Edibles, Oils, and Flowers: A Beginner’s Guide to Weed Dispensary Offerings

Heading to the local dispensary used to be a simple run for a deck of smokes or a pack of chewing gum. But now, with the legalization of cannabis in many parts of the world, the dispensary offers a smorgasbord of options for the canna-curious and seasoned tokers alike. Walking into a weed dispensary can be overwhelming, especially for newbies trying to navigate their way through a myriad of products. This guide is designed to demystify the process and help you make informed choices on your next visit.

Understanding the Basics: Strains, THC, and CBD

Before we dive into the specific products, it’s crucial to grasp the basics of what makes cannabis unique: its strains and the two most famous cannabinoids, THC and CBD. Cannabis strains are essentially different varieties of the cannabis plant, usually categorized as indicas, sativas, or hybrids.

  • Indica strains are known for their relaxing effects and are often recommended for nighttime use due to their potential to induce couch lock.
  • Sativa strains are typically more invigorating, with some users reporting increased creativity and focus.
  • Hybrid strains combine the characteristics of both indicas and sativas.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component of cannabis, responsible for the ‘high’ that users experience. CBD (cannabidiol), on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and is primarily associated with various health benefits, including pain relief and reduced anxiety.

Ask your budtender about the characteristics of different strains, their THC and CBD content, and which might be best suited to your needs and desired effects.

Edibles: More Than Just ‘Pot Brownies’

Gone are the days when edibles just meant brownies that sent you to the moon. Today’s market boasts a wide selection of carefully crafted cannabis-infused goodies, from artisanal chocolates to gourmet gummies.

When consuming edibles, patience is key. The onset of effects can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours, but the experience will be both more intense and longer-lasting than smoking or vaping. Always start with a low dose (5-10mg of THC) and wait at least 2 hours before considering taking more.

Here are a few popular types of edibles you might find at a dispensary:

  • Chocolates: High-end chocolatiers have entered the cannabis game, offering delectable truffles and bars. These are often reliably dosed and come in a wide range of THC and CBD concentrations.
  • Gummies and candies: These are the go-to for those with a sweet tooth. They’re often fruit-flavored and just as easy to dose as chocolates.
  • Baked goods: While the potency of homemade edibles can vary, dispensaries are required to provide lab-tested THC content on their edible labels.

Do your taste buds a favor and explore the world of cannabis edibles, but do so responsibly and with caution.

Oils and Concentrates: Mysterious Elixirs

Concentrates are products made from the cannabis plant that have been processed to keep only the most potent parts, essentially extracting the cannabinoids and terpenes. These come in various forms such as oils, waxes, shatter, and live resin.

Oils, also known as dabs or vape oils, are versatile and can be taken sublingually, added to food, or vaped. They deliver a potent dose of cannabinoids, making them ideal for medical users seeking fast and effective relief.

Waxes and Shatter are solid, highly concentrated forms of cannabis that are heated and inhaled. They’re often sought after by experienced users looking for a rapid, intense high.

Live Resin is a relatively new form of concentrate. It’s made by freezing the cannabis plant immediately after harvest and extracting it at very low temperatures. This process preserves a higher level of terpenes, providing a greater aromatic and flavorful cannabis experience.

The dosing with concentrates is trickier, as they can contain upwards of 60-80% THC. If you’re new to cannabis, you may want to hold off on concentrates until you’ve built up some tolerance.

Flowers: The Traditional Bud

When most people think of cannabis, they think of the classic flower, or bud. This is the part of the cannabis plant that is harvested and dried, ready to be smoked or vaped.

At a dispensary, you’ll see a wide selection of flower, often organized by strain and labeled with its THC and CBD content. Here are some tips for purchasing cannabis flower:

  • Appearance: Look for dense, sticky buds with a strong aroma. These signs generally indicate a high-quality product.
  • Trichomes: These are the tiny, crystal-like hairs that cover the cannabis buds. The more trichomes, the higher the THC content.
  • Terpenes: These are the aromatic compounds that give each strain its unique scent. You might see labels indicating the terpene profile of the strain, which can help predict the flavor and effects.
  • Dosing: If you’re smoking, start with a small amount and wait a few minutes to see how you feel. It’s easy to consume too much too quickly with smoking and vaping.

Beyond the Purchase: Consumption Tips and Legal Considerations

Once you’ve made your selections, it’s important to consume cannabis responsibly and in accordance with local laws. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Storage: Keep your cannabis products in a cool, dark place to maintain freshness and potency. Proper storage will also prevent children and pets from accessing your stash.
  • Dosage: Always start with a low dose, especially if you’re new to cannabis. You can always consume more, but you can’t un-consume it if you’ve had too much.
  • Mode of Consumption: The effects of cannabis can vary depending on how you consume it. Smoking or vaping will provide almost immediate effects, while edibles and oils can take longer to kick in but last much longer.
  • Legality: Be aware of the laws in your area regarding cannabis possession, use, and purchase. Non-compliance can result in legal consequences, so it’s always better to be safe and informed.


Walking into a dispensary can be an exciting, but at first, bewildering experience. By learning about the different cannabis products available and understanding how to consume them responsibly, you can make the most out of your next trip. Don’t be afraid to ask your budtender questions—after all, that’s what they’re there for. Here’s to safe, enjoyable cannabis exploration!

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