As more states legalize cannabis, more Americans are seeing cannabis dispensaries open up in their communities. Many dispensaries look and function just like any other retail store, with products available for purchase on shelves and in glass cases — but that doesn’t mean cannabis newbies are any less intimidated by their first trip to a pet shop.

Half of the battle in buying legal bud is understanding a dispensary’s menu, which lists all its available products. If you are struggling to find where to start with a dispensary menu, read on for tips on how to understand any menu you come across.

Product Types

The products available from a dispensary are determined both by the dispensary itself and state law. Some dispensaries specialize in certain types of products, like raw flour, and many are limited in the types or potency of products because of restrictions in the laws permitting cannabis sales in their area. In general, dispensaries around the U.S. can feature the following products:

  • Flower

Also sometimes called bud, this is dried and cured plant material. The ultimate cannabis raw material, you can do almost anything with flowers, and it is among the most inexpensive cannabis products.

  • Prerolls

Many dispensaries will pack flowers into rolling papers and sell them as pre-rolls, which are ready-made joints that are easy for beginners to use.

  • Edibles

you’re interested in trying a different way to consume cannabis, you may want to consider ordering edibles online. Dispensaries offer a wide range of options, such as baked goods, beverages, candies, and other snacks infused with cannabis. When consumed, the cannabis compounds can be absorbed through the digestive tract, leading to a milder and longer-lasting experience than smoking or vaping. With many flavors and dosages available, you’re sure to find an edible that suits your tastes and preferences.

  • Vapes

Vaporizers can have higher cannabinoid content and a smoother hit than smokables, but they can be confusing and intimidating for first-time cannabis users.

  • Concentrates

It is possible to extract the active compounds in cannabis and concentrate them for a more potent cannabis product. Concentrates come in many forms, like shatter, budder, wax, and crystal, which vary based on purity, potency, and price.

  • Tinctures

A tincture is an alcohol-based extract that can be mixed into food or drink or administered under the tongue. These are just as popular as cannabis oils.


Every cannabis product on the menu will have many options, usually separated by strain. There are lineages of cannabis plants known for growing in different ways and generating different effects in users. Cannabis plants are differentiated by their strain, which is the name given to them by their grower. Every Detroit dispensary, Los Angeles dispensary, and New York dispensary will have different strains on offer every week, so you might need to call to ask budtenders what your preferred dispensary has in-store today.

THC and CBD Content

CBD Content

Dispensaries are typically required to list the amount of THC and CBD in each cannabis product on their menu. Beginners are advised to keep their THC consumption relatively low, as too much THC can result in a bad reaction like intense nausea or panic. Some dispensaries will list the concentration of other cannabinoids, like CBG and CBC, but because these compounds are present in such small quantities, you likely don’t need to be concerned about them.


Terpenes are molecules that generate aroma. Cannabis can generate more than 400 different terpenes, and different strains boast terpenes in different combinations. Some research suggests that terpenes have an effect on a user’s cannabis experience, so you might want to pay attention to different strains’ terpene profiles and gravitate toward strains with terpenes you like.


Every item in a dispensary is measured by weight, just like you can find a weight associated with every item you buy in the grocery store. Cannabis weight matters because states limit the amount of weed one person is allowed to purchase and possess. Budtenders will not let you buy more than the legal limit, so you need to be able to add together the weight of your intended purchases before you check out.


Finally, no menu is all that useful if it leaves off the price of the product. When considering prices, it is important to note that dispensaries do not factor in taxes on their menus. Thus, you are likely to pay a good deal more at checkout, depending on your state and municipal cannabis tax rates.

The more you know about cannabis and dispensaries before your first weed experience, the better. Now that you know a bit more about what you will find on a dispensary menu, you can feel more confident ordering the cannabis products you want and need.

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