In this special episode, we’re celebrating over a decade of legal adult use weed in Washington State. From an experienced industry pro scoping out the dispensary scene to an excited newbie on a weekend trip, you’ll find something to relate to if you’ve ever felt the mix of nerves and exhilaration that comes with buying legal cannabis. We’ve got you covered with all the tips you’ll need to feel prepared and ready to go weed shopping — and don’t forget to check out our list of women-owned dispensaries in Washington on our instagram @dothepot.
Ellen Scanlon (00:00):
This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over. Welcome to How To Do The Pot, a podcast helping you feel confident about cannabis for health, wellbeing, and for fun. I’m Ellen Scanlon. Today’s episode is about visiting a cannabis dispensary, and it’s actually a lot like any other shopping experience. While you can’t forget cash and your government issued ID, more and more you can expect the same beautiful displays and generally knowledgeable employees to help guide you through the process. I know there are a lot of misconceptions about shopping for legal cannabis. So this series is here to offer you real life insight from women who have been through it. Spoiler alert, it’s usually pretty fun. I hope that having the support system of women helps you have a very smooth first visit whenever you’re ready.
Do you know the first state in the US to legalize cannabis for adult use, which means anyone over 21? It’s actually a tie. In 2012, both Washington State and Colorado voted to legalize. We have a lot of listeners in Washington, thank you. And we want to celebrate a decade of legal cannabis in the state today, especially because I know the winters can be a little dark. Today’s stories about buying legal weed for the first time all happened in Washington State. And thank you to our guests, Ariana Newton, Tess Melody Taylor, and Melissa Beseda, for sharing their experiences. Cannabis tourism really is a thing. And if you’re headed to Washington and want to buy some weed, there are a few things you should know about the adult use cannabis market there.
First, it is big. Sales in 2022 were over $1.2 billion. Like all legal states, you will pay tax on your purchase. And in Washington, that ranges from the high 30s, 37% to about 46% when you include all the local taxes. So be prepared for that. Washington State made over $500 million in tax revenue last year. And a small part of this money supports education, but the bulk of the money goes into the state’s general fund, which is used to pay a variety of state expenses. It’s good to know where that money is going. I always pay attention to that, when new states legalize, because it’s a lot of money. But most importantly, for your shopping trip, find a state licensed dispensary and be prepared to pay for your products with cash. Since cannabis is still federally illegal, banking is a very tricky part of the cannabis industry.
Some states allow you to use debit cards for purchases, but most dispensaries in Washington only accept cash. Usually dispensaries have ATMs on site, so you can use their ATM. But it might have a fee, so it’s probably easier to try to remember to bring cash with you. Cash transactions are one of the reasons many dispensaries have security guards. You’re not in trouble for buying the weed. They are there to protect the money. Cannabis delivery services are not allowed in Washington, so you’ll have to find a retail shop. We have a list of women-owned dispensaries that will post on our Instagram, @dothepot. And please reach out to us if we missed your favorite dispensary. Finally, after you’ve left the dispensary, wait until you get home to consume your goodies because it is not legal to eat or smoke cannabis in public places in Washington, but I can’t speak to enforcement of that law.
Now that you know a little bit more about what to expect, let’s hear what it was like for these women to experience buying legal weed for the first time in Washington State. One of the things I love most about these first time stories is hearing from women that have a really wide range of experience with the plant. Melissa Beseda owns and operates Wildwood Flower Farm, which cultivates, processes, and packages sustainable sun-grown cannabis flower in Washington. I would consider Melissa an experienced cannabis industry insider, and she had a professional eye out during her first visit to a dispensary, but she also wanted to find products for pain related to a health issue.
Melissa Beseda (04:45):
The first time I bought legal weed was in 2017 in Seattle. Our company was looking to break into retail, so my trip to the pot shop was threefold: making a connection with the retail store, understanding the consumer experience at a pot shop, and buying flower to help alleviate pain for my IUD replacement. The budtender was welcoming and we talked about cannabis growing and what products consumers were looking for. When I asked him for a flower recommendation for pain relief, he suggested his favorite Gorilla Glue #4 flower from an indoor grow. I tried it the next morning in preparation for my doctor’s appointment. It was a bit too heavy on the psychoactive euphoria side though, because I ended up going to the wrong doctor’s office twice. In hindsight, I was looking for something with a higher CBD to THC ratio and more body high than heady high.
This exemplifies the fact that the highest THC content isn’t always an indication of effectiveness for pain relief nor directly correlated to the highest quality. This might sound like a not so great first experience. But to the contrary, I think that it goes to show that no matter how comfortable you are with cannabis, sometimes you don’t leave the shop or dispensary with exactly what you’re looking for. However, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. The next time you go to a pot shop, you’re more informed about your likes and dislikes. It also demonstrates three important aspects of purchasing cannabis: the influence of set and setting to one’s experience with cannabis products. The Gorilla Glue 4 flower provided this budtender with amazing pain relief after being on his feet all day at work. If I was helped by a budtender who has had an IUD replacement, would their recommendation have been better suited to my needs?
Ellen Scanlon (06:34):
Ariana Newton, who lives in Montana and is head of operations for weedtube.com, also tried the powerful and sometimes sedating strain Gorilla Glue. You might feel glued to your couch. She was a self-described newbie when she took a weekend trip to Washington and visited her first dispensary.
Ariana Newton (06:53):
My first time buying legal weed was so much fun. It was a weekend getaway. My boyfriend and I drove over to Spokane, Washington. We stayed downtown in Spokane. It’s right on the Spokane River. So it was the perfect time, perfect weather. We got there, we got checked in. And I remember my first thought was pull out my maps, and where is the nearest dispensary? Where are we going? This is the first thing I want to do. I was talking about it relentlessly on our drive over. I was really, really excited and nervous. I was 21, and I was coming over from Montana for a weekend. I was like, “Oh, my God. What if they’re not going to let me buy anything?” Just definitely had that whole nervous energy about it, but I was really excited still.
So I was like, “Okay. I’m going to find the dispensary. We’re going to go. What do we do?” So I actually looked, there was a shop. I was like, “Haha, I’m in luck.” It was called Lucky Leaf Company, and it was only two blocks from our hotel. So we just did a nice sweet little walk down there. And it was definitely a little hole in the wall dispensary. I remember standing outside with my boyfriend and I was like, “Are you sure we should go in? We should do this.” Now looking back, I just think, “Oh, my God. You’re so ridiculous.” But at the time, I can see in my own perspective of why I was so nervous. And I think that’s really cool when people take that into consideration when they are setting up their dispensary and they have that welcoming energy.
This was definitely more of a community vibe. It was very standard. You walk in the doors. To the left, it’s a row of merch and some chairs you can sit in. And then there’s a carpet in front of a glass container where all the flower is. And then there’s a whole display wall. It was a lot to take in. And I just remember looking around and I was that newb. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. I have no idea what’s going on. I’m going to have so many questions.” I am reading signs, it’s cash only, just all these small dynamics that are pretty standard when you go into a dispensary. But as a new first time consumer, it was a lot. I would say the budtender was super sweet. Definitely not as educated as I think I would expect a budtender maybe that’s working in the med side of the program would be, but definitely passionate about the plant still and passionate to learn.
I was super excited to be in the dispensary and actually get to look around at the flower. I got some Alien OG. I remember being really excited about that strain. And then I had never heard of Gorilla Glue before. Because coming from Montana, sometimes you don’t even know the strain that you’re smoking. It’s less common when you’re buying underground. So Gorilla Glue, it was the first time I had seen that strain and I was like, “Oh, my gosh. Yes, I want that.” Warning, the name is accurate. It glued my mouth shut. I felt like a whole different person, but it was really great. It was really cool. I was taking a whole weekend away. We had just purchased all this flower and we smoked a joint. And I got a couple of different chocolate edibles, too.
I remember thinking, “There’s way too many edibles here. How am I supposed to pick?” I just asked the budtender, I was like, “Which ones would you buy?” Which is why it’s so crucial, I think budtenders need to know the products a little bit because people really rely on that. I definitely did as a first time newbie going in there because I was like, “I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what it’s going to do to me.” But 10 milligrams definitely hit a lot different than it does now. I would say I was very high, but it was so great. The budtender was super sweet. Everything was really chill. It was a good first time legal buy experience. Felt very homey and I felt very safe. And I think that exposure to that part of it is what really empowered me to figure out more about the plant, more about this whole industry that was about to come to life.
Ellen Scanlon (11:03):
One tip I recommend when you’re trying a new strain, if you’re smoking, maybe start with just one or two hits, then wait about 15 minutes to see how you feel before trying anymore. It’s really fun to hear stories about when the excitement about finally buying legal weed gets combined with a larger celebration. The California-based founder of Dose of Saucy, Tess Melody Taylor, had a visit from her mom and sister for her graduation. And weed definitely made the weekend more memorable.
Tess Melody Taylor (11:34):
One of the first times I bought legally that I remember distinctly was in Washington State. I had just graduated from Washington State University with a degree in sports management. And so we did a little trip out there. So we were super excited to buy a bunch of goodies to smoke there. And the shop looked like your stereotypical head shop, stock order glass cases, probably aliens and weird cartoons and shit, not like the cool… No, there was probably a Rick and Morty bong there, too. And we go into the shop and we get a few pre-rolls. We get hella edibles because my mom and sister absolutely love edibles. And we head back to our hotel and get ready for dinner.
And I was like, “We should obviously smoke one of these pre-rolls before dinner. Because naturally, how do you eat without a pre-roll first?” So we are smoking this pre-roll outside. It’s cold, it’s December. And we’re smoking outside near our car and we notice that a firetruck is pulling up to the property. And we’re like, “What the hell is going on here?” My mom starts to get real paranoid, which then makes my sister paranoid. I can’t take any of this seriously, if you know me as a person. I was just giggling the whole time. So we get into the car and decide that they’re obviously here for us. Somehow they know that we were smoking on the premises, maybe set off a fire alarm, and they’re here for us smoking this weed.
So we get into the car. And as we’re attempting to start going, my sister’s losing her shit. And guys, do not drive while high. This story should tell you not to do that. And so we are trying to leave the parking lot. And for some reason in the back of our minds, we’re all believing that there’s a ditch on the other side of the car. Obviously, we don’t get out of the car to actually check physically, but we believe there’s a ditch on the other side of the car and we can’t back up and we’re stuck. And we’re all just hysterically laughing. There’s a video on my phone of us, it’s completely dark, and all you hear is us laugh crying. So thank you for that good ganja in Washington State.
Ellen Scanlon (14:00):
I loved getting these different perspectives on buying weed in Washington. And since we have 21 states in the US with legal weed, stay tuned, we have a lot more local stories to share with you. If you have bought weed in Arizona, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or New York, I am dying to hear all about it. Please send us your story in a voice note to email@example.com. My goal with sharing these stories is to take the scary out of doing something that was illegal for a long time and to help you feel supported, less alone, and a little lighthearted when you decide to make your first cannabis shopping trip. I really want you to have fun.
Thank you for listening to How To Do The Pot. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com. And are you one of the thousands of women who love our newsletter, which comes out twice a month? If not, please sign up at dothepot.com. And if you like How To Do The Pot, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts because it really helps more people find the show. Thank you to our copywriter, Kate Friedman, and our producers, Madi Fair and Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and stay tuned for more of How To Do The Pot.