How To Buy Legal Weed

The dos and don'ts of budtender etiquette.


We get it. The first time you bought weed was on your neighbor's couch, while these days you can drive to a well-lit pot shop in Vancouver—or, if you're an OMMP card-carrying patient, a dispensary in Portland. The room is studded with security cameras and full of enough products to make the Apple Store look lazy. There's a tip jar next to the liability waiver and medical-grade scale.

It is a brave new world, people—and it helps to know the etiquette. Just like a bartender who can choose to measure your bourbon with a thimble or a four-count that involves the word Mississippi—your budtender can either be your best friend or a blank-faced bureaucrat when it comes to heavy weigh-outs and strain recommendations. From my own experience behind the counter and from conversations with seasoned weedtenders Botanical Ben and M. Jane, here are a few tips for minimizing shit-talking among the staff when you leave the bud room.

DON'T: Throw a fit about our cash-only policy

We know—you've got an app that gives you Dogecoin when you meet fitness goals, and another to help you wipe yourself. But pretty recently, we were all still exchanging a crumpled $20 for an unlabeled Ziploc baggie, and federally regulated banks are really skittish about pot money. So…cash. And really slow point-of-sale software made by stoners, for stoners.

DO: Come in 10 minutes before closing time

It's really polite that you'd panic about your last-minute visit causing us inconvenience, but don't worry: We got this. You aren't risking a light weigh-out during your next visit. As it turns out, we want your business just as much as you want to get high. But do note that once the clock strikes close, our doors won't open for any amount of frantic knocking. There are a handful of 24-hour dispensaries throughout town; you can figure it out. Oh, and we don't want to smoke with you after our shift. Sorry.

DON'T: Be a know-it-all

It's cool you spent four hours on Leafly last weekend, but here's the thing: Ancient Japanese farmers harnessed industrial hemp thousands of years before you planted a $20 clone in a red plastic cup and hid it in your closet, and we still don't really know anything about weed. Biologists the world over are racing to understand marijuana as well as we do oranges, and testing facilities are pretty much unregulated. Besides, keep in mind that the hoodied 20-something operating the register might be the owner and have an even bigger ego than you.

DO: Give honest reviews

Let us know when you aren't satisfied with medicinal effects. Dispensaries are knee-deep in samples from prospective new vendors, and we really do want to know what you liked or didn't like, even if that means you found a new erotic use for a medicated ointment. Actually, especially that. And if we take you and your comments seriously, we'll be honest about which products we bring home to our own medicine cabinets.

DON'T: Ask for free goodies

It's not in our best interest to ever give out free shit, but we do it because we like you and want you to come back. But anyone who whines that some of the free shit has lower THC can look forward to stoner hell, where you're forced to smoke 10 percent THC weed from the '70s for eternity. Look, if you're chill, you'll see extra grams in your shopping bag sooner or later, like that "extra" margarita the bartender made. Petty haggling for a cheaper ounce just inspires dispensary staff to add a cruel nickname to your patient file. Oh, and when you keep staring furtively at those jars of ancient, dirty nug samples, thinking of improvising your own freebies? We totally see that.

DO: Overshare about medical needs

The more details, the better. Feeling overwhelmed at work? There's a strain for that. Itchy skin? There's a topical for that. Sure, there are medical tinctures with CBD concentrations for serious treatments, but for the majority of patients who shrugged and wrote "back pain" on their applications, there are other products for universal problems like carpal tunnel and PMS. Knowing that you actually just smoke spliffs, or that edibles make you nauseated during 3-D movies, helps us narrow down what we'll pitch to you and what you'll never be interested in buying. That said, we aren't therapists. There is no strain for a bad boyfriend or a worse boss; save that shit for blind items on Twitter.

DON'T: Come in when you're super high

We like hanging around high people just fine, but stoned people just can't handle a weed store. They ask to check out 12 strains and then buy a medicated soda while five people shift angrily behind them. And when they text at the register, it's pretty obvious they're picking up weed for their friends. The red-eyed confusion is endearing sometimes, like when they absent-mindedly reach into the stale coffee beans meant to be sniffed as a palate cleanser, and chomp them like popcorn. But here's some advice: If you must come in high, always do whatever you did last time—ask for "five separated eighths of Blue Dream."

DO: Confess your sins

We've also smoked many a bowl before anything got legal. We're still sneaking joints into concerts, too. But likewise, don't be bashful if your only previous smoke session involved a soda can, or if you typically wake and bake before your corporate gig. No one will judge how, where or with whom you smoked. And feel free to ask questions about what glass, storage or strains you want, without any worries we'll judge you for what you don't know. We always like the ignorant a lot more than the arrogant, especially when you're honest about it. We've all been there. 

Willamette Week's Annual Weed Issue, 2015

Vancouver Marijuana Scene Report Six New Portland Dispensary Picks

 How To Talk to Your Parents About Weed | Cannabis Shop Etiquette

Map: 10 Best Marijuana Discounts | Can a Lifelong Pot Hater Find the Perfect Strain?

The Most Advanced Bong Ever | Mapping the Weed Genome

Great Advances in the History of Oregon Weed History

WWeek 2015

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