Maybe you've just been authorized to use medical marijuana (MMJ). Or maybe you live in a state that has passed recreational marijuana laws. What should you expect as a new medical or recreational consumer? Forget that stereotypical image of Woodstock from 1969; nowadays, cannabis may not be what you expect. There are hundreds of strains to choose from that provide different effects, and the industry is a lightning rod for change and adaptation. Not only does cannabis legislation continue to change around the world, ways to use cannabis has grown dramatically throughout the years, too.
All of the constant changes surrounding the cannabis industry can make it difficult and somewhat intimidating to know how to navigate the cannabis field as a new patient or consumer. But don’t worry, your friends at Leafly have you covered. This handy guide will help you understand what it means to be a responsible patient or adult consumer and includes crucial information you should know before you begin.
1. Choose the Right Strain
Not all strains are created equal! When authorized to use medicinal cannabis, the first step is to do some research on what kind of cannabis will work best to alleviate your individual symptoms. Even recreational consumers benefit from exploring strain effects, as every variety provides a unique experience.
There are a few ways to learn about which strains might be right for you:
Use Leafly’s Strain Explorer to sort out which strains fit your needs.
Call a couple different stores or dispensaries to see what products they recommend.
Explore a variety of strains. If you are new to cannabis, it may be beneficial to try small amounts of different strains when you are first starting out. This will help you test different strains and different varieties (indicas, sativas, or hybrids) to find your perfect match.
2. Choose the Best Consumption Method
Tinctures, dabs, medibles, oils, lotions, vaporizers. Um, what? There are many different methods of using cannabis, but not all consumption devices or types may be ideal for you. Some forms of intake, such as smoking, can aggravate symptoms instead of delivering the medicine intended to help alleviate them.
Here are some tips on finding the best consumption method for you:
Before you buy, discuss intake options with your doctor to see which form is suggested to you.
Do some research on ways to use cannabis to familiarize yourself with different styles of cannabis use.
Ask your dispensary or retailer. They knows their products the best. Engage with the staff to ensure that you know how to properly use different products and find your best fit.
If a particular method is not working for you, try something else.
Pick a Dispensary or Recreational Outlet
Just as strains provide different effects for different users, sometimes different stores cater to different types of clientele. When choosing a dispensary or recreational store, it’s important to pick a place that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed.
Here are some things to consider when you’re shopping for a medical or recreational store:
1. Storefront or a Delivery Service?
There are pros and cons for each option:
The benefit of storefronts is they allow you to see firsthand what type of business you are buying from. You can see if the staff is friendly and helpful, and you also get to see all of the products the dispensary has available, allowing you to easily learn about products that may be new to you.
One downside is storefronts may be inconvenient to travel to, particularly if getting around is difficult for you. Some storefronts may also be located in not-so-nice locations. Do some research beforehand to find out which locations you are comfortable visiting.
The pros of a delivery service are obvious: a staff member brings the product right to your door. Some delivery services have varying hours that can allow you access to your medication at a time that is convenient for you, whereas storefronts may have more limited hours of operation.
While delivery services are easy and convenient, one downside is you have to know what you want to order before you request a delivery since the owners can't bring their entire inventory to your place of residence. Fortunately, you can use Leafly to find out more about the strain you might want to use and narrow down your choices so you know exactly what you want when you call in your order.
2. How Reputable is the Business?
For both storefronts and delivery services, it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand. If you would like to find out more about a particular dispensary, recreational outlet, or delivery service, there are a few ways to gain more information:
Learn what other customers have to say about locations near you. You can use Leafly’s Dispensary Finder to find a location and read user reviews to see what others think about the place. If you would like more information about a particular dispensary or storefront, post a question and a Leafly fan or the business owner may see it and respond with a helpful answer.
Visit the store's website. You can tell a lot about a business from the way they present themselves online. Check ‘em out, and if you like what you see you may have found the perfect place.
Or you could simply pay the shop a visit. You don't have to buy anything, just stop by to get a feel for the place and get to know the employees a bit. Do they seem friendly and knowledgeable? Do they offer good customer service? Is the store in a safe location? Nothing beats chatting with the owners or managers firsthand.
3. Questions to Ask
After you have decided the type of dispensary or store you prefer, there are a few questions you should consider to make sure you have found the right match:
How often are specific strains available? What sort of selection does the retailer have?
How does the business obtain its product?
What are the retailer's hours of operation?
What is the average price range for products that you are interested in?
Does the retailer sell mostly organic or inorganic products?
You may also want to familiarize yourself with Leafly's Medical Cannabis Patients Bill of Rights to know what sort of service, quality, and care you deserve from your cannabis provider.
While cannabis legislation varies by state and new bills are constantly being introduced, there are a few basic guidelines that remain constant when it comes to medicinal marijuana. Like with any substance, prescription or not, it’s important to take appropriate precautions when using and possessing cannabis.
Here are some basic guidelines for safe cannabis use:
1. Your Cannabis is Medicine
If you're a patient, treat your cannabis as you treat other medications. Like many other medications, cannabis has different effects on different people, so don't share it with friends, family members, or children. Your medication is for you and you only.
2. Properly Store Your Cannabis
In order to get the best results out of your cannabis, save it in an airtight container. If you’re buying dried marijuana, it’s best kept out of direct light. Also, keep your cannabis out of reach of others who may use it. For more storage tips, check out our guide to properly storing cannabis.
3. Don’t Use Too Much
Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you're using an appropriate dosage that works for you. Don't overuse your medication; instead, make sure you're following your doctor's recommendations and listening to dispensary employee feedback to ensure you're not using more than you need. Adult consumers use cannabis recreationally should use discretion and enjoy responsibly. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed from too much (or too potent) cannabis, follow our tips to counteract a too-intense cannabis high.
4. Keep Product Away from Children and Pets
Unless your children are medically authorized to use cannabis (like in the case of young Charlotte Figi), you should not be administering it to them, nor should you give them any unsupervised access whatsoever. Be conscious of how you use your cannabis and where you store it, making sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets at all times. Medibles can look especially appealing to both children and animals, so make sure to avoid any mishaps by keeping any medible products in a safe, secure place.
Check out Leafly's News & Culture section and our Cannabis 101 category for more information on cannabis and how to consume it safely!