So it’s your first time in a dispensary ….

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

There’s a first time for everything, including a foray into the legal world of medical cannabis. If you’re lucky to live in a state where cannabis has been legalized either recreationally, medically or both, it’s more than likely you’re curious what all this is about. Look no further — here is High Mountain Health’s guide to your first time in a dispensary.

You’re excited. You’re nervous. You might have never expected to see such a wide selection of trimmed, sparkling cannabis, legally on sale that you’re able to purchase. The days of underground transactions are over and you’re officially legitimized in the ever-expanding cannabis industry. It opens up countless opportunities to explore alternative medicine and holistic health. Officially, you’re part of an exciting community where education, experience and an open-mind is key.

The first thing to consider: why are you turning to cannabis?

The reasons for medicating are diverse — ranging anywhere from managing pain, to stimulating a meager appetite, or getting into a better head space to face every day obstacles. Once you have figured out why you need to use cannabis, the next step is deciding what strains are best for treating this. Something important to consider are the terpene and cannabinoid profiles of the strains that are available. This is going to be the most reliable guide to picking out flower — more than just being an Indica or a Sativa. Certain terpenes will elicit different effects and their interaction with various cannabinoids can completely change a medicating experience. Do a little research before hand to know what smells and effects you’re looking for: are you looking for something with a heavy sedation, or a buzzy, daytime high?

Ask questions

Use those at the dispensary to your benefit. Your cannabis consultant is there to help! You’re not the first newbie they’ve interacted with today, and they can probably answer any questions you have. Take as much time as you need to feel comfortable with your purchase, to understand dosing and methods of ingestion. Depending on what you’re trying to treat, your consultant may recommend edibles, topicals, or tinctures — there’s more to it than just smoking. Beyond your doctor, consultant and long-time cardholding friends, there are plenty of resources out there on the internet. We recommend Leafly or Green Flower Media to begin educating yourself.

Medicate… and pay attention

You’ve finally reached the most exciting part of the process: actually ingesting cannabis. Whether you’ve purchased edibles or flower, make sure you’re in a comfortable environment. If it’s your first time, the feeling of being medicated can be a little different at first. We recommend starting small, seeing how that makes you feel and then going from there. Edibles will take longer than flower or tinctures to take effect. It’s important to pay attention to the nuances of the strain – does it leave you feeling relaxed and worry-free or does it cause slight anxiety? Do you like the sleepiness, or would you prefer to feel alert and aware? These are all questions to pay attention to during the experience. It can take time, but you will eventually find the flower that is perfect for you.

Reflect

After you’re done medicating, take a moment to reflect on the experience. Was this strain’s effect what you were expecting, needing or wanting? What would you do differently next time to improve the experience? It can be helpful to keep a journal or recording. Over time, you’ll start to notice trends and realize what strains are working better for you and which ones aren’t. It’s a learning experience and patience is definitely a requirement. Don’t be discouraged if your first experience is not what you thought it would be – there are countless other options to try.

— Words by Taylor Haynes

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