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Heading to a California cannabis dispensary can be a great experience. But if it’s your first time visiting a local California dispensary, it’s important to know what to expect. After all, a dispensary isn’t quite like other retail stores, and even with legal recreational weed, there’s still a lot of regulations and rules in place to protect both the public itself and the proprietor from any illicit activities.

That said, it’s actually pretty similar to purchasing alcohol. You’ll need to be at least 21 years of age with a valid ID to purchase cannabis, though you can purchase marijuana at the age of 18 if you have a California medical marijuana card. Note that you won’t be able to open or use products in the dispensary — for that you’ll have to head home.

Here are the things you may want to keep in mind when visiting a California cannabis dispensary.

Bring Your ID

While you certainly won’t be able to purchase cannabis without a valid, government-issued ID, dispensaries in California won’t even allow you in the door without an ID. Even if you look the part and are clearly older than the mandated age, you’ll have to show your ID, so don’t forget it. Keep in mind that cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, which means that the rules around buying and selling cannabis are important and must be followed.

There Will Be Security

Almost every California cannabis dispensary has security of some kind. Many have a security guard posted to check IDs and to keep the peace inside, though there may also be security cameras and barred entrances. While it can be a bit intimidating to enter a recreational dispensary in California, it’s actually pretty straightforward. If you want to make things easier, have your ID ready.

Bring Cash

Since cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, most banks and credit card providers won’t do business with California dispensaries. That means no credit card or debit card purchases, though it’s easy to get around this limitation by bringing cash with you. If you forget or you don’t bring enough, most dispensaries have an on-site ATM that you can use to make a withdrawal, but you will likely be charged fees, so keep that in mind.

Have an Idea of What You Want

Not that you need to know exactly what you want before heading into a California cannabis dispensary, but having a general idea of what you’re looking for will be a big help. There are many products to buy, and an almost infinite number of desires and preferences, but knowing what you want will make the whole process much easier. Are you looking for something to smoke, to eat or to drink? Do you want THC products or CBD ones? Do you want to relax or energize your mind?

Ask Plenty of Questions

But it’s not like you have to go it alone when you’re inside a California dispensary. The many associates or “budtenders” are there to help you make a decision. Using the seed information of what you’re looking for, they can recommend strains, products and even paraphernalia that you might need, helping to demystify what could otherwise be a confusing purchasing experience. Many budtenders also have lots of experience with the products that they sell, and they can help you make a better decision than you would be able to do alone.

Check the Menu

Before you head in to that local California cannabis dispensary, you may want to check their menu online. Especially if you have a good idea of what you want, you won’t want to make the trek only to realize that they don’t have what you want in stock. That could mean scrambling around town when all you needed to do was to check the online menu. In fact, checking the menu can help make things much easier when you finally reach the counter for ordering, and that means getting in and out much quicker.

Don’t Spark Up on the Premises

It goes without saying, but don’t ever try to consume or smoke your marijuana inside a dispensary or as soon as you exit. Smoking and consuming cannabis is prohibited in public, and you could face fines or other prosecution if you’re careless with your cannabis usage. The same goes for consuming cannabis in your car — you can actually get a DUI even if your car’s not on and you’re not going anywhere, so it’s best to wait until you get home.

Embarc on Your Cannabis Journey

With all that in mind, you’re ready to embark on your first trip to a California cannabis dispensary. Remember to bring your ID and cash, and have an idea of what you’re looking for. Ask the budtenders any questions if you have them, and you’ll be on your way with some cannabis that you can bring home and enjoy.

To discover more about California’s best cannabis, look to the experts at Embarc .