Visiting a medical cannabis dispensary or retail cannabis store for the first time can be overwhelming – especially if you’re brand new to cannabis. Walking in to see all the different types of flower, concentrates, edibles and other products is a lot to take in. Knowing what questions to ask may help you determine what product or flower strain would work best for you. In this guide we’ll help you make your first trip a better one by knowing what questions to ask the first time you visit a dispensary or recreational cannabis store.
What Products do you suggest for a First Time User?
An experienced budtender will help suggest the ideal product for your first time using cannabis. Edibles may not be the best idea your first time because their effects do tend to come on strong at first, which may be too much to handle the first time. Flower, vape and products with measured doses are likely a better option since you can control how much you use.
Are your Products Tested for Purity and Safety?
Not all cannabis markets require testing on flower and other cannabis products. Regardless, some manufacturers, cultivators and retailers test independently. Avoid untested products since their safety cannot be determined. Ask if products are tested for mold, pesticides, impurities, potency and cannabinoid profile. Knowing what cannabinoids are in a strain or product is important.
Ask to see proof of safety testing and cannabinoid concentration. If the test results cannot be produced, it may be a good idea to choose a retailer that can provide test results.
What Strain of Flower Suits my Personal Needs?
This is where you’ll tell your budtender why or what symptoms you want to use cannabis for. From here, an experienced budtender with knowledge of the strains available at that location will offer some suggestions. It’s ideal to ask how strongly the effects come on, what the effects of the strain are and how long those effects last. It’s also a good idea to ask what the negatives of the strain are – any valuable budtender will be honest about the negatives, because those are important as well.
It’s best to avoid strains that produce effects you don’t want. Some of the common negative effects include dry mouth, dry eyes, paranoia, anxiety and headaches. Dry mouth and dry eyes are rather common and are nearly impossible to avoid – those can be dealt with by increasing your water intake and having artificial tears on hand.
Why are there Different Pricing Tiers?
This question might cause a little debate. Many medical cannabis dispensaries and recreational retailers have pricing tiers. Most base those prices on the THC concentration of a strain. Here’s the thing – a strain with more THC than another isn’t necessarily better than one with less THC. What really matters is the total cannabinoid and terpene profile of the strain. Retailers think that more THC means more money.
Some cultivators charge more than others, and again, the higher prices are often because of higher THC percentage.
Consider patronizing a cannabis business with even pricing across the board. Prices for other products, like edibles, vape, concentrates and topicals will vary significantly. It’s best to compare what you’re getting for your money and which product will benefit you the most in these cases.
When was this Flower Harvested?
Harvest dates are important. The older cannabis is, the more the THC converts to cannabinol (CBN). Cannabinol is great for insomnia and pain control, but if you want to experience the true effects of a strain, something harvested within the last 30 days is ideal. It does take a few weeks to properly cure cannabis and, where required, test the product. So, harvest dates a month to six weeks from the day you visit the retailers are ideal.
When was the Product Packaged?
To move more customers through an establishment, a lot of cannabis dispensaries and recreational retailers prepackage their dry flower. If the product does not protect the flower from exposure to heat and light, it can dry the flower out rather fast. Dry flower packaged 4 days or more before your visit to the establishment may already be drying out.
Deli-style retailers may be a better option. By seeing the jar or container the flower is kept in, you can see how much shake is in the bottom. This does lend some help when it comes to determining if the flower is already too dry. Flower that is too dry crumbles to dust and often burns way too fast, so if you purchase an eighth of dry flower, you’re likely to end up going through it faster.
How Should I Store This Product?
Every cannabis product has different storage recommendations. When it comes to storing dry flower, make sure the container shields it from light and heat. The container should also be airtight. Although dry flower is often displayed in clear containers, when you get it home, you may get it to last longer without drying out by keeping it away from direct sunlight (or any type of lighting) and in a room temperature area.
Vape cartridges should always be stored with the mouthpiece facing downward. This prevents cartridge failure, leaking and potential explosions. You will likely notice that vape cartridges aren’t displayed this way, which is a major disadvantage because the cartridge may already be compromised just from the liquid sitting on the heating element before use.
Edibles should always be stored in a refrigerated area where children cannot access them. Baked goods do spoil. Candies do melt. Beverages do have shelf lives. The cannabinoids in the cannabis used to create the item are already activated, and by keeping the edible refrigerated, it may help the product last a little longer. Consider a container with a lock on the exterior if you purchase edibles and have children in your home.
Asking the right questions when you visit a medical cannabis dispensary or recreational cannabis store will help you have a better experience with your first use. Purchasing the right products and knowing how much to use are also important. A good budtender can help you make the right choices. Walking in and taking someone’s word for it or choosing a product based on its name may not result in a positive first experience with cannabis.