Are you among the 60 percent of Americans living in one of the 29 states that has legalized medical marijuana? Or are you among the lucky citizens residing in one of the eight legal recreational states? If so, chances are there is a dispensary within driving distance to your home. But before selecting your “go-to” cannabis retailer or dispensary, you should do a little homework and see which establishment is right for you. Like wine shops, craft beer outlets or other niche retailers, dispensaries vary widely. Here are seven questions to ask yourself when finding the perfect marijuana retail store for you:
1. Is It Conveniently Located?
Your go-to dispensary should be along your regular daily route. Ideally, it will be near your home, your place of work, or on located along your regular commute.
If getting to the store is a hassle (or if parking is impossible), you may want to think twice before making this your regular spot.
But just because the store is the closest one to your home, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right one for you. Location is just one of the criteria, but it is an important one.
Note: In some states, deliver service is an option. So for patients unable to easily travel, this may be an option.
2. How Knowledgeable Is The Staff?
An experienced budtender is extremely valuable. Even if you are a cannabis connoisseur, it’s important to talk with someone familiar with all the products available in the store. A good budtender will walk you through the buying experience. He or she will listen to your questions and inquire about your needs.
If the budtender seems to be pushing you something you don’t want or dismisses your questions, walk out. Sometimes, it’s worth calling before going to the store to see assess the customer service.
3. Does The Vibe Jibe With You?
For some customers, a modern, high-tech aesthetic is the thing. For others, the old-time feel of a Berkeley headshop feels right. Some patients prefer a more antiseptic, medical environment. Different strokes for different folks.
What is the background music? What artwork is on the wall? How does it smell? It may sound trivial, but it’s important to feel comfortable inside the store. If you feel like a stranger, it may be worth checking out other retailers.
4. Is The Product Tested?
Ask the budtender to see the testing results of the product. If they don’t test, ask why. As more states regulate the selling of cannabis, testing for potency and pathogens is becoming standard. Most states require testing of some kind.
As a consumer, you have a right to know what you are putting in your body. Ask to see the testing results before purchasing.
5. Is The Price Right?
Some states regulate the price (and tax rate) of legal cannabis. But prices do vary from store to store.
Many stores have an online menu with prices. Do a little homework before venturing out. Compare stores in your area to see the variance. Remember, there is a wide range of products available, from edibles to beverages to bud to concentrates. Find out what works best for you and shop around.
Buying in bulk is an option for some smart shoppers. For others, searching for weekly deals may be the answer.
6. Is The Retailer Involved In The Community?
I like to shop at stores that give back to the community. Does your dispensary donate to charities like food banks, senior homes or local events?
There are some dispensaries that provide deep discounts to patients unable to afford medicine. Some offer educational classes, yoga or other wellness opportunities.
7. What Do The Neighboring Businesses Say?
Talk to nearby stores and see what they have to say. Is the dispensary courteous and respectful of its neighbors? Is there tension in the community? Try to get an holistic view of the store and assess its reputation.
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