How to Prepare for Your First Medical Dispensary Trip

At present, more than two-thirds of states have legalized medical marijuana. Once you have procured your MMJ card, you are legally allowed to enter a dispensary. There, you can purchase up to your state’s limit of cannabis.

While a dispensary trip is often an enjoyable experience for seasoned users, first-timers might be nervous. This guide will get you prepared for the journey and will hopefully help quell those nerves. We look at what you need to bring and what to expect.

What Do I Need to Bring to the Medical Dispensary?

The most important things to bring are:


Your ID

Every dispensary will ask for your ID. Therefore, it is essential to carry a valid government-issued ID. A state-issued ID card or your driver’s license is sufficient. In MMJ states, you should be able to purchase medical marijuana once you turn 18.

MMJ Card

If your state has a working medical marijuana program, you must give the dispensary worker your MMJ card. You’ll need to apply via your state’s specific program. An increasing number of states provide online cards, but you will also get a physical one through the post.

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If you live in a state where recreational sales are allowed, you don’t necessarily need an MMJ card. However, there are specific dispensaries that won’t sell to anyone without a card. Also, possession of the card might allow you to purchase a greater quantity or potency of cannabis.


A large proportion of medical dispensaries remain cash only. This is because financial institutions won’t do business with them. However, there is an increasing number of companies offering credit card processing facilities to cannabis businesses. It is worth phoning the dispensary to see if they accept debit or credit cards.

If it is a cash-only business, bear in mind that an ounce of marijuana usually costs between $200 and $400. Of course, most dispensaries have an ATM, so you don’t need to travel to the store with large amounts of cash.

How do I Prepare for a Visit to a Medical Dispensary?

It is helpful to have a plan of action before your visit to save you time.

Consider Your Needs

If you are a first-time user, you should decide on your preferred form of consumption. Options include:

  • Cannabis Flower: This is the classic form of marijuana. You can add it to a joint, blunt, or bong. It provides relatively quick effects but usually involves smoking or vaping. If you have lung problems, you’ll need a different product.
  • Tinctures: These are cannabis oils that you can consume by themselves or add to food or drink. They take effect quicker than edibles but more slowly than smoked or vaped products.
  • Concentrates: These are extremely potent forms of cannabis and not suitable for novices. Users tend to place small amounts of wax, shatter, or rosin in a vaping device or a dab rig.
  • Edibles: As the name suggests, these items are cannabis-infused foods and beverages. They represent a gentle introduction to marijuana for many users. You don’t have to worry about the smell of smoke. However, edibles take much longer to work than other forms of consumption. New users should only try a small amount and wait at least two hours to feel the effects, if not longer.
  • Cannabis Type: Despite what you might read, marijuana does have different forms. A sativa-leaning strain is more likely to give you energy and focus. An indica-leaning strain tends to make people feel relaxed and sedated. Think about how you want cannabis to affect you.

How Much Time Do You Have?

It is best if you have plenty of time to spare for your dispensary trip. This will enable you to get a significant level of assistance from the staff. If you’re prepared to learn, budtenders and dispensary assistants will teach you!

It is best if you have plenty of time to spare for your dispensary trip.

However, those seeking a ‘get in and get out’ experience will need to do a lot of research in advance.

Store Availability & Legal Considerations

Perform online research to see which licensed dispensaries are in your area. While Google may provide opening hours, it is still best to phone the business to confirm.

It would help if you also double-checked that MMJ is legal in your state AND county. Yes, there are areas within states that have legalized recreational cannabis that don’t permit its use. There is the option of buying cannabis in a different county and bringing it home. However, bear in mind that this is an illegal act.

What Can I Expect at the Medical Dispensary?

As much as you prepare for your visit, you might still have an element of nervousness when you step inside the door for the first time. Here’s what you can expect in general.

Friendly & Helpful Staff

Dispensary staff can usually see a newcomer a mile away! While you are a novice, they are used to helping people with different needs and levels of experience. Ask as many questions as you like; knowledgeable staff will give you all the answers you need. In general, they try to tailor the experience to your needs. Let them know what you’re interested in, and allow them to help you.

Please note that you should expect to wait before being served. In many states, MMJ dispensaries can only serve one customer at a time. Therefore, you could be waiting a while in a busy dispensary.


First-time visitors are sometimes perturbed by the level of security they see. You can expect armed security guards, cameras, and protected entrances. However, this is standard practice, so don’t be alarmed. The large amounts of cash that is often on-site make MMJ dispensaries a prime target for thieves. The seemingly intimidating level of security is there for your safety.


You might wonder if there are any specific rules of etiquette you have to follow in a medical marijuana dispensary. It varies depending on the business. However, most dispensaries don’t allow people to take photographs while inside. It is helpful to look for any signs or ask an employee if you’re not sure. The dispensary will likely have slightly different rules than a standard retail location.

Other than that, the same etiquette applies in dispensaries as in any other store. For instance, it is wise to give your fellow customers some space and privacy. You should also leave your phone on silent to avoid distracting other patrons.

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Finally, don’t ever feel pressured into making a purchase. Certainly, employees at reputable dispensaries won’t engage in aggressive sales tactics. In general, you can’t return your cannabis, so don’t buy something unless you want to try it. Dispensary staff will understand in almost every case. If you feel that staff members are forcing you to buy something, find a friendlier dispensary in the future.

Final Thoughts on Preparing for Your First Trip to a Medical Dispensary

Once you have your MMJ card, a brand-new world awaits you at the medical marijuana dispensary. It will seem like an unusual experience but find the right place, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy your visits. Follow the advice above, and you’ll have everything you need for your journey.

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