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If you live in a recreationally legal marijuana state or plan to visit one soon, you may be asking a very common question: How do I buy marijuana?

Once you arrive at your dispensary, you’ll probably be met at the front door by a security guard. They will likely want to wand you down with a metal detector. This isn’t an indication that a shop isn’t safe — it is simply a precaution and a necessary reality in a marijuana industry that is largely still cash-based.

In Which States Can I Buy Recreational Marijuana?

Extracts : Marijuana extracts include products like kief, hash, oil, marijuana shatter, wax, and more. These products seek to concentrate the active compounds in marijuana like its cannabinoids and terpenes into a consumable product. Marijuana concentrates can be dabbed, vaporized, infused into edibles, or added to marijuana flower to increase its potency.

Recreational marijuana is also legal in Washington D.C., but there is no system in place to purchase it. The only way to legally purchase marijuana right now in D.C. is with a medical card, and it is illegal to bring marijuana in from out of state, putting residents there in a sticky legal gray area.

A state ID or driver’s license from any state or a passport proving you are over 21 will get you access to legal dispensaries in six of the recreational marijuana states in the U.S.:

Updated on 4/6/2021 at 5:22 PM

Time to bust out that ID. And you have to do that every single time, even regulars. It’s good to keep in mind that state regulations like this one give a clunky flow to every process.

"The more fluent you are in the language of dispensaries, the more likely you are to get great service and leave with something that delivers the effects you seek."

If you happen to be someone seeking strong effects, don’t get distracted by THC percentages. Without proper storage, 30% THC flower harvested over six months ago will be a weaker smoke than freshly cured and properly maintained flower that happened to test at 18%. The reality is that a single plant contains buds with varying amounts of THC across each branch, and only a handful of random buds determine test results for a whole batch of product. Current testing can somewhat ensure safe product, but it does not accurately assess potency. It’s more effective to ask budtenders about the cultivators behind each strain, and if you can smell before you buy, a rich, complex fragrance is a fundamental indicator of good weed. If you still just want the strongest products on the menu… Just ask the budtenders what they’ve been smoking over the past month.

Every day for the past six years, hundreds of people walk into a legal cannabis dispensary for the first time. Maybe one opens up down the block, or you drive across town, even over to a neighboring state to see it for yourself. It’s one of the few places you can go right now, since they’ve been deemed essential businesses. Dispensaries have adapted to the COVID-19 retail era with increased delivery services, curbside pick-up, and limits on capacity to maintain safe distances, with many stores are doing more business than usual as people stock up to stay home. The one thing that all first-time customers have in common, regardless of the extent one has enjoyed cannabis prior to this moment, is a shared sense of unfamiliarity. This isn’t like walking into a liquor store at 21, but it also won’t be anything like exchanging $20 for a ziplock on your former dealer’s couch. It’s a completely new kind of experience, and despite how recent its debut, one that has already developed its own standard customs and etiquette.

So why do these unspoken codes of conduct matter to you? Because the more fluent you are in the language of dispensaries and the budtenders that run them, the more likely you are to get great service and walk out of there with something that delivers the effects you seek. Here is the ultimate guide to shopping at a dispensary.