The use of cannabis has been documented throughout history, dating back more than 2000 years in the human story. Yet, for all the years it has been available in our human history, the world has never dealt with the plant as it does today. Dispensaries have 10’s if not 100’s of products, including strains, concentrates, edibles, and topical cannabis products. This large amount of options can easily overwhelm, which is why we thought a guide on how to pick weed at a dispensary is in order.
Choosing weed at a dispensary is both old and new. It is new in that many of us have never been able to visit a dispensary. It is old as the industry is architected to feel familiar, with sales counters and friendly staff ready to help with any questions. In some ways, it is akin to choosing jewelry; glass cases filled with products and (sometimes) a magnification glass atop to look more closely.
For new-to-novice consumers and patients, picking a marijuana product will first come to a process of elimination. Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
Do I have the proper smoking equipment to consume this?
How much do I want to spend?
How long will this quantity last for me?
These questions can help to focus the purchase by removing the question of product type and total amount to spend. This leaves but one question - and it is full of choices as well - what product do I want?
Smoking weed is among the most popular ways around the world to consume this carefully curated crop. Marijuana is an agricultural product and like our fruits and veggies, can vary in size, flavor, and - in the case of marijuana - the effect it produces.
To pick a weed strain at a dispensary, it is important to consider three general ‘buckets’ that cannabis strains find themselves:
“Sativa”, “Indica”, and “Hybrid” are all terms used in dispensaries as a basic barometer for the effects the strain will have.
“Sativa” strains are known as energizing, day-time strains that inspire creative thought. “Indica” strains are known for mellow, relaxed, and even sleepy experiences. “Hybrid” strains are somewhere in the middle.
Much like craft beer, these neat buckets allow for stores to organize their inventory and streamline sales tactics.
While it is this writer’s belief these three designations - Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid - are much less important to consumers than we want to believe, one of the questions nearly every budtender will ask is about the type of strain you are seeking.
That is not to say these designations are never appropriate when you pick weed at a dispensary. These distinctions can help growers know if the plant will be tall with long branches or short and bushy but communicate less about the effects than this writer has come to believe.
In truth, the main things to consider when you pick weed at a dispensary are as follows:
What is the cannabinoid profile?
What terpenes are present?
Not all budtenders will have both pieces of this. Colorado requires the cannabinoids present in flower to be measured as a percentage of dry weight. It is not required in Colorado for labs to disclose the terpene profile, but some companies do anyway. Other states vary in requiring terpene content to be stated on the label.
Terpenes are molecules producing both the flavor and aroma of the strain and have been shown to interact with cannabinoids to create unique experiences for consumers and relief to patients.
Cannabinoids are the molecules found in the cannabis plant that produces much of the unique effects cannabis is known for. For instance, the “high” is attributed to THC while CBD helps with relaxation.
Because both the cannabinoid and terpenes present in a strain can vary plant by plant, each strain has different effects and flavors.
Several US states and countries around the world have loosened laws regarding cannabis consumption, both recreationally and medically. As a result, the production of many cannabis products that were either scarce before or didn’t exist, coupled with emerging technologies and tools such as vape carts and batteries, has caused seismic changes to how cannabis is grown, processed, sold, and consumed.
Whereas it may have been uncommon to be able to purchase hash before, it is now sold conveniently. Unlike choosing between edibles and smoking, there are a dozen methods to consume and hundreds of ways to process or utilize the plant. Emerging as a hero in the legal cannabis industry, concentrates have taken ground from smoked flower for numerous reasons. Some include:
The refinement of the terpene profile
The separation of different cannabinoids
Relative cost-benefit compared to smoked cannabis (In some circumstances)
When picking marijuana concentrates, the following can help frame the decision:
Color: is it honey or amber-hued?
Texture: is it liquid? Is it supposed to be?
Aroma: does it smell waxy or predominately like terpenes?
Learning to pick weed at a dispensary can be a time-consuming process, and it doesn’t have to be. Identifying before you go some potential options can help guide the conversation when you arrive. Using the above information or diving into some product research and dispensary menus and deals near you can help guide you to the products you want, but it can take a bit of a time investment to learn the lingo and differences.
Knowing your budget and a potential quantity you are seeking can additionally guide the conversation upon arriving at your dispensary of choice.
But forgetting papers, glass, or a vaporizer or dab rig is always frustrating - especially if you have already reached the couch, shoes off.