This Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 photo shows jars of medical marijuana on display on the counter of Western Caregivers Medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. Consumers eager for the coming of California's legal recreational marijuana market should be ready for sticker shock. An array of new taxes and fees will be attached to pot sales, driving up prices.(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)


By Kate Mazzarella-Minshall


Back in the day, smoking “pot” was illegal, and people smoked it to get high. That was the extent of my knowledge of marijuana but recently, my ex-boss closed his very successful restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip to open a grow house. Two years later, when he had an opportunity to apply for a dispensary license, he asked me to be part of his writing team.  I accepted because I wanted to get involved in the cannabis craze and learn more about the industry.  After a few weeks of writing, my curiosity of cannabis had been piqued, and I felt it would be helpful for me to get up close and personal to see what it was like inside of a dispensary.

Typically, people choose dispensaries by reputation, product selection, quality and/or pricing, but I chose a dispensary strictly for location.  It was equidistance between my house and my girlfriend’s. Yes, I needed an escort, I was a newbie and I needed some hand-holding.  Even though I was learning valuable information from being on the writing team, and I knew what questions to ask, I was still a bit apprehensive…okay, for some reason I was downright scared to walk into a dispensary by myself. pot-3

Before we even got through the door, the greeters carded us, and normally at my age, I would have been flattered. But it is the law, they have to check everyone’s I.D not only to verify that you are 21 or over, they also need to make sure your photo matches your face.  Once we registered, we were brought into a room where several cannabis customers were walking around looking at the marijuana products. I told my friend that I felt uncomfortable; it was intimidating, confusing and overwhelming, and none of the products had any usage information, descriptions or explanations. We waited about 10 minutes and there was no one around to assist, which we thought was very strange.

My friend suggested another dispensary and what a difference! At this particular dispensary, the greeters were extremely friendly and welcoming.  They checked out our I.D.s and we were escorted to a registration area, after which we were asked to sit in the waiting room until our “budtender” called us back.  A budtender is like a bartender for weed; basically, it is a title given to a dispensary salesperson who is trained to answer your questions and guide you through the selection process.

pot-2The waiting room was comfortable and inviting and filled with people of every age and in all walks of life.  After a short time, our budtender came into the waiting room, called us by name and brought us to her station where we proceeded to go through each page of their “menu” while she provided an explanation on the various cannabis strains, their effects and ingestion methods, CBD vs THC, and the benefits of the different products the dispensary offered.

I was very excited to have my very own budtender, I loved the personal attention, and she was extremely patient while I asked her a boatload of questions. There was no hardcore sales pitch, my friend and I did not feel any pressure to make a purchase, and we didn’t; I explained that I was there for research!  As we were leaving, the greeters asked us about our experience and thanked us for checking out their dispensary.  Customer service is so important no matter what business it is. I would definitely go back for further research, and I would most definitely recommend this dispensary.

Several things you need to know before you visit a dispensary:

Although illegal on the federal level, Nevada is one state that has legalized marijuana; however, you are not allowed to smoke or consume any products in or around the premises of a dispensary or in any public area. Buy it and take it home.

It is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines.

Be sure to have a driver’s license or identification card.

Most dispensaries only accept cash, but many have ATM machines available.

Know before you go. Do a little research on what you want, it will save you time.

Look, but don’t touch anything prior to meeting with your budtender.

Dispensary Etiquette: Feel free to tip your budtender.

Cannabis is a cash business and security is taken very seriously; don’t be alarmed if you see that it is heavily guarded.

Most dispensaries have their menus posted online, so you can order in advance which will expedite your wait time. Or, you can take advantage of the dispensary’s delivery service for an additional fee but due to safety concerns, delivery for recreational use may soon be halted.

Most important, relax and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have fun and enjoy your experience.