It occurs to me after writing about a bunch of different bud that I probably go to the dispensary more often than the average bear, and that maybe my thoughts on them so far might be helpful.
I’ve been to dispensaries in 6 or 7 different states, but mostly I go to a few here in Northern CA. Up here, licensing was not as loose as in southern California, and there are a limited number of dispensaries to choose from. The up side to this is that you can be very confident that the place you are going into is licensed and is probably selling legal bud that has been tested and such. I know less about LA but my understanding is that it is more of a crap shoot in that respect, and that a lot more gray market dispensaries exist there than here due to looser zoning and permitting.
Some Dispensaries Are More Expensive Than Others
This might seem like an obvious point, but different places have different markups on their bud. Many do not sell quantities above an eighth, and often don’t really sell flower at lower than $15/gram or thereabouts. I have yet to find a reason to go to these types of shops except geographic necessity. Every now and then when I am in downtown SF and I need a little grass I will hop into one of these boutique-y places and buy like an underwhelming 20 dollar pre-roll. And hey – that’s amazing and something I couldn’t have done 10 years ago. But it’s still a bad financial choice. So step one is – figure out which dispensary in your area is the bourgeois one and stay away from it. In my experience, a lot of interior design and a short line at the counter can both be indicators that you are about to spend more than you really need to.
Always Check The Date
Old pot sucks. It’s harsh and it loses its aroma and potency and feels like smoking literal grass. And weed “expires” a lot later than it starts to get dry and crappy. I believe that every state dictates there be a “harvested” and “packaged” date on the label. You will really benefit from checking that label and not buying bud that is more than about 2-3 months old. Do not be fooled by appearances; old bud can have just as many purple hairs and crystals, and they don’t make it any nicer to smoke.
The Bud Tender Often Knows Best
This industry is in the chaos of infancy. New types of extract seem to appear on the shelves every week. Scientists are out there right now figuring out new ways for you to get a good hard consistent buzz on. Also – weed is priced all the heck over the place for all the heck kinds of reasons. The more I smoke the more I realize there is no consistent relationship between price and quality. All this in mind, the people who are keeping track of the chaos are the folks on the other side of the counter. So if you want a good deal or want to keep track of what is new and exciting – ask! They’re stoners, by and large, and they love to chat. None of them (at least in my experience) are working on commission – they just want you to go home and get happy. So have a conversation with them about what you like and then what they like. Tell them if your chief concern is potency for price, or appearance, or bud that won’t make you antsy. They will do their best to help. I promise.
Be Wary of Deals
A lot of dispensary deals I see are bent on getting old product out the door. It’s not nefarious or anything, but personally I stay away from 2-for-1 deals because when you look at what they are giving away there is usually something off about it. I am open to the idea that this is not true to all dispensaries, but I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists and it is at least a decent rule of thumb pr guideline to follow.
There are new pot shops popping up all the time, and a lot of them are embracing new pricing models or new interior layouts. After you’ve been to a few it’s easy to see that there is room for improvement and that the perfect or even the standard shopping experience has yet to be designed. I am a huge advocate for experimentation in all areas of life, but for this there is a financial and experiential upside. On the financial side – many places have new signup deals for first time customers. So there’s like a free shitty pre-roll or weak edible in it for you. More importantly – it’s a whole new group of people who are intent on selling weed, and the ideas and approaches they bring to the table might well give you as a consumer better insight on how you like to buy and consume.
Tell People You Are New
Finally, some basic good advice for any situation you aren’t familiar with – advertise to the folks at the dispensary that you need guidance in helping find what you want in their store. That is literally what they are there for, and the more interest you show the more information they will provide. This is just a good way to get comfortable and feel okay before you spend any cash. It takes a while to feel normal talking to people about buying weed in a retail setting. Take your time. Enjoy it. One thing I can tell you from having done this a couple hundred times – no one at a dispensary is in a rush to do anything. Which is an awesome vibe to click into when you are trying to learn about what you are buying.