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Cannabis 101: A consumer guide to buying cannabis

By Mrs. Nice Guy
Cannabis Daily Record

Let’s face it. When it comes to buying weed, most of us are still in the novice category.

The oldest recreational stores have only been open for about two years, and even medical marijuana patients – who have been buying legal pot for a bit longer than that – sometimes don’t know what to look for when they venture in looking to make a purchase.

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To help, I thought I’d put together a list of things I look for when weed shopping. I’m a medical patient and often seek out certain products for my ailments, but I also love to support the local legal recreational (fun) shops.

Here are my suggestions:

Scouting Report: First and foremost, I look up cannabis shops in my area before visiting them. I like to check out their online menus and see what their all-around vibe is. I do this for three reasons: To have an idea of what’s available; to do my own strain research beforehand in case the budtenders are busy; and to check out the prices. Prices vary quite a bit at different stores, and I like to figure out which shop has what I want at a price I can afford. Thanks to websites like Leafly and Weedmaps, it’s easy to find local shops and menus. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are also good places to find shops, and they often use them to tell you about specials and price drops.

Prices: You never want to overpay for weed, and let’s be real, some of us don’t even have that luxury. That’s why price is an important thing to keep in mind. All shops have a variety of different types of cannabis: low, mid and top shelf product at a range of prices. Medical weed is less expensive (usually you don’t have to pay tax on it). Recreational prices in Portland and Washington are a bit higher due to sales tax, so keep that in mind. Generally in both states recreational after-tax prices range from $8 for the cheap stuff to about $17 for top shelf. And if you keep your eye out for deals on social media, you might find some even better deals than that.

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Quality/Look: In the almost 2 years of being a medical patient, I’ve visited A LOT of shops and let me tell you, not all shops care about the quality of the product they’re putting out – that goes for both medical and recreational shops. If I know a shop doesn’t care about bud quality, I won’t return. You want your buds to be dense, well-trimmed (without a lot of leafy material) and well cured. I think if you’re a business selling something as precious as cannabis, you need to care about the quality of product whether it’s top shelf or “budget” weed. Not all cannabis customers are privy to smelling a giant, open jar full of deliciously smelling weed to sway them into a purchase, so for those who can only decide by staring at the product in a plastic bag, do your best to study the appearance of the bud to figure out whether it’s worth your hard earned cash.

Budtenders/Service: Budtenders are the ambassadors of the chronic palaces that we call weed shops, it’s their duty to educate customers on the products they sell and how they work. When you need information on strains, concentrates or topicals, budtenders are the people who should have all the answers for you. Your budtender also gets extra points if they remember who you are and what you like – and if you find one with good suggestions, you should keep going back. It’s important to feel like the business you’re spending your money at cares about you as a consumer (or as a patient) and your experience with them and their products. Customer service is the best way for stores to get repeat customers, but keep in mind that budtenders do get busy. I had one bad experience at a shop and I would say the blame fell on both of us. On the store side, the employees didn’t care that I was standing there with unanswered questions, but on the other hand, I didn’t make it a point to let them know I needed assistance. If you’re unsure of what type of service you should be getting, I urge you to check out the Budtender’s Bible, a guide for budtenders, but something consumers should be privy to as well.

Always remember, every experience is different and no cannabis shops are the same, but if you keep an eye out for quality product and people – you won’t be disappointed.

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