How to Buy Cannabis in a Recreational State

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If you want marijuana in Santa Barbara, for example, then it is perfectly legal for you to buy cannabis and use it, provided you adhere to California’s regulations for its cannabis market, such as being 21-years or older. However, buying recreational weed for the first time can be overwhelming. With intense, decades-long prohibition and severe penalties of the past, you will likely worry about police at every step.

This is expectable, but there is no need any longer to concern yourself with enforcement. If you live in Alaska, Colorado, California, Maine, Nevada, or Washington, then your state permits legal sales of recreational pot. However, where do you even start? How do you go about getting your hands on it?

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If you follow these steps, you will be able to buy cannabis whatever you want with confidence:

Step 1: Search for Marijuana Dispensaries near You

Before you waste any time researching and exploring the hundreds of dispensaries listed online, find those nearest to you. Several apps use your location to find stores close by, such as Lea fly, Weed Maps, and Where’s Weed. They will give you the information you need to narrow your search down to those that appeal most to you, including store details, deals on offer, menus, and customer reviews.

It is important for you to look at more than one store. Do not be afraid to scrutinize several of them. Each store has its own unique product selection, specials, staff, and vibe. You should try finding the one that best fits your needs. Read the store’s reviews to see what consumers like or complain about, and search forums to find recommendations from those more experienced than you might be.

When you have made your decision and used a dispensary a few times, then be kind to fellow newbies and leave a review for them too. If the staff was helpful and you appreciated their advice, then let others know. If the atmosphere was enjoyable or if it stocked products that you will want again, then tell the world about it. Above all, whether your experience was good or bad, be honest in your feedback.

Step 2: Educate Yourself about Marijuana

As a first-time buyer, you really have two choices once you have a store in mind: You can trust the budtender to make recommendations that will please you, or you can sit down and do some research yourself. Everybody who is anybody recommends that you learn a little about the basics of cannabis first.  So, that you have some idea of which strains or products might be best for you. This is being wise.

There is so much to know about cannabis that all of it can be confusing. It is a very good idea to spend some time beforehand sifting through the information. If you cannot read a store’s menu, the options available may just overwhelm you. If you want to buy bud, then you need to choose from hundreds of unique strains.

At the very least, it will help to have some knowledge of the different products on offer, as well as how to consume them. As a newbie to weed, what products are good starters? What is the difference between Indica, Sativa and hybrid strains? What is CBD and what is THC, and how will they affect me? These are just some questions to research before you head on over there.

While a budtender will certainly be most happy to answer any questions that you may have, these stores are bustling with activity. Queues sometimes line the street and they struggle to supply the demand. They are busy, which could pressurize you to make rash or uninformed decisions. Rather familiarize yourself with the basics. Your experience will be a much more positive one for it.

Step 3: Get Your Documents in Order

Regardless of whether you are looking for marijuana in Santa Barbara or in Denver, the law mandates that you must be 21-years or older. No dispensary will sell weed to you if you cannot prove that you are of legal age, and this applies to all stores in every legal state, even online ones. Fortunately, this takes but a second or two. Just bring along your passport, driver’s license, or state-issued identification card.

Step 4: Have Cash with You

Because marijuana remains an illegal substance at the federal level, banks are hesitant to conduct business with weed companies. For this reason, most have no choice but to operate on a cash-only basis. Although some will be willing to perform a normal transaction on your debit card, make sure you have cash with you, just in case.

Step 5: Choose and Buy Cannabis

After doing your homework, you should be somewhat familiar with different products, consumption methods, dosing, and strains. This will make choosing what you want much, much easier. If you want to feel sleepy, go with potent Indica strains. If you want energy, then browse the Sativas. This is just a guideline, but here are some pointers to help you when deciding on which products to buy:

  • Edibles taste good, but they can take up to two hours for you to feel effects.
  • Concentrates are potent extractions of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, and they include oils, vaping cartridges, dabs, wax, shatter, and more.
  • Flowers are best for smoking or vaporizing, although you can juice them for their raw health benefits too.
  • Pre-rolls are buds already prepared and rolled for your convenience. Just light them up when you get home, certainly not in the parking lot.
  • Topicals will not make you “high,” but creams, salves, balms, lotions, bath soaks, and lubricants will relax you and provide targeted pain relief to localized areas, such as sore joints and muscles.
  • Suppositories work, well, the same way all suppositories do.
  • Tampons and pads promise relief from menstrual cramps and make ideal gifts for your girlfriends.

Every product and strain offers a unique experience. There is no way of truly knowing which you prefer without trying them first. Some experimentation comes with being a newbie. Until you try several products out for yourself, you will never graduate to a connoisseur. Be adventurous. Try a few brands, products, and consumption methods until you find what works best for you.


Buy cannabis in a recreational state is easy if you know where to go and even easier with some knowledge of the basics before you do. Just make sure that you research your state’s pot laws beforehand. You do not want to buy more than the law allows you to or light up where trouble can still find you. While there, buy some CBD extract. It is the best antidote should you consume too much THC.

Author Bio

John Levy writes for Pot Valet, a leading company delivering marijuana Santa Barbara and all of California. He spends his days educating the world about cannabis and advocating for its legalization everywhere.

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