What to know know before going to a Michigan cannabis dispensary

Here are some things I wish I knew before I went into a shop to buy weed on my own

Jul 10, 2022 at 4:00 am
click to enlarge If you're going to a dispensary for the first time, you probably have some questions. - Shutterstock
If you're going to a dispensary for the first time, you probably have some questions.

Going to the dispensary for the first time can be both overwhelming and incredibly intimidating. We’ve traded the days of meeting someone in a parking lot for a quick dime bag for tech-savvy budtenders in showrooms so well-lit that they can make the Apple Store look dim. Once the initial shock of being in the shiny new retail space wears off, you’re often left standing unsure of what to do next.

That’s what happened to me during my first dispensary visit. Here are some things I wish I knew before I went into a shop on my own.

Research the dispensary before you go

All dispensaries are not created equally. Some dispensaries are for medical marijuana patients only (with a valid state-licensed medical card), some are recreational (open to adults 21 and older with a valid ID), and some offer both. Shopping for cannabis through a dispensary is a lot like shopping around for a new car — you want the best quality and the best price. Recreational dispensaries that offer curbside pick-up tend to keep their website inventory updated with all the products that are currently available in store. This means that the options are constantly changing, but give you a clear idea of what type of products are in stock and what their descriptions are.

Have your ID ready

In Michigan, you have to be 21 to purchase smoking products, whether tobacco or cannabis. Most dispensaries are not only checking your ID, they are also adding you to their customer database. Your legal name, address, and telephone number are now a part of their system and they might go the extra step of scanning your driver’s license or state ID.

Bring cash

Something that isn’t discussed often is the need to carry cash, due to difficulties with banking because of the federal prohibition of cannabis. While some dispensaries do accept cards as a form of payment (and might charge you a fee to do so), many will prefer that you play in cold, hard cash. If you forget the bucks, don’t worry, many dispensaries have ATMs conveniently located in the lobby.

Security might be friendly, but they’re there for a reason

The first person you see when you walk into a dispensary isn’t going to be the friendly receptionist or budtender, it’s likely going to be a security guard (or two). This might be strange to some, but when you think of what you’re doing and the type of store they’re securing it makes all the sense.

Budtenders know their shit

You are not expected to know everything about cannabis when you walk into a dispensary — that’s the budtender’s job. While shopping for weed might be intimidating, it’s easy to forget the staff are true professionals. They are there to do more than ring up your order, it’s their job to make sure your cannabis buying experience is a pleasant one, and it’s OK to trust them and ask their opinion. More often than not, if you express what you’re looking for to a budtender, they will gleefully tell you their favorite products, inquire more about your needs, and offer an abundance of suggestions for you.

Sign up for the rewards

Many dispensaries offer deals or discounts to first time customers and a rewards program for returning clients. Some even offer special deals and pricing like a happy hour, or discounts for students. Not only is it an easy way to track your purchases, signing up for rewards programs and text alerts keeps you in the loop for when new products are released, favorite strains return, and when weekly flash sales drop.

Terms to be familiar with before you buy

Sativa: If you’re looking for a boost of energy, sativa is the cannabis type for you. Sativa tends to have a higher THC than its relative plant Indica. This is a great plant for people who are looking for a stimulant, something that helps them focus, makes them feel happier, and can help ease depression. A sativa leaf is taller, thinner, and lighter than an indica leaf.

Indica: This dark green cannabis plant is best taken at night or when you’re looking to unwind. Indica is known for its relaxing properties, great for people who might be suffering from anxiety, muscle pain, and insomnia. An indica leaf is shorter, wider, and darker than a sativa leaf.

Hybrid: It is exactly what you think it is, a combination of both sativa and indica strains. Hybrids are unique in that they can be grown to have a dominant strain which means that while you feel the effects of both strains, you might feel the edge of one a little bit more. They can have both relaxing and stimulating effects and be cultivated to be suited for specific needs.

Terpenes: If you’ve ever opened a bag of cannabis and said “wow, that’s funky,” you have encountered terpenes. In the simplest terms, terpene is the compound that gives a plant its aroma and flavor, whether sweet, woodsy, or other. A non-cannabis example of terpene would be the sweet herb scent of mint that comes from the terpene ocimene.

Cannabinoid: Cannabinoids are a chemical compound found in marijuana that have an effect on your body’s endocannabinoid system (found in the central nervous system). The two cannabinoids commonly found in marijuana are tetrahydracannabinol (THC), which causes a high, and cannabidiol (CBD), which does not cause a high but is touted for other health benefits like pain relief. Since it doesn’t get you high, you can find CBD products for sale at a variety of stores that aren’t dispensaries. When used together, THC and CBD can have what is called the “entourage effect,” which enhances the properties of both. You can find products that mix THC and CBD and many dispensaries.

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