With so many cannabis retail stores open across Alaska, shopping for legally grown and regulated cannabis is easier than ever before but can also be confusing or overwhelming. Not only do you have a lot of options of places to shop but when you walk inside any Alaska cannabis retailer, you are faced with shelves of products and often little information about them.

Here are some tips for shopping for the cannabis you need to achieve the effects you are seeking.

Know your retailer

Like any business, not all retailers are created equal. While we all hope that everyone licensed by the state of Alaska are reputable and honorable businesspeople, there have been issues with some, so as a consumer, you should do your homework.

Check online for reviews, ask others who shop for cannabis products for their favorite stores, and visit several before settling on the one or ones that you like and want to buy from.

You may also find cannabis shops reviewed on the Better Business Bureau’s website.

Pick a compatible retailer

Each cannabis business owner sets out to build a business with several things in mind beyond making money.

Developing a specific brand image and serving a particular type of customer are pretty common goals for entrepreneurs. While a business owner may have a vision for their business, it might not be compatible with your preferences or needs.

By visiting several shops, you can get a feel for how they do business and how they treat you. Pick a retailer with staff that understands your individual needs.

Don’t expect a diagnosis

Budtenders and staff at cannabis retails shops in Alaska are not allowed to give out medical advice. They cannot tell you why you have insomnia, and they can’t dispense medicine.

What they can do is let you know what they’ve heard from other customers or what they’ve tried themselves. This information is not tailored to you and should be taken as anecdote, but it can give you a general idea of how a product might work.

Remember that everyone’s bodies are different and cannabis may affect each person differently.

Arrive with your research

Do your homework before arriving at a shop. Know what cannabinoids and terpenes you’re looking for to produce specific effects.

You’ll want an entirely different product if you want a sleep aid versus something that keeps you alert and productive.

Ask to see the test results

Not all retailers will have test results for all products but they are required to get all cannabis flower tested, so they should have the results on hand.

Some retailers don’t proactively share the test results while others use test results as a selling point for the cannabis flower they sell.

Learn before you walk into a store how to read test results and look for the cannabinoids and terpenes that you’ve researched may give you the results you seek.

Know your preferences

If you’re not a smoker or have sensitive lungs, don’t be steered toward a smokeable cannabis product because a budtender says it really works for them. If you’re more comfortable with taking pills or if taste is an issue, ask if there are any products in tablet or capsule form.

Understand that each form cannabis comes in requires a specific method of intake and that, in turn, will affect how long it takes to feel the effects and how long those effects last.

For example, eating a cannabis-infused edible will take longer to feel effects (30 minutes to two hours) but the effects last longer (four to six hours.)

Going to a cannabis shop prepared is the best way to have the optimal shopping experience and to walk out the door with exactly what you need.

Aliza Sherman lives in Anchorage, Alaska and has been involved in the cannabis industry since early 2016. She is the co-founder of Ellementa, an international network for women interested in cannabis for wellness. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Essential Guide to Cannabis and CBD: Optimizing Your Health With Nature’s Medicine (Ten Speed Press, June 2019). http://ellementa.com/cannabisbook

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