For many people, visiting a cannabis dispensary is an unfamiliar experience and a very unique one at that. It’s unlike shopping at your average grocery or department store where merchandise is laid out in aisles for you to gather up and purchase at the register. 

No, at a dispensary things are done much differently. The layouts are different, customers are monitored much more closely, and there are many more rules attached to the entire purchasing process. Something that isn’t surprising given the fact that we’re talking about a product which is technically still illegal at the federal level. 

But, as more and more states continue to legalize the use of both medical and recreational marijuana–with Ohio being one of the most recent to legalize recreationally–more and more people will inevitably be stepping foot into these one-of-a-kind spaces. So, it’s important to understand just what to expect and the proper etiquette to follow during your visit. Read on as we walk you through the entire experience from start to finish and give you tips on how to navigate the dispensary like a pro.

What to Bring and Entering the Dispensary 

Before you make your way to the dispensary, you’ll want to make sure you have the documentation you need. Step one, is to bring a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. This applies even if you live in a state where marijuana is recreationally legal because you still must prove you are 21 or older in order to purchase cannabis products. So, just like at a bar, you must show your ID upon entering. 

Step two, if you are a medical marijuana patient, you must also bring your medical marijuana card–either a physical or electronic copy. Remember, the name on your medical card must match your photo ID. And, step three, it’s always helpful to have cash on hand since that is the only form of payment most dispensaries accept.

At many dispensaries in both Massachusetts and Ohio, you do not need an appointment to enter. Customers and patients are helped on a first-come, first-serve basis. At a medical-focused dispensary you will simply need to check in at the front desk and then sit in the waiting room before a Budtender calls you back. Or, at adult-use facilities, you may just need to check in with security before being allowed onto the sales floor. Upon your first visit, you may also be required to fill out an intake form, especially as a medical cannabis patient.

Navigating the Cannabis Products 

Once you’re let onto the sales floor, or called back by a Budtender, then the shopping can begin. In most dispensaries, cannabis products are organized in more of a showroom type fashion rather than a grab-and-go type format. Inventory is displayed in glass cases or behind a counter that only employees have access to and organized first by category such as flower, edibles, etc. and then by brand within each category. 

In medical cannabis dispensaries, guests are usually accompanied by a Budtender during the entirety of the visit. During your trip you can work with your Budtender to learn more about the products and find exactly what you’re looking for. At the end of the visit, they will grab your products for you and tender the transaction. 

In adult-use facilities, customers are welcome to more freely browse the cannabis selection before heading to the counter to have a Budtender grab their products and complete their purchase.

Basic Dispensary Tips:


Outside of the dispensary waiting area, all guests should keep their cellphone in their pocket or bag. Many dispensaries–especially those with a focus on medical marijuana–have strict rules against being on your phone and also taking pictures or videos while in the dispensary. This is largely for the sake of privacy.


When visiting the dispensary, you may wonder if tipping is customary, or you may be tempted to do so after receiving great service from a qualified Patient Consultant. In Ohio, dispensaries are not able to accept tips. But, in other states like Massachusetts tips are always welcome. Standard tipping rates are typically about 10-20% of your bill, similar to tipping a bartender. But, it is always at the discretion of the customer and can also be linked to the time of your dispensary visit or level of assistance you received. 

Background Cannabis Knowledge

It’s important to do your homework before heading into the dispensary. Read up on basic information such as recommended cannabis doses, purchase limits in your state, and gain at least a base level understanding of cannabis strains in order to make the most of your visit.

Researching the specific dispensary you plan to visit and taking a look at its online menu is also a good idea so you know what products are available, which payment methods are accepted, and more. Many dispensaries such as Terrasana in Ohio and UpTop in Massachusetts, where Neighborgoods products are sold, are cash-only but ATMs are typically available on site.


While you should have a decent base of knowledge coming in, it is also completely acceptable and expected to ask your Budtender questions during your visit. That’s what they are there for after all. Feel free to ask about specifics such as where various strains come from, testing regulations and processes, expected effects, and to request product recommendations based on the experience you are looking to have. 

Touching and Using the Cannabis

Unless it is offered up to you by a Budtender, refrain from touching the cannabis products, especially marijuana flower. This can undoubtedly spread germs but also actually destroy the flower. 

Additionally, once your cannabis products are purchased, you still need to wait until you are home or in a private space to consume. Do not start to use your products in proximity to the store. Even if marijuana is medically and recreationally legal in your state, there are still strict regulations in place in regards to where you can and cannot consume the substance.