NYC cannabis etiquette: How to behave in an NYC dispensary without feeling weird


Shopping for legal cannabis for the first time can be an intimidating experience. Whether you’ve spent years buying from your local dealer, or are truly a newbie when it comes to weed, it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t know what to expect. From simple questions like, “Should I bring cash or card?” to darker thoughts, like, “Is the weed dispensary collecting my data and selling it to the government?” Either way there are no dumb questions, only dank ones.

Here are Leafly’s best tips for first-time dispensary shoppers who want to know the proper ways to purchase pot.

Bring ID and cash

Many dispensaries have switched to electronic payment systems that can take debit and credit cards. But for the most part, cash is still king for cannabis sellers, even the legally regulated ones. That’s why you can expect to see an ATM or two inside, just in case you forgot to stop at the bank on the way. To avoid fees, and that rare occasion when their ATM goes down, come with cash in hand and get right to business.

Be nice to security

The first person you’ll see at your local weed shop isn’t the owner, a budtender, or the celebrity grower who bred your bud. Your first encounter will be with a security professional who will ask to see your ID, and might search you and your bag. Have your ID out when you reach the door, and leave any potential weapons in the car. Nobody likes getting patted down or carded. Make sure to be friendly to the person working the door. Be friendly: This person’s job is to be wary of potential robbers and suspicious customers. Remember, working at a weed store is cool, but it’s still work.

Don’t get paranoid about data collection

Every state’s laws are different. But most don’t allow invasive data collection from licensed dispensaries. New York’s first legal weed stores began opening in December, and hundreds more are on the way. Everyone from locals to tourists is seemingly curious about how dispensaries are handling data from individual sales.

New York’s cannabis office told Leafly that retailers can’t retain a customer’s personal information for marketing and advertising unless that person consents to receiving updates. The state regulations for adult-use dispensaries also make that clear.

New York dispensaries, however, are required to collect data about the purchase. That means they must track, at a minimum, the following data elements for each activity in a sale, including the transaction, quarantine, disposal of the cannabis products, and the weight, volume, or count of the cannabis products. Dispensaries also track the date of activity, and the identity of the worker making the transaction. But they’re not keeping your personal or banking info, and only send marketing and promotions if you consent.

Dutchie is the exclusive point of sale system for New York’s retail dispensaries. Anne Forkutza, Head of Market Expansions for Dutchie, said the company does not keep or sell personal data for New York’s dispensary shoppers.

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Give the budtender something to work with

There are a lot of ways to shop for cannabis. Some people look for the highest (or lowest) THC percentage based on desired intensity. Others trust brand names, or choose by type: Sativa for an uplifting buzz, Indica to go “in da couch,” or Hybrid for balanced effects. And then you have the bargain hunters.

Even if you’ve already scanned the online menu, chances are the local budtender knows their store inventory better than you. So unless you have a specific strain or product that you already know is on the menu, go in with some goals or pain points that can help your budtender point you in the right direction. Whether your goal is sleep, euphoria, or the best bargain, your budtender should know exactly what you need based on the current selection and your price range.

Don’t roll up or smoke right outside the store or in your parking spot

You just bought a fire eighth. It’s only natural that you want to crack the package and take a whiff as soon as you head home. You might even want to roll it up or stuff a quick bowl before taking off. But don’t: In doing so, you’re bringing bad attention to the business, even if it’s technically legal to possess and smoke cannabis everywhere cigarettes are legal in New York City. Some regulators and local weed haters are still looking for any excuse to get the local dispo in trouble. So wait until you’re a safe distance from the store front before you finally crack the seal and spark up.

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