For my birthday this year I went to Vegas. Specifically, I went to a heavy metal festival in Nevada, a state in which medical and recreational marijuana (cannabis) is now legal. So in between rounds of loud, heavy riffs, I went to a dispensary on the Strip to see what the experience was like.
Although I have written a lot about cannabis over the past few years and had a lot of first hand experience with it, I had never been able to buy it in an, uh, legitimate setting. My only previous experience with a dispensary was waiting outside a somewhat drab looking dispensary in San Francisco – where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 – for a friend to grab some of the cookies from me. more powerful than I have ever tried. (Seriously, two cookies lasted me all summer.) So I was eager to find out what the interior of a dispensary would look like, especially since the laws in Las Vegas were much newer than that in California and I imagined that many had changed.
Cannabis was legalized in Nevada for medical use in 2000 and for adult (recreational) use in 2016.
Although sales for medical use have not started until 2015, adult sales officially kicked off on July 1, 2017, and the state quickly faced a cannabis shortage less than a week later. However, it is important to point out that past policies affected some communities much more deeply than others. And, even in states that have legalized cannabis use, this inequality persists. People of all ethnicities use and buy cannabis at about the same rate, but people of color are much more likely to be arrested for possession of cannabis, according to Drug Policy Alliance. And although the cannabis-related arrests are generally down since 2010, people of color still constitute the bulk of those arrested.
So, yeah, smoking weed has always been legal for me, your basic white lady, even when it wasn’t. But the dispensary experience was still something new to me and hopefully would help me understand my personal relationship with the plant in a different way.
When I walked in the apothecary, my chosen store, I found an immaculate but welcoming store with a large waiting room for customers to fill out their papers and a separate open space for consultations. Each customer individually meets their budtender (yes, that’s really what their name is) in a space along a large counter with a leather-bound menu book on top. As you flip through, your budtender will take samples of herbs so you can smell and inspect them, as well as anything that might interest you including vape pens, edibles, or pre joints. -rolled. It was like buying tea; I remember going out thinking, “This is what it is should desire!”
According to Sara Payan, public education manager at the Apothecarium (which has three other sites in San Francisco), the first step is to choose the dispensary that’s right for you. If you’re a beginner, it may be best to look for one that offers some sort of educational program, which would suggest it’s more open to beginners, she says. But there is a dispensary for everyone and for all experience levels, so it’s a good idea to do your research on your own to choose the one that works best for your situation.