In movies and TV, marijuana shops are often portrayed as trippy wonderlands, with “stoner” types pedaling colorful goodies to get you high. And to be fair, that’s not entirely inaccurate. With new innovations coming out every day, your first visit to a cannabis dispensary is likely to yield perfectly rolled joints, delicious pot cookies, candies and topical creams galore.
But there’s more to it than meets the eye. People have been using marijuana for thousands of years, but recreational pot has only been legal in some U.S. states for a few years. The industry is still in its infancy, and even experienced marijuana users can feel a little lost when shopping at a weed dispensary for the first time. But rest assured, you are in the right place.
In this article, we’ll offer tips for making your first dispensary visit an enjoyable one.
Yes, marijuana dispensaries are legal! But rules still apply.
In Colorado, cannabis was legalized for medical use in 2000. Recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2012. So, if you’re visiting an approved Colorado dispensary, know that you have every right to be there and you’re not going to get in trouble.
That said, there are still very strict laws around when, where and how much pot you can possess or consume at one time. Check out these quick facts before we get to the fun stuff:
- Recreational users must be 21 or older (with a valid ID) to purchase marijuana.
- Some dispensaries still only cater to medical users, so double check before you go.
- It is illegal to use marijuana in a public place, including on federal lands such as parks.
- Visitors and residents can possess up to one ounce of marijuana at a time.
- It is illegal to give or sell cannabis to anyone under the age of 21.
- If you choose to transport marijuana, it must be in a sealed container.
- Marijuana purchased in Colorado cannot leave the state or be taken to the airport.
It might feel a little like a funky pharmacy.
Many people believe that marijuana is as important to overall health as medicine—and cannabis industry professionals certainly take it that seriously. So, it makes sense that some dispensaries have a pharmacy vibe.
You might notice other customers waiting for their orders, even if the dispensary you’re visiting allows online or call-ahead orders. This is because, just like a pharmacy, employees must ensure that each order is going to the right person, and that process can take a little time.
When you arrive, you will be asked to show a valid photo ID and sign your name to a register. This is a state guideline, and your information will not be sold, published or used against you in any way. Dispensaries are simply required to track each visitor and even employee shifts.
There will likely also be an armed security guard present at the dispensary—but don’t be alarmed. Similar to bouncers in bars, this safety protocol is in place to protect both customers and employees. Many independent dispensaries only accept cash, so security guards are there to ensure that every transaction goes smoothly.
A little marijuana research goes a long way.
After you’ve checked in, you will be greeted by a budtender who may ask a few questions to understand what you need. They will want to know your experience level with using cannabis, as well as the effects you’re hoping to achieve such as better sleep or increased creativity.
Start by asking yourself: Do I want to feel energetic and social? Do I want to channel my creativity? Am I hoping to get really great sleep? Marijuana users have reported these and other side effects, but their experience depends on factors such as the type, strain and format they choose.
You can also read our Cannabis 101 resource page as well as our FAQs, where you’ll find helpful information on the various types of marijuana and cannabis-infused products, as well as some general rules of thumb for usage. It may be helpful to talk to friends or family members who have experience with marijuana. They can help you set expectations and decide on a format and dose that’s right for you.
If you’ve done your research but you still aren’t sure which product to choose, that’s okay! When in doubt, simply give us a call or stop by our dispensaries in Palisade and Bailey. And for more tips for a safe and enjoyable marijuana-buying experience, check out our Visitor Info page.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.