Despite the increasing number of states approving or decriminalizing purchase and possession of cannabis, marijuana, and cannabis derivatives, what we really have is a hodge podge of rules and regulations. Cities, counties, and municipalities have compounded the problem with their own regulations and zoning controls.
So, if you decide to buy marijuana legally for the first time, you still have some problems in front of you:
1. Local Regs
If you’re in the market for marijuana, you should know your specific state and local regulations. Although states have approved it, you must need to know how much you can purchase and carry. And, you must know where.
Legalization has not driven pot dealers out of the shadows and off the street. And, you may find the only legal stores or dispensaries are inconvenient or located in a questionable part of town. So, depending on whether your state has approved delivery services, your first purchase may be farther away than you expected.
As approvals increase, the rising marijuana economy is understandably concerned about rocking the boat. Where approved, the struggle has been hard fought, so the advocates want things to go well for some time. In a political climate led by Attorney General Jess Sessions and Governor Chris Christie, everyone hopes for a smooth first couple of years.
Such things make cannabis dispensary owners and operators leery of breaking or stretching rules. So, asking for product they cannot sell, haggling over the price, falsifying identification, smoking on the premises, and so on invite problems.
2. Big Inventory
If you have been buying illegally, you have bought at the mercy of the pot dealer. The street dealer rarely had a variety of strains to select from. At best, you have been getting pretty much the same product and have become used to it.
If that’s the case, you don’t know weed! Your local dispensary or retail store will amaze you with its variety, choices that can confuse and overwhelm you. So, you should research what you want and need. Legal outlets will likely publish their stock, so you can do some advance planning. Nick Brown at Colorado Pot Guide says, “Seeking advice from the dispensary prior to trying these products is strongly recommended.”
If you need medical marijuana for a specific heath issue, you can research the individual strains online for their medical effects. If you can buy recreational weed where you are, then go for it. There’s nothing stopping you from trying 33 different flavors or more. But, it’s smarter to decide on what results you want.
The better prepared you are, the better you can talk intelligently with the store’s budtender. When you can say “this is what I want, and what I don’t want,” you can save your time and that of the budtender and other customers.
Armed security guards might concern you. They are there for several reasons, none of which should concern you if you are legit. So, have your valid I.D. (as defined in your state) ready to present at the door.
Security guards are obliged to monitor the age requirement, and you can expect medical cannabis dispensaries and recreational marijuana stores to be seriously concerned about their reputation as startups. State laws prohibit sharing your identification with outside sources, but it also requires recordkeeping that starts with your valid identification.
Federal regulations still prohibit using banks and credit card processors from running the cannabis revenues. That effectively turns weed merchants into cash-only businesses needing security protection.
The presence of the cash and concerns for internal operations also have owners installing extensive security camera coverage inside and outside. There is no intent to intrude on your privacy, but the observation is needed and required. Any tapes will be erased in time.
You can’t smoke in the dispensary or store. And, no matter how liberal your state’s laws, you cannot smoke on the sidewalk, in public places, buildings, and so on. Even universities prohibit students from smoking in dorms (for what that’s worth).
If your city is a smoke-free city, as more cities have become, “smoke-free” applies to marijuana as well as tobacco. So, you are subject to arrest and/or fine if you light up on the premises, loiter outside, or smoke as you walk away.
In fact, depending on your regulations, you may only carry so much. It varies from state to state, but you cannot carry an open container. And, you cannot drive under the influence, so wait until you get home.
You’d have to be better desperate to light up on your way out of the store. Considering what you just paid for the product, you’ll enjoy it more where you can relax and appreciate its aroma, flavor, and high.
If you are of legal age, shopping can be fun and interesting. However, you do not want to be the one who buys and, then, sells to his friends. Like buying beer for the teenagers outside the convenience store, you break the law when you sell the grass you bought.
5. Pay Up
As long as marijuana operations are cash only, you cannot pay with a credit card or check. So, bring a wallet with plenty of cash
Your biggest surprise might be the price. If you have been buying on the street, you will find the legal marijuana considerably more expensive. Much of the price difference has to do with the heavy taxation, but you may find the price high.
You can research the price online where you won’t see much variation among charges at different locations, but the research will prepare you to carry the cash you’ll need. Canna Saver reminds, “You'll have to use cash to make your marijuana purchase, so come prepared in case there isn't an ATM nearby.”
Solving your problems up front
Shopping for marijuana doesn’t have to be any more difficult than buying beer or wine in states where permitted. If you’ve done your research on product, effects, side-effects, and price, you can relax. You might even call the dispensary and tell them your concerns and ask their advice on shopping. Admit that you are new to using or be open about your medical problems, so they can best advise you.
And, don’t expect a head shop. Legal medical cannabis dispensaries and recreational use stores do not sell all the paraphernalia carried at local head shops. You will find oils, extracts, and edibles, but don’t expect t-shirts and caps or bongs and hookahs. You will find people who consider themselves professional and trying to run a professional operation. And, you can take some comfort in that.