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How to Read a Cannabis Dispensary Menu

  • A cannabis dispensary menu will offer information about the types of cannabis products available, as well as their strain, cannabinoid content, concentration, and any budtender notes
  • Budtender notes, in particular, can help you understand the effects you’re likely to experience with each product
  • Talk to your budtender about your healing goals, budget, fears, and preferences so that they can guide you in the right direction
  • Trying a wide variety of products can help you refine your preferences early in your treatment journey

You’ve just received your medical card for depression, anxiety, or chronic pain—it’s time to head to the dispensary and pick up your medical cannabis products. But how will you know which products to choose if you’re new to cannabis? How will you even know what your dispensary has to offer?

Their posted menu will be your guide.

If you’re a newcomer to cannabis, your dispensary’s menu might be Greek to you—fortunately, TeleLeaf is here to help. In this guide, we’re breaking down all of the information you might find in your dispensary’s product list to help you choose your ideal formula.

Dispensary vs. Pharmacy: Louisiana Medical Cannabis

First, let’s clear up a common question: Are there dispensaries in Louisiana?

The answer is kind of.

If you look online for a Baton Rouge dispensary, search engines will return pharmacy results instead. Since they’re a source of medical-grade products (and recreational marijuana isn’t legal in Louisiana), Louisiana dispensaries are, legally speaking, pharmacies.

Additionally, Louisiana patients don’t have to apply for a medical card. Instead, all you have to do to get started is:

  1. Meet with a cannabis-informed healthcare provider
  2. Talk to your provider about cannabis as a treatment option
  3. Get your provider’s recommendation sent to a pharmacy near you
  4. Head to that pharmacy to pick up your medical cannabis products

In just a few hours, you can unlock plant-based, all-natural medical cannabis products and embark on your healing journey.

Reading a Pharmacy/Dispensary Menu: What to Look For

Once you head to the dispensary (or pharmacy, for Louisiana patients), you’ll have a chance to review the products available to you. Let’s break down what to look for as you peruse the menu.


While all of the information on a cannabis dispensary’s menu is important, strain is one of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a medical cannabis product.

Strains are subtypes of the Cannabis sativa plant. Each strain features unique:

  • Cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid combinations
  • Healing properties and effects
  • Colors, scents, and flavors

Strains fall into one of three categories:

  • Sativa – Sativa strains generally make patients feel energetic, extroverted, creative, and inquisitive. They’re an excellent choice for daytime use. However, some patients with anxiety can find sativas overstimulating.
  • Indica – Alternatively, patients typically find that indica strains are calming, make them drowsy, or spark introversion. They’re a favorite for people looking for sleep support. To that end, some patients find that indicas aren’t the right choice for daytime use.
  • Hybrid – Offering the best of both worlds, hybrid strains can provide a balanced experience. However, they can also contain unequal quantities of indica and sativa genetic material—in other words, patients can choose indica-forward hybrids, sativa-leaning hybrids, or more equally balanced formulas.

Finding the right strain can take time. Check out our full guide to choosing a strain.


Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in cannabis, and you’ve likely heard of the two major cannabinoids:

  1. THC – Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or Delta-9 THC) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. Even though it produces psychoactive effects, these can be mild—the lower the THC concentration in a formula, the lower its intoxicating potential.
  2. CBDCannabidiol (CBD) is found in high concentrations in the Cannabis sativa plant, though concentrations vary between strains (and we’ll touch on concentrations in the next section). CBD isn’t psychoactive—no matter the concentration or dose, you won’t get high using CBD. This makes it an excellent option for patients looking to avoid intoxication on their healing journey.

In addition to these two major cannabinoids, there are hundreds of minor cannabinoids found in various strains of marijuana. Just a few include:

  • CBN
  • CBG
  • CBC

Products either feature a combination of cannabinoids or just one—these are called broad-spectrum and isolate products, respectively.


On a dispensary menu, you’ll see concentrations of cannabinoids listed next to each product—you can also find these on product labels. Concentrations are listed as percentages. Let’s break this down with a hypothetical:

  • A pre-rolled joint weighing 1 gram contains 20% THC and 5% CBD according to its product label.
  • Since 20% of 1 gram is 0.2 grams (or 200 milligrams), this joint contains 200 mg of THC content.
  • Since 5% of 1 gram is 0.05 grams (or 50 milligrams), the joint contains 50 milligrams of CBD content.

But concentration isn’t the same as dosage: if you only smoke about half of the pre-rolled joint described above, you’ll ingest approximately 100 milligrams of THC and 25 milligrams of CBD. Dosages are expressed by weight (most commonly in milligrams in cannabis conversations) while concentrations are listed as percentages.

Product Type

On a dispensary menu, products are likely to be grouped by type, and different types of products are consumed in different ways. A few of the most common product types include:

  • Edibles – Edible products like baked goods, candies, or even beverages are ingested: you eat or drink them to introduce cannabis compounds into your body.
  • Tinctures – Technically a type of edible, a tincture is an alcohol-based cannabinoid extraction. Many baking extracts are also tinctures: vanilla and almond extracts, for instance. Tinctures can be mixed into food or beverages or dropped directly onto the tongue.
  • Oils – Like tinctures, oils are liquid extractions of cannabinoids—but the cannabinoids dissolve into fats instead of alcohols. Also like tinctures, oils can be introduced to other food or drinks, or administered directly into the mouth.
  • Flower – Smokeable flower is perhaps the most common way to administer marijuana. Flower is the whole, raw marijuana bud. It can be ground and rolled into joints or packed into glassware like bongs or bowls.
  • Vapes – Vape cartridges contain cannabinoid extracts (typically oil-based) which are heated and vaporized by a device like a vape pen. Vaping offers a more discreet (and sometimes less harsh) alternative to traditional smoking.

Budtender Notes

Along with object information like strain, cannabinoid content, cannabinoid concentration, and product type, some dispensary menus will contain notes from budtenders—the pros working behind the counter at your dispensary or pharmacy.

These notes can be simple; budtenders might add a star icon next to best-sellers or staff favorites on the menu. Notes can also be more specific and describe common user experiences, scents, or ideal dosing time.

These notes provide a wealth of information, especially for newcomers to marijuana. If you’re using medical cannabis for migraines, for instance, you might look for products with notes about relaxation or drowsy effects. The same logic would apply if you’re using cannabis for anxiety—notes about calming effects might point you in the direction of the perfect product.

Tips for First-Time Dispensary Visits

While you can prepare for your first dispensary visit by reading our complete, in-depth guide for first-time trips, here are a few tips for picking up your first prescription:

  • Talk to your budtender – Budtenders are highly knowledgeable (and often licensed or certified) professionals who can be trusted to guide your product selection. Talking to your budtender about your healing goals, budget, fears, and preferences is a must, especially if you’re still trying to find your ideal product.
  • Try a few different products – Not sure where to start? Consider picking up a few different options that could fit your needs. If you’re trying to optimize productivity during the day, you might pick up a pack of sativa gummies for morning dosing. When it’s time to sleep, an indica tincture might be your ideal formula. Trying a wide variety of products can help you refine your preferences early in your treatment journey.
  • Be kind and courteous – Our complete guide covers dispensary etiquette, but the rules are relatively simple: wait your turn patiently in line, show respect to other patrons, follow your dispensary’s posted guidelines, and tip your budtender when possible.

At the end of the day, a dispensary visit isn’t something to fret about: pharmacies and dispensaries are welcoming places that embrace newcomers with open arms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, spend time assessing your options, and ask the pros for pointers.

TeleLeaf: Get Your Medical Card and Start Healing with Cannabis

Reading a cannabis dispensary menu can seem intimidating if you don’t know what you’re looking for—but information is the best antidote for the jitters. Keep an open mind and embrace curiosity to make the most of your early dispensary trips.

Before you can access a dispensary or pharmacy, you’ll need a recommendation for medical marijuana from a licensed healthcare provider—that’s where TeleLeaf comes in. As the best online medical marijuana card service on the market, we make it easy and affordable to unlock high-quality care and plant-based healing.

Ready to discover all-natural relief? Make an appointment with TeleLeaf’s providers today.


Healthline. Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana Strains.

National Library of Medicine. Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Healthline. 6 Health Benefits of CBD Oil—And a Look at Side Effects.

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