Navigating Chicago’s Dispensary Scene

Whether you’re an Illinois resident or a tourist from out of town, you’ll need to make a trip to a local dispensary to buy your cannabis. These places can be an enjoyable and educational experience with some preparation. Remember that all marijuana purchases are cash only. The good news is that most shops have ATMs in-store for your convenience.

Know Your Limits

If you’re a resident of Illinois, you can legally purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis flower or 500 milligrams of edibles at one of the best dispensaries in Chicago. Tourists from out of state are allowed to buy half as much. Dispensaries are not allowed to sell cannabis above these limits. If they do, they risk fines and loss of license. To avoid this, budtenders can use an easy-to-read counter on their point-of-sale system to track each customer’s purchase limit. Because weed is classified as a Schedule I drug on the federal level, banks and credit card companies can’t deal with money related to cannabis sales, so most dispensaries require cash only. However, many have ATMs on-site for your convenience. Visiting during non-rush hours, like early morning or late evening, is a good idea.

Know Your Strains

There’s a first time for everything, including your first trip to a dispensary. But don’t fret—it’s not as intimidating or complicated as it may seem. Before heading to the shop, take a moment to think about your goals with cannabis. The budtender will ask what you’re looking for, and it helps to have an idea of your desired effects in mind (e.g., energizing sativas, sleepy indices, or hybrid strains with balancing qualities). Chicago’s best dispensaries offer many products to suit every budget and lifestyle. Some focus more on education, while others have a more playful vibe.

Know Where to Shop

A visit to a dispensary can be scary for first-timers, but once you’re in the door and working with a budtender, it should feel like shopping at a liquor store. It would help if you were reassured that your money is going toward a legal business in your local community. While cannabis equity is a continued fight in the city and beyond, companies invest in social justice initiatives. For example, they support social equity by offering educational workshops, financial support, and application reviews for social-entry applicants.

Know Your Limits

A trip to a dispensary can quickly add up: Besides the flower, pre-rolled joints, and vaporizer cartridges you might buy, many shops sell edibles, tinctures, and topical relief. You must know your purchase limits and understand the tracking process to stay compliant. While some dispensaries accept credit cards, many prefer to deal in cash. This is because federally regulated banks are hesitant to handle money derived from marijuana sales, which could potentially violate anti-money laundering laws. If a dispensary asks you to sign a form upon entering, read it carefully before you put pen to paper. This is usually done to track the number of products each customer purchases so that a dispensary can remain within state regulations. Other helpful tips for first-time dispensary visitors include bringing a valid form of identification, cash, and a notebook for notes. Remember that budtenders are there to help you and want to provide you with an exceptional experience, so be respectful and courteous, and remember to follow all posted rules.

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