Everything You Need To Know For Your First Trip To The Dispensary

Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
Whether you're a veteran smoker or a total beginner, there's never been a better chance that you're going to be legally buying marijuana in the very near future — if not already. With new recreational and medical legislation in nine states as of November, now is the time to experiment.

One major beginner mistake is to rush the whole thing, says Bruce Barcott, deputy editor at Leafly. "Everybody’s first instinct is to go in, grab the first thing they see, and get out because they’re nervous about visiting a dispensary," he says. "[Instead], try to make yourself take time and talk in a genuine way with the person across the counter."

That person — your "budtender" — is there to help you find exactly what you're after.

But that doesn't mean it's not overwhelming when you're trying to pick something out. For starters, you've got three different types of marijuana strains: In general, a sativa will give you more of an uplifting, energizing high, and so it tends to be better for things like depression. An indica usually offers more of a relaxing, sleep-inducing sensation, so those are "your classic insomnia strains," says Barcott. And then you've got hybrids, which may be sativa- or indica-dominant, but tend to incorporate elements of both types.

Strains also differ on their concentrations of compounds. For instance, sativa strains are usually higher on THC than indica strains, which is why they're so helpful in countering chemotherapy-related nausea. However, these also tend to have lower levels of another compound, CBD, which can counteract the less appealing side effects of THC, such as anxiety. Without that CBD buffer, these strains are more likely to cause reeling thoughts when taken in larger amounts.

Whatever you settle on, though, you should be aware of your dosage, Barcott says. And your ideal dosage will depend on the form of cannabis you're using. When smoked or vaporized, cannabis hits your system fairly quickly (often within a few seconds). So you'll know pretty soon how much you feel comfortable taking — and then stop there.

"But with edibles, start low and go slow," Barcott says. Here, doses will be in milligrams, and a high dose may be all the way up to 70 mg. However, if you're trying edibles for the first time or just trying a particular product for the first time, Barcott suggests starting at around 5-10 mg, waiting around 45 minutes, and then seeing how you feel. For some people, the effects can take up to an hour to come on. So don't start scarfing down a second piece of chocolate at 20 minutes, or you might find yourself very overwhelmed come minute 90.

Before you get there, though, you've got to get your medicine. To help give you an idea of what you might see at your local dispensary, click through to learn about 30 of the most popular marijuana strains and what other patients find them useful for.
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Illustrated by Chloe Seroussi.
Blue Dream

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain

“The 'Bayer aspirin' of bud that should be in every medicine cabinet. Smoking is slightly blueberry and harsher than expected. Vaporized, it's smooth and has a perk-up-and-get-er-done benefit. Nice, well-rounded, daytime medication that is not sedating,” writes Free_Byrd on Leafly.
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Sour Diesel

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain, Fatigue

“I absolutely rely on this almost every day. I've been using it for medical purposes. (Chronic pain, which coincides with depression and anxiety.) Sour Diesel lets me have a clear mind and still be creative and energized. It tastes terrible, but I don't care because it helps my pain. It brightens my mood,” writes medicinalmelodies.
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Girl Scout Cookies

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Depression, Lack of Appetite, Insomnia

“Amazing anxiety reducer, and it's a calm head high for me. You can get things done while smoking this strain, but also relax with it,” writes marlamae.
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Green Crack

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression, Fatigue

“I usually prefer indicas to sativas, but Green Crack is an exception. It's uplifting and focusing, so you don't end up getting lost in your own head if you don't want to. Definitely recommend if you're looking to keep busy! Now toast a bowl and go do your damn dishes,” writes alkemest.
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OG Kush

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Pain, Depression, Insomnia

“I've been trying to find a strain that helps with my back pain and my insomnia. This killed two birds with one stone!” writes chloholio.
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Granddaddy Purple

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Insomnia, Pain

“Granddaddy was the first medical marijuana I ever tried, and it still remains a favorite. All of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder quirks and things were eliminated, and I was able to speak openly and honestly for the first time I could remember in a long, long time,” writes jumboshrimp8yoo.
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Jack Herer

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression

“Jack Herer is my morning medicine. I take it daily every morning before work, and it turns me into a happy, focused, energized person completely capable of working and talking to people without tripping over my tongue. I was severely depressed for several months; then I started taking Jack every morning, and my world view changed completely,” writes dbvapor.
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White Widow

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain

“White Widow is a great strain to smoke on if you're experiencing fatigue and/or depression. A great pick-me-up for a day when you feel down in the gutter. I don't recommend this one, however, if you are trying to relieve insomnia or anxiety, as the White Widow can act as a catalyst for rapid train of thought. These mind-stimulating effects are perfect for creative endeavors such as painting, writing, composing, cooking, or even simply rearranging your furniture,” writes somacolorado.
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Bubba Kush

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Pain, Insomnia

“Started out with an uplifting head high, then settled in for a relaxing body high that tucked me in for a good night's sleep,” writes ToxicBBQ.
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Gorilla Glue #4

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Pain, Depression

“Gorilla Glue is fantastic pain relief, and relieves everything from insomnia to muscle spasms. Be careful not to smoke too much! Both my wife and I smoked just a wee bit too much, and the room was spinning when I closed my eyes!” writes ourlife.
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AK-47

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Pain, Depression

“KO'd my back pain. I was able to stretch and exercise very easily. Gave me the munchies and I slept very well. Woke up feeling well-rested and energetic,” writes HealthyMedJuana.
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Trainwreck

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain

“I picked some of this up to use while running and could run for miles. It helps with fatigue, depression, appetite — just about everything,” writes Weedsprin.
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Pineapple Express

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Depression

“Makes me feel like a slab of butter on a big ol' pile of flapjacks!” writes Budsey420.
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Northern Lights

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Pain, Insomnia

“You want to melt into your furniture and chill for a while? Haven't slept in days and need to count those sheep? Fam, this strain is the bees fuckin knees. I ran out of my sleeping pills, and the closest appointment is a month away. I can say with 100% CERTAINTY that this strain will be part of my nightly bowl so I can go to freakin' sleep!” writes Kiekie18.
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Headband

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain, Nausea

“This is by far one of my favorite strains. It immediately gives you an uplifted and focused buzz that doesn't leave you tired at all… This strain gives you a general feeling of well-being and is great for relieving stress of anxiety,” writes cstone1.
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Durban Poison

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression, Fatigue

“Hands-down the best strain for depression and anxiety while staying productive and busy during the day,” writes AK01.
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Blue Cheese

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Pain, Insomnia

“This is somehow the only indica-dominant strain I can smoke during the day. It's amazing for anxiety and stress relief, while not making you too tired,” writes spacejunkOG.
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Purple Kush

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Pain, Insomnia

“One of my go-to medical strains as I am a patient suffering from chronic pain resulting in severe secondary insomnia. It's always nice to sit down at the end of the night and smoke a bowl of Purple Kush. As I take my first couple rips, I feel it slowly calming me and relieving pain, and somewhere around the second bowl is when I call it bed-time!” writes Sapphyy.
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Lemon Haze

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain

“This medicine is awesome! Stress and depression are no match for this herb, which fills your brain with happiness and euphoria without turning your brains to mush,” writes octavedoctor.
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Super Silver Haze

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain

“Helped with pain, excellent nausea reduction and appetite stimulant. Still took me a long time to get to sleep, but I slept very well (due to pain reduction) once I was out,” writes nagchampa.
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Chemdawg

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Pain, Depression

“I have fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, anxiety, and depression. Chemdawg is hands down my favorite strain right now for treating all of those issues in one plant,” writes vikingjosh.
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Strawberry Cough

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain

“This is my favorite strain, and nothing else even compares. I have anxiety very often, and this strain is one of the only strains that helps me with it,” writes connosieur.
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Alaskan Thunder Fuck

Type: Sativa

Good for: Depression, Stress

“Great for depression and anxiety. It will make you want to get up and do something fun,” writes SgtPandybear.
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Blueberry

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Pain, Insomnia

“The only things that top the magnificent blueberry smell are the feelings of relaxation, calm, and focus. It feels like a sativa in many ways, except that this can also ease me to sleep if that's what I'm after,” writes travel.
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Grape Ape

Type: Indica

Good for: Pain, Stress, Insomnia

“As someone that suffers from severe anxiety, this strain was awesome. It's very, very sedating and relaxing, but you can easily concentrate,” writes lasthope343.
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Blackberry Kush

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Pain, Insomnia

“This strain is one that has consistently relieved my back pain and helped me sleep all night,” writes bigrig.
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Master Kush

Type: Indica

Good for: Stress, Pain, Depression

“Good strain for a first-time smoker. Makes you sleepy and happy,” writes StrainBot.
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Cheese

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Pain, Stress, Depression

“This strain is incredible if you have an illness. I know when I had cancer and smoked this strain, it made me so damn hungry and it made all my physical pain go away. It made me forget that I was sick, and it uplifted me,” writes BostonBaked79.
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Super Lemon Haze

Type: Sativa

Good for: Stress, Depression, Fatigue

“This is the bar none, absolute best strain for depression. It's like a cocoon of happiness surrounding you, while still feeling very aware and motivated,” writes bosieboy.
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Cherry Pie

Type: Hybrid

Good for: Stress, Depression, Pain

“I'm a person who has a LOT of anxiety. I feel its physical (sore stiff neck, tight nauseous stomach, tight chest) and emotional effects (irritable, unfocused, unsociable, tearful, can't get out of my own head, etc.) 24/7, with the exception of when I medicate. This strain is good for relieving these symptoms in the evening before bed. This medication is particularly helpful for when I would like to have 'grown up playtime' with my husband — I can get out of my own thoughts and focus on what feels good,” writes Echolalia.
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