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How to Select Your Dispensary

New to legal cannabis and wondering how to select your dispensary or retail location? This chapter tells you what to look for when picking one for you.

Chapter 3 · 4 min read
How to Select Your Dispensary

If you are new to the world of recreational cannabis, you are likely excited that you can purchase it legally. And as a medical patient, few things provide peace of mind than finding the right dispensary for you. However, it can be a challenge to find the right one. In this chapter, we’ll guide you in the direction of how to pick your dispensary.

Because most places in legal cannabis states like Colorado and Oregon have more dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonald’s, there is no shortage of places to buy legal cannabis in these areas. With legalization expanding to over 30 states and counting, cannabis retail locations will only continue to grow. So how do you pick the best one?

Just as you likely won’t decide on your favorite restaurant the first time you eat there, the same notion holds true for dispensaries and retail locations. However, there are some simple steps you can follow to find one that has the best chance of being right for you.

1. Location

You will need to be able to get to your dispensary. This depends on where you live and if you are traveling. If you need a dispensary in your area, other factors will play in. For instance, maybe you will like the staff, atmosphere, and products from a spot that is farther away from you than one that is closer to where you live. These are all factors you will have to consider before spending money on legal cannabis.

If you are flying or driving into a recreational state, map out your route before you make the trip there. For instance, dispensaries close to airports and cities tend to have more affordable products. Check out all of the spots in the area you’ll be going to beforehand.

2. Knowledgeable Staff

Even the most experienced cannabis consumers will no doubt have questions about what they’re spending their hard-earned money on. This is especially true for newbies or for those of us trying concentrates or edibles for the first time. If you’re used to smoking flower, you are in for a much different experience.

A high-quality staff with solid budtenders should have no trouble answering these questions for you. If they give you vague answers and are generally uninterested, perhaps it’s time to take your business elsewhere. You might want to call ahead and talk to a staff member if you’re still up in the air with a few spots in your mind to choose from.

Also, what about security? Of course, with so many regulations and potential break-ins revolving around the cannabis industry, it’s no surprise that dispensaries are well-guarded. But as consumers, we vote with our dollars. Security guards aren’t bouncers at nightclubs. They should be there to protect the product while being relatively polite to customers. Customers are, after all, the lifeblood of any business.

3. Quality Products

It should go without saying that every store should want to sell quality products. A lot of newer consumers might be a bit surprised to learn how different it can be when it comes to quality products. Some dispensaries grow their product and some even produce their concentrates and edibles. The best spots have great relationships with growers, concentrate labs, and so on.

Not all spots are vertically integrated, but they still offer quality products. But just because a location has less control over sourcing doesn’t mean lesser quality. State laws vary and are complicated, and it all comes down to the individual dispensary. Again, it’s always important to read reviews and check them out for yourself.

4. Selection

What kind of cultivars are they carrying? Some dispensaries will have a huge selection of many different varieties. While this might sound enticing, it can be a double-edged sword. If they have dozens and dozens of cultivars, the staff might not know the lineage, where it was grown, or even where it came from. This is something you might not be able to find online, depending on your location and what reviews dispensaries have in your area. But it’s an important part of the dispensary research process nonetheless.


Secondly, but no less importantly, what types of cannabis do they sell? Of course, more consumers are preferring ingestion in other ways than smoking cannabis. We are quickly moving towards a market where consuming cannabis will mostly be via vaping, edibles, and so on. Naturally, what and how much of a product a dispensary and retail located is legally permitted to sell in your state will likely differ. But do they sell concentrates, infused beverages, and other consumables? This should be listed clearly on their website.

5. Prices

Good dispensaries and retail locations tend to offer their product menu online along with prices, although the prices do change. Narrow down the dispensaries to a few in your area based on some of the other factors, and then try to find one that’s the most affordable. Prices vary widely and depend on the market of your area.

If they are offering low prices or seem to have products that are always on sale, there could be a good reason for this. This is because they might be wanting to get products off shelves quickly. Be sure to follow our next step to determine whether sales or discounts are worth it.

6. Read Customer Reviews

Finding the dispensary that is right for you takes a good amount of research. However, you can. It's a lot like deciding on what laptop or smartphone to buy. It’s unlikely you will buy one without reading reviews of what other customers had to say about them. Likewise, you will want to read all you can about the reviews other customers have on the dispensary you go to.

Many dispensaries are new and might not have many reviews. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them, but you should take this into account before hitting up a place close to you. When you do experience a dispensary or retail location, we hope you tell us about it.

7. Atmosphere

This one ties into the staff, but this is one of the most important aspects of the legal cannabis consumer experience. Dispensary staff and atmosphere should never make you feel uncomfortable. Gone are the days when cannabis is purchased in back-alley deals. Professional, courteous, and knowledgeable staff helps play a part as we all ditch the antiquated stoner stereotype. The atmosphere of dispensaries is very different and varies quite a bit from spot to spot.

Perhaps you want to pop in and out and be on with your day? Maybe you want the personable, relatable experience of a small ‘mom and pop’ location, where everybody knows your name? Some spa-like spots offer coffee and other pleasantries while you wait for your bud, concentrate, or edible. This is why reading reviews is so important – not only will you get a good insight into the product they sell, but you will also get a better understanding of the customer experience.

Finding Your Dispensary: Results May Vary

Finding the dispensary that suits your needs and accommodates your personality can be tricky, but if you follow these seven steps you will increase your chances of finding a good one. As with any establishment, results may vary, which just increases the need for quality customer feedback and communication with an expanding cannabis consumer community.

What We Learned: How to Select Your Dispensary

Selecting the dispensary that is ideal for your cannabis consumption needs is important to learn. Here are a few key takeaways from this chapter:

  • With many options to choose from, it can be hard for canna-curious consumers to find their favorite dispensary.
  • Thankfully, there are some key items to look for when finding your favorite dispensary, including knowledgeable and courteous staff, selection and quality, atmosphere, and reasonable prices.
  • As with nearly everything cannabis-related, results may vary and are based on your individual needs and preferences.

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Chapter Question

There are more dispensaries in Colorado and Oregon than Starbucks and McDonald's.

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A few of the most important aspects of choosing your favorite dispensary are whether they have a knowledgeable and courteous staff, product selection and quality, atmosphere, and reasonable prices.




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