Thinking about trying cannabis? Prepare yourself for your first dispensary shopping trip by answering these seven questions.

The cannabis scene today is overwhelming, to say the least. Between the dizzying array of new brands hitting the shelves and the frequent scientific discoveries driving innovation, it can be hard for even the seasoned industry professional to keep up. For canna-newbies, a modern dispensary can seem daunting—how do you even know where to start?

If you’re interested in exploring cannabis, whether for wellness and relaxation, creative enhancement, or even a little old-fashioned fun, there are ways to determine which products are right for you. SWEET JANE has compiled a list of questions you may want to ask yourself to help guide your cannabis journey. Feel free to take notes to bring along to the dispensary—you and your budtender will be glad you did.

Canna-Quiz: What To Ask Yourself Before Trying Cannabis for the First Time

1. What do I want to get out of my cannabis experience?

This is one of the first and most important things you’ll want to consider before making a purchase. There are hundreds of varieties of cannabis, and the effects may vary greatly from perking you up to aiding in sleep. Think about how you’d like to feel after you consume: Do you want to laugh or do you prefer to rest? Are you hoping to ease muscle pain or settle your stomach? Understanding a strain’s terpenes—compounds within cannabis responsible for its flavor, aroma, and effects—can help point you in the right direction. 

2. Do I want to get “high?”

Not every cannabis cultivar (aka strain) will offer the psychoactive effects most associated with the plant. Active ingredients called cannabinoids have varying effects, with the most famous cannabinoid, THC, being the one most responsible for the “high.” However, more attention is now being paid to other non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBN. These compounds are more often used for wellness purposes. If you seek to avoid any sort of psychoactive high but still want the benefits of cannabis, this is important to relay to your budtender.

3. How do I want to take my cannabis?

Long gone are the days when the only way to consume cannabis was to smoke. Nowadays, there are several modalities from which to choose. You can eat, drink, and vaporize; you can rub a cream or balm on your skin, and you can even swallow a pill. If firing up a joint doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other ways to integrate cannabis into your life. Not sure how to decide which is best for you? Look to the next question!

4. How much time do I have?

The way you consume cannabis may also differ from method to method in terms of how they interact with your body. Smoking and vaping see cannabis processed through the lungs while edibles enter the bloodstream via the liver. Tinctures use the mucous membranes in our mouths and suppositories … well, you get the picture. Different methods of consumption will have variations in both onset time and duration. Inhaling cannabis offers almost instant relief with the effects lasting on average two to three hours. Edibles, on the other hand, can take up to two hours to kick in and may last several hours. If you only have time for a quick session, you may want to opt for a flower or a vape pen. If an all-night self-care extravaganza is in order, a gummy or THC-infused beverage may suit you well.

5. What is my budget for cannabis?

This is a very important question to ask since prices can vary dramatically for seemingly similar items at a dispensary. Determine how frequently you plan to consume to anticipate how long your products will last. If you’re a newbie, your tolerance is likely to be extremely low, so a little will go a long way. Also remember to consider tax, which fluctuates from state to state. Some places, like California and Illinois, add upward of 35% tax to your purchase, so it’s important to factor that into your budget.

6. Do I only want to buy cannabis that has been tested in a lab?

 Back in the day, there was no real way to tell whether the OG Kush or Blue Dream you were buying was legitimate. However, the advent of legal cannabis has brought about a new wave of testing regulations. Depending on where you live, cannabis flower at the dispensary will likely have undergone a battery of tests, although some markets are more stringent than others. Feel free to ask your budtender what the testing requirements are in your state and if there are any brands going above and beyond to showcase their commitment to offering a safe and reliable product.

7. Do I want to support causes that matter to me through my purchase?

In America, we vote with our dollars. This notion also extends to the legal cannabis market. There are many small, family-run farms, female-owned brands, and companies that donate a portion of their proceeds to social justice initiatives. If you aren’t sure which boxes your cannabis products tick, feel free to ask your budtender.

Buying cannabis doesn’t have to be intimidating. By asking yourself these questions ahead of time, you’ll feel more confident when consulting with your friendly neighborhood dispensary staff. Let them know your overall goals, budget, and preferences—this information will be immensely valuable in their ability to make recommendations. Also remember that every person is different, so it may take a bit of trial and error before you land on the ideal product to suit your needs. Start low and go slow, easing gently into your new regimen. But before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to figuring out the cannabis products that work best for you. 

Website | + posts

Rachelle Gordon is a writer focusing on the cannabis industry. She has been featured in High Times, Cannabis Now Magazine, and the inaugural issue of SWEET JANE. Rachelle’s favorite strains include Tangie and GMO.