With new marijuana laws being enacted in many states over the past few years, you may find yourself wondering if it’s something you want to learn more about.
Whether you’re interested in purchasing a cannabis product or you’re just curious about how the process at dispensaries works, we’ve spoken with budtenders across a few states to see what advice they would give to first-time buyers.
If you’re uncomfortable upon entering the store, you should feel comfortable by the time you leave. Chelsea Agin, a senior wellness consultant at Caliva in San Jose, California, said that no question is a dumb one, and that dispensary workers want their customers to be informed and empowered in addition to being comfortable.
Agin also noted that you should “take as much time as you need, and ask as many questions as you have.” In other words, if you’re at a dispensary and you’re hearing words you don’t know or measurements you don’t understand, take the time to understand what you are buying. It will be a better, safer experience for you.
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If you aren’t an experienced user, that’s OK. Part of the budtender’s job is to be there to help inform you. “Customers don't need to come in with any knowledge of the products whatsoever,” Alex Levine, owner of the Green Dragon in Colorado, said. If you have done some research but the answers you got online weren’t clear then ask your budtenders. They can better educate you if you let them know where your concerns are.
Marijuana plants come in different varieties, or strains. The three main types are indica, sativa and hybrid. Getting accustomed to these strains and their uses might be daunting at first. Think of indica as “in da couch,” budtender Zachary Irving from Meds Cafe in Rogers City, Michigan, said. It’s good for nighttime, aids in pain management and helps with relaxation. Sativa is good for daytime because it can increase energy and induce euphoria.
Everyone’s body is different though, Irving said, so starting with fewer hits or lower doses can give you a better idea of how your body responds to the different strains. Carson Shipley, former budtender and now media coordinator for (Lux) Pot Shop in Seattle, expressed similar feelings. “When people walk into our shop, I want them to know they're being heard and have a personalized experience,” Shipley said. “Cannabis affects everyone differently.” This is why it’s important to take the time to ask questions — it can help budtenders recommend a product suitable for your experience and needs.
Interactions with first-time customers is what Agin gets most excited about at Caliva. They are curious, and they don’t know where to begin, she said. For her, the excitement comes from the opportunity to introduce them to a wellness product that could positively benefit their day-to-day lives. Irving considers the discovery of the plant something fun and relaxing.
Starting with a low dose and consuming or ingesting it slowly is Irving’s recommendation. “Know how to dose yourself,” he said. When you’re first purchasing a cannabis product, don’t overdo it. Explore your options. Pick up a few different strains to try and see what you react best to or enjoy most. A pre-rolled joint is a good first purchase, he said, and taking one or two hits from that can be enough to get you the effect you’re looking for.
Levine does not recommend purchasing cannabis in the form of a concentrate for your first experience. This is because products like waxes, shatters, resins and rosins are “typically very high in THC, usually in the range of 60-90% and sometimes higher, while the flower is typically between 16-25%,” he said.
Eating the whole packet of edibles you just bought is not something Irving recommends. If, however, in your experimentations, you begin to feel anxious or paranoid, you can counteract your high by taking CBD. Dispensaries might sell 1:1 edibles, tinctures and topicals that are ratio-infused. They have this counterbalancing effect because THC and CBD are two types of cannabinoids that have different influences on the body and brain.
The end goal for Agin and the team at Caliva is “to be able to provide seamless access to plant-based solutions for all consumers, regardless of where they are within their cannabis journey.” Cannabis can be used for healing and wellness, and when customers find products that improve their lives, they are one step closer to that goal.
State laws surrounding cannabis use are strict, and if budtenders can’t serve you because of a fake or expired ID, don’t blame them, Shipley notes. Your ID will get checked.
Each harvest, there is only so much of each strain that can be grown. Shipley asks customers to “please understand that these products are living plants and take months to grow.” If you’ve come to like a specific strain and it happens to be out, use the opportunity to open yourself up to trying something new.
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