Dispensary Etiquette: Tips for Your First Time at a Medical Marijuana Dispensary

By Kent Gruetzmacher
Published: October 12, 2017 | Last updated: April 8, 2021 09:20:38
Key Takeaways

For many cannabis users and patients, the notion of walking into a storefront and legally purchasing marijuana products is still quite intimidating. If that’s how you feel, Maximum Yield’s Kent Gruetzmacher has a few tips on how to make your first trip to the dispensary smooth as cannabutter.

Source: The Source Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Dispensary. Jonathan Weiss/

While many US states have legalized cannabis in one form or other, the negative stigma surrounding its use remains deeply embedded in the American consciousness. As a result, the thought of going to a medical marijuana dispensary for the first time can make even a cannabis enthusiasts a bit uncomfortable. To help quell these uneasy feelings, however, here is a little advice on what one can expect—and how one should behave—during that initial visit.


Know the Local Laws of Your Local Dispensaries

Perhaps the most effective way to ensure a smooth visit to a dispensary is to research local laws before making a visit. As cannabis legislation is in a constant flux, taking a few minutes of investigative reading will get one up to speed on state and county laws concerning medical and recreational use. Once educated on local policy, cannabis consumers can feel prepared and confident on how to safely fulfill their cannabis needs at a local dispensary.

Security Guards

Novice shoppers are often intimidated by the presence of armed guards in the parking lots and entrances of dispensaries. After all, it is easy to mistake these guards for police officers. Don’t fear, though; armed guards at cannabis dispensaries work for private security firms that are subcontracted by the businesses.


These guards are simply on site to keep the premises secure and customers safe. They’ll often want to look through a patron’s backpack or a purse to ensure there are no weapons inside. So, to ensure a smooth entrance to the dispensary, cannabis patrons should not have anything threatening or embarrassing in their baggage.

Check-In and Sharing Personal Information

Every time cannabis users visit a dispensary, they must wait in a check-in area located outside of the shopping space. This area exists so dispensary employees can ensure the clients have the proper paperwork before entering and accessing any product.

Furthermore, the waiting area ensures that the purchasing space doesn’t become overcrowded, allowing budtenders to give customers their full attention.


Doing the proper research on state and county laws mentioned above will pay off when it comes time to check-in. If living in a medical state, patients will at least need to provide a state-issued ID and a doctor’s recommendation to enter the premises.

The dispensary receptionist will need to verify your doctor’s recommendation with your provider via the Internet or telephone. On a similar note, don’t be intimidated by the prospect of sharing your personal information with a dispensary. This data is protected by law.


Other Patients and Consumers

At this point in time, remember that just because people can legally access cannabis at dispensaries does not mean that its use is condoned in their professional and personal lives. Therefore, small talk between patrons in dispensaries is acceptable, but anonymity should be respected. That way there’s less of a chance that a person’s life could be negatively impacted by gossip or hearsay concerning his or her responsible cannabis consumption.

Know Your Product

When shopping for cannabis products, utilize the staff’s knowledge. A well-informed budtender should be able to inform customers about the specific effects of each strain, as well as recommend products based on clients’ needs and tolerance levels. This care and attention is particularly important when it comes to edibles and concentrates as a little bit often goes a long way with these potent THC products.

Still, the final decision is placed on the consumer. That’s why it’s a good idea for patrons to do some cannabis research ahead of time, have an idea of the effect they’re seeking, and take note of how cannabis affected them in the past. The more information someone has before purchasing product, the better.

Parking Lots and Exits

At the conclusion of a dispensary shopping experience, patrons should aim for a quick departure from both the building and the parking lot. Again, this practice is in the best interest of customer safety; depending on the locale of the dispensary, crowds in cannabis dispensary parking lots can easily attract unsavory attention.

Also, remember that a dispensary can lose its license if cannabis consumption or sharing occurs on its property. Clients must never consume cannabis products in the parking lot or within a vehicle on the premises. Furthermore, they must not share cannabis with any friends or family that were in the car. There are many legalities surrounding this type of “distribution”.

Finally, cannabis patrons must respect the parking areas and properties of other businesses near the dispensary. The taboos surrounding cannabis culture already present the industry with enough challenges; irresponsible actions like vagrancy, loitering, and illegal parking just make things more difficult for everyone as they give the public a negative view of cannabis consumers.

Visiting a dispensary for the first time can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Prepare yourself with knowledge and follow some basic etiquette, and everyone will feel the positive benefits.


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Written by Kent Gruetzmacher | Writer, Owner of KCG Content

Profile Picture of Kent Gruetzmacher

Kent Gruetzmacher MFA is a Colorado-based writer and owner of the writing and marketing firm KCG Content. Kent has been working in the cannabis and hydroponics space for over a decade. Beginning in California in 2009, he has held positions in cultivation, operations, marketing, and business development. Looking specifically to writing, Kent has worked with many of the leading publications and marketing agencies in the cannabis space. His writing has been recognized by such icons as Steve D’Angelo and Rick Simpson.

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