What to Expect on Your First Visit to a Dispensary

What to expect on your first visit to a dispensary

If you’re thinking about visiting a Vancouver dispensary, you should definitely stop by, even if it’s just to browse.

The first thing to know is there isn’t just one reason a person visits a dispensary and there is no wrong way to feel about it.

If you build it, they will come

As you’ve seen, whether you are visiting from afar or live around the corner, there has been an influx of Vancouver dispensaries in the last few years. Since its medical and recreational legalization, they’ve been popping up everywhere. At this point, you’re more likely to find a dispensary than a gas station.

All joking aside, it’s been a wild ride. For the first time, people who illegally consumed cannabis were able to do so legally. And, for the first time, people who never took a second glance at cannabis, because it was illegal, were coming in and purchasing and smoking cannabis. And, everyone loved it! This is still true today.

Who is coming?

As shared above, there is no one “type” of person who is visiting our Vancouver dispensary. You couldn’t pigeonhole our guests if you tried. It’s actually quite wonderful. For maybe the first time, all races, ages (above 21), sexes, and people from significantly different socio and economic status are purchasing cannabis and its complementary accessories.

What’s the interaction like?

While it’s impossible to characterize our diverse clientele, let’s focus in on some of the first-timer personalities we see most commonly.

The Introvert

This is actually one of my favorite customers as this person has probably wanted to visit a Vancouver dispensary, but just hasn’t taken the plunge. This person is usually very quiet and often accompanied by a more experienced dispensary visitor.

This person feels, incorrectly or not, that they  know nothing about cannabis and feel so clueless, embarrassed, and/or ashamed that they don’t even know what to ask about their first visit. The only thing they sometimes know is that they (may) enjoy smoking THC-packed cannabis. And that is totally ok!

Cannabis, like a glass of wine, is too easily dismissed. There is a strain and consumption method that suits each person and it’s finding that perfect combination that is both a challenge and fun experiment.

When interacting with the introvert, we like to jump in and share our knowledge, without overwhelming the customer. This usually starts with some questions. If the focus is on cannabis strains, these are some things we usually ask:

  •      Are you looking for something particular?
  •      Do you prefer loose cannabis or are you looking for a pre-rolled joint?
  •      What kind of effect are you looking for?
  •      What type of high do you want?
  •      Are you looking for something with medicinal qualities?

Based on a person’s answers, we can easily direct him or her to the cannabis strain that best meets the desired effect, whether it’s a sativa, indica, or hybrid.

We want each person to have the desired experience they are looking for, if they have one in mind. Or, we can make excellent recommendations on the few things we do learn.

Often, our introvert first-timers become repeat customers. Yes, they love our product and that’s one of the reasons, but the main reason is our store aesthetics and top-notch customer service.  This person may have entered apprehensively, but often leave pleased, if not giddy.

The Questionnaire

This inquisitive first-time visitor is the one taking the lead to ask questions, and usually not just the basic ones. Regardless of whether they’ve done their research or are actually just nerds like us, our job is to inform.

While their questions are often very specific to what they are looking for, here are some generic favorites:

  • Do you have a sativa-dominant strain that will also help me focus?
  • Do you carry an indica strain that will calm my anxiety without causing me to fall asleep?
  • Which is your favorite strain because I’m looking for a new sativa that’s both fruity and energizing?
  • I read  . . . did you hear about this? What do you think?

This customer usually knows the type of effect they want, but are usually still looking for strain recommendations and we’re more than glad to help!

The I-know-what-I-want

Similar to The Questionnaire, this visitor comes in with a mission. However, this first-timer is even more specific. This person usually asks a question like, “I want OG Kush and which sativa pre-rolls do you have right now?” Likely, this person knew someone who purchased OG Kush and they liked the high. Great! You know what you like, but don’t be afraid to try something new!

The dilemma with The I-know-what-I-want is they know what they want. The great part is they are often genuinely interested in suggestions and really want to learn more. If they are set on OG Kush, that’s what they’ll get. But, we also might recommend a similar strain we have on hand, particularly if it’s in a pre-roll like they asked for.

There is no wrong way to be

When you visit a dispensary for the first time you may feel excited, giddy, anxious, nervous, apprehensive, accomplished, ashamed, embarrassed, empowered, or a number of any other emotions. All ways are the right way to feel. We embrace where you’re at and are glad you came to visit us for your initiation into the legal cannabis world. And we’re happy to meet you where you’re at, wherever that might be.

What to expect

Each Vancouver dispensary experience is personalized so there is no one specific experience you might have, but here is a generic peek into our facility.

When you open the door, you’ll be asked for your ID before you even see anything. This is required by law, as you must be at least 21 years old to visit a dispensary in Washington.

There is no wrong way to imagine a dispensary and each one has its own flare, but we like to think ours is welcoming. One of our friendly bud tenders will greet you as you enter, and you will enter into a room filled will carefully organized glass cases featuring everything from cannabis to pipes, bongs, edibles, and storage devices.

We organize our cannabis strains to the right and the majority of our store features colorful, intricate hand-blown glass, most by local artists.

Our store is professional, but casual. Our products speak for themselves and we’re known for our stellar customer service, ready and willing to assist the novice and veteran consumer alike.

 

Is The Cannabis Industry Getting Ahead of Itself?

sunshine farms cannabis vancouver mother plants

With just a few years of legal recreational cannabis under Washington’s belt, it seems the cannabis industry may be moving faster than the law makers can handle. Cannabis consumers have waited a long time for legalization and our excitement shows. Simple legalization isn’t enough, we want more. We want cannabis friendly cafes, clubs, parks, bars and restaurants. Our favorite plant has so much to offer, but for all our desires, there are laws and regulations blocking us from our ultimate end goal.

A recent article from the LA Times indicates the direction the cannabis industry would like to go – toward expanded legalization and “Amsterdam style” smoking clubs and cafes. It also speaks to the reluctance the new administration is instilling in the industry, and state level government alike. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has eluded to a tightening of the fist, so to speak, on cannabis and decriminalization.

Colorado state lawmakers recently removed language from a bill that would allow cannabis smoking clubs to exist legally. This was a well-supported law. It had bi-partisan support in the house as well as industry support. Currently there are several private cannabis clubs in operation under fringe laws and zoning regulations, operating in that all-too-familiar grey area the industry is trying to move past. However, they’ve been subject to random raids by local law enforcement.

The bottom line is that the cannabis industry is heading in one direction, or trying to, and the government isn’t ready for it to go there. Yet.

As cannabis consumers push the boundaries of legalization more and more pressure will be put on lawmakers to expand cannabis laws and regulations. Unfortunately those changes could be bogged down in red tape for years just waiting for government officials to catch up with what the cannabis industry already knows; weed is enjoyable and can be extremely beneficial to many thousands of people.

“We as an industry have already come so far. I look back at the industry in Washington when legalization was fresh,” says Amy, an owner of Mary Jane’s House of Grass, a dispensary in Vancouver, Washington. “No signs were allowed on recreational storefronts at all. We weren’t even allowed to give out business cards!” It took those on the forefront of the movement to bring these faults to the attention of the lawmakers and work with them to come to an understanding. “After all,” says Amy, “many of them are business owners, too. We had to make them understand how difficult it would be to have business interactions without being able to exchange information freely and easily, and advertise our existence.”

Laws have loosened in Washington State since. They now allow rec shops to install signage on the outside of their building, within size limits, but they still don’t allow cannabis clubs or cafes like the consumers would like. The industry is teetering on a precipice, waiting to see what the new administration does. Will it crack down? Will it turn the other cheek and let states operate as they see fit? Will they legalize across the board? The industry is waiting on baited breath to find out.

In this post-prohibition landscape it’s difficult to navigate the laws, regulations and rules governing our favorite plant. But we have to remain hopeful that the government will catch up with the consumers’ desires. It’s in our hands as the cannabis community, and the voters who installed our governing officers, to make it known to the lawmakers what we want.

“It’s about education,” says Amy. “We are working hard to de-stigmatize this plant and re-educate people about it. There’s a lot of false information surrounding it, and the entire industry and community at large could benefit greatly from its complete legalization.” She’s right. Washington State has made over $401 million in marijuana tax revenue to date. And that number continues to grow as the stigmas subside and consumers find their way to dispensaries and shops to see what the new era of cannabis consumption looks like.

Could the feds really turn away from such a cash crop? That remains to be seen. Cannabis consumers and supporters need to make their wishes known by contacting their representatives, voting at every opportunity, and demonstrating their support with their buying power. Support for your local dispensary is support for legalization.

 

Anatomy and Life Cycle of a Marijuana Plant

infographic, life cycle of marijuana plant, growing

When you pull up to your local cannabis dispensary and walk in the door, wafting in the glorious scent of various strains, you’re probably not thinking about the intricate details of the marijuana plant. You might not even know what a cola, calyx, and pistil are, and that’s ok. But, in case you had any interest in delving deeper into the anatomy and lifecycle of cannabis, today is your lucky day because we’re here to break down the details.

Just like humans, the cannabis plant is divided into male and female, also called dioecious. While some are hermaphroditic, for the most part, a male and female have to come together to create new baby cannabis flowers, just like us. But, for our consumption, the female flower is the one to covet as it carries the desirable amount of THC, so we’ll focus more on the lady bits.

 

While having male and female plants sounds like a good thing, to growers, it’s bad news bears in bulk. That’s because the male plant’s goal is to pollinate the female plant and then she will put all her energy into producing seeds instead of THC-packed resin. For this reason, growers do their best to weed out most males.

Now let’s get to the anatomy!

Flower

The flower is the part we know and love as it contains the highest concentration of THC. They grow toward the top of the plant and, as you probably know, are also referred to as buds.

Cola

Also know as the apical or terminal bud, this part of the plant denotes the cluster mass of flowers at the top of a cannabis plant. Thankfully, growers are actually able to manipulate plants to increase cola to produce greater yield. This is a win-win for all!

Trichomes

These are the resin glands found on a flower’s leaves and calyces. They kind of look like tiny translucent crystals, but are more similar to a crystallized mushroom if you have the chance to view trichomes with a microscope.

This is the essence of hashish, kief, BHO (Butane Hash Oil), and more, so some cannabis strains are developed specifically for a high trichome count. That’s because it contains the “miracle molecules”, cannabinoids and terpenes.

Calyx

Just like in others flowers, this is a portion of the flower that encloses and protects the ovule and pistils. It is part of the bud itself. This is where the highest amount of trichomes are found, which is why it’s the part of the flower you care most about, knowingly or not, if you smoke or vape.

Pistil

The pistils, or hairs, are the part of the plant that seems to poke out from inside each of the calyx. When they first peak out, they are white, but quickly transform to orange, red, or brown. This part of the plant is only found in a female and it’s the main function is to capture pollen from the male. This is also known for its high THC concentration.

 

Fan Leaves

The fan leaf is without a doubt the part of the plant that’s most recognizable. However, it does have an actual function. Aside from being the poster child for cannabis, it is focused on photosynthesis, the process of using energy from the sun to feed the plant. Most often, you will see fan leaves featuring five leaves; but there are also plants with seven and even nine leaves, which is most common among sativa strains.

Sugar Leaves

This is a smaller leaf that grows within the flower. It’s usually covered in trichomes and trimmed when flowers are harvested. They are, however, used when making edibles because of the trichome coating.

Seed

The seed is hidden within the calyx, as described above. In addition to planting a seed to grow a new cannabis plant, oil can also be extracted. In a sativa plant, this will generate THC cannabis oil, while an indica is more commonly referred to as hemp oil, which has high CBD and low THC content.

Stem

Just like all flowers, stems provides structural support and stores nutrients. They are not known to contain THC as that’s directed solely to the flower, but it can be repurposed for its fiber.

Node

A node, like all flowers, is where a leaf branches off from a stalk.

You now have an understanding of the various parts of the plant, so let’s get more into the lifecycle.

When the plant is first sprouting, the first two leaves are not the typical marijuana leaves you’d expect to see. Instead, they have smooth edges. It’s the next two that have the classic points associated with cannabis. The baby stage lasts 1 to 3 weeks at which time it will grow 4 to 8 leaves.

Next, the plant will begin growing more notes where more branches with more leaves will sprout. During this time, the plant needs fresh warm, dry air and lots of nitrogen-rich nutrients as it’s working to grow from an 8-inch baby to a 3-foot tree in a short 3 to 6 weeks. For this reason, it also needs long summer sunlight hours or 18+ hours of fluorescent light per day to produce the required amount of photosynthesis. If daylight or fluorescent hours are cut, the plant will not grow quite as tall.

It takes 1 to 5 months for a cannabis plant to enter the pre-flower phase. This is when the sex is presented. If male plants are recognized (green sacs near the node), a grower will either kill this plant or separate it from the females so, as explained above, the females can concentrate on producing THC instead of seeds. This needs to be done before the sac opens, spilling its pollen.

At some point, it’s required to decrease light time from 18 to 12 hours, at which point potassium and phosphorus nutrients should be added. If everything went as planned, you will both see and smell trichome-filled cola growing from you plant within 8 to 10 weeks after light is reduced.

Finally, the plant is ready for harvest and distribute to you local cannabis dispensary. You’ll know it’s ready when the pistils in the cola buds turn from white to the orange, red, or brown.

Congratulations, after months of work, you can now get high!

 

Thankfully, your cannabis dispensary works closely with growers to provide you the best and most diverse strains. Just like many plants, growing cannabis takes a lot of time and dedication to achieve the desired results.