The First Timer
As an advocate for the responsible and ethical growth of the cannabis industry here in Washington, not to mention being a very curious person, you would think that I would have been one of the first people checking out the new retail stores. Actually, it was quite the opposite.
There was only one store that I really knew about and that’s only because I drove by it regularly. It looked seedy and, like many people, I had a preconceived notion that I would be walking into a group of stereotypical Cheech and Chong stoner salespeople.
I still haven’t brought myself to visit that store.
It wasn’t until I stopped by one of my favorite tap rooms that a nearby storefront caught my attention. It looked pleasant, professional and approachable. When I walked in, I was overcome by the sensation of entering a forbidden zone. It was a very odd feeling to see all this product that was once taboo, now out in the open.
This ended up being one of the best retail shopping experiences of my life. I embraced being a neophyte, told the staff this was my first time in, and asked for the tour. I have visited several stores since, not always to shop, but to see whether I would recommend it and to encourage involvement in the Cannabis Alliance.
I know quite a few of you want to check out a retail marijuana shop and there are some uncertainties that prevent you from going. The thing to realize is that you are not alone. It is understandable to feel this way, especially if the world of cannabis is new to you. With that, I hope the following tips help you feel more comfortable with your first visit, whether you are looking for something specific or you just want to check it out.
The first thing to do is go online and visit Leafly (www.leafly.com). This website is full of great information about different shops in the region. Each shop is unique, so keep in mind what is important to you and what your needs are. This site will also help you learn about the medical and recreational qualities of the different cannabis strains.
Be prepared to show your identification when you enter. This might happen when you walk in the door and/or again when you buy. Be prepared to pay with cash. Until the federal laws are changed, cash is the only method of payment.
Don’t feel pressured into making a purchase or even staying in the store. You want to feel good about being there and you want to feel good about your purchase. A good store with good budtenders (salespeople) will not pressure you into anything you don’t want to buy or do.
Ask questions. This is what a qualified budtender lives for. He or she wants to help educate you on the good things cannabis has to offer. Even if you decide not to purchase anything, they are still happy to assist you and make sure you are comfortable and have enjoyed your experience.
You don’t need a medical card for medical marijuana. There’s some confusion about this, but all you need to do is ask for a medical consult for any inquiries regarding the medicinal use of marijuana. Most stores I’ve visited have someone on hand who is certified by the Washington State Department of Health to answer these types of questions.
Most important: Relax and have fun. If you walk into a store and don’t get a good vibe, turn around and walk out. Otherwise, stay and take in what this world has to offer. It might not be for you, but you might know someone who can benefit from it. Either way, there is no sense in denying yourself a great learning opportunity about this new industry.
Jeff Minch lives near Minter Creek.