My First Trip to the Dispensary - Tips and Tricks

Tips from a Long-Term Medical Cannabis Patient

Now I’ll admit it, before getting my medical card I was “somewhat educated” on cannabis. Some of my friends were well-versed and I got the hard knocks version of cannabis education. This was before resources like Leafly or High! Canada Magazine were available. Unfortunately, my friends didn’t have all the answers and I quickly found that there was holes in my knowledge.

Before Rushing Out to the Dispensary

Thankfully my first budtender was super knowledgeable and understood anxiety markers. Most good budtenders will set your expectations on the first trip. However, this has changed somewhat with COVID-19. As dispensaries work on high volume expectations, the quality has shifted from patient focused to recreational from the consumer perspective. Remember that my first experience as a patient was pre recreational and COVID-19 in the IL Market. Bud-tender knowledge (and empathy) may vary and it's important you research for yourself prior to stepping into the building. 

Also, while overall there is a general indicator about how strains should impact you, cannabis is extremely individual in it’s effects. Cannabis is not a cure all and requires trail and error to hone the right routine. Keep a log of how the different strains you consume affect you and determine if that works for you and your medical routine. It took many months, and lots of patience, to get on a routine for my PTSD-Complex. However, that also included therapy, environmental changes, and diet. For the folks in the back: Cannabis is not a cure all. Don’t get mad, change your method.

How Was The First Visit?

My first budtender gave me some of the most down to earth advice we could get as first-timers coming into the dispensary. Setting our expectations for health, we could tell he was entirely patient-care focused. My husband and I learned that although we shared a condition, cannabis effected us differently and sharing medicine was not always optimal. Even when funds were limited.

We moved through the fundamentals (more CBD heavy products for general relief and THC heavy products for my husband's inflammation) before other budtenders introduced us to concentrate and the experimentation began. We took the time to try different ingestion methods that worked best for us and our routines.

Remember, depending on your condition, your body could react differently to specific strains. Our individual experiences should not be interpreted as medical advice. Our personal results were very positive and anecdotally most patients do report improved relief.

The Good, Bad, and Retail

Don’t forget, cannabis is still big business. Nothing comes before the almighty dollar. Even though some of you might be coming into this as a medical patient or more holistic in nature, not everyone selling cannabis is patient-focused. That being said we all need to take responsibility as customers.

Don’t expect someone else to be responsible for your medical journey, especially if that person is in a retail role. budtenders are not doctors and never claim to know everything (at least they shouldn’t). The right budtender can be an important support network in your journey, but don’t forgot to advocate for yourself. If a product wasn’t working don’t go back to the dispensary and buy 5 more packs of the thing that didn’t work…then get mad when it again…doesn’t work. True story!

Long-Term Patient Tips

Focus on what works for your body. Make sure you have an idea of what you want the cannabis or CBD strain to ultimately do for you before buying ANYTHING. If the budtender sounds unsure, or high (or both) maybe don’t get the ounce of it before trying a gram. Nothing sucks more than getting cannabis that gets you high, but doesn’t work for your alignments. Think about it this way, some strains make you hyper focus, if you are like me, this happens naturally (a little too much) and highs like this can make you hyper focused in a negative way. Think 4 pots of coffee with an attitude problem.

Best Practices

Don’t try new strains when you have an important engagement or something that requires your attention or focus. If I’m not in a comfortable place, it’s hard to determine if my natural anxiety is causing it or the strain. I want to give each product a fair shot so I can determine if I can add it to…the box. *Yes, I did throw in a Hell Riser reference.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. What was your first dispensary trip like? What was your budtender like? How did you guys decide what strains to try for your condition?


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