7 Things to Know When Buying Cannabis

7 Things to Know When Buying Cannabis

If marijuana is legal recreationally where you live, or if you’re preparing to make your first medical marijuana purchase, there are some things you should know before heading to the dispensary.

Cannabis products have come a long way since your college days, so the more you know ahead of time, the better off you’ll be when the time comes to light up again.

Here are 7 things you should know when buying cannabis from your local dispensary.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two chemical components in marijuana that you probably hear the most about. They’re both present in any given strain of cannabis, but at varying levels.

Both chemicals have the exact same molecular structure, but there is a  minor difference in the arrangement of atoms, which results in a different effect on your body.

THC is the highly psychoactive component in cannabis. It’s what makes you feel high, euphoric, or like you’re floating (or sinking into your couch). CBD is likely what you hear most about when it comes to health benefits and medical treatment. It’s used to treat seizures, chronic pain, and inflammation just to name a few.

Indica vs Sativa

Indicas and sativas are subspecies of the cannabis plant. Indica plants typically grow to be shorter and bushier, with shorter and wider leaves surrounding their bud sites. Sativa plants grow taller (in some cases upwards of 20 feet!) and slimmer, with long and slim leaves surrounding their bud sites.

You probably won’t see any plants growing in your local dispensary though, so knowing what they look like isn’t as important as knowing how they affect you differently.

Generally speaking, smoking marijuana from an indica plant will produce more of a body high, you’ll feel more relaxed, and possibly even hungry. Indica is a great sleep aid, and can. help to relieve pain. Smoking from a sativa plant will produce almost the opposite -a cerebral high, alertness, uplifting, and increased energy.


Terpenes are essentially what gives any plant it’s distinct smell. Terpenes in a pine tree make it smell like pine, and terpenes in a lemon give it that distinct lemony smell.

The same is true for cannabis. Terpenes don’t have a psychoactive effect on the human body in the same way that THC and CBD do, but they do affect the way in which your body interacts with THC and CBD.

Know what good quality looks like

High quality marijuana looks different from low quality. Despite what your dealer in high school told you, if the bud looks brown, crumbly, and dried out, it’s likely old and stale, or wasn’t cured properly.

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High quality marijuana should be bright and vibrant in color, and coated in what look like tiny white crystals (trichomes). If you pinch the bud, it should feel springy and return to the same shape.

Know what good quality smells like

High quality cannabis flower should smell just as good as it looks. If it smells like mold or wet grass, don’t purchase it. If it smells like rich pine, citrus, or skunk, you’re on the right track.

Most places will allow you to smell the product before making a purchase, so don’t be afraid to ask before you buy!

There’s a diverse array of cannabis products

Not all cannabis products are limited to smokable plants. Depending on what’s available at your dispensary, you’ll be able to purchase anything from vape pens and oil diffusers, to lollipops, cookies, and more.

Know what experience you want, and ask for it

While it’s good to know the differences between THC and CBD, and Indica and Sativa, simply knowing what type of experience you want can be even more valuable.

Budtenders (yes, they’re actually called that) are trained to know what cannabis products to recommend based on the experience you’re after. So  whether you want something stimulating or relaxing, the budtender at your dispensary will be able to point you in the right direction.


Buying cannabis can be pretty overwhelming, but knowing what you’re looking for ahead of time can take a lot off your shoulders. If you know these 7 things, and ask for advice from a professional when you need it, you’ll be able to buy cannabis without a hitch!