The basics of buying recreational cannabis now that Missouri’s floodgates are open

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Recreational cannabis becomes legal in Missouri and is available to consumers beginning February 6. // Photo by Adobe Stock

I remember, during college, a conversation with my weed dealer who adamantly predicted that one day we would live in a world where you can buy weed legally from a store. We were having one of those philosophical discussions that always seemed to start as you sat on his ratty couch for at least 35 minutes before leaving his apartment so as not to seem suspicious to the neighbors. I laughed while thinking how nice a dream it was. He persisted in his argument that his smoke-dazed dream of a cannabis utopia would become a reality one day. 

According to the state of Missouri, that day will be Monday, February 6, 2023 at noon. At that time, the first state-issued licenses for recreational sales of cannabis to adult (over 21) users will become valid. 

So now what? What does that mean for you as a grown-up who has spent the last several decades “adulting” without thinking about trying to purchase an illegal substance that could get you arrested?  What does it mean for those novice adults who have never tried cannabis because it was illegal? It means that you can think about it now without feeling guilty. 

What does this mean for those adults who stopped using cannabis after college? It means you can walk into any dispensary and purchase weed again, just like you did in college. 

Well, maybe different from what you did in college. In fact, it’s nothing like what you used to do.  

You are probably going to have a lot of questions about the process. The huge number of choices involved with purchasing can be daunting. Sativa or Indica? Edible or flower? Is vaping harmful? What about a topical cream? THC vs. terpenes? That’s where your budtender comes in.

Let’s talk about how to make your first legal weed purchase

The first step is to pick a dispensary to shop at. Start by googling the dispensaries near you, then get on their websites. Don’t be afraid to drive a little further for a better deal or better selection of product that suits your needs. All reputable dispensaries will have a current (in real-time) menu of products that are in their inventory. They will tell you about any specials available, and give you some background on who they are as a business. You will want to visit all of them in person eventually, but this is a great way to see what most places are supposed to have available. 

Make sure to bring a valid, government-issued picture ID to show that you are 21 or over. It can be an out-of-state driver’s license, passport, or even a non-driver’s license—but it cannot be expired. 

Bring cash. Many dispensaries are unable to provide purchases through debit or credit card sales. Some do, but you have to ask in advance. This is an issue with the federal government’s stance on cannabis and is not the fault of the dispensary if they do not offer a debit card service. They generally will have an ATM on-site if you need to access cash. Some dispensaries will offer Dutchie Pay as an alternate means of payment. This is a third-party service that accesses payment directly from your bank account over your phone, much like Apple Pay.  

Now start thinking about what you want to buy. Nowadays you choose between 10-30 different strains of cannabis flower (also known as bud), vape cartridges, concentrates such as wax, or edibles like gummies and chocolates. And that’s just the start of the many ways you can experience cannabis today. 

When you arrive at a dispensary, your budtender will ask what you prefer. Flower is the most common method of consumption, in part because it is what we all grew up with. 

Be aware that the medical quality cannabis you get from a dispensary isn’t the same as black market weed. The most significant change came from the ‘90s as surveillance techniques for the government became better. Growers were forced to move their operations inside to escape detection, and this led to the discovery that indoor growing allowed you more control over the elements, which led to more potent plants. If you were buying in the ’90s, you were buying pot with an average THC level of about 12%. THC is the main active ingredient in cannabis and  is responsible for the psychoactive effects that contribute to making you feel “high.”  

Today’s selection of cannabis can reach up to 30% in THC. You will notice a difference, and that is why we always recommend that you start “low and slow” when you begin smoking cannabis, even if you’ve had experience. Don’t assume that a high THC strain is best. Your budtender can offer recommendations for lower THC selections that will get you high without making you paranoid or uncomfortable. Remember that THC is not the only thing that contributes to the quality of the cannabis. There are many other chemical compounds that combine to affect both your mood and how you feel physically. 

Another change you will notice is that the buds look better than they used to. Dispensaries sell only the best buds for their flower offerings. Any shake or less-than-perfect buds will not be sold to you as flower but processed into pre-rolls (already rolled joints), vape cartridges, or concentrates. The flower you purchase through a dispensary is better cared for than black market weed. In a dispensary, you buy cannabis grown under optimum conditions, cut and trimmed in a controlled environment at the right temperature, and transported to a climate-controlled vault at the dispensary. 

One of the most popular “new” ways to try cannabis is through edibles. This is a little better than the brownies your roommate made in college. Edibles now come in many forms. Pick up a sucker, a soft drink, a chocolate bar, or the ever-popular gummies. 

Edibles have become popular with older consumers who don’t want the hassle of loading a pipe or rolling a joint. They also like the “body” high associated with relieving body aches and pains. Pain relief tends to be more noticeable with edibles than with other means of consumption. Be aware that the effects are felt slowly, and you may not feel the full effects for up to an hour or two. Don’t decide it didn’t work after 45 minutes and eat two more. You could be sorry.

Perhaps the most convenient and discrete way of smoking today is through a vape cartridge. Several years ago, these cartridges got a really bad reputation for being dangerous due to a chemical additive that was being used in unregulated, black market cartridges. That’s why legalization is so important, it allows you the security of knowing that what you are consuming has been inspected and regulated through every step of production and sale. Vape cartridges are extremely high in THC, so one hit may give you the desired effect without the hassle of rolling a joint. It’s quick, easy, and fits conveniently in your pocket to travel. 

Starting on Monday, it’s a whole new world for cannabis smokers. Weed is exiting the prohibition era. Don’t be afraid to visit a dispensary and ask what works for you. Your budtender is your bud.

Categories: Culture