispensary, you’re out of luck. Happy Valley is co-located and open to all cannabis consumers.
Cannabis Dispensary Do’s and Don’ts
Your dispensary cheat sheet.
Do ask the budtender questions about products. That’s what they’re there for and a great budtender will always be happy to help. If you’ve been interested in trying vapes but aren’t sure, or think maybe you would enjoy gummies but are nervous about dosing, ask the budtender for their advice. Keep in mind that everyone is different, so their experience may not be your experience.
Do explore the store as much as you can. Some dispensaries restrict certain areas for safety and/or privacy, but if you’re in a store and you’re allowed to browse, go for it. Some dispensaries, like Happy Valley, have a private consult room for customers.
Do leave the budtender a tip if you feel compelled to do so. Tips for budtenders are never required, but always appreciated.
Don’t go overboard. Just because cannabis is legal doesn’t mean you can drop by a dispensary and stock up for a lifetime in one visit. In Massachusetts, there are state laws limiting both how much cannabis a dispensary can sell to an individual, as well as how much an individual can possess at one time. There are separate limitations for both Adult Use and Medical Use and the allotment allowed depends on the THC concentration of the product you are purchasing.
Don’t take photos. This goes for people and products. You may be tempted to snap a photo while you’re in the dispensary, but for the sake of privacy and discretion, keep your phone in your pocket or bag while you’re chatting with a budtender.
Don’t consume products on the premises, this is against the law. Current law states that cannabis can only be consumed in private residences and this applies to both medical and recreational cannabis. The penalty for consuming cannabis in public in Massachusetts is a civil fine of up to $100. And you can receive a civil fine of up to $500 for having an open container in your car.
How to Get Your Cannabis Products Home
Upon leaving the dispensary, you should put your shopping bag in the trunk of your car or in a locked glove compartment and only remove it when you have arrived at home. Like alcohol, it is illegal to have an open container of any cannabis product inside your car while on the road. Massachusetts state law defines an “open container” as a package with a broken seal, or a portion of the contents missing.
For example, a five pack of joints that only had three joints left in it would be considered an open container, and if it were found sitting in the passenger area of the car, that would be grounds for a citation. As a general rule, if it’s open, keep it out of reach, locked in the glove box or the trunk.
If you have consumed cannabis in any form, never get behind the wheel. Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal even if you have a Medical Use recommendation.
In the event that you get pulled over by a police officer while driving with cannabis products in your possession, there’s no need to panic. Just make sure you know the law and your rights in relation to legal cannabis.
If you get pulled over with cannabis in the car, remember:
- Don’t panic
- If you’re not under the influence of cannabis or any other substance, you are within your rights
- If your cannabis products are in closed containers and stored in the trunk or a locked glove box, you are within your rights
- If you are in possession of less than one ounce of cannabis products, with no more than five grams in the form of cannabis concentrates, you are within your rights
Lean on Your Budtender for Support
When it comes to shopping in dispensaries, you’ll find that it’s not so intimidating after all. When you come into Happy Valley, remember that our Happy Valley Hosts do this every day and they’re there to educate and guide you in finding the right products. Visit our menu or download our app to get acquainted with our store.
For more information or updates on sales and new products, enter your email address at the bottom of the page to become a Happy Valley Insider.
Update: COVID-19 has impacted nearly every American business. The content in this article discusses subject matter related to traveling, retail environments, events, and tourism, all of which have been impacted by COVID-19. As retail stores reopen, we recommend following the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing, sterilizing surfaces and equipment, and wearing cloth masks.