I know, this is a bit off-topic for this blog and/or I should have posted this on 4/20, but I’m going to go ahead and say it: I like cannabis! In my home state, it is not legal for recreational use. 🙁 (…yet.)
Therefore, when I visit states that DO have ‘adult use’ marijuana for sale, I like to find a dispensary and check out their fully legal and professional business operations! I’ve been traveling a lot the past couple of years, so I wanted to compare my experiences in various states, and offer some advice for those looking to go weed shopping themselves.
Let’s start with my three main tips to make sure you have an awesome visit!
Tip 1: Do Your Homework
The most important thing to do before shopping for cannabis is to do RESEARCH. Be a responsible adult! Different states have different laws, and the legal age to purchase cannabis will vary. You’re most likely not allowed to smoke marijuana openly in a public place regardless of where you are. Consider your travel accommodations and whether or not smoking is allowed where you are staying. If smoking is an issue, you can consider vaping or edibles as other options.
Tip 2: Plan Ahead
Once you are familiar with the local laws, it’s time to look for a dispensary! Be sure that the location that you visit is legitimate and follows the laws in their state. Websites like WeedMaps can help you find trusted locations. Try to avoid making your purchase during the busiest times of the day, unless you like to wait on line. Keep in mind that in many states, the dispensaries are located outside of the major cities, so think about public transportation, Uber or rental car costs when budgeting your visit. Also consider the quantity you are buying and if you can finish it all before it’s time to go back home, because traveling with cannabis over state lines is a huge risk! Don’t do it!
Tip 3: Be Cool
Dispensaries do not joke around. When you arrive to the venue, you will need your ID and you will need to act normal. Yes, you can use an ID from out of state as long as you are of legal age! But if you are goofing around with friends, taking selfies and drawing attention to yourself, they might not let you enter at all. Taking photographs at all is usually prohibited at dispensaries. Due to popular demand, there is usually a long line and you will need to follow any and all instructions for queuing when you arrive. Read the menu while you are on the line and be ready to place your order when it is your turn. In fact, visit the dispensary’s website in advance, because they usually have a menu available, and some even offer pre-orders/reservations.
Soo… What’s it Like?
Going to a marijuana dispensary is very similar to visiting an erotic/adult store. There is usually some sort of nondescript entrance area where you show your ID to a security guard, who validates it and grants you access to the store itself. There is usually an ATM present for those who wish to not charge their purchase to their credit card. (In fact, during one visit my bank flagged the purchase as suspicious, forcing me to use the ATM and wonder why I was charging my purchase to a card at all!)
Upon entering the store, the first thing you’ll notice is the high quality weed aroma wafting around the place. These days, weed in plant form is usually referred to as “flower” and is most likely the top seller, with many different strains of indica and sativa to satisfy your medicinal or not-so-medicinal needs. Flower is rarely on display in the store front, other than in photographs, but you know it’s in the building because you can smell it! In the display cases you will find different THC oil tanks, concentrates and edibles. Most of the time you cannot access any product directly, and instead you tell the sales person what you want and they put the order together for you in a special black or white opaque bag with a childproof sealed top.
My experiences at dispensaries varied greatly based on the state that I was in at the time. When I was in Los Angeles, CA I visited LA Wonderland, which was a huge store that was mostly devoid of people. I visited fairly early on a weekday, and would imagine it’s a bit busier after ‘normal working hours’ and on weekends. In California, marijuana has been legal for recreational use for several years and it seems that the long lines and high demand has subsided. The salespeople were knowledgeable and passionate, and quick to make a recommendation.
When I traveled to Las Vegas, NV I made a stop over at Exhale Nevada, which was pretty close to the Vegas strip and just a short Uber ride from my hotel. This location had a much more ‘doctor’s office’ kind of vibe with it’s decor – it had obviously been a medicinal dispensary that had recently opened it’s doors to the public. The smaller venue allowed for a more personable visit in terms of customer service, but I imagine that during high traffic hours the lines might get long.
My recent trip to Boston, MA included a stop at NETA Care Brookline, a dispensary that only just recently had opened it’s doors for recreational adult use sales and I took the T to get there, which was super convenient. This was my first experience purchasing cannabis in a ‘high demand’ market setting, and it was a bit different. The location was what looked like a government building with old stone architecture. It had been set up for medicinal use initially, and their website clearly indicates that there is a separate reserve and priority for medicinal customers who visit. There was a lot of security present and two winding queue areas set up outside of the store: one for reservations and one for walk-ins. The walk-ins line was considerably longer and I was thankful that I had done my research and placed a pre-order online in advance. The online system worked very smoothly and expedited my trip greatly. However, I was slightly disappointed because the reservation line moved so fast that I was unable to actually look at any of the other products for sale. I was told that if I wanted to browse I would have to get in the other line and wait my turn – so I passed on that. But I was able to make my purchase in less than 20 minutes, which was amazing considering how packed and busy it was there.
As you can see, the legal recreational marijuana experience varies greatly based on where you are! But the product is always great quality – that much has definitely been consistent. The brands aren’t always the same so don’t fall in love!
But one thing I’ll never recommend: weed-spiked Arnold Palmer in a can. That was a diiiiiiisgusting waste of money. AVOID!! lol